38 year old Caucasian male. 5'8 165 pounds. Muscular and fit for all of my life. I've gained about 20-25 pounds over the past year and haven't been as active due to not feeling well on a daily basis. I've recently had a back injury at work in November 2020. I've worked in a distribution warehouse for the past couple of years in an overworked environment lifting hundreds of 30+ pound packs of products daily. I started the job in March 2019 and started having random autonomic dysfunction symptoms in December 2019 after an insane amount of overworking and stress. Since mid-December 2019,I have had episodes of rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, palpitations, lightheadedness, feeling jittery and shaky, adrenaline, frequent urination, blood pressure and heart rate rapidly going up and down, intermittent stomach pains, intermittent lumbar pain, bladder pain and colon pain about 2 inches below the navel. The lumbar pain grew with time and I figured it was just a little back strain due to all of the lifting. Certain positions make me quite lightheaded. Curiously, some days when I get out of bed, my back doesn't hurt as much and yet I'm super lightheaded and feel awful. Other days I walk around for an hour hunched over before I can stand up straight due to stabbing lumbar pain and on the days when I have the sharp pain, I'm not very lightheaded. Some days it's both and the more it hurts, I start having increased bowel and bladder functions and can feel the pain radiating through the center of my body from my lumbar to the colon/bladder and somehow making them hurt a lot. I fainted one time due to the lumbar pain and hit my head on a door frame.
A lot of my coworkers quit frequently and I rarely had enough help. I stocked a 40-50 foot long 4-tier shelf daily with 30+ pound packages of product and lifted them sometimes hundreds of times per day. The upper shelf is about 7 feet high and I would have to lift probably 50-75 of them above my head on a daily basis, downstack a couple of hundred of them from pallets to other pallets on a daily basis to sort the mixed product and that was just the first half of the day. The second half of the day was bending about a thousand times a day at the waist to pick those individual products from the front side of the shelf to build orders in trays and then stacking those 30+ pound trays onto pallets down near the floor. I did all of that every day from March 2019 until November 2020 when I hurt my back during the day and went to HR. They immediately sent me to a worker's comp doctor the next morning. I had a number of visits with her over 1.5 months and had a lot of physical therapy sessions on-site, which did not help. My lumbar area has had severe pain since November 2020. Some days even at home, I can barely stand up straight. I've been out on worker's comp unable to do much of anything since the end of February.
Long story short, my worker's comp doctor cut my sessions when physical therapy didn't work and said there was nothing she could do for me. She blamed the lower back pain on my "Dysautonomia" even after an MRI showed:
1. There is mild-to-moderate degenerative spondylosis at L4-5 associated with Scheuermann's disease. 2. The L4-5 disc space level demonstrates moderate degenerative spondylosis and narrowing of the disc with prominent Modic changes related to stress response. There is a bulging disc indenting the thecal sac across the midline. In addition there is a left lateral and left foraminal herniated disc protrusion and bone spur measuring 3 x 6mm in size touching the epidural space with minimal extension into the left neural foramen. The right foramen is normal.
3. The L5-S1 disc space level demonstrates a small amount of fluid in the right facet joint. There is no evidence of herniated disc or spinal stenosis. The neural foramina are normal. Age of injury of all bony changes: Chronic. Age of injury of all herniated discs: Indeterminate"
Workers comp doctor said it is the Dysautonomia causing my back pain. My personal doctor refuted that in a letter and said my back injury is totally unrelated to the Dysautonomia that he treated me for for nearly a year before the back injury. Now locked in a legal fight with the employer's insurance company who isn't wanting to pay for worker's comp and is denying everything.
A lot is wrong with this situation.
1. Worker's comp doctor erroneously blamed Dysautonomia for physical injuries and pain. I've been to all kinds of doctors and specialists since December 2019 and none of them found any disease or specific condition to cause those autonomic symptoms.
2. I asked the worker's comp doc (she's supposed to be a former Medical Director) about the increased bladder and colon pain that got even worse after November 2020 when I hurt my back. She said, "The nerves from the back go around to the front and cause that." Then later blamed it on the Dysautonomia in a letter to my employer and said it isn't work related.
3. Employer gets letter and their worker's comp insurance cuts my worker's comp benefits. Employer files for FMLA for me to go on leave for "serious medical condition" that I have never been diagnosed with and wants me to go to my personal doctor to get the FMLA forms filled out before I can work.
4. I get a worker's comp lawyer. A couple of days later, the HR manager at work emails me and says my "worker's comp bucket has been restored again" and says to not worry about going to my doc to get the FMLA forms filled out. So the FMLA expires and I get a letter from the governing body saying I failed to submit paperwork and no longer qualify for FMLA. HR never cancelled it when my worker's comp benefits were started again.
5. I'm going back and forth emailing with my employer's insurance adjuster to get a second opinion doctor (spine doctor) and she says I can. I email her back the name of the doctor and 10 days later she controverts the case legally and says the employer isn't responsible and the insurance company is only partially responsible. Worker's comp benefits cut for the second time. No checks even paid in over a month out of work and unable to stand for half of those days. My neurologist looked at my MRI disc and said I have Sciatica and nerve impingement. The worker's comp doctor that I first went to brushed that off.
6. Lawyer is fighting them and has requested a court hearing. They have been refusing contact up until the hearing request was submitted and now want to retrieve my medical records for the last 10 years thinking that they'll find a way to get out of paying for my back injury. The insurance company said the employer is denying indemnity in whole and claimed that compensable medical benefits are being provided, but I haven't received a dime from worker's comp weekly checks and they've cut my treatment benefits. Insurance company also states that there is no medical to support disability related to a work accident.
Could my back injury be the cause of all of this autonomic dysfunction? It seems like sometimes after a bowel movement, I'm not as lightheaded. I have also been to a gastro doctor in the past who noted that if the colon couldn't evacuate and wasn't working properly, that it could cause my autonomic symptoms. Could my back be the source of this? I didn't have any back injury issues before I worked at this place.