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My L5-S1 Debacle
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golf87 posted:
Hello! First post here. I will try to tell my story as thorough and as briefly as possible. 25 yo Male. 185 lbs. Very healthy.

I originally injured my back about six years ago lifting a snowmobile. The next day I couldn't get out of bed or walk. I nursed it back to life over two months with OTC pain meds, chiropractic, and lots of ice. I was mostly back to normal until this spring. (March, 2013) I go into the golf shop to get fitted for new irons. I went onto the monitor cold turkey. Hadn't swung a club in many months. No warm up. Something went wrong - and it hasn't gotten better four months later. I am in pain all the time... but NO NERVE SYMPTOMS, except a very occasional sharp flare through my groin and into legs. And so the story begins...


I started with chiro again. I did 5-6 adjustments over a month. Tons of ice and stretching. Things got better for a while, then back to bad again. He took X-Ray and found a definite pinch in the L5-S1.


Head to DO Doc that specializes in spinal health. We try strong anti-inflammatory drugs and a prednisone pack. When the drugs are at their peak, I actually have a pain-free day or two. After the drugs... pain is back to normal. We turn to MRI. It shows herniated disc at L5-S1 and some degeneration at L5-S1 & L4-L5. We do an epidural injection. The numbing agents felt great... but this didn't solve anything. Back to pain that same evening. Doc suggests physical therapy.


Head to PT. We do a 6 week plan of core stability and flexibility. (During this time i'm still doing some anti inflammatory from the doc) I have good days and bad days. Still in pain. Overall not any better than before PT.


Head back to doc and say we need to be more aggressive. It's been four months. Clearly this approach isn't working. He offers more drugs, another injection, and a referral to an orthopedic specialist. He says I am not a surgery candidate without nerve symptoms.


So now we are up-to-date. I am in uncomfortable pain just sitting in my work chair typing this. I hate the pills I'm taking. They make me drowsy. Specialist is still a month out. I continue to do PT at home. I am extremely frustrated that it won't go away. I've done everything right.


Does anyone have any opinions or tips regarding my case? Am I really not a surgery candidate because I don't have nerve symptoms? Should I lie and say I do? Am I going to live like this for the rest of my life?


Thanks for any replies.
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davedsel responded:
Hello and welcome.

I am sorry you are having so much pain and fully empathize.

Looks like you have already done all you can do. It would not hurt to see a spinal neurosurgeon and/or another spinal orthopedic surgeon for yet another opinion. They may want a new MRI or CT scan done.

Any good surgeon will not operate unless it is absolutely needed. It is the norm that surgery will not be performed unless there are nerve symptoms. That is something you should not nor could not 'fake'. If you say you have these symptoms they will most likely do testing to confirm nerve damage/problems.

Have you seen a pain management specialist that is a physiatrist? These type of specialists offer various types of pain management treatments and do not just rely on prescription drugs.

Read through the Tip that is at the top of this WebMD Back Pain Community that lists the recommended steps for getting back pain diagnosed and treated. Within that thread are links to websites that have good information about spinal problems and treatments.

Keep doing your research. Keep moving as much as possible. Keep a positive attitude.

Please keep us updated. I pray you can get answers, effective treatment and relief soon.
Click on my username or avatar picture to read my story.

Blessings,

-Dave
 
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golf87 replied to davedsel's response:
Thanks for your reply Dave. I will definitely keep trudging on. I anxiously await my appointment with the orthopedic specialist. I have not seen anyone for pain management. I like to think i'm handling it pretty well. I just don't think I should have to live with it forever. I'm too young. My back shouldn't be affecting my life the way it is.

I will definitely read the tips that are pinned up top.

Thank you
 
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davedsel replied to golf87's response:
I understand your feeling about being too young. My spinal problems are mostly genetic and I started having symptoms in my late teens. Five years ago at age 51 I could no longer work, applied for Social Security Disability and was approved in 2 months. My career was not very physical as I was in Information Technology. Just could not even sit upright at a desk for more than 30 minutes.

Sometimes it is about accepting our situations and thriving despite that. That is why it is so important to keep that positive attitude.

A pain management specialist that is physiatrist could provide options you were not aware existed. They could also give you a reasonable prognosis and help you to see what your future really is due to the injury and resulting spinal problems. Yes, it is one more doctor to see but that one more doctor could have the answers you need.
Click on my username or avatar picture to read my story.

Blessings,

-Dave


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