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Avatar universal

Back Pain, Spial Stinosis, Bone Spurs, Arthritis

I am an 79 year old woman who has put up with severe back pain for the last 5 years.  It is worse when I stand for very long or when I first wake up in the morning.  The pain radiates down my legs.  I have trouble walking very far.  I've been on medication (oruvail, vioxx, relifin), and I have had 3 epidurals (cortisone), 2 in the upper back and 1 in the tail bone area.  I got only temporary relief and the medication gave me stomach problems.  The orthopedic dr. I saw doesn't recommend surgery because it would be too extensive and might not even help.  I walk a mile every day.  I still drive.  I live alone.  I have good bone density and am in very good health.  I have had 3 MRI's in 5 years.  The last one was not different than the one 2 years before.  I have been told that I have thinning of the discs, i.e., bone rubbing on bone, or compaction.  I've heard about a surgery to relieve back pain by removing bone from vertebrae at the base of the neck.  Can you please tell me what to do for some pain relief?  I can't sit home and wait to die, but I can't stand the chronic pain or the thought that there is no relief.  I wear an elastic belt, with magnets in the back, around my waist.  That gives me some relief, but not much.  I am on an HMO (Secure Horizons), so I have to get a referral to see another dr. and he has to be one who is in the same group, or I have to change primary care physicians (which I don't mind doing, if I can find someone who can effectively treat my back).  I also have the option of going with a PPO, which would cost more, but give me more choices.  Can you help me?  I get the feeling that because of my age no one wants to bother with me, but my pain is very real and it keeps me from doing what I want to do (traveling, shopping, standing in the kitchen and cooking, whatever).  I'm told to be happy for what I do have, I could be worse.  That gives me little satisfaction.  Thank you for your input.
13 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear Iona:

I am sorry to hear about your back pain.  As you know, surgery is usually the last resort, and often does not correct the pain fully.  I can't give you advice as I have not seen the MRI or done the physicial exam.  If surgery is out of the question because of a medical condition or age, there are options.  First, if the steroids helped some, then there might be hope that rehab might help things.  I would check this avenue out.  Second, there is a new type of adhesive used by the neuroradiologist that might help (no surgery) if the problem is a disc.  If a second opinion is needed (which is probably a good idea) then I would go out of the group and find someone independent.  

I don't think I would settle for "I'm sorry" at this point.  Surgery may not be an option but there are other options.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
Avatar universal
You mention "rehab", does that mean rehabilitation/physical therapy?  I guess I don't know exactly what that entails.  Can you give me any detail about the adhesive you mentioned?  I've never heard of it.  What is it?  How does it work?  

I have developed heart burn, which even comes on when I bend over, not just after a meal.  Also, I get very short of breath when I walk very long and I have to stop and rest.  I broke my hip 3 years ago and had successful surgery; screws put in with no negative results.  (Just thought I would mention this in case there is something here that isn't obvious to me.)

Thank you for the information.

IW
Avatar universal
Dear Iona:

Rehab is as you describe.  You should get a referral from your neurologist or neurosurgeon to one in your area.  They will help with muscle strengthening excercises and other ways to maximize motion and minimize pain.  Your neurologist should be able to give you a referral to a neuroradiogist in your area that performs adhesive vertebral reconstruction.

CCF Neuro MD
Avatar universal
Iona,
Sorry to hear about your back pain.  Thinning of discs can be reversed with a system called Chi Gung.  It incorporate breathing exercise and posture practice which actually gently expands disc clearance and space.


Discs are very mechanical in their nature.

Email me and I'll send you some information that will help I am sure.

***@****

Nick Garrett.  Trainer for the Australian Olympic squad.


Avatar universal
Iona,

you sound like a very sincere lady and i hope you find your solution quickly.  i would like to suggest to you that you try chiropractic.  although many healthcare professionals are reluctant to refer to a DC (doctor of chiropractic), the medical literature has shown that it is an effective method for treatment of back pain.  massage therapy, accupuncture, and yoga are some other complementary therapies that may benefit you as well.
Avatar universal
Thank you dcmd.  I did try chiropractic therapy and acupressure/acupuncture.  It didn't help.  It actually hurt more after dc.
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