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Chronic back/neck pain
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Chronic back/neck pain

Hi, I am a 26 year old male, avg. height and weight. I've had neck problems since I was 16 and back problems since I was 21.  No one has ever been able to tell me whats wrong with my neck, but I injured it when I was dropped on my head in wrestling camp when I was still in high school.  My back started bothering me about four years ago while I was pressure washing a house.  A thoracic MRI last year revealed that I have 3 herniated discs in my mid back, which is causing some of my back pain.  Lately, my lower back has been hurting right at the base of the spine and it runs down my hip and leg.  Let me first of all say that I have been to a chiropractor several times, had physical therapy twice, had an epideral, steroid injections, deep massage, etc. and the problems seem to just get worse and worse.  I have been taking muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medication for about a year now.  I was just referred to another pain management specialist, who ordered an MRI of my lower back and an x-ray of my neck.  She gave me lidocain patches and more anti-inflammatories, and prescribed more physical therapy with weekly motrin injections into my spine.  Her preliminary prognosis of my back from strength tests is that I have problems between C3-5, T3-7, L4-5, and S1.  I have not gotten an MRI of my lower back yet (waiting for my appt.), so I can't say exactly what the problem is, but I have been in CONSTANT pain for the last 3 weeks or so.  I can't stand or sit for more than 15-20 minutes at a time without having to switch.  Getting out of bed and into/out of cars is torture.  Even worse is climbing stairs.

I am leaving Monday for a week to California on a business trip, and I am dreading the plane ride.  I made a doctors appointment for Friday, and I'm hoping they can prescribe me some type of pain medication to take with me.  I am worried, though, because the last two times I went to the doctor, I've asked for pain medication, and they've told me either I don't need it, or they don't want to prescribe me any.  Instead I get muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories and lidocain patches, which feels like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound to me.  I had to go to the ER 2 days after my appointment because my back hurt so bad and it felt like my spine was sticking out of my back almost, and they gave me 6 vicodin to hold me over til I saw my doctor, who told me I don't need pain medicine.  I do NOT just want pills to get high off of or whatever, but I feel like I am treated as such.  I am a young man with back pain, and I've been told over and over that I am too young to have these types of back problems, but that does not make them go away and I am extremely frustrated jumping through hoops to try and correct this problem, but not getting ANY help to get through with my day to day life without having to lay down on a heating pad all night after I get off work.  So I guess my question is... what do I need to do to get someone to help me?  
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Avatar_f_tn
I am so sorry. I am 48 and have suffered with severe back pain since I was in my early 30's. First of all STOP ALL chiropractic. I am not against it at all but with ruptured discs and if the chiropractor knows you have ruptured discs he or she should NOT be treating you. They could have done more damage.  It sounds as though you've done all the conservative therapy.  I myself have had 7 surgeries on my spine and do not advocate surgery.  However at your age I think correcting the discs may be the solution.  Have you seen a neurosurgeon?  Again you have tried conservative therapy and you are really suffering. There is nothing quite like back pain. It takes over your life, your thinking, your mood, your ability to be logical.  And you don't want to spend your life this way.  
So depending on where you live you need to find the best neurosurgeon you can find. Or an orthopedic surgeon.  If you live in a big city there are often excellent hospitals, often trauma centers or teaching hospitals attract excellent surgeons.  I live in Seattle and if by chance that is where you live I could recommend someone.  Or back east I could also recommend someone. Other than that I do not know of any docs.  But ask around, search on the internet.  If there is any way to cancel the trip so you don't have to fly try.  If not ask you doctor to prescribe ativan just a few pills for the flying time or xanax. The pills will relax your muscles so you can at least sit and even possibly sleep.   Purchase a support for your low back and even you can roll a small scarf or towel for behind your neck.  But keep the curve of your low back in it's correct position while you are seated other wise it will be awful when you get up.  Make sure you tell the pain specialist you are flying and you need something to get you through the flight.  If the MRI report is that bad perhaps the doctor can write a letter asking your employer to excuse you from this trip.  I also had to fly for work and it was torture. I had to stop working in 2004, I was injured in 2 car accidents.  

So here is your list of what to do:
1.see the advice of either a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon
2.NO more chiropractic until this is corrected and a good chiropractor will NOT adjust any area that has been fused or operated on for a minimum of 1-2 years after surgery
3.get a prescription for muscle relaxer or anti-anxiety medication for your flight
4.purchase or if you have a support for your low back use it on the plane

Keep in touch and the best of luck.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for the advice!  It's too late now for me to cancel the trip, but I will definitely bring a towel with me and try to find a back support for the flight.  I live in the DC area, so I'm sure there are some good doctors around here.  I saw one neurosurgeon about a year and a half ago and he recommended surgery, but I am trying to avoid that.  I am about to begin a rigorous physical therapy program, and I'm hopeful this time it will help.  Also, someone recommended a new type of procedure where they don't shave away the disc but rather inject steroids into the back muscles to kind of 'push' the disc back to its normal position.  Everything in my back seems to be slipping towards my right side.  They've also suggested accupuncture, which I have not tried yet.  Luckily I stopped going to the chiropractor about a year ago, on my own accord, because it felt like a waste of time.  But she knew I had a ruptured disc, so maybe that did make it worse?  Anyway I will ask the doctor about the ativan, and mention the flight.  Again thank you so much for the advice!

Take Care!

-Chris
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