Wednesday, January 18, 2012

EMG what?!?!

Last May I injured my back. I was cleaning my son's closet and when I went to lift a tub full of stuffed animals I ended up, not with a clean closet, but a bulging disk in L5/S1. This left me in a miserable amount of pain, disability and lingering radicular symptoms in my right foot and into my calf.

I did all this only one day after setting a PR in the 5k. I took two months off of running and since July I have been making my come back. My training has been going well but every few weeks I am reminded of my back injury. Not with pain but with a warm fuzzy feeling. You would think this is normal...bulging disk + high impact activity = warm, fuzzy, pins and needle feeling.  BUT it doesn't make sense. I don't get those symptoms when I am running consistently, it is when I am in a taper (a.k.a. being lazy and inactive).

EMG machine
At some point the warm, fuzzy, pins and needles in my foot annoyed concerned me enough to go back to the doctor. They couldn't explain it, so an EMG was ordered to see if my nerves are firing normally.

An EMG is basically performed by sticking acupuncture-like needles into your muscles and then sending an electric current through that muscle to record blah blah blah...they f*ing taze you! And all you can do is sit there and say "ya, I felt that one".

My doctor couldn't have been much older than me (because I am so young), but he was Board Certified in EEG and EMG. So you would think, this guy knows his stuff. He has probably done this tons of times. But for some reason I was a little uneasy. It might of started when he told me he wasn't familiar with reading the MRI in a certain view and couldn't appreciate my disk bulge. Really? That seems like pretty basic stuff for a board certified D.O. I have had TWO doctors that I work with show me the bulge, and it is pretty clear, you don't have to be a radiologist to see it. Or it could have been the fact that as he was preforming the test, he kept saying things like "hmm, that's odd" or "hmm, that's not what I wanted to see". One time he forgot to plug the leads in and didn't know why he wasn't getting a reading!?!?! At one point he decided that my feet were too cold and that was throwing the test results off. I'll give him that one. My feet are always cold, ask my husband. And if you know me, you know my feet are fairly scary looking. I try not to be too hard on them, they have gotten me where I am today, but in all fairness, my dogs are not winning any beauty contests. He proceeded to bathe my feet in warm water. It was a little odd...

Anyway, after getting shocked and poked several times...I still dont' have an answer. According to Doogie Howser, my study was normal except a slower than normal peroneal nerve pulse, but this wouldn't correlate to my symptoms. So, I am left to wonder, what is wrong with me? My guess, I have a small bulge that waxes and wains causing my symptoms. I am relieved that for the most part nothing serious is wrong. I could have been told I have MS.

Moral of the story...don't clean,especially on Mother's Day.


  1. SOOOOO funny. Glad it went OK.

  2. you are cracking me up! I am glad its not MS. :)

  3. You know I have two bulging disks and a torn disk... well at least as of 3 yrs ago I did. I have gone to PT twice and lately I have been considering going again. After PT I am good but then the pain just comes back. The only time I do NOT notice the pain is if I am running. The worst time of day for me is at night while laying there trying to sleep. It is horrable, I am afraid I will have to deal with this forever. If you find anything that seems to work well for you PLEASE let me know. In the mean time I think I will stay away from a EMG machine. lol

    1. Kelly, have you ever been seen by a pain management doctor? If not you might be a candidate for an epidural steriod injection? That can give you quit a bit of relief for a long period of time. Over time that torn disk is reabsorbed by the body and then you are left with bone on bone. If that doesn't work maybe accupuncture? My sister had 2 herniated disks and was in miserable pain for months. She tried eveything, traction, epidural, meds, therapy. Finally, she tried accupuncture and was pain free after 2 visits. Some people swear by inversion tables too. I hope you find some relief.