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    Old 06-02-2004, 12:02 PM   #1
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    Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    I apologize in advance for the length of this thread (~novel) but I have never posted here before and am hoping that if I give some detail about my history somebody will be able to help me.

    I am a 33 year old male. 225 lbs, 6’1”, large bone structure.
    I grew up on a farm, played sports and always did very difficult back work without problems. I got my first white collar job in 1994. I didn’t stay in good physical shape like I should have (and mistakenly thought I would always be in without additional effort). I hurt my left ankle badly in early 1995 was treated and had my second surgery in May 1996. I had hobbled around for more than a year and a half – every step was painful and I limped during this time. I walk on the outside edges of my feet, and wear out the outside heel of my shoes first so I am susceptible to sprain.
    My Father had a shattered lumbar disk at age 45, he is much better after surgery. Mother suffers from sciatica and occasional spasms.

    I have been having worsening chronic pain for the better part of 4 years. It is to the point now where I can hardly do the most basic things in life – my wife tells me that I am not the same person she married 9 years ago (my sense of humor has been taken by the pain). She (and I) want to have a child but I do not know if my pain will allow it. I want to be able to play catch and go camping with my kid – I don’t want to be the Dad that always sits on the sideline.
    Nobody can tell me what’s wrong and that is the most depressing part…

    - First back spasm episode was in July 1997; couldn’t stand or walk for 3 days. Same thing happened many times through April 2000. In 2000 when pain from spasm subsided it was replaced by inability to pull my left leg forward when walking from sciatic nerve irritation. Got therapy at U of Michigan Hospital for several months (ultrasound, ice, manipulation, traction). About the time the therapist said my spine was straight, the sciatic pain subsided.

    Within months of the sciatic pain going away I started having low level chronic pain in my lower back, left side. It was pretty mild so I got by. I always said it was as if I was on the edge of having another bout with spasms. I describe the pain as a ‘tearing’ pain - like if I were to put a piece of duct tape on my low back and then peel if off slowly. This was especially true when I went for a walk with my dogs and wife. The more I move, the worse it gets.

    About this time I developed a numb spot on the top and outside of my upper left leg – just above the knee.

    I started seeing a good chiropractor in early 2001. He was able to provide me with some pain relief through late 2003. I was at a point where I still wasn’t able to do many things (jog, repetitive bending, sports, etc) but I could get by.

    In late 2003 the normal every day pain increased to the point where I had to try a different route to relief. I went back to the U of M Spine Center. I passed all the tests the doctor did in her office (strength, reflex). I had a MRI and an EMG. The MRI showed some degenerative changes in my lower 2 discs but there is no nerve impingement. I have never had any numbness or pain in the legs (aside from the numb skin on my left thigh, and sciatica in 2000) so this was not a surprise. My EMG was also negative. Since they can only check the function of the nerves that go to muscles, the numbness in my thigh was attributed to a nerve that passes through the hip joint… It is only a sensory nerve – finding the blockage can only be found by conducting exploratory surgery of the hip. I accept this explanation.

    I started seeing a physical therapist at U of M. She said that my sacrum was immobile. She did many manual manipulations designed to loosen it up. She taught my wife to do them also. She taught me stretching exercises that I did religiously. Very little improvement in pain was realized so she released me back to the doctor.

    From January through early April I did all the therapists suggested stretching exercises every day, a Pillates (Stotts) back strengthening video (3x/week) and stationary bike (3x/week). I could tell a real difference in strength and flexibility – but the pain was no better.

    My chiropractor said my pelvis was unstable and kept tilting. He says that my problem has always been my SI joint – never the discs/vertebrae. He was able to adjust it but just sitting on the floor caused it to pop out of position. Every time I got on an airplane I got off in terrible pain. I ruined 2 short trips this way in the last 6 months. I was adjusted ~15 times in three months.

    In early April I had 4 facet injections – L3 - L4, L4- L5 Right and Left side. I felt really good for 3 days. I felt so good in fact that I went out for a vigorous bike ride and injured my back when I tried to pump up a popped tire for the third time. The pain I had kept me from bending backwords at all. My chiropractor said that the fluid imbalance in my joints from the injections combined with the overexertion may have caused a ligament spasm(?). The pain was not like the muscle spasms I was familiar with. After a couple of weeks this pain was gone but the pain I had prior to the injections was back and getting worse all the time.

    I started seeing an acupuncturist a couple weeks ago. She made some interesting observations. She said that after looking at my lower back that it was obvious that I have been in a lot of pain for a long time and that it didn’t even look like my low back ‘belonged’ to the same body. It looked completely foreign (due to the atrophy I guess?) and was cold to the touch (I noticed that as well – maybe from years of using ice to help with pain?). She thinks the muscles have been guarded for a long time and need to be ‘woken up’ before pain can be effected.

    If I were to guess at what’s going on – here it is: Years of guarding against spasms has caused the small muscles in my low back to atrophy to the point where they are constantly inflamed by every day movement. My body has excluded these small muscles from firing for so long that they are no longer part of my body mechanics so exercising has not improved them. The only probles with this theory is why did the facet injections seem to work for a short time? What about the SI goint/Pelvis instability? Might it be an SI joint problem?

    Any Suggestions would be greatly appreciated. THANKS YOU!!!!!!!

    Last edited by ozz; 06-04-2004 at 05:33 AM.

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    Old 06-02-2004, 12:23 PM   #2
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    Re: Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    I am so sorry for all your pain! That is just terrible. I guess the only thing I could say to you is that you should go see a neurosurgen or an orthopedist and stop going to a chiropractor. Get some mri's and x-ray's done and go from there. Best of luck

    Age: 24

    April, 2004: Found out that I will have surgery on June 17. He will take bone from my pelvis and add rods and screws to keep my cages from moving anymore.

    April 21, 2004: Going to see new neurosurgen today and hopefully he will help me out.

    March 2004: Found out that I didn't fuse. My body rejected the BMP. :-(

    March 2003: Alif interbody fusion with BMP and BAK cages (L5-S1)

    Nov 2002: Discogram confirms DDD and shreded L5-S1 disc

    May 2001: Microdistectomy and Laminectomy. (L5-S1)

    2001: Cortizone injections. No help.

    Dec 25, 1999: Fell against wooden couch frame.

    (History of DDD in family and 5 family members have had multiple back surgeries)

    Old 06-02-2004, 01:48 PM   #3
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    Re: Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    [COLOR=DarkRed][SIZE=3][FONT=Tahoma]It is time to see a traditional doctor who specializes in spines. Either a neurologist or an orthopedic spine specialist. You need to find out for sure just what your problem is insteading of "it might be" this or that. To treat something effectively, you must know [B]what[/B] to treat!

    You have tried several things that haven't worked or lasted, so I hope you will agree that it is time to go see a specialist.

    2 lami's, 3 fusions
    bone spur removal
    cerv. fusion, 1 level
    morphine pump

    Old 06-02-2004, 09:45 PM   #4
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    Re: Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    I have the same burning & a chiro told me my sciatica was the problem, well after about 5 visits I got worse everytime. Went to my gp & he sent me right back to the PT that helped me with a herniated disc 5 years ago. Two visits to the PT & I am out of pain already, but I didn't wait as long as you, I know better, it wasn't my sciatica at all, it's my hip. My pt has me doing exercises to strengten the muscles to keep the hip in place, in fact, the exercises relieve the pain if I sit too long.
    Years ago I saw a chiro & he helped me, but this latest one only seems to make things worse. I will never go back, I will go to PT anytime my doc wants me to, they proved 5 years ago that they could help me & they did.

    Old 06-03-2004, 11:34 AM   #5
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    Re: Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    Thanks for the replies!

    I looked up my specialist at the Spine Center at U of Michigan Hospital and she is a PM&R doctor... not a neurologist or orthopedist. I will definitely try to see those doctors next. I meet with her on the 14th and I am going to tell her very strongly that we need to try a different course. I'm sure she will advise me to get the facet injections again since they did help me for a few days.

    What do you think - are injections a good idea (for diagnostic purposes) or just a waste of time?

    Thanks again!

    Old 06-03-2004, 10:00 PM   #6
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    Re: Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    IMO, a waste of time if you're taking them for pain, just as pain meds are, you need to be on a course to eliminate the cause of the pain, not mask it with injections & meds. I went that route 5 years ago, the pain meds didn't touch the pain & the shots only last a few days, but you aren't doing a thing to eliminate the pain. Try everything before surgery. Like I said PT is helping me avoid surgery, my disc hasn't bothered me in 5 years, but now it's the hip,but I had PT again today & the hip is coming along nicely, last week I could not sit at the computer for the burning pain, tonite it does not burn anymore.

    Old 06-04-2004, 10:34 AM   #7
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    Re: Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    It sounds like you have sacroilliac joint dysfunction. [ [COLOR=Sienna][I]removed[/I][/COLOR] ]

    Last edited by moderator2; 06-09-2004 at 09:19 PM. Reason: Do not post any kind of information to find commercial websites. Please carefully review the Policies and Guidelines. Click on Posting Rules at the top left of this page. Thank you!

    Old 06-09-2004, 09:26 AM   #8
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    Re: Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    Anne, Thanks. I checked out SIJ problems. I have many of the symptoms but not all of them. I just started having classic sciatica symptoms in the last two or three days. I do change positions frequently and lying down with my legs raised on pillows is the most comfortable position (it probably would be the same for facet joint problems too). I can lean back (or do push ups with my pelvis touching the floor) and the pain does not increase so I doubt facets is the real problem.

    I managed to see my back doctor a week early and she (and I) decided I would try a SI joint injection. She also ordered a full body bone scan and more PT (...can't start until 7/9 though ). I also saw my primary care doctor and he ordered a bunch of blood tests - to rule out many other nasty causes of low back pain.

    If the SI Joint is the problem, will the injections help? Will a SIJ disfunction show up on a bone scan???

    Last edited by moderator2; 06-09-2004 at 09:21 PM. Reason: Do not post any kind of information to find commercial websites. Please carefully review the Policies and Guidelines. Click on Posting Rules at the top left of this page. Thank you!

    Old 06-09-2004, 08:57 PM   #9
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    Re: Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    Glad to hear you are going back to PT and the injections will help you til you can get back into pt.

    Old 08-28-2006, 06:42 AM   #10
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    Re: Chronic Low Back Pain – First Post – HELP!?!

    Hi Ozz,

    I have a similar problem ...


    I hope your fine now ..... please tell me

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