Back & Neck Community
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Back pain

Its been almost a year since I have been suffering from back pain. I have disc bulging in L3/4, L4/5 and L5/S1 as well as an annular tear at L4/5.Also loss of normal lumbar lordosis. Nothing has really helped so far and I have tried Physio, stretches and hydrotherapy. I'm sick of being in continual pain and the thought of being like this forever is depressing. I am 32 years old so any plans of having a family are gone. Does anybody out there suffer from similar problems and is there any hope for me??
11 Responses
1331804 tn?1336870958
Hi and welcome to the back pain community!

I am 31 years old and I have a ruptured disc at L4-5 that is slamming the L5 nerve roots up against the spinal canal along with osteoarthritis, bone spurs, ligament thickening, and spinal stenosis at that level.  I have a bulging disc at L5-S1 that is impinging on the S1 nerve roots and the disc is completely dessicated (dried out) and it is possible that given more time the vertebrae will begin to rub together causing me more pain.  I also have nerve damage and a bulging disc in the thoracic spine as well along with mild scoliosis in both the lumbar and thoracic spine.  And I also deal with severe myofascial pain syndrome (muscular pain).  I have been dealing with all of the issues above minus the lumbar spine issues for over 12 years.  The lumbar spine issues have popped up over the last 5-6 years or so.

How I manage my pain from all of this is through A LOT of medications: Opana ER, Percocet, Flexeril, Gabapentin, Remeron, Valium, and low dose of Aleve.  I also do stretching, mild excercise, and use a Theracane to perform self-accupressure.  Oh, and I drink tons of water everyday! Additionally, I go in once every 3 months for a lumbar epidural steroid injection, which helps tremendously with the low back pain and somewhat with the sciatica that I experience intermittently throughout the day.

I had my son at age 26 and during pregnancy I had to take a low dose of Tylenol 3 to get me through the worst pain spikes.  He is a very healthy little boy!  I wouldn't say that having a family is completely out of the question but it may take some additional planning and coordination with your primary care physician and OB/GYN to ensure that your pain is managed during pregnancy.

So hopefully some of what I do may be helpful to you.  Without all of the medications, treatments, and modalities my pain level is around a constant 7 out of 10.  Given all that I do, I live with around a pain level around a 2 or 3 with many moments throughout the day that are a pain level of 0 to 1!  So, with the right combination of medications, treatments, and modalities, you can live a very comfortable life.

Any surgeon would perform a 2 level fusion but I prefer to exhaust conservative treatments first before even considering surgery as there is only a 50% chance that the surgery will alleviate or reduce the pain you experience.  It is only considered successful when the patient fuses 100% and thus, spine stability has been achieved.  But a lot of times pain levels remain the same or are worse than they were before surgery.  So if you are thinking about surgery, exhaust all conservative treatments first and then get several opinions and seek out a seasoned spine surgeon.  It may cost a fortune but I wouldn't go cheap at all on back surgery.  

Wishing you more days with less pain.  Take care.
Avatar universal
I have had three surgeries on my back the last one being a fusion from L4-S1. I have recently herniated L-3 and it's a lot better after taking oral steroids. Have you tried a warm moist heating pad for arthritis? They tend to help me a lot. I wouldn't rule out a family either. I've been trying for a baby for years now. The most important thing is to make sure all your doctors are aware of your problems so that together they can construct a plan of care for you if you decide you want to start a family. I injured my back in 2006 and still have pain on a daily basis even after surgery. Maybe you could look into finding a pain management doctor to alleviate your pain. There are many option before you try surgery. I hope you get go feeling better!
Take care
Avatar universal
Hello, thank you for your info! I hope you have been doing well. The only pain relief my doctor will give me is Tramal 12 hr 50mg, which is a slow release pain killer which doesn't help. It took me a good 8 months before he let me get an MRI. Doctors don't realize the pain you are in, or anybody else. That is why I joined this site!!! I am waiting to get a neural blockage bilaterally. At first the sound of this was frightening but now I would do anything for relief! Also I am not working at the moment as the job is too physically demanding for me. Do you work? How long did you rest for? I also stopped doing my stretches thinking maybe they were aggravating the problem cause they didnt help!
Avatar universal
Hi Ginger, thanks for responding! I hope you have had relief lately. I have tried wheat bags in the past, is this the same as the arthritis pad? I have pain going down the backs of the legs, lower back pain, upper back stiffness and sometimes pain in the thighs and hips, depending on the day. I don't think my doctor realizes the pain I'm in as all he will give me is Tramal 50mg. I am waiting on a neural blockade bilaterally and haven't worked in 2 months. Are you working? Im hoping to get a job a few days a week where I can sit and move around!! I worry that I can't have a child because I am always in pain and don't think I could put up with extra pressure on my spine carrying the baby. Also actually giving labour and then carrying a baby in my arms, picking it up etc. I fear I would be hunched over which is what happens when I over do things. Also I fear that pain killers etc would hurt the baby? Anyway I'm hoping for a miracle and get a bit of relief so I can have a baby before I am too old! Best wishes, Carrie
Avatar universal
Hi Femmy!
I also wanted to ask If it was almost unbearable being pregnant and if you would do it again? I fear I wouldn't be able to cope with extra weight on my spine, let alone giving birth and picking up the baby. I heard you can only have Panadol when pregnant and Panadol is useless for pain associated with a bad back. I worry anything else could harm a baby. I can't even pick up my 8 month old nephew. If I over do things or pick something up I find myself being hunched over for a while which is a terrible stiff feeling and looks awful. Where you bed ridden during pregnancy? Where you able to work?
1331804 tn?1336870958
I think the Tramal that you take for pain is the same as Tramadol in the US (do you live outside of the US?).  I started off on Tramadol about 9 months after my son was born.  I was on Tramadol for about 3 years; however, it started to stop working after 1 year similar to when you are saying that the Tramal became ineffective for you.  I continued with it for so long because I was under the impression that Tramadol was the end of road in terms of medication for pain was concerned.  However, my pain got so unbearable again that I continued to fight for stronger medications and I was switched to Vicodin for a year until that stopped working.  After that I was started on my first extended release medication (Morphine) and that really started to help out a lot with my pain.  And at the beginning of this year, I switched insurances and found a very compassionate physician that started me on Opana ER and Opana has been the best medicine yet for controlling my pain.  I hope the pain relief continues for awhile and doesn't fizzle out so quickly...we'll see.

I have been working for over 16 years in the engineering field.  It is primarily a desk job and the ergonomics group has done a great job with setting up my desk in a comfortable configuration for me and provided a great chair with a neck rest which helps a lot.

When I became pregnant with my son, I went out on disability 3 months before term because the pain became unbearable and I couldn't work anymore.  The extra weight from the baby put a lot of pressure on my spine and caused severe sciatica down my legs and made it quite a feat to walk even the shortest distances.  But I am very glad I endured it as I have a wonderful little boy from the pain and suffering I endured...it was so worth it!  Would I do it again? No.  I think one child is enough for me to keep up with but don't let my decision sway yours...it is just how I feel at this point in my life.

Opioids are generally safe during pregnancy.  They do cross over to the placenta; however, it is very unlikely the baby would be harmed or have withdrawal symptoms from the opioid medications.  Opioids are used during labor as well.  I received repeated morphine shots in the hospital before I was dilated enough to have an epidural.  Opioids become harmful when the mother ingests excessive doses in order to achieve a high...it is those times when babies are born with symptoms of withdrawal from the opioid medications.  My son had no withdrawl symptoms and there are many women on MedHelp that had healthy babies after being on opioid therapy during pregnancy but it's important to coordinate with your GP and OB/GYN on how your pain will be managed during pregnancy before and after conception.  Labor was not all that bad...I ended up having a C-section as my pelvis was too small for him to fit through.

My medications help sooo much as a parent!  I am able to keep up with my son to the best of my ability now and can still pick him up even though he is getting too big for that! lol :)

The stretches should be done in positions that don't put added strain on your back.  Bending at the waist to touch your toes is not a good way to stretch.  Instead lie down on your back and pull your legs towards you.  A good physical therapist can help you learn the proper way to stretch.

Hope this helps.  If you have others questions, please let me know.

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