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2 Lumbar Surgeries within 3 months and I am left with Sciatia pain
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nanny09 posted:
Hello everyone,
Well as you are aware I had my first surgery on my lumbar on Feb 7.13. I then had another herniated disc and surgery on May 19,13. I will be seeing my surgeon the end of this month Sept 2013. I have been seeing my neurologist continually since my last surgery as I cannot be pain free. I have severe pain on my left side of my lower back ,buttock to my foot. I can barely walk any where, and standing in one place is almost unthinkable. My neurologist has increased my Lyrica to 350mg per day.I was on 450 mg and I became very confused and couldn't function. I also take Lortabs up to 4x a day. He also sent me for therapy which I felt worse when I left and could hardly make it outside to my car. So here I am waiting for the pain to go away.
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77grace responded:
Hi nanny09,
I am sorry to hear that you are having so much pain !Is this the 1st time tha tyou have had to take narcotics ?The reason I ask is that maybe the Loratab is not strong enough !Especially after a surgery?
I have had several surgeries and 2 of them were my Neck !
Terrible to Recover from !
ASk your nuerologist about something else or at least his thought on it ?
Best of luck ,take care, 77grace
 
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ctbeth responded:
Your second surgery was only four months ago. You still have lots of healing ahead of you.

Please consider asking your neurologist to refer you to a pain management practice. This speciality uses additional modalities along with opiate pain management.

I'd imagine that you're still coping with inflammation which can e misery.

Please don't give up hope; your body isn't anywhere near done healing.

Best wishes,

CTBeth
 
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chronic1008 responded:
I agree with all the other responses so far. I have had 8 back surgeries and 6 of them have been within the last 8 years. Your last surgery is still pretty recent. Usually it takes up to about one year for all the healing to be truly realized from a spine surgery. Some faster than one year but this is usually sufficient time. 2 surgeries in such a short period of time is pretty unusual. I'm wondering if the second surgery was a result of getting hurt at therapy while recovering from the first surgery? This happened to me. There are a lot of things that your continued pain can be. Inflammation is probably the biggest cause. Remember that after any surgery the muscle tissue is damaged by cutting through it and the scar tissue that replaces it does not allow for the same blood flow that is critical for healing. Depending on how long your nerve was being compressed, you may have developed scarring on the nerve which is a permanent condition. I have a spinal stimulator to help with my permanent nerve pain in my right leg. The biggest advice I can give you is research everything, make sure you keep a notebook and track your daily events and pain complaints. This will help you develop a pattern of what may be causing you additional discomfort. I'm not familiar with your current meds but again I would ask to be referred to a pain management Dr. as they have more tools and expertise in this area. I have been with the same pain Dr. for almost 14 years. The most important thing is keeping a positive attitude. I suffer with pain every single second of every day and it fluctuates very easily with the rise of simple activity. But it could always be worse and I have changed my hobbies and activities to include more sedentary things. Somebody put a quote on here some time ago "you must let go of the life we knew to make room for the one that awaits us"~Unknown.
 
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nanny09 replied to chronic1008's response:
Thank you - Chronic1008,
On Monday I had a Spinal Stimulator put on the outside of my back as a test, to see if this will work. I think I am destine for pain, it has been 3 days and I am not feeling any good results.
I did get my doctor to up my pain medication to Lortab 10's, still can feel the pain. I cannot go any where unless I'm using a wheelchair. It has now been almost 9 months and nothing has gotten better. I don't know what I am to do now. I do not own my own Wheelchair, so it's very difficult to go any where except Walmart and the market. For some reason my doctor doesn't want to up the medication I take. My surgeon who did my surgery had another MRI done, he said he see's nothing wrong.. I don't even know what to say to this. There is something wrong. So with the help of my daughter and husband, I have contacted John Hopkins Hospital , they want the last 3 years of MRI's faxed to them. They said if they think there is anything they can do, they will see me ASAP...I hope even to relieve some of the pain. I cat nap all the time because I do not rest the complete night. I do like the quote, which relates to us very much. .I need to get past my depression first.
I think you are correct about getting into pain management, I am in pain ever day..today was a very bad day for pain and I couldn't get it under control.
Thank you so much for the advice you have given me..Please keep in touch.


Anyone please feel free to write, maybe there is something to add and help me.
  • Everyone Take Care
 
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cweinbl responded:
1. On the positive side, it can take up to a year for damaged nerves to heal.


2. On the negative side, sometimes they never heal.


3. Speaking of the negative side, spine surgery today has about a 60% long-term success rate. Even if the surgery is technically successful, fibrosis (scar tissue) can adhere to spinal nerve roots, osteophytes can compress nerves and there is no viable treatment for either.


4. Your medication is on the weak side. Lyrica is technically controlled, but it's an anti-convulsant, not technically pain medication. Hydrocodone is not particularly powerful. If your pain continues, ask about other long-acting pain medications (Kadian, Oxycontin, Fentanyl Transdermal, etc.).


Many people with chronic moderate to severe pain benefit from using a long-acting pain medication (above) and also a short-acting medication (Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, etc.) for breakthrough pain.


I would venture to say that it is an axiom that all chronic pain patients should be using an anti-depressant, to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin. The dose for chronic pain is typically far lower than the dose for depression. Cymbalta is one of the newer drugs in this class with pain-fighting qualities.


Finally, consider the many varied treatment modalities that you will find at a comprehensive pain management program, especially mind-body techniques, such as biofeedback. Others include acupuncture, injections, physical therapy, kinesiotherapy, meditation, spinal decompression (if you've not had fusion), systematic relaxation and Yoga.


If you try all of these and still have intractable pain, consider the spinal cord stimulator and the intrathecal infusion pump. Because they both require surgery to implant and to remove, they should remain last-resort options. Also, not all chronic pain patients are candidates for them.


Many of us have lived with chronic pain for decades. During this time, we've learned how to manage a career and family life. It's not easy. You might lose some people you thought were friends. You might need to increase the dosages of medications that help until you reach the maximum safe dosage. It can be a hard life. Take advantage of each and every pain management technique and try dozens of different medications in combination (under your physician's control) until you learn which combination is best for your unique body chemistry. Most of us who have soldiered on in this manner can still manage work and family responsibilities (but perhaps not much more), with the aid of pain management. Not all of us can work as long as we desire. But there are pain management options and at least some of them are likely to help you. Good luck.
cweinbl
csw2@bex.net
 
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jimsjinx replied to nanny09's response:
Hi I'm Barbara, I had spinal cord stimulator trial and didn't get much relief but went ahead and had it implanted 1 year ago. Implanted does much better than the outside of body trial one. You have nothing to lose and have everything to gain. Good luck, Barbara
 
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ctbeth replied to chronic1008's response:
Here is the quote:

"We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us."01D It is Joseph Campbell who originated it.

Joseph Campbell was an American mythology professor, writer, and orator best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion.
 
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cweinbl replied to ctbeth's response:
As usual, you are astute. Our lives are not destined to remain the same. The only thing we can count on in life is change. How we react to change is an artifact of our personality and our strength.


For example, I am 61 years old and I have been in chronic pain for more than 41 years. Despite (or perhaps because of) four failed spine surgeries, I had to retire from a wonderful university career at age 51. No more career, no more vacations, family outings, no more golf, household repairs, no more weekends out with my spouse, no future that involves sitting or standing. And we can be grateful that we won't also have financial repercussions.


For the past ten years, I've had to remain flat on my back, except for a few minutes at a time of sitting or standing. The rest of my life will be the same or worse. We've lost some "friends" and just cannot keep up with everyone else. It's not fair to my wife, my 104-year-old mother or our children.


However, because I was a vocational rehabilitation counselor, and I worked with paraplegics, quadriplegics and terminally ill clients, I recognize that I'm the lucky one. I worked with people who will never be able to sit stand, walk, feed themselves or care for their bodily needs. These people live primarily in institutions; dark, odious places where patients are largely abandoned and ignored. And these people might live on for decades in this way. Think you have a problem?


Dealing with adversity is an exercise in perspective. You can cry crocodile tears because you have constant pain. So what? I've had it for 41 years. Big deal. You can bemoan that you can no longer play tennis. My challenge is getting out of bed. Maxed out on medication, millions of us live on the very edge of our capacity to tolerate it.


If there is one thing I wish people can learn from all of this, it's that spine surgery has a deplorable success rate. The overall success rate for spine surgery today is about 60%. You would not risk your life on that, so why risk your ability to sit, stand, walk and work?


It's that pain management programs send patients to injection mills where physicians become millionaires giving dozens of dangerous injections to patients who benefit fro none of them. Why do patients repeatedly go back for injection after injection when none of them work, or if they do, the result doesn't last very long? Each one is a paralysis risk. Why do you think they do this under radiological exam? For the fun of giving patients needless radiation?


Meanwhile, few patients take advantage of the very least invasive or least-risky treatments, those with no risk at all and with some of the best success rates. I'm talking about mind-body techniques, like biofeedback, systematic relaxation, meditation and Yoga. Why not try acupuncture or hypnosis? What's the risk? Many of us can lower our pain by up to 20 -25% with biofeedback alone. Instead, people allow doctor
cweinbl
csw2@bex.net
 
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ctbeth replied to cweinbl's response:
Greetings, Charles, et al,

Whilst not something I'd normally post, I think it IS vitally important:

I would not have chosen to have been struck down in the middle of my beloved career, about to complete a post-grad degree that I loved, and worked hard to accomplish. My plans were not the life that I live today.

However, there are aspects of these past seven years that have made me happier than I could have imagined, and spiritual truths of which I had little concept before my injuries, which were severe and life threatening.

I'm in my MDs office just finishing up my one hour of Calmare therapy, so I cannot elaborate here and now

I am, however, eager to read other's thoughts and feelings on this topic.

It is important to identify and speak, think, write about the positive effects that come out of adversity.

For now,

CTB
 
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davedsel2 replied to ctbeth's response:
I have a very long history of 35 years managing moderate to severe chronic back pain. I was born with a spinal deformity called hyperkyphosis. The thoracic (middle) section of my spine curves outward too much. When I was younger I was told that I needed to improve my posture and all would be find. As I grew older I started having back pain when I was in my late teens. Symptoms progressively got stronger and I tried many doctors and treatments. My conditions worsened and in my 40's MRI's were revealing severe osteoarthritis, severe DDD, moderate to advanced stenosis in the C, T and L sections of my spine, 7 herniated discs, several bone spurs and retrolesthesis at T12/L1. In May of 2008 I stretched in bed and felt a severe sharp, shooting pain in my middle back. I went to the doctor the next day and he sent me for x-rays. They revealed T12 and L1 had tipped forward more and tore ligaments and tendons plus further herniated the disc. I saw many specialist that month and the ultimate prognosis from them all was that it would take at least 1 year to heal the torn ligament and that I should apply for SSD. I contracted an attorney and was approved in two months. I quickly went from the household bread winner enjoying a great career in Information Technology to a Full Time Dear Disabled Househusband.

My motto is to keep doing research, keep moving as much as possible and keep a positive attitude. My faith and family help me to rise above my circumstances and focus on the blessings in my life.

In March 2011 my wonderful wife of 25 years was working as a retail assistant manager and fell backwards off a step stool while placing toys on a top shelf. Fortunately a box of patio umbrellas broke her fall or she would have landed directly on the concrete floor. She went through many tests and treatments and the end result is she had to stop working in November 2012. She did her best to continue but could not due to the pain from antrolesthesis at L4/L5, many bulging discs throughout her spine and other problems. She applied for SSD and was approved this past December. She is working with a very good attorney to settle her WC case.

We now are doing our best to enjoy our life together as two disabled early retirees at age 57. We have to pay someone to clean our house, mow our lawns and maintain our gardens and pond (our favorite hobby we share together) and do our grocery shopping. We each just bought lift chairs and have a grabber in each room. There is now a grab bar by our toilet in the bathroom. Our activities are now governed by our pain levels and vary day by day. We are enjoying each other's company on a daily basis and no longer have to fight traffic to get to work or deal with job stress. We enjoy spending a lot of time with our young adult sons plus our 3 dogs and 4 cats. We together are making the best of our situations and, again, focusing on our blessings.

I do believe in doing research and doing whatever is needed to get pain relief. I have been to dozens of doctors and am in the process now of getting an appointment with an new physiatrist.

I also believe that this is the plan that God has for us and look to Him each day for strength, healing and peace.
Please click on my username or avatar picture to read my story.

Blessings,

-Dave
 
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cweinbl replied to davedsel2's response:
Dave, you have a terrific attitude. Congratulations. Living with a major disability is an exercise in perspective - and you've got it.


Before my university career, I was a vocational rehabilitation counselor. I worked with paraplegics, quadriplegics and people with terminal illnesses. I've been in pain for more than 41 years and in constant pain for more than 25 year, mostly severe. I can tolerate only a few minutes of sitting or standing. No vacations. No shopping. No more movies, football games and only a very few painful dinners out. I had to retire at age 51.


Fortunately, since I was employed by a state university and I had 16 years there, I receive a very nice pension. My medication helps slightly. And, thankfully, everything else in my life is perfect. I have a wonderful spouse who takes terrific care of me and I have a warm & loving family. My career went much farther that I ever imagined it would and I've become a published author in retirement. I even have a literary agent. And I live in a house that is light years beyond any dreams. I've learned that life with chronic severe pain is all about perspective.


On the other hand, I've encountered many people with chronic severe pain who have none of the things I've just mentioned. No loving, caring spouse. No adoring family. No income. Rejected time after time for SSDI. No rewarding career in retirement. No beautiful home. And many of these poor individuals cannot access medication to help manage the pain. They are one step from being homeless. with no advocates and no support.


Living with chronic severe pain is also all about quality of life. Take away the caring, loving family, the rewards from other activities, the beautiful environment and the required medication and you have an ongoing living hell.


As I mentioned above... living as we do requires a healthy perspective. We need to be grateful for what we still have. "There but for the grace of God go I."
cweinbl
csw2@bex.net
 
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chronic1008 replied to ctbeth's response:
Thank you. I use this quote quite often, now I can give proper credit.
 
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chronic1008 replied to cweinbl's response:
Cweinbl--tough to be in pain. I just love this post you made. I have learned that reading is a great escape for me as well as meditation. I still try to do light stretching every day. I too feel most sorry for my wife, four children and extended family members that I would like to see more and interact with. There are other family members I'm quite glad don't come around. (Have to keep a sense of humor too).

I adopt a similar perspective that it can always be worse in part because it really can. I have found some hobbies that excite me a great deal. I was a collegiate wrestler and I now manage several fb pages and a web site to promote my great sport. The Olympic fight last year kept me quite busy. I now sponsor young wrestlers that couldn't afford to compete in national level tournaments to be able to participate. I have my first 3 female wrestlers competing at the end of this month and although I can't be there one stipulation of my giving them funding is they have to record there matches so I can watch later.

Don't spend so much time and effort looking for the snake oil. After 8 back surgeries I'm tired of hearing how the one dr I haven't seen is the one that promises to be able to help. I think I'll manage my pain medicine the best I can, expand on my sedentary hobbies and build my mind to deal with the circumstances life has brought me. All the while with a smile on my face. My 14 year old nephew once said to me, "Uncle Mike, my Dad says you're always in pain. How come you don't look like it." I said "I choose to smile". I understand this may sound impossible to some of you but trust me, your mind is more adaptable than you give it credit. My once insane tinnitus is now manageable and not by medical intervention or a cochlear implant that was suggested but by the power of persuasion. I direct my mind to not focus on that--it works most of the time.

Good luck and find your inner strength--it's there.
 
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cweinbl replied to chronic1008's response:
Distraction is so important. No it won't save your career, allow you to do what you have done in the past or remove your pain. For a an hour or two at a time, distraction can put chronic pain on the back burner. Your brain continues to receive pain signals from your spine (or anywhere). You understand that you're still in pain. But something wonderful can distract you enough so that the pain is, for a while, less problematic.


What is distraction? It's anything and it's everything. For some of us, it's reading, writing, gardening, watching a great movie or TV show, traveling... really anything that you love so much that it occupies the majority of your senses.


With me, it's movies. I love movies, especially terrific special effects films. My uncle was a Hollywood actor and I spend many months inside sound sets watching famous films being made. I'm enamored with the process. Sometimes, during a particularly interesting film, I am hardly aware of the pain as it recedes into the background. I get the same relief from watching my favorite sports teams.


Writing also does it for me. When I was forced into retirement by chronic severe pain at age 51, I had to leave my university career behind. I decided to start writing as a hobby. Five books, a literary agent and some recognition later, it continues to distract me from my pain. While all of this has been unanticipated, I continue to maintain that it's worth the effort just to push back the pain a little each day.


What's your hobby? What interests you? What do you love to see, do, think about and perceive? What turns you on? Use it as part of your arsenal against chronic pain.


All of this leads me to the conclusion that mind-body treatments are efficacious. With that in mind, use the treatments that you can acquire in a comprehensive pain management program, especially biofeedback, hypnosis, systematic relaxation, meditation, acupuncture, Yoga, etc.. This would be in addition to wearing a corset or brace, TENS, injections, decompression, etc.


Finally, we must all engage in due diligence before having spine surgery. I did not before my four failed surgeries and I can only blame myself. The success rate for spine surgery today is little better than 60%. That's right - spine surgery is successful a little more that one in two operations. That success rate is DEPLORABLE! Orthopedic or neurosurgeons will never tell you the accurate success rate because it disparages their chosen field of practice. And surgeons consider themselves artists. They can't be objective about their work. So, they lie to patients, giving them false hope ("Oh my success rate is over 80%"). But it's true. Check it out on your own. Or, read the latest, greatest double-blind, algorithmic, peer-reviewed research on ALL major spinal interventions here: http://www.painphysicianjournal.com/2009/july/2009;12;699-802.pdf .


As you'll see, the invasive spinal treatments have a very poor track record of long term (more than 12 months) success. It seems that medical science is quite capable of pulling the spine apart; but it is much less successful in putting the spine back together again in a way that eliminates chronic severe pain.


Worse yet, all surgery creates fibrosis (scar tissue). Fibrosis can and does adhere to spinal nerve roots. That in itself can create more pain than you had in the first place. My last lumbar myelogram resembled a road map of New Jersey, with scars running the length and breadth of the area. Therefore, surgery should always be an absolute last resort option. After four failed spine surgeries, I could be a poster boy for spine surgery failure. Sadly, I know many dozens of people just like me.... who were too trusting.
cweinbl
csw2@bex.net


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