Discussions that mention lyrica

Back Problems board


I am 33, married, and up until last December very active. I was driving home one evening and both my upper back and lower back began burning. It kept getting worse and worse until it literally felt like something caught on fire in me. I spent a few days on the floor not thinking much of it. Thought it would go away...

I will skip ahead to not bore you with the details.

The MRI showed a large herniated disc between t6-7. Nothing in the lumbar. 2 NS and 2 Ortho Sugeons later, I still have had very little done for me. The cortisone shots helped. But I am still ruined. Currently, I have gotten my pain level somewhat under control, but I am still unable to do anythign in life that I enjoy. I am debating surgery.

I started 75 mg lyrica last week. I am also on a small dose (5 mg) of lexapro which also provides surprising relief, but I have to take it with Nexium as it tears up my guts. Since starting the lyrica, I have not taken a single Vicodin. Ultram makes me crazy. I told the doc to give me back the vicodin or I would be taking the .357 magnum pain cure. Guess he believed me.

So, I am now walking 3 miles a day, and have lost about 15 pounds. Can't do much else though. Can't even sit on the couch... have to lay on the floor. Did I mention I am 33? I am however still improving... but it is sooooooo slow. And improvement is measured by things like... I was able to sleep on my stomach last night and only woke up with a pain level of 2! Whew hoo! Where did my life go?

Next week I am scheduled to have dye shot into the discs. With my 80/20 insurance plan, all I have done is throw money at the doctors, and although they need to make payments on the new Mercedes, it is getting old. So, here is where I need the advice.

:confused: Question 1.) I have been told that this thing may heal on its own. After reading the long thread on thoracic injuries, that seems like a false hope to me. Has anyone ever gotten their life back by waiting?

:confused: Question 2.) I have been told by 1 doc he can't do anythign for me, and the other 2 told me they would crack my chest open and deflate my lung to fix it. BS! :nono: The fourth doc told me that he would go through the back, take part of my rib, and use it to fuse the vertebrae. 3 days in the hospital. I figure with my 80/20 that should be about 10g's. Could pay it, but it will be devestating. Willing to do it if it will give me back my life though. Any suggestions?

:confused: Question 3.) Been reading about a guy named Doctor Jho in Pittsburgh. Sent him my MRI and he says I am a candidate for his microsurgery. I would be out in a day and it is only a small cut. No fusion. Asked my other doc about it and his response was that microsurgeons have created a lot of parapalegics doing this. This is in a vascular watershed area and it is largely a frowned upon surgery by other NS's. Jho's called back and I shared this concern with them. They responded that other doc's don't know what they are doing, and Jho walks on water, yada, yada, yada. Have any of you dealt with him on a thoracic surgery? What happened?

I am willing to do just about anything or nothing. I just want to know that I am on the road to recovery, whatever that may be. Thanks for whatever help you can give me.

-john
Luther,

I dont have thorasic issues "yet" and hopefully will not. Yes, I too had read and was told it can heal on it's own and could take up to 2 years to do so. I gave it the time and also tried every conservative treatment around to which many cost me thousands of dollars out of my pocket, not covered by insurance. I avoided surgery as most of us do and it is a last resort. And the last resort can mean, you've had enough of the pain.

I had the discogram done and it is the test that discovered my problem. I have DDD with signs of degeneration at L4-L5 but also L5-S1 bulging disc. We all assumed it was the bulging disc causing the pain, but NOT! The dye was injected into the bulging disc 3 times and never caused any pain at all. Then they injected dye into the L4-L5 and I had horrible pain, much like I had been having only so much worse. That is a normal response for this test.

My doc gave me ZERO sedative during this treatment. He was well experienced in discograms and was as quick as he could be. But he prefers not to give any meds during this treatment so there is less mistake in diagnosing where the pain is coming from. I dont want to ever have to have this test done ever again, but would if needed. I have a high threshold of pain, and this just about killed me! I could not wait to get back to my room for them to give me some morophine to ease the pain! I think you need to know what to expect and I hope you don't experience as much pain as it caused me. But know that little bit of pain is worth it if it can rid you of the pain you have been living with all this time!

Ultram.. oh boy! Keep that stuff away from me and percoset too! Both of those make the puke my guts out! I take vicodin too and skelaxin for spasms.

I had a fusion done at L4-L5 just over two weeks ago. Things are going okay I think. I have had some residual leg pain, and am interested if Lyrica could help with that. He gave me prednisone medrol pak to see if that would help. It has, but not nearly enough and now that i am back down to not being on it, the pain is beginning to increase again. I will call him on Monday to get something new, which he said he would provide it the roids didnt work. So i appreciate your information on that. I have read others that have gotten good results from the Lyrica too.

All docs are different. I had one tell me that I had DDD and would have many years of agonizing pain and to "live with it". She was an ortho spine surgeon. I let her treat me for two years. Then after she told me that, I began my search and found the right doctor that I thought could best help me. I am confident I have chosen the right one. Time will tell.

You have 80/20 insurance. I hope you have an out of pocket maximum then coverage kicks in 100%. Go with with our instincts Luther. You know yourself and comfort zone. So choose a really good surgeon, which ever one will bring you some relief.

Let me know how your discogram goes. I will be thinking of you and know you will come through it just fine. :wave:
Hey guys, thanks for reaching out to me in my decision making process. I should tell you that Luther is my German Shorthaired Pointer (and my best friend), but my name is John.

Wow, I thought I was going to be unconscoius while they did this and they were going to just track where the dye went. You are telling me I am going to get tortured again? And have to pay for it? :nono: Went through that with the Cortosone injections. Think I am going to give the Lyrica some more time before I sign up for the concentration camp method of medicine.

As of right now I can... Go to work, walk 3-6 miles a day, do some minor work in the yard, sleep comfortably at night, drive my pickup truck w/o much increased pain, learn the harmonica, and do some minor tinkering. Pain level seems to live now btw 1-2 most of the time, although sometimes it drops to almost imperceptable.

What I cannot do... Sit on a couch, sit in a recliner, mechanic or do carpentry work, lift anything, or drive my Saturn. I love to work on projects and it is driving me crazy now that I am feeling a bit better (because of the drugs masking the problem) and still can't do the things I have lined up to be done.

Just found out earlier this week that my wife is pregnant for the first time. Will I be able to lift my own child?

What did I do to myself? Great question. When I figure it out, I will let you know. Might be helpful to avoid ending up here again, don't you think? My best guess is that it wasn't any one thing. I have been restoring a 1973 Steyr-Daimler-Puch Haflinger for my wife. The body is at upholstery, the chasis in my garage, and the heads as the machine shop. And, the mechanic has been laying on the living room floor now for 6 months. My guess is that all the time on the concrete, pulling, wrenching, and twisting probably added up to do me in. So, it is a mass conspiracy.

Here is what is nagging me more than anything else. When this came on, I felt the same excruciating tearing and burning in both my lumbar and thoracic. The thoracic MRI shows a bulge. The lumbar does not. As I am hurting right now, it is the lumbar, something that is showing there is nothign to be done surgically. What is wrong with me? I wonder how much of this is soft tissue damage. I let one of these butchers get in there with a blade, that isn't going to improve anything.

This is also the first time that I have heard 2 years to recover. Where did you all hear that? I believe I am through the worst of it and I am willing to be patient if that is what it takes. I am seeing improvement... sometimes. Do I just need to be more patient? Or should I just suck it up and let them do the medieval needle torture on me? Please consult your crystal ball and let me know. I am dyeing to know what to do (pun intended).

Thanks.
John
Hey guys, thanks for all the great posts in helping me figure this thing out. Let's see, the docs have used the word bulge, rupture, and herniation all intechangeably. As far as I know, it is NOT leaking from what they have said. I have decided that I am going to call the hospital with the torture table and see if they are going to sedate me at all. Geez, I bet the guys at Gitmo aren't getting half of what I am in for. All I am guilty of is getting up one day and going about my life.

What was the guy's name in Hellraiser with all the pins in his face, anyway? I keep thinking of him as I imagine going in for this test.

Well, I will have to think some more about it. I am not happy to hear that time is not my friend. I was hoping to wait this one out. Anyone heard of anything negative about the Lyrica long term? I know it has only been available for about a year, but I am just wondering if I am going to start my own tumor garden with the stuff. It does work though. I suppose if it kills me my wife will be rich. Always a silver lining. I am just a ray of sunshine!

Well, got to do some target practice this afternoon and test out some handloads. For being beaten up, I am still feeling pretty darn good. No pain meds in 5 days since starting the Lyrica. That doesn't mean I am not hurting, just not enough for Narcs. Have a couple more days to research this before laying out on the slab. Will let you know what I decide to do.

grays and peas,
John
Hey John,

I'm more of a cervical and lumbar gimp, but I read the thread and thought I would chime in. I did the wait and see on both my neck and lumbar and, unfortunately, time was not my friend. I will say this -- I started out with only a bulge in my L5-S1 a year or so ago -- mostly back pain and some shooters in my legs, but not too too bad. I did PT for about 4 months, lost some weight, started doing lots more walking and exercise and was feeling significantly better.

Three weeks before my discharge from PT, the high-speed water ferry I take to work hit some pilings in the water and stopped short. I was seated at the time, but had to go straight to the ER afterwards because of the pain in my legs. The ferry ended up herniating the blasted disc so that it was sitting on my nerves. I had the misfortune of a central herniation, so the pain was on both sides of my body. I have no idea why this happened to me, whether something in the future would have pushed the disc out, but I spent 5 months in extreme pain before having surgery. I did 3 epidurals, PT, acupuncture, had multiple MRIs, X-rays, and an EMG. I was taking Vicoden for the pain and they gave me Ultram, which didn't help and made me feel crazy. Mostly I didn't take the pain meds during the day because it made me stupid and I had to have my wits about me to work. It felt like my legs were in a trap and I wanted to chew them off. I couldn't even sit at work and spent months standing. Then I couldn't stand. Then I couldn't walk without a cane.

Having already had one spine surgery, I was no cheerleader for having a second. In my case, I couldn't live in the pain and my condition was clearly worsening, so it wasn't a tough decision. I am only 37, married, (was) very active and had been trying to become pregnant. Clearly that ain't happening! I had NO idea how debilitating back/leg pain could be. So I had the surgery three weeks ago. Still in pain, but less in some ways. I don't regret it, but recovery is slow and I worry that the fusion won't take. I'm being verrrrrrrrrrrry careful.

On a positive note, I had another disc herniate after my cervical fusion. I managed that one with PT only and it seems to be back in place, at least for the past couple of years. Minor flare ups, but manageable. That was a herniation too, not a bulge. It only bugs me when I get on an airplane or take a long drive. Or when it is about to rain.

Now that you've heard my sob story, here are some things worth considering -- some questions you should ask yourself and your doctors.

1) What if you don't have a surgery? Are you at risk for further nerve damage? Not to scare you, and I don't know about thoracic herniations, but if you do have nerve damage the chances of your nerves healing/regeneration lessens some the longer you wait. One of the surgeons I consulted told me that if I had pain for > 1 year, that sucker wasn't going back in to place on its own.

2) Should you have an EMG? It's a nerve conduction test (yes you are awake but it really doesn't hurt when they stick little pins in you) that helps discover whether you have any problems with your nerves resulting from the herniation. I didn't have a discogram because no one thought it was necessary but if having a diagnostic test will help with the diagnosis and does not have any risks, it might be worthwhile.

3) If you are feeling better after doing more less-invasive stuff and can afford to, insist on another MRI. Have it done at the same place you had the last one at and ask for the two to be compared. I would want to know whether the interventions helped and whether on a scan everything looked better
4) If you do consider the microsurgery with the Pittsburgh doc, ask him for some references of patients who had it done and are willing to speak about it. If he can't provide that, I would wonder. Also, there are sites on line where you can look up a docs history. We are not allowed to post web sites here and my doc was in NYC, but you should be able to find out how many lawsuits have been levied against your doc in recent years. All surgeons get sued at some point, but in NYC I was able to tell whether my doc had any cases of malpractice brought against him in the past five years and whether settlements were average, below average or above average. You could start with the state's medical board to find this out. It should be public information.

I guess I am writing a book here, so I'll end by saying I hope you find relief soon and I feel for you being restricted in what you can do. It just ain't right. Enjoy the Versed. I had it for my epidural injections and it knocked me out completely. Or so it seemed.

BTW, I haven't heard anything about Lyrica long term but my hubby has been on the drug that came right before it and also manufactured by Pfizer, Neurontin, for years for diabetic neuropathy. The only side effect I have noticed is that his memory isn't that great.

Hang in there,
Schragie
Wow. thanks for such a long reply. I have also been thinking about getting another MRI to compare it. HOwever, I have learned the difference in the type of radiating pain from inflamed tissue, and this bulge. It feels like a screw being tightened in my back. It is definately MUCH more tolerable on the Lyrica, but it is most definately still there.

I really like the last doc (#4) I saw. Think he will be my cutter, but I am getting a fifth opinion. They screw this up I truly am ruined for life. At 33, that is a long sentence to serve.

I was also wondering about what would happen if I left it alone. Talked to the spine imaging clinic today and they said that time rarely does anything. At least they were honest. But, they weren't pushy either. Just the facts. I asked her to look into her crystal ball for me and she told me it was in the shop for repairs. Oh well.

Well, don't know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future, so I guess I will just try and trust that for now. Hard to give up being master of the universe though. As Red Green likes to pray... I am a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.

I will let you know what happens. Think I will definately go through with the test though.

John
Wow. Another round of great posts. You are some truly beautiful people. I have always been of the opinion that pain creates depth.

I really think I have the best setup in the Denver area. The guy who did my discogram was the president of the hospital. He said he has done over 7000 of them. He started off by telling me to try and avoid surgery as well. The Lyrica is working so well for me. After the test, it was a much different scenario. It definately needs to be worked on. He said if I had any kind of an accident I would likely be paralyzed.

The doctor that referred me to him is the guy he sends his own family to. They both are no nonsense docs. They tell you what they think rather than rolling their eyes around, quoting statistics, and giving you the lawyer speak. Don't know how it will work out, but I am comfortable with the process. I am willing to take the pain of the surgery with the promise that I am going to be better. After the discogram, they are convinced that this will happen. I also appreciate that neither of these docs pretends to be the second coming. They were humble, but forthright. I like what I see.

Liz, no one should ever go through what you have been through. It is enough to have to manage the pain, but fighting the medical and insurance system at the same time is ridiculous. I am lucky enough to be married and have a butt kicking wife. I was the bulldozer when she was hurt. Now it is her turn... and she has done a great job for me when I was originally told there was nothing to be done.

I will call tomorrow and try and set a date for the surgery. I will let you all know.

John