Having examined me this morning (not just my foot, but everywhere!) very thoroughly and done loads of tests on my feet and legs, the very nice youngish GP changed his mind. He didn't think it was a vascular or heart problem, he thought it was a nerve or spinal problem, probably related to the ongoing back problems I've had for 40 years. He tested the strength in my toes and said I have very pronounced weakness in my right big toe - I hadn't even noticed, but when he did the test it was blindingly obvious. He thought that was probably related to nerve damage. Anyway, he said he would get in touch with a spinal consultant, told me to go home and wait for him to call me back.
Which he did about an hour later, and things moved rather quickly after that - he told me to go straight to A&E to have an emergency MRI scan, he said I was booked in and they were expecting me. He said both he and the spinal consultant were concerned that I might have something called Cauda Equina, never heard of it but it's some kind of nerve damage that is a spinal surgical emergency (good to know! 😳).
Well, to cut a long story short - I don't have that, thank goodness. But I do have a prolapsed disc (for the 2nd time, I had one when I was 19). The consultant said to take painkillers REGULARLY (she stressed that, having ascertained that I don't take them at all regularly), she was referring me back to my GP and said it was up to him to work out the next moves. She said my numb big toe is caused by the prolapsed disc pressing on a nerve.
However, she said my case was unusual - the particular numbness and back/leg pain I have is normally caused by a prolapsed disc at L5, whereas mine is L3 and 4. And, even more unusually, I apparently have one extra vertebrae than normal, which the consultant said may exacerbate my back pain and may possibly be the reason why my particular prolapse is not the usual L5. (So I'm special! 😉😂😂). I was so astonished to find out only at the ripe old age of 61 that I have this extra vertebrae, having never been told before, despite having back scans and xrays over the years, that I didn't even think to ask what it means for the future, if anything at all. I will apparently have been born with this extra vertebrae.
It's very strange, this isn't the first time I've found out I have a problem that no doctor has ever thought to mention before - when I was in my late 30s (may even have been my 40s), I was told by a GP at the new practice we'd joined, having moved house, that I have a mild congenital liver disease, it showed up on blood tests. What?!?! I've had loads of blood tests, nobody ever mentioned it previously! It doesn't actually affect me in day to day life, but could give me jaundice if I'm ever seriously ill or in an accident. So really something that's useful for me to be aware of!
I'm very tired (having not slept much last night) and in even more pain now, the MRI scan is not a pleasant experience - very claustrophobic, very noisy and having to lie perfectly still and not move a muscle for about 15 or 20 minutes, flat on my back, gave me pins and needles and cramp.
I do feel better for knowing the cause of my problems, but don't yet know what's going to happen next.