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Old 11-06-2011, 12:22 PM   #1
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Back pain after car accident, have questions

I was rear ended about eight weeks ago. I had neck, back and shoulder pain right away, went to minor emergency and my regular doctor. They took xrays which showed nothing broken and prescribed pain pills and relaxers. My doctor hesitated to order an MRI, said to wait two weeks & pain would likely be gone. After seven days I was in much worse pain, so I saw an orthopedic spine doctor. He ordered four weeks of PT 3x per week and continued use of the meds I'd already been given. At the time I didn't realize he only ordered PT for my neck, so after the first PT visit I had to see him again to have the PT order revised to include back. He commented that I was having spasms and said "these things just take time". I'm starting my final week of PT tomorrow, and while I have gotten better mobility in my neck since starting PT, the pain has not diminished at all. I can't sit for any length of time, same with walking, and lying down is impossible. The neck pain comes and goes, but the pain in my lower back is constant and some days is so bad I am in tears. Is this still normal, or should the pain have subsided at least some by now?

I'm frustrated because I've never had a day of back or neck pain in my life until now, and now I've been in constant pain for eight weeks. I don't handle pain medicine well at all, it either makes me sick to my stomach or makes me a zombie, so I have to limit my medication to ibuprofen during the day. Everyone just keeps saying it takes time, but after eight weeks shouldn't I feel even a little better? Thanks for any advice and responses, I appreciate it.

 
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:12 AM   #2
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Re: Back pain after car accident, have questions

Welcome to the board. Unfortunately people and medical personnel tend to think of cervical and whiplash injuries when someone has been in a car crash, too often ignoring that the rest of the spine can suffer damage, too.

I understand why doctors are reluctant to order MRIs right off the bat, as often they will indicate a "problem" that is actually not really causing any pain or difficulty. The spine begins the degenerative, aging process in our 20s, but most of us do not develop any outward symptoms until many decades later...and at any time beyond the twenties very few people have a MRI that reveals a 100% "perfect" spine.

However, eight weeks after the accident, if your only injuries were muscular, you should be gradually getting better and the symptoms should be receding.
I would suggest you return to your doctor, explain your continuing symptoms and how they are affecting your daily functioning, and ask for a MRI of your lumbar and cervical spine.

If you feel your doctor would be reluctant to order this test, make an appointment with a fellowship-trained spine specialist. This can be either an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon who limit their practice to issues of the back and neck. Then you will know what you are dealing with, whether your body can heal properly on its own or whether you need some conservative treatments to help the process along.

A patient can waste a lot of time dealing with the PCP and just being treated with a "wait and see" attitude. I know I did.

Good luck to you. Hope you get some answers soon and will be able to start the healing process.

 
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