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My journey seems endless

Jun 25, 2008 - 0 comments



lumbar back pain








epidural after-effects




steroid injection

Longggggggg history of lower back problems.  First began about 12 yrs ago, diagnosed by Chiro with a bulging or herniated disc in lower back.  Received treatment and went on my way.  Followed by many years of sciatica treated by various Chiros.  Fast forward to two years ago....after using a commercial carpet cleaner at home, I began to have increasing lower back pain.  Another chiro took x-rays and diagnosed a spondylolisthesis of the L-5.  6 months of deep muscle massage and therapy and spinal manipulations (but he didn't touch my lower back).  Then last fall did some extensive home remodelling and lifted/worked too much and hips and lower back began to ache horribly.  A recurring left foot tingling and pain also began to worsen. Visited a chiropractor for a few months but this time got much worse quickly instead of better.  Both hips were so inflamed and painful to the touch and had a lot of lower back swelling.

FInally had a MRI in March/2008  - highlights are a complete herniation of the L4-L5 disc, some facet problems, a  large disc extrusion to the right but slightly central - with nerve root involvement and mild bulging of discs above and below the L4-L5.

Appointment with Neurosurgeon - diagnosis of degenerative disc disease and said only option was to have a disc removal and spinal fusion but wanted me to try pain management first and therapy.

Began physical therapy, two caudal epidurals, steroid injections in hips and thighs, anti inflammatories, an EMG and nerve conduction studies.

2nd Visit with Neurosurgeon - after results of EMG and nerve conduction (which shows L5 nerve root involvement and muscular weakness) they took another look at my MRI and discovered a fracture of the L4 vertebrae (chiropractor that diagnosed the spondylo 2 yrs ago was partially right!).  The only thing I can think of that would have caused the fracture is a 3 wheeler accident 19 years ago. So this undiagnosed fracture was spent all these years wreaking havoc on my body, but at least the years of leg weakness and foot pain were not in my head.

Neurosurgeon now says surgery became a lot more complicated because of the need to stabilize the vertebrae, then do a disc removal and fusion.  He wants me to continue to try pain management.   Pain clinic suggested trying nerve blocks and offered Ultram.  

Scheduled for the first nerve block tomorrow.  I didn't have much success with the caudal epidurals and the side effects were horrid - nauseau, headache, fatigue and awful hot flashes - but I need to get my body moving again and some pain relief.  The tramadol seems to be irritating my stomach too, so living on Pepcid and frequent restroom trips.

My Thoughts:

Therapy is helping
I do get short- term relief from the epidurals (days)
The best injections so far have been the trigger point in my hips and thighs.
MANY different NSAIDs without any good results beyond side effects, not on any now.
Ultram hypes me up so much, I can only take very early morning or I'll be up half the night, but it does make the days tolerable (even though I'm slightly high and hyper)
Mornings are still horrible with hip pain and stiffness - mostly on right side.  (Yes, right hip pain, left leg numbness and tingling).  They think its from the disc extrusion being slightly centrally located.

Where do I go from here?  I'm going to give the nerve blocks a chance (one of them).  I won't have the 2nd if I don't see some results from the first.  I will ask for the trigger point injections as soon as possible - I need to find out how many are allowed.

I also need to get it into my head that I will need to do the back stretching every single day to be able to continue to function.

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