Posts tagged ‘disc herniation’

This 70 year old gentleman, a retired plumber, came to me in July 2003. He had been suffering from what had been diagnosed, with the help of an MRI, as lumbar canal stenosis and disc herniation since 2000. There had been a sudden onset whilst on a visit to Kuwait. There was difficulty in walking, with veering to the left side. There had been a history of prior lumbosacral pain.

He came to me with the symptoms of pain in the lumbosacral region above the buttocks. The pain was worse on walking even 5-10 minutes and was relieved by sitting down, lying on the left side, pressure and hot fomentations. There were cracking sounds in the hip joint during the act of rising and sitting. There were sudden electric shock like sensations from the calf up to the hip, extending along the back of the lower limbs, worse on the right side. The thigh muscles would twitch on initial motion and there was great weakness of the lower limbs. The soles felt numb and cottony in the morning on rising. He had difficulties in maintaining his balance while walking and often fell and injured himself.

He had knee pains for 10 years, worse on bending the knee and relieved by stretching. There were cracking sounds and a history of swelling of the knees. He also suffered from cramps in the calves at night in winter and from a draft of air.

He was hypertensive and diabetic for over 15 years and was on medication. He had a myocardial infarction (heart attack) in 1993. He used to be an alcoholic but said he’d reduced his drinking after developing hallucinations and suspiciousness.

One of his brothers had tuberculosis and another brother had died of tongue cancer.

His appetite had reduced and he would feel ‘full’ on eating a small quantity. Flatulence troubled him and passing gas would relieve. He was constipated and stools were hard, compelling him to strain initially. He never felt satisfied after passing stools. He took the occasional laxative. He loves fish and meat but avoids red meat on medical advice. He enjoys sweet things and dislikes sour. He used to eat heavily spiced food earlier.

He lives alone whilst his family is in Kuwait. He suffers from sleeplessness due to thoughts of his sad past. He feels guilty about his alcoholism and the troubles he put his family through. He cannot fall asleep until 1-2 a.m. He used to get nightmares of someone, usually some animal, coming to hurt or bite him. He said that he had a forgiving nature and did not like to hurt anyone. He likes to make treat his friends and make them happy, esp. when he was under the influence of alcohol. There is a great weakness; he would like to exercise but was not motivated enough for it. He had 2 sons, both were married and abroad and had no love for him.

An MRI of the spine showed posterior disc herniations with peridiscal osteophytes. Lumbar canal stenosis maximum over L3-4 to L5-S1 level. MRI of the brain showed mild cerebral and cerebellar atrophy with narrowing of several arteries and a lacunar infarct.

I started him with Rhus Tox 200, twice a day for a fortnight and this gave him considerable symptomatic relief. However, I doubted that Rhus Tox would go much deeper. Analysis of the case brought Sulphur very high though Lycopodium and Nux Vomica were also in the rating. Causticum and Phosphorus were also to be considered. I put him on Sulphur 200, single doses every week and gradually his symptoms relieved. He felt better within himself and promised to quit alcohol completely. His stools were better and he slept better. Within a few months, the cottony sensation in his soles, the shock-like pain and the trembling of his muscles disappeared. I gradually raised the potency of Sulphur and this benefited him further. There were periods of aggravation for which I gave him Rhus Tox 200 off and on in repeated doses. Since Lycopodium was also coming up, I prescribed Calcarea Carb, Lycopodium and Sulphur in their cycle, with gaps of a fortnight between doses. He was much better after a year and did not come for follow ups for quite a while. When he returned after about 4 months, he sorrowfully told me that his son had passed away and to ease the pain he took refuge in alcohol once again. In that phase, he had a fall and fractured his nose and broke off some of his teeth. His back complaints had all recurred. For a while, I put him on Ignatia to ease the shock of his son’s demise. Gradually we moved back to the previous prescriptions and the whole process of slow relief started again.

I last saw him in 2005 when he was very much better and could walk comfortably again. He said he would return if he needed to.

Prescribing for this case took a zig-zag approach. There were deep disturbances and no single remedy covered his case in entirety. In such a case, at the age he was, I was happy to be able to relieve him, if not completely, to a great extent so that he could live a more comfortable life.