I was told one year ago that I had failed back syndrome and all I have to say is that it is a catch all phrase for I can't help you anymore. Please, please don't accept this diagnosis. Maybe I am in a land of denial but I want to explain why I feel this way.
Last year when I was told, I sunk into a depression. I was 42 and thinking pain pills around the clock are my life and no one wanted to treat my pain. I was so frustrated and had alot of negative thoughts. The best thing that happened to me was I saw an excellent pain mgmt doctor, it took me several tries, who acknowledged my pain and was willing to treat it. PRAISE GOD. Once my pain was treated then we began going thru doctors. I probably saw 10 or so and slowly they began ordering tests. The EKG, the CT scan, the mylegram, etc. The EKG came back showing that I had chronic pain in 2 levels, MRI and CT were normal except I had no fusion. Some concurred with my doctor and two said I needed surgery.
My last doc I went to said well yes my surgery failed but I did not have failed back syndrome in his opinon. Without fusion, how could I be failed? He said I had a non-union but despite all of my other tests he felt that L3 was questionable. He felt pretty confident that L4 needed to be fused and probably did a year ago along with L5/S1. He ordered a Discogram. Has your boyfriend had one? I will start out and say that this is the worst test to go thru but WOW how eye opening it was in my case. What was unbelievable is that I had two levels light up that were normal on all my other tests. Suprise! Suprise!
So now I am in the process of being scheduled for surgery #5!
And I have been informed that a #6 will probably happen but we are aiming for lessor than more first.
I am sharing this to you to just say:
(1) don't give up. This doc is politely saying they can't help you.
(2) see the big wigs - there is a doctor in FLA, NY, and CA that will review your xrays without seeing you to determine if they can do anything to help you. It might be worth investigating.
(3) Make sure that your boyfriend is in counseling - I am not saying that he is a mental case or anything by any means but chronic pain and numerous surgeries do pull you down. The best thing I could have ever done was have a counselor to talk to that specializes in chronic pain. We talk to one another monthly now but did talk weekly for awhile. Since I do not drive due to the condition of my back, we now do telephone conversations which help the number of days and times my hubby has to take off from work.
(4) find a good pm doc - one that does not push shots but is willing to prescribe meds so you do not suffer.
(5) encourage him to talk to others who are in chronic pain and that can relate to his back pain. I have found a dear friend that I email 15 times a day.
I hope this helps some and remember I am here if you have any questions. I will subscribe to this thread and if you respond it will email me.