Although I have been a member of the Health Boards for a long time and mostly search and read threads today, I need advice. I would like to say "I'm sorry" for those that are suffering through such pain.
My husband started complaining of lower back pain a couple months ago saying it was traveling down his leg. He saw his Primary Care doc who sent him to an Orthopedic. That Ortho did MRIs and I went with him on a Thursday to get the results. The Ortho told him he had herniated disks at L-3, L-4, and L-5, S-1. He recommended the spinal steroid injections. We scheduled them for the following Monday. That night my husband woke me at 5am in major pain and I beleive he may have been having a panic attack as he had trouble breathing and wanted me to call the doctor. I called the doctor (the one that was to do the injections) and he only prescribed more Vicodin. My husband stayed home that Friday, his first day off work due to this pain. That was two weeks yesterday and he hasn't been back to work. The weekend before the injections he could not sit or lay down. He would stand or "rock" back in forth in one place for hours. He moaned, screamed, and cried all night. Monday, on the way to the injections he was barely making the car ride. The procedure went fine but there was no releif - they told us 3-5 days to notice affect and we understood that. I had to go to work after his procedure so my mom who lives 3 miles away brought him to her house to rest until I got off work to pick him up. Monday evening when I arrived he was still in the same place, sitting in the recliner unable to stand or even shift his body. He sat in that chair until he finally came home on crutches that Thursday. We had to help him do everything... EVERYTHING from that chair. Thank God for my mother. The injections obviously did something since he had not sat up for a while. He is still on crutches today not being able to put any weight on his left foot. Says it feels like someone is slicing it open and ripping the skin off the bone. He has been in bed as laying down is the only comfort. When he gets up on crutches to go to the bathroom his foot turns purple. We went to see a Neurosurgeon on Wednesday - I begged them to squeeze him in and they did. He said the L-5 is pushing on the nerve and the S-1 is pushing on it as well. He feels the injections might have further damaged the nerve which would explain the foot pain. He scheduled surgery for next Thursday, outpatient, says he can go home that day and should be back to work in 3 weeks. This is the best Neuro I could find, in the Medical Center in Houston, Texas - famous for some of the best doctors and hospitals. St. Lukes is where this Neuro practices.
I have been reading as much as I can on the subject and am very worried about what I have seen from those that have had no releif. He says my husband has a 1-3% chance of needing fusion surgery at an older age. Says he is not a fan of that surgery and would never do it on a person his age - 32 years old. My husband is such a trooper and feels as if he is a burden on me and apologizes to me because I have to help him but I am just worried he will not get well and be depressed. He is an active person and I know this is really making him feel bad even though he won't say it.
I don't even know what the surgery is called but know he will be taking the pressure off of the nerve. Will he repair the nerve? I don't know. I guess I am looking for those with similar experiences and it seems like a lot are here. Do you all think the surgery at this stage is necessary? I don't know what else he could do to get rid of this horrible pain. I hate that he takes so much Vicodin. Oxycontin is out of the question. I don't want him to live on meds. I don't want to mask the pain, I want to fix it.
Welcome to the forum!! Your husband is in my thoughts. My first major back procedure was a microdiscectomy in 1999. I had a herniated disc at the L4-L5 level. Similar to your husband I was in SO much pain I could barely walk. I had a lot of nerve related issues and a lot of pain traveling down my left leg. I was in the hospital for three days after the surgery and noticed improvement immediately and couldn't believe I left the hospital walking better then I entered!! Basically, I was pain free and very active until October 2003 when I reinjured my back lifting heavy bags of cement (I know not very smart). This time I had a collasped disc, so with my other symptoms a fusion procedure was necessary.
I have to say I do not regret that first surgery. I had four painfree years after my microdisectomy that I am very grateful for. It sounds like your husband has a wonderful support system in you and your mother. I am sure he really appreciates you. I am so thankful for the support of my husband, it really means a lot that he is there for me (even though I to feel guilty sometimes) it helps to have someone that is empathetic and understanding. Please keep us posted on how your husband is doing, this forum has a very supportive group of individuals.
Sorry your husband is in such agony & sorry that your so afraid for him.
The surgery I think your talking about is a laminectomy or discectomy most likely Micro if it's a one day affair?
Since he has three levels involved (or is he only trimming up the L/S1?) if he is only having one level worked on in this surgery he may be left with enough disc to keep his spine remaining stable and avoid a fusion.
I think the percentage the doc gave you about the possibility of fusion in the future are way off.
Not trying to worry you but if he has herniations at (3) levels already things could worsen in those levels too and thereby instability could quickly become an issue.
Sadly it does sounds as if he may need surgery soon to release the pressure on the nerve(s) if this is what is causing his pain.
The surgery is designed to "Free" the pinched nerve, and no, I don't think they will remove the nerve.
I hope he does well in surgery and gets great results ...that hopefully will eliminate most of his pain.
while his surgery is scheduled soon, if he hasn't already... have him try good old fashioned ICE! This should help some til he has his surgery. It helped me tremedously.
While a lot of people are afraid of Oxy, it is ok to take under Dr's guidance and if your pain is severe enough to warrant it.
It's possible that he may even be on this AFTER surgery, I was and I did well. I didn't have a Micro though (but others here have perhaps they'll see your post and offer you their experience) hopefully with the Micro his post op pain will be much easier to manage.
Please keep us posted on how he's doing
about a month ago I ended up being taken to the hospital by the paramedics, I was in so much pain from my back to my foot, I couldn't walk at all.
When I got there they gave me vicoden, it did nothing, they gave me morphin several times it did nothing, finally they gave me motrin, after a couple of hours it started to kick in, they were so surprised, couldn't believe how much it helped, had to stay in the hospital for three days, but have been walking ever since, they said the motrin reduced the swelling and inflamation.
I still have to have surgery, but at least do not have that terrible pain, I am not sure how much motrin they gave me, but they were in my room periodically, and when I left they gave me perscription for 600 mg of motrin a day.
I have severe stenosis which is compressing the nerves,
after this incident my leg is numb all the way from knee to top of foot. I didn't want injections, so refused those, and I haven't had to use the motrin except for a couple of times since leaving the hospital. Hope this will help. You probably know you can get motrin over the counter.
Fiona - Your post made me feel better. I just told my husband after reading it your story and that he is not allowed to lift anything heavy anymore! Don't ever feel guilty, I assure you that your husband just doesn't want to see you in pain and it hurts him to see you hurt. I'm sure he is happy to do anything he can for you if it makes your pain go away. You are lucky to have a great support system too. Not to mention these boards! It is always nice to speak to others that have been through the same thing. I should give credit to his mom and brother too. His brother stayed two nights at my mom's with his brother so he could have someone near if he woke up. His spent one two days too and took him for his second orthopedic opinion when I had to work. Luckily my work has been very cool about me missing and working from home to be with him. I can go to work now but will miss this Thursday for the surgery then Friday as well. My uncle had the same surgery in November and swears by it. He recommended we go the Neuro route as did my sister in law who is a nurse.
Bionic - He is having two levels worked on, the L-5 S-1. It is my understand that the L-5 is bulging and pushing against the nerve then the S-1 is pushing on it where it escapes out of the spine. ?? The doctor said he does 80 of these cases a year. Where do you put the ice when you have pain in your knee radiating down to your foot? You can't even get near his foot. He says it feels like there is no skin on it. Anything to give him relief until surgery is something I would be willing to try, twice! Oxy is one of those drugs you hear about people abusing so much in the past couple years so as you probably imagined that is what makes me nervous about it. But again, anything to releive his misery at this point would be fine by me.
Bells - That is unbeleivable isn't it? All of the prescription drugs and good ol fashion Motrin did the trick for you! I wonder why they prescribe Vicodin? It doesn't seem to work on anyone with these problems. While the injections obviously helped some - he could not sit, lay down before them - the pain is obviously still hiding in there trying to escape. He was to have a second round of injections tomorrow but cancelled that since seeing a Neuro who recommended the surgery.
Thank you again everyone!!! I really appreciate it and will keep you posted as well as check in for your progress.
acute severe pain, you can try placing the ice pack on the lower back area ( I literally place it in my pants!) if his pain is knees, legs & ankles...that surely is pure nerve pain and when my neuropathic pain flairs up the thing that helps me the most is a heating pad or better yet, wrapping up in an electric blanket!'
When I take vicodin I get panic attacks when it wears off. I get them about 4 hours after I take it. I have even gotten them right after taking one. They are pretty strong and can have side effects like that. Like the other poster said try using ice. Ice has worked better for me then any pain pill I have tried. Keep it on the area for 20 minutes until it feels numb. Do 30 minutes at the most. Do not put the ice directly on the skin make sure it's in a plastic bag with a thin cloth over it this way you prevent freezer burn.
I hope your husband has found some level of comfort now. I totally empathize with what he is going through. I also have had an extremely hard week. I woke up a week ago in so much pain. I couldn't walk, sit, lie down, or stand without extreme pain. I was writhing, crying, and moaning (and I've been told I have a high tolerance to pain). I ended up in the Emergency Department and went home in the same condition with an Rx for Percocet (same as Vicodin). Anyway, to make a long story short, I am now on Prednisone, Flexeril, and Percocet. I am able to find a comfortable position lying down on my back with my legs up over several cushions so that my calves dangle.
I am a little concerned about what you said the Dr. had said about the injections making the problem worse. My Dr. is trying to get me in for these injections. I don't know what I will do if this makes me worse. My Dr. won't operate on me because my problem is scar tissue around an old surgery site.
I truly believe that surgery is the best thing for your husband. I know that he will be amazed when he is in recovery and doesn't feel that constant nagging pain in his back and leg that he has grown accustomed to. I can remember waking up and thinking that to myself. I actually felt so good that I got up by myself to go to the bathroom right after the surgery (the nurse wasn't very impressed and was quite angry with me), but I felt so great that the pain was gone.
Keep us all posted and I am saying a little prayer for you.
Justine (love that name by the way - may name my daughter that if/when I have one)
Do not let what I said discourage you from getting the injections. The doctor said that it doesn't always happen but it can happen. He explained that the epidural space where they are injecting the med is so small and the force of the meds being pushed into that space can hit the nerve further irritating it. My husband's nerve was swollen making the space smaller apparantley. I can tell you that he is happy he did the injections. He was screaming constantly before he had them. He can't walk today because of the foot pain but he is MUCH better off than he was before. I cannot wait until Thursday when he has his surgery. I'm praying he walks out of there feeling no pain. I'm so worried about that most of all.
I hope you get some releif no matter what you choose to do. I'll pray for you as well.
I have a question for you about Vicodin since you had said your husband is taking it for pain. What is the dose that your husband takes? My reason for asking:
When I went to the ER a little over a week ago, the Dr. on duty prescribed Percocet (equivalent to Vicodin in the U.S.). The dose on the Rx was 1 to 2 tabs every 4-6 hours. I had to go back to my GP to get a renewal and his instructions were 1 tab every 6 hours. Well, right now there is no way I can get through an entire 6 hours without some pain relief. The pain has lessened as in the beginning I was getting no relief at all and then slowly it went from no relief to 2 hours, 3 hours, and now just over 4. I know when I have to get another refill my Dr. will question me about how many I am taking. I really don't want to feel like an addict because I am only taking them when I have pain that I am not able to get through, and I never take any before 4 hours is up. The pain is never totally gone; it just takes some of the edge off.
p.s. Thank you for the compliment about my name. My mum actually found the name from a lithograph when she was a little girl in Great Britain. She saw it one day on the walk to school and, like you, said that if she had a daughter that would be her name.
Here's a little more info that might help clear the air. Vicodin is derived from codeine which in turn is derived from opium or morphine, all of which mask the pain but do not reduce the inflammation or swelling. Ibprofen actually reduces the inflammation and swelling, therefore taking some of pressure off the nerves that are being compressed. Its and antidote at best but can give one time to look at different options that we might want to consider. Bell.
I AM ON IBPROFEN 1800mg A DAY AND I AM ALSO ON CODINE 360mg A DAY AND PARADEX 8tabs A DAY.
THANKYOU VERY MUCH AS IT HAS CLEARED THINGS FOR ME KNOWING I AM TAKING ALONG THE SAME LINES AS OTHERS.