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  • Spine Specialist...can they do anything for u besides surgery?

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    Old 03-17-2006, 12:27 AM   #1
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    Spine Specialist...can they do anything for u besides surgery?

    Warning, this is more of a rant...but I do have a question....Its been quite awhile since I have posted. Some background: I have DDD in my upper back and neck...worst is in the neck. I have spurs and a couple of disks pushing on my spinal cord. Saw a neuro and he said the numbness in my arms was carpal and that the disks "touching my spine" should not cause me the pain I am in. The Radiology report of the MRI said they were pushing on the spine, so I dont know who to believe. I had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands..I did have some relief for about 6 months, but now am back to where I was before. When I saw the neuro before the carpal surgery he said that I should not be in pain from the back & neck, but he said that didnt mean I wasnt. Well my GP got the report from the neuro and said the guy was a crock of sh*** (his words!) The neuro wanted me to see a physiatrist, but he really could not even tell me what they do! So I declined...I have to drive 70 miles to see him and I wasnt if they couldnt even tell me what they do or why he wanted me to go there!

    I live in WI and my GP would like me to spine specialist at a spine clinc in Madison. Its another 70 mile trip in the other direction! I moved about 2 months ago...I have not been in as much pain ever as I have been the past month. MY GP said that it is probably from the move. I am sure it probably is..He suggest PT again..I declined, I have tried it soo many times in different cities and I stick it out too...but always come away hurting more than ever. I asked about a chiropracter..said I would prefer trying that....My GP told me to make damn sure the Chiro knows my history well before he touches this scares me as well. MY GP is afraid of the spurs breaking off he said as well as further injury to the area. I am dead against surgery because I know way too many people who have had this surgery and it has done nothing for them, some are even worse. So I am wondering, does it even pay for me to go see a spine specialist? Any insite that anyone has on this or advice would be greatly appreciated!

    I need to do something soon. My GP will not let me work because I have so much numbness in my arms and hands....I am constantly dropping things. I cant sit, stand, or lay for very long...always changing positions. My head is constantly feeling like the skull is catching on my spine..I get migraines from it and they dont go away until I can get the catches "cracked" out. Migraine meds do not help one bit, but I think that is because this is something physical that is causing them. My husband left me after I nursed him thru 2 back surgeries...which probably is what helped my ailments along. I have 3 kids at home to support. He does help me with the bills, but he doesnt make that much either. I am filing for disability on the recommendation of my GP, but we all know how long that can take. I am wondering if the spine specialist can do anything short of surgery that might possibly help with some of the pain and numbness....I dont even know if you would call it is like the worst case ever of your hands and arms falling asleep. Sometimes it is just a constant aching pain. I thought if I could deal with some of these issues I might be able to return to work...well hoping anyway. I do take 60 MG of Morphene Sulfate ER 3x a day with 15MG of Imm release morphene sulfate for breakthru pain. I have been taking the Imm Release more and more for break thru pain because it has gotten so bad. I try to hold off taking them tho until I really need to...I want to trying to save them for the days that are the worst.

    I also suffer from depression which seems to be worse now with the added pain and dealing with the separation and trying to keep the kids and the house running on an even kiel..which some days it seems impossible! I do take Lexapro 10 MG once a day for the depression. I was on 40MG of Prozac 2x a day, but the heartburn I got from that was awful. We tried antacids and taking it with a meal before the doc decided to switch. I really dont notice a difference with the Lexapro, but I just started it so it is too soon to tell. I am going to see a counselor starting in April to help me deal with the issues as well. ( couldnt get in until then) I know depression can also cause pain to seem worse and pain can cause depression...its a viscious cycle! lol

    Sorry for the rant. But thanks in advance for any advice anyone has to give. If nothing else it does feel good just to get it off my shoulders! I hate to complain to friends about it all so I just keep it to myself. So once again thanks for the chance to let it out!

    Take care everyone!

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    Old 03-17-2006, 03:25 AM   #2
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    Re: Spine Specialist...can they do anything for u besides surgery?

    A spine specialist can better tell you what the problem with your back is. They can recommend surgery but the choice is yours. As in my case and I'm sure in many other cases here as well. That when your in so much pain you will do anything to relieve the pain including surgery, spinal injections whatever it takes for relief. This may not be the answer you're looking for.

    Good Luck and hope you get the treatment you need.


    Old 03-17-2006, 06:22 AM   #3
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    Re: Spine Specialist...can they do anything for u besides surgery?


    Yes, yes, yes. A spine specialist is a surgeon, but then so is the general ortho and neuro surgeons whom many of us see first! A spine specialist is no more prone to recommend surgery before it is necessary than any other really good surgeon in any area.

    My spine specialist has his own group of physical therapist, but of course if you prefer to go elsewhere you are free to do so. Since I live an hour away from his office, I usually do the PT at home, but his script is always quite specific. He also provides me a printout detailing what he wants accomplished in a time frame for the physical therapist to use. The local PT's think this is wonderful and have even asked some of their local referring docs to consider doing the same thing.

    This spine specialist works with the patients to avoid surgery, doing injections and every other avenue possible, BUT he is also honest with us and when our attempts to avoid surgery reach that point that we are placing ourselves at risk for further damage or we are risking making our pain permanent then he is blunt and tells us so. I wish I could say that all spine specialists are as great, but like all professionals there are the ones who put themselves on a stage, those that are good and then those that are great. Sometimes it takes a visit to several before we find the right one.

    You say you are being referred to one that is far away, is that because your insurance limits you by requiring a referral from your primary doc? If you aren't restricted by being in an HMO or other insurance that requires a referral, I have a post on the boards on how to find a spine specialist in your area. Perhaps you could find some closer to your current location and seek out several opinions finding one that works best with your goals and preferences.

    Please don't avoid getting the best care for yourself for fear of surgery that might not even be recommended. Best wishes and let us know how you are doing.

    Old 03-17-2006, 06:55 AM   #4
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    Re: Spine Specialist...can they do anything for u besides surgery?

    If I'm reading this right, you have a problem with your thorasic spine (upper back). That might explain the Spine Specialist's reluctance to axcept this as the cause of your pain. It is such a difficult area to treat and there are very few surgeons who are qualified or willing to attempt to correct a problem in that area. Put simply, they are afraid of it! It won't get better on it's own and will only get worse. You need to find a spine specialist (either ortho or neuro) who has experience treating the thorasic spine. Good luck, Monty.

    Old 03-18-2006, 09:56 AM   #5
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    Re: Spine Specialist...can they do anything for u besides surgery?

    Thank you for your responses. Truthfully I know that eventually I will need the surgery. I am just afraid to have it after seeing my soon to be ex go thru his back surgery and after speaking with so many who have had the surgery and had it fail.

    Monty I have not seen a spine specialist, I have been referred to one, but have put off going. I live in a rural town and the closest and best spine surgeons are 70 miles away. After reading the posts though I have reconsidered going and I will speak to my GP again about going.

    I can relate to the comment about when you are in enough pain you will consider doing just about anything (or something similar to that was said) I am getting to that point now. (Still prefer no surgery tho! lol) It's to the point where I just cant deal with the migraines everyday and the pain and numbness in my arms and hands. WHen I dont have the migraines it feels like I am having electrical shocks or zaps in my head. Some days it is just so hard to deal with the day to day tasks I need to deal with and I feel it is so unfair to the kids. But I know it is just part of the long run it will make us all stronger. We went thru it with my husband and we made it so we will make it thru this.

    I have a couple more questions for you guys tho. 1) How do you deal people who comment about your pain medication (if you are taking any)? I have people who tell me it is mind over matter. I try to tell them that until they have something like this, they would not understand. I mean I do have a fairly high pain tolerence..(gave birth to a 10 1/2# baby with no drugs!) But usually these people just want to argue about it.

    2) Also, how do you deal with comments about not being able to work (if this the case for you)? I have so many people that tell me that there must be "someting" I can do. Well I worked in an office before this got so much worse. It is pretty hard to accurately type with numb hands and fingers or to even think straight with a migraine or the "brain zaps" Like I said, it is getting more and more that I am having problems dealing with day to day tasks. People can be so judgemental but for the most part it does ot bother me, let them think what they want. Just would like a whitty comeback to put them in their place.

    Thanks again for listeneing and t he advice! Take care everyone!


    Old 03-18-2006, 05:40 PM   #6
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    Re: Spine Specialist...can they do anything for u besides surgery?

    Hey, Bren:
    I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through. I have never suffered a migraine but herniated discs in my neck sometimes give me what I call "cervical" headaches and they are devastating at times. Here are some witty comebacks for you:

    I would tell people that I am going to become a hand model since my hands are so numb I can't do much else with them but paint my fingernails and model them for tv or print ads.

    As for the pain medicine/mind over matter thing, I am sick of hearing it from people too. The truth is few people can really completely understand how devastating chronic pain is unless they've had it. I ended up doing literally everything from PT to injections and acupuncture before deciding to have surgery, and while people do mean well, if ONE more person tells me about a chiropractor or acupuncturist I should see for the disc that is pressing on my nerves I will probably scream. Instead, I just thank them and tell them I appreciate their recommendation but once a disc moves all the way out it ain't going back in if you ask it nicely! Positive thinking is very helpful when dealing with pain and trying to keep yourself out of the jaws of depression, and of course there is a mind/body connection, but pain is really tough to ignore.

    Breny, I hope you see the spine specialist and find out what is going on and what options (hopefully nonsurgical) are available to you. 70 miles is a long ride, but if you are going to see a spine specialist you want to see the best one you can. Good luck! Schragie
    4/2006:TLIF L5/S1
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    Old 03-20-2006, 06:14 AM   #7
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    Re: Spine Specialist...can they do anything for u besides surgery?

    Your the only one now who suffers with this pain and yes listen to what others tell you on here (for the most part) I was in so much pain it was terrible I am still in pain but I can at least walk...dont let others judge you You know how much pain your in and unless they walk in your shoes they dont know what your talking about. I am 8 weeks post op and I am having still alot of nerve pain in my legs and back. I also have that neck problem too so keep advocating your own health issues and stress to the doctors that you want results not just pills, pills, pills. I know you have to take them and so do I but they only mask the problem and then you have a problem if you get hooked on them. I will pray for you and let us know how your doing..


    Old 03-23-2006, 07:39 PM   #8
    injured betty
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    Re: Spine Specialist...can they do anything for u besides surgery?


    What is your diagnoses? Just DDD? Neck?

    The neck surgery is much easier than the lumbar. I had a friend who had the neck surgery, two level, and was back to work in no time and is no longer in any pain. He fused right away. If he had not had the surgery done, he would have had permanant nerve damage. Have they done an EMG?

    Talking cervical and lumbar surgery is like comparing apples and oranges. I would never consider lumber surgery, but I would do the cervical in a minute if I had problems with it.

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