Patient left on pins and needles as docs disagree



March 5, 2019 - 9:48 AM

Dear Dr Roach: I have weakness, numbness and the feeling of pins and needles in my hands, legs and feet. I have been diagnosed with both Sjogren’s syndrome and fibromyalgia. I was working full time as a library assistant when my legs and knees collapsed a few times. I went to a neurosurgeon, who sent me for scans of my lumbar region. It showed no neuropathy, but a severe spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis. He recommended lumbar surgery. But since I was not having pain in my buttocks or legs, he ordered scans of my neck and upper back too. Again, no neuropathy, but he is now recommending anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. He thinks this cervical surgery needs to be done before the lumbar surgery.

My rheumatologist, whom I have been seeing for over 10 years, maintains that the negative neuropathy test results indicate that the numbness I suffer from is related to my autoimmune illnesses, but the surgeon says that it means the numbness and other symptoms are being caused by the spinal nerve impingement. 

Who do I believe, and what should I do now? I am 64 and had to resign from my job because the county would not extend my medical leave. — B.R.

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