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Back Problems board

Hello, this is a long post, but it should give a description of my mom's back, from beginning to the next apointment this wednesday (to see what doctor thinks of latest tests).

In 1997-1998, my mom lifted a box and that started her life of back pain.

** my mom wrote the following, that I've edited a little **

February 2000, a neurosurgeon diagnosed my back problem as a vertebrae slipping out of place. In December 2000, the L4 and L5 disc ruptured and surgery was performed. Fusion was done with cages at L4-5.

During 5-6 months after surgery, pain was still there, but seemed to be getting better? Doctor cleared back to normal activity, but still taking it easy.
At this point… pain started to get worse.

October 2001, saw a Pain Specialist and started prolotherpy treatments to strengthen back muscles in L4-5 area. This prolotherpy treatment went on for 12-14 months.
Pain continued at high levels and continue to take Vicidon. Pain Specialist suggested I see a surgeon to make sure fusion was solid.

Saw new surgeon, we did a disco-gram, milogram and CT scans. Test indicated pain was in the fusion area.
A second surgery was performed in Feb. 2004. The surgeon took out the old cages from the front and put in new cages form the back. We used BMP to promote bone growth.

Had physical therapy for 4 months starting in May 2004.

Pain is worse and in September 2004, went to a Pain Management doctor, who suggested that the pain might be coming from Facat joints in the L4-5 area. He did steroid injections. Pain was gone for 4-5 hours, most likely due to the lidocain, after it wore off, the pain came back. We did steroid injections for 3-4 months… but stopped as it was not helping.

We did HiFrequency radio wave treatments to burn the nerves in the facet joints. There were 3 rounds of these radio wave treatments, but saw no improvement. The pain was still getting worse.

We went back to surgeon and he ordered a MRI, Myleogram, discogram and CT scan. After these test, surgeon had 2 different doctors stating: the fusion is probably not fused.
However, the surgeon stated, “I don’t know how it cannot be fused”.

Surgeon would not do surgery again, as he could not find any specific problem, but told us to come back in 6 months.

The pain is getting worse.

We tried acupuncture for 6 weeks and saw no improvement.
We tried Botox injection and saw no improvement.

The pain is getting worse.
We did a Bone Spect Scan, CT Thoracic and Lumber Spine without contrast on Sept 2007. The following is the results:

Bone Spect Scan Findings:
Comparison is made to a CT of the thoracic and lumbar spine performed earlier today. Normal activity is seen throughout the thoracic spine. In the lumbar spine, there is a mild activity seen bilaterally corresponding to a L4 pedicle screws. There is no abnormality seen in the screws on the CT. Combines findings suggest normal postoperative appearance. There is linear increased activity seen along the inferior aspect of the two interbody disc spaces. There is a fragmented ossification and the osteophyte formation seen along the anterior-inferior aspects of the metallic L4-L5 spacers on CT. No other abnormalities are seen in the spine. Arthritic activity is noted along the superolateral aspect of the right hip.

1. Focal activity along the anterior L4-L5 disc space. There is osteophyte formation and fragmented ossification in this distribution on the CT. This likely represents ongoing degenerative process
2. Otherwise normal postoperative appearance from L4-L5 fusion.
3. No scintigraphic evidence of lesion in the thoracic spine.
4. Arthritic activity in the right hip.

CT Thoracic and lumbar spine without contract


1. Stable postoperative appearance at the L4-L5 level.
2. Stable minor protrusion of disc material at the L3-L4 and L5-S1 levels. No selective nerve root involvement.
3. Medium-sized, left posterolateral T7-T8 disc herniation. No selective nerve root involvement.
4. No significant canal or foraminal narrowing at any level.

Pain description, overall since beginning:

Since after the 5-6 months after the first surgery, pain has been going down hill, slowly, steadily getting worse with time.

In general, lying down is the only thing that really helps. So, it makes sense that after sleeping, the mornings are the best for the pain. As the day and activity go on… the pain starts to get worse.

Taking drugs, they help in that they mask or make the pain tolerable, they do not make the pain go away.
Besides the last few months, pain is less in the morning, worse any other time. Now, as of late, pain seems to be bad all the time.

Pain level. My mom has a very, very high pain threshold. I could only imagine when my mom says it hurts… it’s MUCH worse than you or I could tolerate.

Exercise. My mom does not really exercise at all. Well, she is very, very active, but this activity is running her shop. She works all the time. Is on her feet all the time. And I believe she wears crappy shoes (not supportive).

Nutrition. My mom’s diet over the years is not a good one. Its better as of late, but eating a well balance meals is NOT her thing, much less eating correctly throughout the day. I bet her eating healthy habits are extremely lacking when compared to the average person. Oh, my mom is very skinny.

To sum it up…
We need a solution to rid my mom of back pain. Something that works. She has tried many, many things. Has seen many, many doctors.
I know some of the problems stem from her lifestyle habits (work too much, rest to little, not treating the body correctly) HOWEVER, the last tests show problems????

If the test are correct, they may or may not be, BUT if they are….

What can we do?

I’m looking for people who have been in her shoes, done what she has done, experienced what she has experienced…. And who finally found a solution.

I’m really, really hoping that there is a solution out there in this world… one that will work/fix my mom’s back.

Obviously, as much as a solution could solve her back pain, we also need to fix her unhealthy lifestyle. Right now, it seems that we are not sure if the egg or chicken comes first. Does the back fix the lifestyle or does the lifestyle fix the back?

Thanks for your help, knowledge, experiences, ideas, and prayers