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Old 12-17-2006, 06:45 PM   #1
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Desperately need help, disc problem

In order for me to get my point across, and get the help and advice I am looking for I will need to tell you a bit about myself. This post may be a bit very long, but please bare with me. If it gets too long for you, please just read the last two or three paragraphs, and please give me any advice or help you can. Thank you.

Six years ago I started having back problems due to an athletic injury. For three years my back was in pain, I would say a four or five out of ten. I saw many doctors and physiotherapists. All of them said it was just, "soft tissure damage." I did physiotherapy and took the meds that the doctors gave me, nothing helped. After the first three years the pain started to subside. That lasted for about a year, during this time I was relatively pain free. But after that year the pain came back with a vengeance. The pain started to get completely debilitating. At times I would reach nine or ten out of ten on a pain scale. This began two and a half years ago and has only gotten worse. I now feel extreme pain on a regular basis.

When this pain started two and a half years ago, I went to the doctors seeking help. For the first year I got nowhere with the doctors. The reason for this was because of another medical problem. Six years ago, shortly after the athletic injury, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders. I have dealt with these mental illnesses for the last six years with little success. Because I have these mental illnesses I have been stereotyped by my doctors. Even though I have had no history of drug use or abuse, they would not give me any pain killers, because they thought I may abuse them. I later found out they were not only thinking I may abuse them, but they were convinced that I was faking the back injury in order to get narcotics. I know this because after a year of trying all kinds of drugs (none of them painkillers), my mother went to talk to the doctors and they told her I was faking it, and that she was being fooled by me. When she told them I wasn't faking it, they told her that if I did have a legitimate injury that, "he will just have to learn to live with it."

I live in Canada, and because of this I had to wait ten to twelve months before I got an MRI. When I got an MRI the doctors found out I had a bulging disc. Finally the doctors I was seeing had to admit something may be wrong. I know that a bulging disc doesn't mean that the disc is whats causing the pain. I have read and been told that one third of the population has a bulging disc, and many feel no pain and are not affected by this. Even with the bulging disc my doctor thought we should keep trying anti-inflammatories. He even had me try drugs that had failed to work six months before. After all this I decided to switch doctors. I finally got to a doctor that actually helped me out. He sent me to a pain specialist. But this pain specialist would turn out to be another nightmare.

After a few appointments and many different methods, the pain specialist decided to give me a treatment, (I can't remember the name, but it entailed giving me an epidural and injecting something, I think it was a type of steroids, into or around the disc), I had to wait a few months before I went in. During this time, I looked up some information on the pain specialist. I found out the reason he was working where I lived, was because he was fired from his previous job in Eastern Canada. The reason he was fired was because of a malpractice suit against him. It turns out that he screwed up big time. He was also a anesthetist (spelling?). Before the operation a nurse was checking the anesthesia equipment and she saw that four of the six safety measures were broken. The anesthetist said not to worry and that he would watch extra close. Later on in the surgery the anesthetist decided to leave the operating room to make a personal call on his cell phone. He was gone for five to ten minutes when the nurse came in and told him they were having problems. He yelled at her and told her never to interupt him again. He finally came back after ten more minutes. By then the teenager getting the operation was a vegitable. He was sued and fired, but he was still allowed to practice medicine. I decided to let him to this procedure. He actually did a pretty good job, but after the procedure he was looking at my prescription list and saw the antidepressents I was on. During my previous visits he had talked to me about depression, he kept telling me I would get over it soon because I was so young. After the procedure he seemed to get really mad and told me to tell my doctor to take me off of antidepressents. I asked why and he told me I was to young to have depression. He continued to tell me I didn't have depression and that I was just faking depression.

I decided not to see him again, especially because after the procedure I couldn't get out of bed for a week, and it took two more weeks for me to be able to walk for more than five minutes. I will try to make a very long story a little shorter. After the mess with the pain specialist I went to a spine clinic where I saw another physiotherapist. He gave me some exercises to do, he said he was 95 percent sure it wasn't my disc and that these exercises would help. After six months of doing exercises I had only gotten worse. So I went back to this spine clinic. This time the specialist said because the exercises didn't work he was 95 percent sure it was the disc causing the pain. So he then said he would put me on the list to have a discography done. In Canada, this can take eight to twelve months, eight months being the earliest possible date.

For the last year I have been on MS Contin, which is a long lasting morphine. This has caused many other health problems. I have been hospitalized twice because of abdominal pain. The first was due to constipation, which was caused by the MS Contin. The second time I went to the hospital the doctors were sure it was my appendix. I had an emergency appendectomy, after which I was told that the surgeons had looked at the appendix and decided that the pain was not caused by my appendix. They don't know what's wrong, but their best guess is Chrones disease. I think the pain is caused by having MS Contin in my system for a year, which causes bowel problems.

I am very sorry for the length of this post, but I am just so desperate for help, and I felt that I had to explain my situation in order to get any help. My first problem and question are about the discography. I'm not sure if, "Discography," is the actual name of the procedure. They insert a hollow needle into the back, and then they insert a smaller needle into the larger one and inject something into the disc. The doctor told me no matter what it will hurt really bad, and while this is hurting like crazy I am supposed to tell them if it's the same pain I feel all the time. I am scared to death to have this done. I don't really know what to expect, and I am really worried that something will go wrong. The only thing I think can go wrong is me telling them that the pain isn't or is the same. I have all kinds of different pain in my back, and I don't think I will be able to say yes or no to what I am feeling during the discography. If anyone has had this done or knows about it, please let me know how difficult it is to go through, and what the success rate is, and what chance I have of screwing it up.

My last question has to do with the artificial disc operation. I'm not sure I mentioned it, but the doctors told me if the disc is causing the pain they will put in an artificial disc. The problem is that here in Canada, I will have to wait for around two years from now to get the opertation done. I have been looking up the cost for this operation, but I keep finding a lot of different prices. I was wondering if anyone knew how much it actually costs. I was also saw a few places that said you can go to Europe and get it done there for much less than in North America. Is this true, and if so is this a good option? I don't have much money, having depression and anxiety makes it very difficult to hold down a job, and my parents have been supporting me for the last six years. I am 24, and I don't want to be on pain killers for the next two years while waiting to get into a surgeon. I have been told that by that time I will probably have permanent nerve damage. Is there any way to raise money for something like this, or is there anyplace I could go for help? If anyone can help or has any ideas I would really appreciate it. I am really desperate right know, I am out of options and I am at the end of my rope. I really appreciate anyone that takes the time to read this and help out. Thank you very much.

 
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Old 12-17-2006, 11:01 PM   #2
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Re: Desperately need help, disc problem

Don't be so sure that you will have nerve damage. You can have severe back pain for years without permanent nerve damage. Also if you are seeing a dr on a regular basis the need for surgery will be addressed if you end up with drop foot indicating damage. Remember surgery is often not the cure and can create more problems than it solves. I know all about the wait times in Canada. It can be really tough. Also discograms are usually only done as a prelude to surgery.
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Old 12-18-2006, 06:21 AM   #3
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Re: Desperately need help, disc problem

Hey don't apologize to me for the long post...hell I don't have anything else to do anyway lol. Been off work for a year, pretty bored to death here. I am surpirsed at the long waits you have in Canada. I always thought that everyone there got health care for free and it was great. I didn't know you had to wait so long for treatment.

Sorry to hear about what your going through. Did your MRI say anything but bulging disc? Do you have a copy of it? Mine started off as a slipped disc at 19 and like you couldn't walk etc the doctors flat out refused to do anything to fix it because of my age. Ofcourse now there are alot of new procedures out that probably would be different. I had a hell of a time for atleast a year, sent to therapy etc and finally got better, atleast pain got back to just my back.

Now 17 years later that same disc has turned into a degenerated disc and its bulging and there are bone spurs and my nerves are being impinged. I have had a hard time getting help as I have no insurance, and no one will cover my back. I finally have some medical help, but they will not cover the artificial disc. i have had two doctors tell me this is what I need. Its very frustrating when their is new options but we can't get to them because of money.

I recently was told about ispine on the internet, you might look up that forum they talk alot about adr and options.

Good luck I know its frustrating, sorry I can't really answer your questions. I think, but could be wrong that to go to germany it cost around 40,000 to get it from the top knotch doctors.

hang in there. yvette

 
Old 12-18-2006, 07:02 AM   #4
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Re: Desperately need help, disc problem

Hey there buddy

Your post really tugged at my heartstrings. Its a shame that you have been "labeled" so much, and [I]professionals have been so presumptious.[/I] Its too bad. My only advice there, is to make sure that (although you may feel it one way or another), make sure that no symptom that is causing extreme outward feelings in front of them...they (professionals) do not like to deal with someone who is outwardly pouring their pain and feelings all over the examination room. Its unforn., but we have to tuck away some of the grief in order to really talk about our problemm.

[I]Artificial disc replacements[/I]...I am 31, and a MD (New York City MD who does these all day long), said that a younger person should not get one, b/c at this point the artifical discs will have to be replaced in about 30 years. (a snag in technology) And scar tissue forms near the artifical disc, and its close to a main vessel in your body. If they tried to replace it when you were 65, there is a good chance you would bleed to death. And 65 is STILL young. So, he prefers to do it on older folks.

Also, the discography, or [U]discogram[/U].....hurts like hell. The most painful thing I have ever had done to be honest (I am 8 weeks post op from a fusion currently). [B]HOWEVER-good news.[/B] The Discogram is [U]THE key [/U]to make those professionals believe that the bulge is causing you as much pain as you say. There is no way to fake this test...NO WAY. The results are too conclusive for any arguements. For you, this is your way out of other's disbelief. And , as for the pain, it goes away as soon as they are finished. Less than a hour to prove to everyone how much you hurt. It's a fair trade. Its a test that will completely be on your side. It is way worth it.
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C4-C7 Herniations
T5-T10 Herniations
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Thoracic Fusion via Thoracotomy 10/06

 
Old 12-18-2006, 02:51 PM   #5
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Re: Desperately need help, disc problem

I am very sorry to hear about your pain and frustration.. Whenever I hear someone tell me that their doctors cant find the problem, or think that it is in your head, I offer this suggestion.... Look into "phsycological pain". Read up on articles by Dr Sarno and also look for Sensei Rostocki books... Especially since you already have depression and anxiety.. Long story short, they believe that your subconcious mind is causing the pain in order to prevent your conscious mind from phsycological issues of some sort... I read the book and it did help me. Not saying that I dont have a physical problem, but some of my pain didnt make any sense to doctors, and I was told that my lower back was not bad enough to cause any pain.. So this is why I read this book and soon after, I found that it helped... Not sure if time was on my side or not, but it certainly made sense to me..

God Bless,

Maurizio

 
Old 12-19-2006, 08:39 PM   #6
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Re: Desperately need help, disc problem

Babs 19, since you have had a discogram done, could you tell me what happens, what they do, and what I have to do. I am so nervous, well actually I am scared out of my mind. I think it will help if I know what to expect. I also don't understand how it can be so conclusive. One of the things I am most scared of is the discogram showing that it's not the disc. The doctors have all agreed that if it's not the disc, there isn't much more that can be done.

Thank you everybody who took the time to read and reply to my post.

 
Old 12-19-2006, 11:23 PM   #7
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Re: Desperately need help, disc problem

I have 4 levels of disc bulges/hermiations, deseccreations, 2 levels of spinal stenosis, scoliosis, spondylosis and facet hypertrophy.

I had a discogram but luckily, the fentanyl/versed cocktail thry gave me prior to the procedure gave me amnesia. I don't recall any of it!

Alan

 
Old 12-20-2006, 04:00 AM   #8
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Re: Desperately need help, disc problem

CPT...
I had my discogram about a month and a half ago. It was pretty painful. The way the procedure work (at least the way I think it works) is that they place you on the OR table face down, they give you something to relax you (that's the best part) they numb the area of your back so the needle placement is relatively comfortable, they insert the needles into selected discs and inject contrast into each disc. Normally you will not feel anything if the disc is normal. If the disc injected causes pain and is same type of pain that you normally feel, they have found the problem disc. I will warn you though the pain caused by this procedure is sometimes extreme (at least it was for me) but this is an excellent way for the Dr. to determine which disc or discs may need surgery. They will usually test multiple discs and you will not know which discs they are testing until you feel pain. This test is usually done pre surgery. The Dr. will also be able to view the procedure via some type of x-ray and will be able to see how the disc responds to the pressure caused by the injected contrast ( this way they can tell if the disc has a tear and is leaking. The pain will subside shortly after the test is completed. Good luck to you, hopefully the test will be able to pin point the cause of your pain.

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Old 12-20-2006, 06:12 AM   #9
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Re: Desperately need help, disc problem

Does the surgeon perform this test? I would think this would be the next step for me, and I had a bad experience with my epidurals....alot of people here said epidurals don't hurt. Mine hurt bad enough I cried. But I think its probably like a dentist one can be wonderful or the worst ever and had the later one.

 
Old 12-20-2006, 06:52 AM   #10
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Re: Desperately need help, disc problem

[QUOTE=yvette777]Does the surgeon perform this test? I would think this would be the next step for me, and I had a bad experience with my epidurals....alot of people here said epidurals don't hurt. Mine hurt bad enough I cried. But I think its probably like a dentist one can be wonderful or the worst ever and had the later one.[/QUOTE]

In my case, yes the Surgeon does the discogram. When I had my epidural injections, they hurt. I think anytime pressure is applied to an already painful disc, it would certainly cause more pain. Anyway it did for me and the injections never worked for me although the Dr. always seemed to try and talk me into thinking that it worked.

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