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    Back pain worse after recent lumbar traction
    Jgnmom posted:
    Hello All,
    I am new to this community. While I have had lower back pain and sciatica for a long time, I have been dealing with this most recent episode for 3 months now, after I "overdid" it with a home improvement project. It took over a month to finally get a doctor to order an MRI. Results showed L4-L5 buldge, L5-S1 herniation with annular tear and spinal stenosis. Additionally, there was facet deterioration and scoliosis. Pain was lower back, buttocks, and radiating leg pain. Initially, right side was worse than the left, but left quickly caught up. First ESI was done about 1 month ago and directed toward the right due to pain. I was immediately started on chiropractic care (motorized lumbar traction, electrical stim with heat or ice, and ultrasound). I am prescribed Vicodin 7.5 and Flexeril. Had some relief following first ESI (although first couple of days after there was increased pain). A couple of weeks after pain increased again, so a second ESI was done about 1.5 weeks ago (this time directed to the left, as left side pain had become predominant). I was feeling some improvement until chiropractic appointment yesterday. Before appointment, right side pain was barely there. Left side hurt, but was manageable. When traction started, I was in immediate severe pain all across lower back and down both legs (front and back). I let chiropractor know about the pain. He suggested that we change to manual traction next time. Last night I was in so much pain that even max dosage of Vicodin (1.5 pills) instructed by treating MD didn't help in the slightest. Today I have again had significant pain in lower back, buttocks, both legs down into knees and calf (on one side). At times, the slightest movement or no movement at all sends a jolt of pain that nearly brings tears to my eyes. At this point, I am hesistant to even allow manual traction, as I am afraid that something happened on that machine yesterday (i.e. buldging disc herniated or herniated disc got worse???). Has anyone else expericenced this kind of severe pain during and after motorized traction? Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. I am 42 years old and in fairly good physical shape.
    trs1960 responded:
    I would stay away from chiroporatc and seek out an orthopedic or nuerologists,
    It sounds like youv've signifigant work and chiropractic scares me when your playing with serious vertabral injuries.
    trs1960 replied to trs1960's response:
    Sorry for the typo, I don't know what a chirporatic is...wacthing TV and typing on a dark keyboard is not great.
    Jgnmom replied to trs1960's response:
    Thanks Tim. I agree.
    trs1960 replied to Jgnmom's response:
    With all your symptoms I think you need a good nueorologist. With as many painful symptoms as you describe so vividly (I know you're not making it up) I cringe at the thought of a chiro manipulating you. If you have a severe nerve impingment and he adjusts you wrong!!!!

    My brother in law is a chiro and some are great guys. He's very knowledgable and embraces holistic healing, but spinal injuries can be game changers and you only get one chance to fix your back. The numbers for successful treatment get obismal once you've damaged your spine and are working on additional treatments. I forgot the actual percentages, but for surguries it something in the order of single digits for successfull pain relief on second surgical procedures.
    Of course the chiro will say that's why you shouldn't have surgery and he's partially correct. Spine surgery is indeed a last resort.
    I would think a physiatrist or neurologist would be a good place to start.

    Of course this is only my opinion, but you can't be too careful with your spine! Please be careful!!

    Jgnmom replied to trs1960's response:
    Hi Tim. Thanks again for your reply and advise. I had my follow-up this afternoon with treating physician (this was 2 wk follow-up to last ESI). There has been some mild improvement since last week. I say mild, as in pain is manageable for the first part of the day, but by mid-day I am in significant pain if I am doing anything at all. This could be as minimal as sitting, minimal walking, and driving (driving or riding in a car very quickly increases my pain). I work full-time, but am fortunate that I can sometimes do my work from home. Today was not one of those fortunate days, so by the time of my appointment (2:30pm), I was again at a solid 7 and increasing, on a 1-10 scale. Treating physician is an anethesiologist and intervential spine specialist. He has recommended a 3rd ESI (scheduled for 4/3), as he feels that I was getting some benefit from the ESI until last week's traction, which is true. He agrees that the motorized traction should be stopped and that I need to decide how I am feeling in regard to manual traction. He indicated that he doesn't think that the traction would have caused the buldge to herniate or the herniation or tear to get worse. He said that it is possible that during the traction, the spinal nerve may have gotten hit in the area where there is already stenosis.

    My chiro appointment is tomorrow (chiro is within same practice as treating physician) afternoon. At this time, my thought is that I will allow the more "passive" therapies like electrical stim and ultrasound, but that is about it. I don't want them to do anything that has any potential of causing any additional inflamation. Right now, I have pain across lower back (lt & rt), rt leg pain is front and back down into knee cap, lt leg pain is all the way down into foot (with almost constant charlie horse feeling in calf), both buttocks, hips, and groin--still predominant pain is on left.

    Have you (or anyone else reading this) had any positive response to acupuncture or massage therapy? I had a little non-professional massage on trigger points in buttocks and legs, but the muscles seem to spasm again very quickly.
    I know the saying, "getting old sucks," but this is ridiculous and I don't think I am THAT OLD.

    Thanks again
    shastwell1216 replied to Jgnmom's response:
    hello, I too suffer chronic back pain. At 21 I suffered my first back injury. Not so much an injury as i woke one morning unable to walk or move. I had an x ray done and they told me i had 2 herniated discs and had mild degenerative disc disease. They sent me to PT where they did some strange manipulations which only made things worse. By the time my college semester had ended and i moved back home i had leg pain and had developed drop foot. I ended up finding a good dr and went thru 12 weeks of aqua therapy and 4 more weeks of land therapy. One day i woke up and wasnt in pain anymore. 4 years later i was working as a pre k teacher and assisting a child with a diaper i leaned forward and went to sit back up and a horrible wave of pain shot thru my back and into my legs.
    shastwell1216 replied to shastwell1216's response:
    sorry it submitted early...After an mri i was diagnosed with 3 disc herniation, spinal stenosis, rapidly progressive degenerative disc diseas and nerve impingement in several areas. That was over two years ago. i have now gone thru 3 12 week land therapy sessions, 3 ESIs, 2 SI joint injections a 2 level microdiscectomy and laminotomy a 8 week aqua therapy session and now use a TENS unit along with various medications to control pain. i am 27 years old. Even after surgical intervention I have no pain relief. they are now trying one last thing...lumbar traction, ultrasound and electrical stim along with a few stretches. my first session was ok. it was very uncomfortable and for 4 days after i suffered horrible spasms and pain. today i was on the machine for only a few minutes when i felt horrible pressure and pain travel from my tail bone up thru my spine. i wanted to scream it hurt so bad they immediately took me off and ended the session. if I do not continue pt i am headed for spinal fusion and most likely a stimulator implant beacuse I have permanent nerve damge in my leg along with drop foot and neuropathy around my 4 inch inciscion. the scar tissue in addition is causing all sorts of problems. i am hoping this traction didnt worsen things but you cant be too careful. i would stick to only passive therapy until you see a doctor they say traction should never hurt. good luck i wish you the best and no you are not too old! i always get to hear you are too young for this! we just have to keep our heads up in the face of pain and truck on to help others while we silently suffer. dont wait back pain is too serious and can easily be forever!
    bj1208 replied to shastwell1216's response:
    Hi Shastwell1216 - welcome to the support group -

    I feel ur pain, as we all do and am sorry you are in so much of it and have had so much done being so young.

    I had a single fusion (L5-S1) done 2/08 hoping that it would take care of my back pains etc., however my pains are worse now than before the surgery. Don't get me wrong, I had to have it done as my disc had splintered with part on the right nerve root and the other on the left nerve root - so nerve damage in both legs (left is worse - drop foot)

    I don't want this to sound discouraging but please note that fusions are done to stabilize the spine with little emphasis on pain reduction. During my first 3 months post op I was doing great - reducing pain meds as my pain diminished then all of a sudden my pains were worse than before - scar tissue along with damaged tissue is part of the reason but I am seeing the effects of the domino where the rest of my spine is feeling the impact of the fusion - as they say the discs above/below will start showing the effects.

    please do a lot of research - look up FAILED BACK SURGERY SYNDROME - even though this is a terminology that is incorrect it is put on a lot of patients diagnosis when all parts of the surgery do not come out 100%.

    I hope the SCS implant will be tried first on you as there are some members that have seen up to 40% pain reduction - and this needs reviewed too as there are some that have had bad problems with the implants.

    please keep us posted how you are doing - take care~~
    ~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~

    Take care ~~ God Bless ~~

    ~~ Joy ~~
    Jgnmom replied to shastwell1216's response:
    Hi! I'm so sorry to hear all that you have been through and that you are still in pain. I had my 3rd ESI about a week and a half ago.....still in pain! I have decided not to get any additional ESI's, as they do not seem to be helping. I will see the Dr. on Wednesday for a follow-up and see what he has to say. My plan, at this time, is to get another opinion and to see a neurosurgeon for an eval. It has been suggested that I look into teaching hospitals, as there are some things that they will do that private physicians will not. I'm not really sure about anything else. I elected to stop all chiro, as the traction (both motorized and manual) seemed to be making me worse. I can use ice/heat and do electrical stim at home (without paying $55 co-pays multiple times per week). I hope you find relief soon. Best wishes!
    Jgnmom replied to bj1208's response:
    Hi Bj1208-
    You are absolutely correct. I have read and heard very good and very bad outcomes for surgery and the SCS implant (as well as the ESI). I think we all get to the point of grasping at straws for any relief, but we need to try to think more long-term. As you may have read in my recent reply to Shastwell, I will choose not to have any additional ESI's. I've had 3 since mid-February and they do not seem to be working. It was only after this last one, that I really starting reading about the long-term effects of continued ESI's. I know I should have done my research beforehand, but like I said, grasping at straws. When it was first suggested, I was in so much pain that my legs would start shaking and I would break down in tears in the doctor's office. I couldn't stand to be driving or riding in a car for more than 15 minutes without significant pain. I am trying to avoid surgery at all costs. I have heard some people say that it was a "miracle" for them and other's say that it was the worst thing they ever did and it can't be undone. That's it for now. I wish you the best. Keep us posted on how you are doing.
    dispatch24 responded:
    I have had herniated discs since 2005,L4/L5. I fell in high school in 1997 but in college I slipped on the ice and twisted a little and that was all it took. I got an MRI which showed the problem. I've been going to the same chiropractor ever since. Traction was never brought up to me until today. I over did it a week ago and naturally he was out of the office all week. Anyway.. I went through traction today and I will never in a million years do it again. I'm in so much pain and my legs and feet have the pins and needles feeling and my back & legs are throbbing. Can anyone tell me if this will ease up some?? I'm freaking out here! No one will ever do this to me again!
    bj1208 replied to dispatch24's response:
    Hi Dispatch24 -

    have a couple of questions:

    when did you have your MRI? has it been more than a year? If so you should have a current MRI.

    who read your initial MRI? have you been to either a Orthopedic Spine or Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist? They are the only ones that can accurately read film reports and to give a diagnosis of spine problems.

    having herniated discs can be very painful for some people while others may not realize they have them. the same goes for any types of physical therapy/chiropractic treatments where they can be very painful when doing exercises.

    before having any type of traction of the spine it's imperative that you see a spine specialist and get approval etc., for the type of treatments that would be beneficial to help your spine issues.

    I hope this helps - let us know a little more so that we can help you more~~
    ~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~

    Take care ~~ God Bless ~~

    ~~ Joy ~~
    charlie650 responded:
    Hi There,

    First of all, I am a personal trainer and I have altered Lumbar Lordosis. This was caused from a birth defect on my left side, a "dog collar" that did not close all the way and caused instability at my L5-S1. I also had a really fast growth spurt my senior year in high school and into college. Most of my compression occurs at the L5-S1 and that disk has since dehydrated and widened out.

    I have treated it so far with Isometric core exercises, stretches, Ice and Stem, and good posture. Lately, I've used overhead squats to really strengthen the erector spine and add a little compression to the spine (evidence suggests the disks will become stronger with the right compression).

    Problem occurred about a month ago, I did full back squats at 120kg and I hurt my low back (remember Overhead squats do not hurt, but help). I did roof cleaning, gutter cleaning, raking and sweeping of leafs for about 2 hours, the rake and broom were short for me, I'm 6'5" and with work boots on 6'6". My low back muscles where sore from the bending over that takes place when raking or sweeping with short handles. I worked out that evening and then put on my Astro Boots. I hung upsi-down to decompress. BUT I did something that I had never done before. I grabbed onto the cage holding up the bar that I hung from and slowly pulled and increased the traction. It hurt, felt like the traction machine my low back doc used last year. When I flipped upright and tried to stand, I was in so much pain that I was afraid to move.

    My low spine was noticeably straight and I look like an old man walking around when I cool down from exercise with a slight forward lean. It's been two days since the traction and my ability to do back extension has come back, but the muscles in the low back are sore and I easily tighten up. I feel the "extra" traction that I performed with my arms separated the spine and my L5-S1 disk moved to my posterior and is pressing up against my spinal column. I'll keep you informed as to me recovery but life sucks right now, any of you who have similar situations are the only ones who know...
    bj1208 replied to charlie650's response:
    Hi Charlie650 - welcome to the support group -

    I gather you must be from another country outside of the US as you stated you doing squats at 120kg - we, in the US don't use this type of measurements.

    I would suggest, since you felt something wrong that you go see a spine specialist and have either an MRI or CT Scan done. Having X-rays too will help. You need to have your lumbar area done and read by a spine specialist to see what's going on. Especially if it's been a while since you've had one done and that your L5 had dried up. No matter how much core treatments you do this disc is still very vulnerable to more severe damages.

    I'm afraid all that you do may cause more damage to this disc or even others - you don't want to have surgery and it's best that you get a full diagnosis with a treatment plan.

    Please keep us posted what you find out~~
    ~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~

    Take care ~~ God Bless ~~

    ~~ Joy ~~

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