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What could be wrong? I need ideas for next doctor's appointment

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi everyone,

My fiance currently has had problems with her lower back for 2 years. We have been in and out of doctor's offices, multiple MRI's and lots of different "treatments" to help rid her of the pain she has.

currently she has 2, confirmed, bulging disks (L4 and L5) in her back however they are not bad that the doctors are willing to do anything surgical to fix, mainly considering she is 20. We have been for 3 sets of trigger point injections and each seems to last only a month before the pain comes back and so we have had 3 sets within 4 months of the first and last. On our last visit we had an epidural and after 2 days of pain from the procedure she had no noticeable difference in her back and the pain actually returned to normal levels before the trigger points. She has been prescribed 2 different pain pills over the last 2 years, Zanaflex (which makes her sleep for about 6 hours) and Skelaxen (which makes it tolerable). Also noted on our last few visits, it appears the muscle in that area is wrapping rather tightly around her spine and is actually straightening out the natural curve and may, or may not be contributing to the pain.

That is the story as I know and we are running out of questions to ask as the doctors are just hopping from one pain killer to the next trying to help her cope and have not really seemed to interesting in finding a way to correct the cause of the pain.

We are scheduled for a follow-up on the 8th and are not really sure what to do as we don't want the doctors just throwing meds at us, so any suggestions we can bring to the doctors would be wonderful. Thanks!


  • Hello & welcome to S~H :H

    I't's nice that you joined here to help you fiance.There are a lot of people here with lots of good advice-though it's late and you will likely get more/better answers later in the light of day.

    If your fiance is suffering from muscle pain the Zanaflex and Skelaxen might help her,because those are muscle relaxers and can be really helpful with the muscle spasms that are associated with neck and back pain.However,they won't help nerve pain,or pain coming directly from the spine or discs.As far as the bulges are concerned,they are not uncommon,and rarely do surgeons do anything surgically for them unless they are compressing the nerves or anything in the spinal column (shows on MRI) and is causing her problems.

    Has the Dr ordered PT for her yet? If so that might help,but it usually causes some more pain during the excercises before any relief is felt later.Many Drs prescribe pain medications for that reason.

    I hope that she gets proper treatment and is soon recovering.It's nice that she has you for support.Please keep us posted.

    **Keep in mind that any advice I offered is only my advice and not to be misconstrued as a Drs opinion/advice**
  • Out of curiosity, how many millimeters are the bulges?

    As for your doctors, express to them the desires you've shared above- that you do NOT want to continue to have meds thrown your way. A couple of suggestions from things I've done in my past:

    - Consider seeing a Physical Therapist. They can pinpoint and work the areas more specifically that you or your fiance could.
    - Core strength will help the bulges. This would be part of PT, but is also something she can do on a CONSTANT basis. Lots of good info available on building core strength.
    - Practice good body mechanics. Posture, bending, twisting, lifting, and all that jazz, all have proper ways of maintaining relatively spine-neutral positioning. Most people participate in these activities "blindly", i.e. they don't slow down to think about making sure the steps in the process are correct. The processes/practices are the easy part. Remembering to practice them 100% correctly 100% of the time is the hard part.
    - See if you can get a referral to a Pain Management doctor. There are literally a TON of different drug combinations out there. Most orthos and/or neuros stick to what they know. Ask about the non-narcotic stuff (Tramadol etc...). At this stage, she probably doesn't need it.
    - Get a second or third opinion from a different doctor. If you've seen an orthopod, then go to a neurosurgeon. If you've seen a neuro, then see a spinal/ortho surgeon.

    Honestly, the hard part is that your fiance is in the dreaded middle ground of back pain. Bad enough to disrupt mental and physical life, not bad enough to necessitate surgery. Unfortunately, the surgeons are right. They don't want to operate on small bulges that could fix themselves with some of the things I mentioned above. Stick to your guns and demand continued follow-up until the problems are either remedied, or until they progress to a point that surgery may be necessary.

    Best of luck,

    Mike in Los Gatos

    The information provided by members of Spine-Health should never be considered as formal medical advice. It is recommendations based on member's personal experiences only. This can vary from person to person, so do not take comments as medical rules. Edited by moderator Paulgla
  • From personal experience I would suggest that you also consider a chiropractor.
    I get all sorts of lower back pains and the pelvic joints get stuck and pop out on occasion.
    The only fix for me is the chiro. Instant relief.

  • I had trigger point injections and they're supposed to elongate the muscle. The muscle is reacting to referred pain from the bulging discs. I had 8 weeks of triggers 8 injections each time. I also had 2 Epidurals. Then I went to my 2nd opinion pain management Dr. and am getting a different treatment and had my 3rd epidural which helped my leg pain alot! I'm going for my 2nd opinion Orthosurgeon. Get her Dr. to refer you to Neuro and Ortho Drs to get a 2nd opinion. www.chirogeek.com this site helped me which is seperate from this site and is only his experiences. Anything I say is from my experience and I'm not a Dr. I hope she gets more pain relief soon. Bring pad and paper to appt. If someone suggests physio or Chiropractor always ask her Dr. first! Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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