Chronic back pain & sciatica - Failed Back Syndrome
In 2001 I moved an empty box and felt something give in my back. The following day I couldn't move out of my bed due to excruciating pain. Following numerous tests and scans over the next few months I was diagnosed with two prolapsed discs at L4/L5 and L5/S1. My GP initially referred me to Accident and Emergency due to the extreme pain I was in, but the doctor there just told me to go home and lay down for six weeks!
Physiotherapy and Acupuncture failed to relieve any pain and I was eventually referred to an Orthopedic surgeon. The Orthopedic surgeon then referred me to a Neurosurgeon who put me on a waiting list to remove a disc.
After a couple of years of extremely painful sciatica and decreased sensation in my right leg I moved from Dublin to Cork, Ireland, and I had my Neurosurgeon in Dublin refer me to one in Cork as I was told that I would be on the waiting list for at least another two years in Dublin. In July 2003 I saw the Neurosurgeon in Cork and had my first surgery in September 2003. He removed the L5/S1 disc saying that this was the disc that was causing all my problems.
Following the surgery I had to stay flat in bed for a couple of days, which I found extremely uncomfortable particularly using a bed pan! Following the post operative pain I was fine for a few months but then the sciatica returned worse then before. I was told that a fragment had come loose and put pressure on the sciatic nerve. I had a few nerve blocks but they did not give any relief. I had a repeat surgery in 2004. The problem with fragments pressing against the nerve reoccurred again and the surgery was again repeated in 2005 and 2007. I've discussed fusing the L5/S1 vertebrae with my Neurosurgeon but he has told me that this would not be possible due to the pressure it would cause on my already prolapsed L4/L5 disc.
In 2009 my Neuorsurgeon passed me on to a colleague of his who is a consultant in Anaesthesia. I had three nerve blocks which failed to give relief and I was diagnosed with Failed Back Syndrome.
I am now in limbo. There are no treatment centres in my region specialising in back pain. I asked my GP to refer me to a Back Pain clinic attached to one of the hospitals in Cork but she forgot. I asked her again last week but the waiting list is at least 12 months. I haven't been able to afford physiotherapy even though I desperately need it. I've tried various exercises myself but due to pressures of work and depression I stopped doing these months ago. Walking is what I need to do but I also have many problems with my right knee. My GP recently told me that I probably need knee replacement surgery (without ever having any tests or x-rays) but won't get this until my level of exercise increases, which I can't do until I get physiotherapy!
I was recently made redundant and have started the paperwork to get financial assistance and free medical treatement which will enable me to get physiotherapy but I don't know when this will come throught. I have lived on a coctail of oxycontin, oxynorm, lyrica, amitriptyline, codalax and paracetamol for nearly two years and hate it. I started to get severe side affects of the lyrica a few months ago and was weaned off them. I also weaned myself off the amitriptyline after I couldn't afford to refill my prescription about the same time I came off the lyrica. My GP never really discusses my medication with me - I tell her what my dosage is and she writes the prescription. I feel I have no support and no-one who I can talk to about this. I don't want to go on taking painkillers for the rest of my life but I don't see any other option for me.
I apologise for the long-winded message, but there is a lot of history behind my back pain and wanted to get as much relevant information down as I could. I don't know who else I can turn to or where I can get help.