Disc Problems, can someone please share some advise?
I have back pain literally my whole life, although most people have not believed me for what ever reason. About three years ago, when my son was born, the pain got so much worse. Some days the pain was bad enough to where I couldnt move or walk. I have seen numerous doctors and none of them were interested in helping me. They all said I was too young to be having back problems, and since all x-rays came up clear, the pain was all in my head. One doctor said I am depressive and that is causing my pain. Another doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and also said I should start seeing a shrink. Finally, after seeing doctor after doctor, taking many pain pills and muscle relaxers, and going to many pt appointments, a dr. finally ordered an MRI which showed 3 buldging disc (L3-L4, L4-L5, & L5-S1), the lower two of the discs are pushing on my spinal cords, narrowing spinal cavity, and a section of pinched nerves. Since pills and therapy have not helped my new doctor scheduled me for an epidural steroid injection. It has been a few weeks since I recieved the injection and it feels like the pain has gotten even worse. I am a stay at home mom and a full time student, this pain is negatively affecting my quality of life every day. Most nights I can't get any sleep because of it. Does any one has any suggestions for me? Although my family sees im in pain and they feel sorry for me, they really don't understand what im going through and it would be nice to hear from some people who do. Sorry for the lengthy post, I just found this site today.
- Katie _
Last edited by KatieKitty; 01-12-2013 at 07:14 PM.
Reason: not getting any responses
First of all welcome to the board. You will find most people on the board have had on going back problems for years and certainly will understand what you are going thru physically and emotionally.
Just a little something about me.....
--- 1994 lumbar surgery for herniated discs;
--- 1995 cervical surgery for stenosis;
--- 1997 lumbar surgery with Harrington Rods implanted;
--- 2000 cervical surgery for kyposis with Harrington Rods & fusions;
--- 2006 Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted for pain control;
--- 2011 Spinal Cord Stimulator removed; not working for me;
--- 2012 Intrathecal Pain Pump (morphine) trial to see if helped me;
--- 2013 YESTERDAY 1/11/13 permanent implant done for morphine
I have other heath conditions such as diabetes; congenital absent left kidney; kidney disease of the right kidney.
I have permanent nerve damage in my cervical and lumbar spine; arthritis; periperhal neuropathy. Numbness in my legs; pin and needles feeling. Weakness in my arms; radiating pain into shoulder area; stenosis; myelomalacia which is softening of the cervical spine due to lack of blood supply; focal cord atrophy in cervical area; severe loss of disc height in neck area. The list goes on and on.
As to other people understanding the pain you are in. I find very few people truly understand. I've had this conversation with several people. It gets to the point that I've given up on talking to people because they don't understand. They say they do but I don't believe it. I see the blank expressions on their faces. So at times when I don't feel like talking about it I say I am fine. Why bother talkiing when no one listens.
As to the epidural injections. Its been a long time since I've been thru the Epidural Steroid Injections. I can't remember how many I've been thru, but several at least.
I was always told that it is normal to go thru 3 injections at a time for help. I would go thru the 1st injection and found that I had minimal relief and would last only several days. The 2nd injection would be done and I found I did NOT get any relief whatsoever. So we never got to the 3rd injections. We, meaning the doctor and I didn't see the need to continue.
For me personally it did NOT work, so I have given up on trying them. They have been recommended and I refust to go thru them.
But, while it did not work for me, there have been people I know or heard from and they felt it did help them after the injections. You never know what will work for one person and not work on the next person.
There is no harm in trying it and see what it does for you. Then you decide what is best for you. They either work or they don't.
Please keep us posted on how you are doing.
One thing I would recommend is that you should really be treating with an orthopedic or neurosurgeon that is trained and works routinely in their practice with doctors trained in "spine" related issues. I tend to check out the doctors before hand as to where they went to school; where they did their internship and prefer to go with someone that is affiliated with major teaching hospitals. Too many people seem to treat with their primary doctors. Not what I would personally recommend.
Also concervative treatment meaning try medications & "
"physical therapy" at a rehab facility for help. When all else fails then the subject of surgery should be discussed. Any discussion of surgery before that should really be explained by your doctor as to why surgery is needed and when it is needed. Surgery on the spine does hold its risks.
Hope to hear back from you as to how you are doing.
I have found people who have not had extreme pain & long term pain don't really get what you & many others on this board are going through.
And doctors can make it worse by making you think its in your head. If you are not getting help you need, get another opinion. If you decide to get surgery, a 2nd opinion us also good idea. I suggest a neurosurgeon. Surgery should be last resort .
I unfortunately didn't get results from injections but I know some people due. Good luck.
You don't specify what type of doctor you are currently seeing...at the risk of being repetitious, you might want to consult with a spine specialist for the most accurate diagnosis. Since you have had back pain most of your life, you may have a a problem with structural alignment or some sort of congenital issue that is now getting worse as you get older.
Look for either a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon whose practice is limited to the neck and back. Rather than looking for pain relief, it is important to find out why you have back pain and if there is a mechanical reason for it.
The Twin cities have a number of excellent spine clinics so you shouldn't have a problem finding a well-trained, experienced spine surgeon. And you don't have to need surgery in order to consult with a spine surgeon. They will recommend conservative treatments and can refer you to the appropriate practioners if surgery is not necessary...and it usually is not necessary in something like 85% of patients who go to the doctor with back pain.
Thanks for the input everyone! I really appreciate it. I am now seeing a spine specialist, she is the one who got me in to get an injection. I have a follow up with her on the 30th. My one and only injection has not provided any reliefe for me, but she mentioned something about maybe trying a bilateral injection next time, for my first one I just got it done on one side. Maybe (hopefully) that will make a positive difference. As for surgery, im not even thinking about that right now. Im doing eveything I can to get better but am trying not to go to the most extreme meassure if I can help it.
I agree surgery should only be considered as the last option. It is best to go conservative and when all else fails then you think about surgery. But NOT before.
Surgery on the spine is risky like any surgery. I have been thru 8 surgeries on my spine to date. That was 5 major surgeries then others for putting in a spinal cord stimulator; then having it removed, and just a few days ago I had an intrathecal pain pump inserted.
Never thought I would have so many surgeries. So I speak from experience do it as the last resort.
I agree. Also, before you do a surgery nobody can promise your pain will go away.
They can't promise that. We saw in our forum lot's of people who did back or neck surgeries and the pain didn't go away.
Back or neck surgery is done ONLY when there is a risk of you being paralysed. It's not done to get rid of your pain and doctors won't do it. It's too risky.
One last point here, you cannot sleep cause of the pain. Well, oh well, than you need to take sleeping pills or clonazepam or muscles relaxants or something.
I am telling you, if you won't be able to sleep...you won't be able to study and you can be really sick (diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and more).
Yeah, the sleep deprevation is a big issue right now. Ive taken muscle relaxers and sleep aides and they don't help much. I get drowsey and it helps take the edge off but the pain still over powers everything. I lay down at night and every position just hurts and feels completely wrong. Some times I go sit in a reclining chair for a little bit and that helps but only for a short while before that becomes uncomfortable as well.
Without knowing more about what is causing the narrowing of the central canal, it is impossible to offer too many comments. If there are other issues contributing to the stenosis in the central canal, other than the disc bulges, it may prove to be impossible to get much pain relief without surgery.
Does any one think that if I try a bilateral injection it could possibly help, even though the unilateral injection has not helped at all? And some days I feel it actually made the pain worse (if that is possible). I feel I need to try something a little more agressive, but not too extreme, I still feel I am too young to be dealing with these issues, but that's life I guess, I just have to do what I need to do to keep doing well in school and being the best mom that I can be with pain or no pain.
Have you had a flexion/extension x-ray to check for spondylolisthesis? Have you gone through a course of physical therapy to learn exercises to strengthen the muscles of the back and core? And, do you know if there are other things wrong other than bulging discs? Depending on the extent of the disc bulges, this is something that can be healed without surgical intervention.
Do you have copies of the MRI and the radiology report? If not, you might want to request them so you can start your own file.
If it is a matter of healing bulging discs, it would be worthwhile trying more injections. Sometimes people do not respond to the first one, but have better results with the second one. If you have tried two and there are no positive results, then the doctor usually doesn't bother with a third injection.
I have been thru epidural steroid injections several times over the years. It's been a long time though. For me personally I do not put a lot of faith nto them. They never really did much good.
I would go thru one injection and would get some relief after the first one for several days. So we would proceed to the 2nd injection. After the 2nd injection, I had NO relief whatsoever. The doctor and I felt that sinice I had limited success followed by NO success, there was no sense in doing the 3 rd injection.
BUT I have known or heard of people that have had success with the injections. You never know when or who they will work for. I say give it a shot and if after several attempts and you find a pattern that it either does or doesnt work for you, then you will have your answer as to what works for you.
I did nearly of year of PT (with some breaks in between). No help. I did start going to the gym to strengthen my core and lose weight to take some pressure off everything and now my back muscles are very strong, but I have had no success in the weight loss. I know losing weight would only help but the pain limits me. I drink mainly water, rarely eat junk food, and try to exercise as much as I can and the weight just isn't going.