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having lots of pain, really scared, please help

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Old 01-11-2007, 11:10 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2005
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cptpooface HB User
having lots of pain, really scared, please help

I have posted on this board a few times, and the last time I posted it was about an upcoming discography, aka discogram (I think). I live in Canada, and believe me when I say, socialized medicine in Canada creates more problems than it solves. I have heard so many terrible stories I can't believe it. My mom's friend had a son that had a mental illness, I can't remember what, he went to the hospital complaining of severe headache and a really sick stomach. The hospital was so busy and so full that they told him to go home and if it didn't get better in a few days to come back. He died that night, I don't remember what he died of, but it was due to complications with some prescription drugs, it could have easily been treated if they had admitted him that night. So while Americans may be denied care because they have no insurance or other way to pay, Canadians get turned away because there isn't enough room, or nurses, or doctors. My doctor has told me that he has five or six patients who had really bad back pain, they had to wait more than a year to get into a surgeon, then they had to wait another eight to twelve months for the operation. As a result they all have permanent nerve damage, they all have some part of their body they can't feel.

The reason I bring this up is because I have been told I may need an artificial disc, and there are only two doctors in the country that will do this operation. You see, Canada can't keep specialized doctors in Canada. They get paid ten times as much in the states, so after accumulating student loan payments they leave to the U.S.A so they can get paid better. As a result we have very few specialized doctors, and the few we do have are so overworked that they can not spend the time they should with patients.

As I said I am scheduled to get a discography sometime in the spring. I have been on the list since last may, which means if I get this discography this upcoming may I will have waited a year. But that's not what is scaring me. First off, I am terrified of this discography, I have been told by doctors and patients that this is a massively painful procedure, but that it's the only way to tell if the disc is causing my pain. My problem is that I am about 95% convinced that I don't have a disc problem. To be honest I am praying that I do have a disc problem because at least then it is treatable. I have done physiotherapy, acupuncture, yoga, exercising and core strengthening, you name it I've tried it. The only thing that helps the pain is narcotic pain killers, and nothing seems to heal my back.

I have been to a few specialists, every single time I saw a doctor about this they were convinced it wasn't a disc. I guess I don't exhibit the normal symptoms of disc problems. I had an MRI a year and a half ago, now I can't have another one for at least 18 months, unless a neurosurgeon specifically orders one, and I won't see the neurosurgeon until after the discography, probably a long time after the discography. So I can't tell if the disc has gotten any worse. My first MRI showed a bulging disc at L4-L5, I think. But all the doctors said that it was normal, and that a third of the population would show a bulging disc if they had an MRI, and most wouldn't even feel any pain, or have any back problems. The first things I heard from doctors was that it couldn't be the disc. It was bulging to the right, which meant there would be pain in the left back and down the left leg. I don't have any pain down my left leg, and very little in the left side of my back. So they tried all kinds of nerve pain drugs nothing worked. After a year of trying every kind of drug you could possibly try for back pain I had had enough. I went to a different doctor who saw that all those drugs had not worked, so he put me on pain killers, so that at least I could function.

I guess I am getting a little long winded so I will just sum everything up. My symptoms are as follows. Extreme pain in the lower right back, only rarely does the pain move down into my rear, and never down into my leg. My right foot has gone numb a few times, but not enough to be worried about it. My feet are freezing cold all the time, I don't know if that means anything. I still have regular leg strength in both legs. Any time I am bent over I will have extreme pain, and nothing, not even pain killers take care of the pain then. For example, being bent over working under the hood of a car for five to ten minutes will cause extreme pain and render me pretty much helpless. Even bending over at the sink to brush my teeth brings on severe pain. Twisting in certain ways will also cause pain. I have extremely tight muscles on the right side of my back, I don't know if that means anything either, but some doctors have commented on it. If I take it easy, meaning no strenuous work, no bending over, no lifting heavy objects, and take my pain meds than I will usually be okay. The weird thing is, sometimes my back can hurt so bad I can't do anything but lay in bed. But other times I have been almost pain free. It just seems so random, one day I will have a lot of pain, the next I will have barely any. Certain activities will make it hurt no matter what, but other than that the pain is totally random.

What I am getting at is that these don't seem to be the symptoms of a bad disc. But I know that it's not just sore tight muscles or soft tissue damage causing the problem. I injured my back six years ago in a track meet. Since then it has given me trouble, I had pretty bad pain the whole year following the accident, but then it let up for two years, but the last three years have been getting exponentialy worse.

I can't even describe how hopeless and scared I feel. If the discography shows that it's not the disc I will fall apart. If it's not the disc I see no options available for me, especially here in Canada where there are very few specialists, and none in my area. I am also scared about the discography procedure, and if it's not the disc causing the problem I will be going through that pain for nothing. I am so very sorry for making such a long post, but I hope it doesn't scare too many people away. I am desperate for any help, advice, tips or input, so please let me know what you think. Thank you very much for any help and replies.

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Old 01-12-2007, 12:04 AM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2007
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pookie62078 HB User
Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

If its not the disc causing the problem the discogram won't hurt.

Old 01-12-2007, 08:08 AM   #3
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olliedoll HB User
Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

First of all the discography procedure pain is different for everyone. I think it depends on your pain tolerance. I had one done and my experience was not pleasant. Sorry, I know that doesn't help. Second of all, I'm not a doctor but even though they say a lot of people will have bulging discs and not have any pain, many people have bulging discs and it causes them a lot of pain. That's the way I was. I ended up doing epidural nerve blocks at three levels every 4 months for two years to control my pain. The blocks fortunately really helped me. It wasn't until about 3 or 4 months ago they stopped helping and I had an MRI done which showed the disc had completely collasped/degenerated and the docotor decided I could either live with the pain and the drugs or have the fusion. Being only 24 I decided I was young enough to recover well from a fusion so that was the option I chose. I am now 4 weeks post op. I am so sorry that the medical practices are the way they are in Canada. I cannot imagine having to wait that long to see a doc or to have a procedure done. I would drive me crazy. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that just because one doc says that you do have a bulging disc and it is not causing your pain does not mean that that is true. You know your body and the pain you're having. Keep searching until you find the true answer. Don't worry about the discography. You can make it through. Just make sure you have plenty of days to rest and do absolutely nothing after it. It would be great if you had someone to wait on you hand and foot because you will be sore. I wish you all the luck in the world.

Old 01-12-2007, 05:10 PM   #4
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Location: Berryville, Virginia
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Justoneofus HB User
Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

Hi there. Depending on where you live in Canada does make a difference on how quickly you can be seen. I have a friend in Niagra Falls Canada, and she has no problems seeing her neurosurgeon, pain management, and physio doctors. She said she was quite fortunate in that regard.

It's okay to be afraid of the discogram, but if it shows your problem, it's worth any discomfort or pain it may produce. I had a discogram last March. The discogram the test that found the source of my pain. All my others surgeons (3 previously) assumed a bulging disc I have at l5/s1 was causing my pain. BUT, in doing the discogram.. that disc caused me no pain and he injected dye into it 3 different times and I never once reacted. THEN, he injected dye into the disc above (that by MRI only showed "slightly" degenerated, and otherwise looked healthy) and it caused horrible pain. Under discogram this disc proved to be completely unhealthy, the inside of the disc was all but gone and the disc was on the verge of collapse. This never showed in 3 years worth of MRIs.

So, this test is worth it's weight in gold. Yes, if you have a positive disc.. it will hurt and most often.. really bad. BUT, it proves disc issues causing pain or not, majority of the time. My doctor does not sedate for this type of testing, but some doctors do. In the US, some docs will give their patients a med that sedates enough for the patient to remember little or none of the testing, but keeps most coherent enough to be able to communicate effectively if any discs being tested cause pain. ALSO NOTE: It's not just if a disc is painful, but also if any pain is present.. is it the same as the pain the patient normally has, but only lots worse.

I am fused at l4/l5 as of April 2006. I am still healing but have been doing pretty well. If I overdo, I pay for it dearly, and I do have some residual nerve pain in my left leg that hasn't been determined the cause of that came on post surgery. But I still am not in near the pain I was before. And If I ever get that way again, I would undergo a discogram again, and another fusion if needed.

And yes, the pain you describe can indeed be coming from a disc. The muscles in your back can spasm and get sore, etc.. as a result of a disc issue. Also, has anyone mentioned piriformis muscle issues to you? The piriformis muscle runs very close to the sciatic nerve. When this muscle spasms or is inflammed it too can create the exact same symptoms and pain as if one has a spine disc issue. Your leg not being involved.. might be an indicator of this not being a piriformis issue, but maybe still. Just something to think on.

We all get that scared and hopeless feeling, and we are entitled to a little self pity now and again. What I affectionately refer to as a "pity party". I have thrown a few for myself now and again, and I am sure I will occasionally going forward. Try and not let it totally consume you and this is a GREAT PLACE to come and vent and let some of it out and talk with others that REALLY UNDERSTAND you, and can totally relate and offer some wisdom and a shoulder to lean on when necessary. We also would love to hear good news too! If you are having a great day.. share it. We love it!

Unfortunately there are no quick fixes to pain, especially when it might be generated from the back. It's often a matter of trying many different things, techniques, ideas.. in hopes of controlling or ridding of the pain. You have to learn to be ever so patient and then take it up to a whole nother level!

Hang in there. You aren't alone and we are here. Take care. Tammy
"believe in the beauty of your dreams"- E. Roosevelt

L5/S1 bulging @ 18, now 46; still there (but no pain)
Fusion at L4/L5 Apr -2006
Solidly Fused Nov-2006
A Success, but still improving!

Old 01-13-2007, 06:39 PM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 72
cptpooface HB User
Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

I have been reading through a lot of other posts, and it got me worried. I am not sure I have severe enough pain for the problem to be the disc. There are people on this forum who have WAY worse pain than me. My pain hurts, and every once in a while it will keep me in bed or stop me from doing activities I enjoy, but as long as I make sure I don't do any acitivities that will hurt my back, I won't have too much pain.

I wanted to thank everyone who replied, because no matter what it says it helps to know that there are people out there that care. And when I say, "no matter what it says," I am not saying your posts don't say anything helpful because they do. They are extremely helpful and they have given me a load of good advice. I'm not sure if I mentioned it but I have severe clinical depression and anxiety (and I want everyone to know that I am not mentioning the depression and anxiety to get pity, or brag or anything like that), and the anxiety really makes me worry a lot more than usual. That is part of the reason this is so hard. The other part that makes it hard is that if the discography doesn't show the disc to be the problem, I don't know what to do, and I won't be able to get into a surgeon, or any specialist for a very long time. I also don't know if there is anything anyone can do if it's not the disc. I guess there isn't much I can do until I get the discography, I was just hoping there may be some way to be more sure if it was the disc. I just never seem to have the tell tale symptoms of a disc problem. I think I have a really low pain tolerance so that is why my back hurts so bad, but some people on this board seem to have way worse pain than me. I have never been unable to move because of pain or not be able to get up because of the pain. I am sorry if my venting is annoying, but thank you so much for allowing me to get this all off my chest, it is very helpful, and thanks again for all the replies.

Last edited by cptpooface; 01-13-2007 at 06:39 PM.

Old 01-14-2007, 07:01 AM   #6
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Jacksonville,Fla,USA
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Thumper1943 HB User
Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

Please get to the right kind of Doctor. Anesthesiologist are the real Pain Management Doctors. I have been where you are, and now I have quite a bit of help with a Morphine Pump Implant, after surgery failed. Please try.


Old 01-14-2007, 07:28 AM   #7
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Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

Please just remember that pain is subjective. No can measure one person's pain against another. Some people can tolerate more pain than other's. Some people can seem to have a mild problem, yet still be in severe pain, while others with severe problems may seem to have less pain. The amount of pain doesnt's just the fact you are in any kind of pain, which is not normal. My rheumatologist and spine surgeon both mentioned, when explaining disc issues with me, the same thing about MRI's showing disc problems in many people, though not all will know it. However they also said it doesnt mean you don't have a problem with it. I guess I was lucky in a way that I got my diagnosis very quickly through MRI's. I had 2 herniated discs and it was never doubted by anyone that they were causing me alot of pain. In fact, before I had my MRI's, and saw my rheumy as an emergency appointment and explained & showed him where it hurt & told him I was vomiting from the pain.....he immediately thought it was due to disc issues so ordered the MRI. Turned out it was exactly in the area that I pointed out. But on top of that, I also had severe stenosis in several levels caused by bone overgrowth. I never needed any of those other tests , so I cant give you any clue how they might feel. What I did have was a series of epidural injections and it did help my disc pain, though not the stenosis pain so I ended up having surgery for that.

Just never let any doctor tell you that you arent having pain or that you cant have pain if it doesnt look that serious b/c that's a crock. Only you, yourself can know if something is causing you pain. And it doesnt matter if you think others pain is worse, that may be...but the fact is you have pain as well and it does interfere with your normal activities. I just wish you didnt have those long waiting periods in me that is ridiculous especially if one's life could be in danger. I know I couldnt handle that.

Old 01-14-2007, 10:00 PM   #8
Join Date: Apr 2005
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cptpooface HB User
Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

Thanks again for all the replies. To Thumper1943, I wish I could get to the right kind of doctor, but there isn't any pain specialists within about six hours from where I live, and the wait could be as much as eight months. This just goes to show how difficult it is to have socialized medicine (I think that's the right term for what we have in Canada). All of these replies have been so helpful. I have been looking for my MRI report for a few days now and I found it today. I was wondering if there is any internet sites or other sources of information that could help me narrow down what my problem could be. Now that I have my MRI report I can at least try to get as much information on my problem as possible. If anyone knows of any sites or other places with good info please let me know. Everyone on this board has been so helpful. It just blows me away that everyone helps, and gives so selflessly, thanks again for all the help.

Old 01-15-2007, 06:48 AM   #9
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Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

There are people on here who can make some sense out of MRI results. I'm not one of them; I've never had one, as my problem is different from just about everyone else's, though the treatment ended up being the same. If you want to, you can post what the MRI report says and the appropriate people will almost certainly jump in to help you. Maybe start a new post so it gets seen.

Yes, there's a huge difference between socialized medicine and the American method. It scares me when people talk about nationalizing health care. We'll end up with the problems you're experiencing right now. Pros and cons both ways, but I'd hate to see the US go socialized!

Good luck!

Old 01-23-2007, 12:48 PM   #10
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Grass Valley CA USA
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lara13 HB User
Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

I can't help but wonder if you are having facet joint pain. Does little turn left or right or uneven footing cause horrible sharp pain? Sometimes? Sometimes not? The nerves near the facet joint could be the cause, if so RFL or Radio Frenquency Lesioning could help.

Old 01-23-2007, 12:52 PM   #11
Join Date: Jan 2007
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lara13 HB User
Re: having lots of pain, really scared, please help

Just post it here, most folks seem to have their MRI's handy and can relate their experience accordingly.

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