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My Options For Back Pain Treatment


shaynagrl

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I just want to lay out my current situation and see if others who have gone through this can give me some perspective.

A few weeks ago, my persistent back pain got worse. A lot worse, radiating down my hip, leg and knee. I also couldn't walk unassisted. Then, I started getting numbness in one leg, and the foot was getting colder than the other one. I called my insurance company's nurse hotline, and after describing my symptoms, they recommended I go immediately to the emergency room.

So I got seen - they xrayed my back and checked my legs for blood clots. I had no clots and the xrays showed arthritis in my back. They recommended I see an orthopaedist. They also gave me 48 hrs of painkillers with no refills.

I saw the orthopaedist who put me on a course of oral steroids. He would not refill my painkillers. The steroids didn't help. I then had an MRI of my lumbar back. The results showed some areas that may indicate pinched nerves but the dr sounded unsure as if it was inconclusive.

On the visit when I got my MRI results, I begged the dr to do something, anything. He gave me a steroid shot in my hip and put me on the schedule for an epidural on my back.

I just got the call today that my epidural won't be until September 5. Meanwhile I can barely move, I am homebound and not sleeping. I am miserable and not sure what to do.

Thanks for reading my story. I appreciate any options that anyone can suggest.

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Shayna!!!! I have been looking all over you.  What a rotten time for PR to go down.  

 

First what did your MRI say?  Is it a disc issue, a vertebrae, or something muscular/soft tissue? 

 

Also, did you check with your PCP about providing you with some pain relief? 

 

Maybe get on the epidural waiting list, in case there is a cancellation too. 

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Shayna,

 

Did the Steroid shot in the hip at least help somewhat?  From some they do seem to help.

 

Back to what SM said about your PCP and my telling you to go see him last week just to see if he will help.  Remember all Dr's are not the same and as you know your PCP, but not this new Ortho, it would be worth a try just to get in and talk to him/her. 

 

Please at the very least get an appt. 

 

I hope work is being understanding as I know you have had a string of physical events the past couple of months.  Keep your chin up and make that DH of yours do everything for you.  Least he can do....

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Hello Shayna, I'm so glad to see you here but I feel so bad that the doctor won't treat your pain. You've been given some good advice & I especially like Allycat's suggestion to call the doctor in the middle of the night when you're unable to sleep because of the pain.

I have a lot of arthritis, degenerative disc disease in my back. I also have the numbness & cold feeling that goes down my left leg/sciatica. I had originally went to the ER where they gave me Norco for the pain. When I saw my doctor he prescribed the Norco again but no way will he allow me anymore than 4 per day. Which I'm grateful to get. But the doctor feels that anymore than 4 a day is too much. He says that the Norco is doing nothing to solve the problem. I need pt, injections etc. But since I cannot afford those things he will continue to script the Norco. But I realize that at anytime he could cut me off so that's an uncomfortable feeling.

Doctors nowadays are not very good at treating pain with the meds. But I hope for your sake that the doctor will have some compassion for the severe pain that you're in. Best wishes & hang in there Shayna.

(Hugs)

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I put in a call to my PCP, since my ortho doc wants me off of several medications the PCP has prescribed to me (in prep for my epidural).

 

If my PCP says I need to be seen, then I will be seen.  Thank goodness I have a semi-flexible schedule to accommodate.

 

Also, my pain is a bit better today - so maybe the steroid shot is working?! *knocks wood*

 

I thank everyone for their questions and ideas -- I felt so hopeless a few days ago, and now I am feeling more like myself.  I am still homebound because I am having trouble walking / moving, but I am able to work and earn an income, so that at least is something. 

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Hello ShG, I definitely feel your pain! I have the same condition in my neck and it affects my arms. Went thru all the treatments that you are having and more. It is the reason I found this forum that has really helped when I can't get the meds I need. It seems like many doctors don't realize how painful pinched nerves can be! I too have been told to wait a month when I was flat on my back. F#@! That. I hope you will find the treatment you need and feel better.

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I am so glad you are here to update us on your condition.

I have chronic back pain, from an old injury, which I tend to treat with mild painkillers (T4/codeine). I used to get some relief from muscle relaxers (Flexoril), but they do not really do anything for me anymore.

I completely agree with what Allycat said about needing "to advocate for yourself". I was fortunate to have a long-standing prescription of Norco from my old doctor, but she had started to express concerns about keeping me on it for so long. My new doctor does not like to prescribe pain medication, so I ended up looking for other alternatives.

Thanks to PR and DBG, I have found that there are plenty of reliable sites with products available to help ease one's pain. I am still learning the protocol for sharing certain information on this site, so I will leave it at that for now.

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Hi everyone -- I think the steroid shot in my hip is helping somewhat. The ortho doc said I might have more than one issue going on (bursitis in my hip and/or a back problem). However, I still have pain in the left knee and leg. Sometimes my lower back does this weird cracking thing if I laugh, cough or move funny. I still have problems picking up my left leg to walk, too.

However, I am thrilled that my pain is somewhat reduced! I still have not heard back from my PC doc, and the epidural is still scheduled for September.

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I hate to say this, but you may need surgery. Whatever you do, don't go the Oxy route. Sounds like your sciatic nerve is being pinched. A traction machine is helpful for that. You can buy those home machines which hang you flat against your back while upside down relieving all pain and stretching the disk jelly back in place. I've got one and it fixed my problem.

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@snowblower - may I ask why not go the oxy route as you say it? I was given a small amount of Percoset - are those what you mean?

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@snowblower - may I ask why not go the oxy route as you say it? I was given a small amount of Percoset - are those what you mean?

Mainly because I've seen so many friends become severely addicted to those kinds of meds. That's all.

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The ortho doc said I might have more than one issue going on (bursitis in my hip and/or a back problem). 

 

Gee Shayna, that does not sound like a diagnosis at all.  Post-MRI this ortho doc should be able to be more specific with you.  I would consider taking your MRI to a spinal clinic, as suggested by Allycat.  Even a neurologist would worth a shot.  

 

One can not fix a medical issue until it is properly diagnosed.  In fact, lack of a proper diagnosis can in fact result in a problem getting worse over time so that some solutions which were options, are then no longer options. 

 

Structural issues such as disc and vertebrae issues are easier to understand than diseases.  I hope you are not underestimating your ability to understand the MRI results.  Once we can pm, I would be glad to translate for you, if that would be of any help. 

 

Hope you get that diagnosis soon.  I would push for one, hard.  I would see 2 more doctors at least.  This is your mobility and your life.  Must take priority. 

 

Best of luck, 

 

SM 

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The follow up visit to discuss my MRI was very confusing. The dr said there were some areas that were inconclusive that may indicate a pinched nerve. However, the dr didn't say if the issue was vertebrae, nerve, or what.

My epidural is scheduled for 9/5, and I don't know what I can do until then. Still, it bothers me that the epidural is the next step since I don't really understand the purpose of the procedure. Is it to just deaden the pain or actually address the source of the problem?

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Shayna,

 

I think you need to consider what SM said about second opinions.  My question now is what exactly are you having the epidural for?  Is it for the original arthritis diagnosis or to help the other points you mentioned, nerves, etc., that he was not able to diagnose?  An epidural is done to relieve the pain area.  It is not corrective and usually is repeated every 6 months or so, depending on condition.  It is becoming more common now that many Dr's do not like prescribing meds they are using other methods to relieve pain such as epidurals, lidocane patches, PT and so on before the last resort, i.e. pain meds.

 

What really concerns me is he did not take the time to explain the procedure to you, go over the risks associated with it or even tell you what your expected outcome may be.  At least it does not appear that he did.

 

Here is a site that you can do some research on this procedure so you are at least informed before you go in.  "spine-health.com" is pretty easy to follow and has a lot of articles on epidurals, how they are done, what to expect, side effects, a wealth of information.  Just enter epidural in the search box.

 

Just my opinion, but I would seek a second opinion before I would have it done and try to get a more concrete diagnosis and a Dr who actually spends the time explaining to you why they feel a therapy is necessary and how it might benefit you.

 

J

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