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Starting to get fed up.....
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An_189704 posted:
Eighteen months ago I got hurt at work. MRI shows numerous bulging discs with one at c4-c5 impinging slightly on the spinal cord and 2 more thoracic discs impinging on the thecal sac. The main diagnosis is cervical radiculopathy and there is an abnormal straightening of my cervical spine. I have been through a year of physical therapy with no relief. My only current meds are ibuprofen and tramadol for my bad days. I suffer from chronically spasmed muscles in my neck, upper back and right shoulder and two white hot burning spots of pain one in my neck and one at about bra strap level in the mid back. Even after PT I still don't and probably wont ever regain full range of motion of my neck and it pops and cracks all of the time causing daily headaches. Any use of my arms that lasts for more than 15 minutes causes mid back pain and standing, walking and sitting for extended periods also cause mid back pain. I have seen an orthopedic spinal specialist and he doesn't want to do anything but medicate me. The meds barely make the pain tolerable and I am frustrated about my loss of doing many things I love to do because it is too painful to do any longer. I am in my mid 30's and really don't want to have to live the rest of my life this way. Is there any hope? Due to inactivity I have gained 80 lbs since I was hurt (I even switched to a low fat, low cholesterol and low calorie diet to no avail). I really don't even like to leave my house any more because even the slightest bump from a person causes pain...I am just at a loss I cannot accept that this is what my life has been reduced to.
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bj1208 responded:
hi and welcome to the support group -

please don't give up - I know it seems the tunnel is dark but there is light at the end~~

first - I would get an attorney - one that handles ONLY worker's comp claims - it looks to me like u have a good case - so the sooner you call the sooner the light at the end of the tunnel will appear~

second - see if you can get another opinion - from either an Orthopedic Spine Specialist or a Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist - see what the treatment options are - you may have to wait til you get the attorney to do this as worker's comp is STRICTLY WATCHING OUT FOR THE COMPANY'S BENEFIT AND NOT YOURS~~ So remember that - you have a lot of rights and you need to know what they are and the attorney will help you.

In the mean time keep fighting with the work comp - tell them something is wrong and you want another doctor to look at your neck and the films - ask about going to pain management - see if they can refer you to one that practices PHYSIATRIST PAIN MANAGEMENT - they will go deeper into pain management control than regular pain clinics.

you need to get the right treatments and the attorney will make sure of that - and also make sure that you get everything that you should be getting - you may be entitled to so much more - so you need to call and find out ur rights - also there are lots of them out there that will work on a basis that if they don't win money for you they won't charge so don't be afraid to ask!!

please let us know how u are doing - you can vent or anything u want - this is a great support group - take care - Joy
 
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An_189705 replied to bj1208's response:
I have an attorney and we have been fighting to ttd to no avail but they are begrudgingly paying my medical bills. In the state I live in I am only allowed to see 3 doctors regarding this issue and I have already been to 2.....I would like to seek a second opinion regarding surgery/pain management but my attorney advises against it because it would look like I am "doctor shopping". The staff at my orthopedic spinal specialists office treats me as though I were a drug addict although I have never gone through more than 30 Norco or Tramadol in any one month. The doctor doesn't really seem to listen to my complaints and as this is a work comp case I have seen my medical records and he also hasn't documented all of my complaints. I feel as though I am stuck between a rock and a hard place and after 18 months of constant pain/spasms I am starting to become a very cranky person. I have an appointment coming up in July....and I think I need to start being more demanding that he do SOMETHING to help me whether it be better pain management, shots or surgery.
 
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bj1208 replied to An_189705's response:
hi - I understand your pains - I've been living with mine for 5 years now - surgery 3 years ago - I had a fusion and the surgery went well they just couldn't do anything for the pains or the nerve damage in my legs - so I understand your pains -

I know that with work comp claims they can drag out - it's a bummer but at least they are paying the bills -

at this point I don't know what to tell you except follow the advise of your attorney - hopefully something will break soon -

please keep us posted - take care - Joy
 
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painbear replied to An_189705's response:
now what your going through with workercomp im going through the same thing somewhat .i got hurt at work back in 2007 and hurt my back i herniated my disc L4,L5, and it pressed on my nerve causeing a drop foot i had to have surgery right after i saw the nero sergent injury was in june and had surgery end of july . still ended up with alot of nerve damage . long story short i ended up with another surgey 5 months later same disc worst . tried going back to work twice me being nice with wc doing evrything by the book . i finally had to get a lawyer im still dealing with wc but through my attorney they pay the bills iv seen three of there docs only 1 sided with them the other 2 sided with me and i even had to see a court appointed doc and i won that battle two now they now its not a game its real but yet they wont ok some of the treatments the pain management wants to do i still suffer evry day i had to change my life to i dont do much . it like life has stopped if i didnt have my husband for support i dont now how i would of made it through this but u can its been 4 years and 1 day i hope it would get better and they find a cure fore this or comfort painbear
 
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Rafael Levin, MD, MSc responded:
Dear Anon_173767,

From a spine surgeon's perpective, it appears to me based on your information, that there is a weak correlation between your symptoms and the objective finding on the MRI and possibly physical examination. That does not mean that your symptoms are not real or not severely affecting your quality of life for the past 18 months. All it means is that in this setting the predictability of surgical intervention is rather limited. I am confident that leaving all worker's comp issues aside, your orthopaedic spine surgeon would be thrilled to offer you a surgical procedure if he was convinced it would reduce your pain, improve your funciton, and better your quality of life. Just because he did not offer you surgery and gives you medication instead doesn't mean he has anything but your best interest in mind. It is simply that he feels he does not have the ability to help you with surgery. I am faced almost every day with patients who have significant pain and disability that does not correlate with findings such as instability or nerve compression that I can fix with surgery.

Nevertheless, I am not suggesting you give up. Not at all. If not done already, I would certainly consider additional imaging modalities such as a cervical CT scan (preferably with oblique reconstructions), flexion extension films, and possibly a nuclear bone scan. Also if you have not had any diagnostic injections such as facet blocks or even a slective epidural steroid injection, your surgeon may want to discuss these options with you. Finally, a second openion by another surgeon may be particularly refreshing and most likely will be woth your time, at least for reasurance puroposes.

Most importantly, keep a positive attitude and take control of your life. Let your lawyer deal with the legal aspects and keep your focus on getting back to a normal productive life.

I wish all the very best.
 
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An_189706 replied to Rafael Levin, MD, MSc's response:
Thank you all for your support, I just get really frustrated because I am a very physical person and have always done a lot of hard labor and for it to stop so abruptly has made me edgy and cranky. My surgeon mentioned shots at one point in time and I think I will bring that back up at my next appointment. I wish I still had copies of my MRI reports so I could give you more information. He dismissed surgery as an option for two reasons: first he is afraid of making me worse which I completely understand and second I have asthma and am a pack a day smoker which makes him uncomfortable. I have had surgeries in the past and did fairly well provided I was given a breathing treatment in the recovery room. I did have a CT scan but not for my spine it was for the goiter they found on the MRI's I had for my spine and they were performed with an iodine contrast so I don't know if they would be helpful to my spinal surgeon or not. I am also going to ask my attorney about getting a second opinion and follow the advice he gives me in that regard. I also wonder if maybe a medication change would be beneficial? I was previously on ibuprofen, norco and flexeril which helped quite a bit but made me very groggy and then switched to ibuprofen and tramadol which seems to be fairly ineffective. I've been reading posts here and wonder if a trial of neurontin or some other nerve blocker may help?
 
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Anon_173767 replied to An_189706's response:
I recently saw my spinal surgeon again and let him know that the narcotics just were not helping. I don't like taking meds as a general rule especially when they don't help. He took me off of ALL pain relievers and gave me a Medrol dose pak and gabapentin. While I am not completely back to normal (and likely never will be) I do feel A LOT better than I have in the last 2 years. New symptoms did develop before the med change I was having problems with my right arm and hand going weak/numb so I am scheduled for an EMG of both upper extremities next week. My Dr. says the results of that test will determine whether we do steroid injections or surgery. While I am not looking forward to either of those options if they will make me feel better yet then I am all for it. Thanks to every one who mentioned neurontin/gabapentin if I hadn't seen it on this site I would likely still be in pain and not sleeping/functioning as well as I do now.
 
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bj1208 replied to Anon_173767's response:
hi again - I just responded to your other post on the gabapentin part -

one thing to remember about surgery - there is no guarantee that it will correct the disc(s) issues and more importantly there is no guarantee it will take away the pains.

please be sure to ask your doctor all questions you can think of - be sure to start your list of anything and everything you can imagine to ask - do as much research as you possible can -

a good website is:

http://www.spineuniverse.com/

this site is very informative for every type of pain, disc problems and different types of surgery -

I've been using this site for quite a few years and trust the contents - hope this helps -

please keeps us posted and let us know the EMG test results - this test is a little painful - I have it done each year on my legs - the first part (EMG) is fine - the 2nd part they stick a needle into certain nerve endings and will listen to the sounds and also will get a printed report of what the nerve endings are doing.

let us know if u have questions - we are here to help~~ take care - Joy
 
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Kelly_30 responded:
Hi An_189704,

I am 30 and I have degenerative lumbar interverbral disc disease, lumbar radiculopathy, sciatica and nerve damage in my thoracic spine.

I was on tramadol for five years and it worked for the first three years and the pain slowly started to increase in intensity again. Tramadol is a very weak opioid. It compares in strength to codeine. I saw in your latter post that you were taking Vicodin (30 per month). That low of a dose would do nothing for my pain. Percocet would be the next tier up and could help you with engagement in activities as either one would take away more of the pain.

It is important that you have therapeutic levels of pain medicine. Currently, you are not getting therapeutic levels of pain medicine. When I was on tramadol, I was getting 240 pills a month (I took the max pharmaceutical dose of 8 50 mg tablets per day). I then switched to 1/2 tramadol, 1/2 vicodin (120 tablets of each per month). When that didn't control my pain, my PCP started me on extended release Morphine with percocet for breakthrough pain. I am living rather comfortably now and do so many things that I want to do on a day to day basis without having to issue a bunch a rain checks to everyone.

I take Flexeril for muscle spasms (1 10 mg tab 3x a day) and it helps a lot. I take valium as well which helps a great deal with muscle spasms through relaxation, sleep, and reduction of anxiety. There are anti-convulsants that help with nerve pain (I take gabapentin, 1200 mg per day). Lastly, anti-depressants help alter the perception the brain has to pain through the increase of serotonin levels in the brain. I take 45 mg of Remeron for depression and pain. Cymbalta has recently been FDA approved to treat back pain.

I also do theracane therapy, heat therapy, light excercise and stretching. I take an Alleve every now and then when inflammation is causing the pain.

In summary, opioids alone are not going to provide long term/lasting relief. It is the combination of medicines and other alternative therapies that all add up to a significant reduction in pain.

I also get steroid injections every 3 months and they help a lot with the sciatica.

I would not settle for your current pain level. There are more options out there.

Kelly
 
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MrMfplixnik responded:
I am in my mid 30's and really don't want to have to live the rest of my life this way. Is there any hope? Due to inactivity I have gained 80 lbs since I was hurt (I even switched to a low fat, low cholesterol and low calorie diet to no avail). I really don't even like to leave my house any more
I have been through a year of physical therapy with no relief.
I have seen an orthopedic spinal specialist and he doesn't want to do anything but medicate me.
he is afraid of making me worse which I completely understand and second I have asthma and am a pack a day smoker which makes him uncomfortable.
I just get really frustrated because I am a very physical person and have always done a lot of hard labor and for it to stop so abruptly has made me edgy and cranky.

Most of the solution to your problems are right here, in your own statements. You are not involved, AT ALL, in your recovery. You need to take the leadership role. Begin by quitting smoking. (pack-a-day, with asthma? Yikes!!). I'll tell you from experience, the first few days are difficult. We don't think of much else. Filling the lungs with smoke is like filling the belly with food. It's an appetite and therefore feels like starvation. Fortunately, the craving goes away gradually over time. Must do: Never be near a smoker or cigs. Use the patch, nicotine strips if temporarily needed.
A great advantage (besides saving $200.00/month) is the tremendous energy which returns to you. Use it and your newly exercised will power to reduce your calories and lose 1-1.5 lbs per week. Very do-able. Try fasting m/w/f. Eat anything you want (that's the gimmick) on tue/thur/sat/sun. Or go veg and fruit, then full menu days. It works! You put YOU in charge of your body. Then you can be in charge of your back healing, and the medical profs will follow your lead. People re-invent themselves many times in a lifetime (women are especially adept at this). Now is the time.


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