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Hi there: "My Story"

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in New Member Introductions
:O Hi, this is my first post to the community and my story.

Three years and nine doctors ago I started having some back pain. It was minor, but I mentioned it to my regular physicial during my anual phisical. "Don't worry about it," she said.

The pain gradualy became worse and more frequent, resulting in regular episodes of "getting stuck" and having to crawl on the ground. I saw another doctor and she assured me that my back DIDN'T hurt, I just THOUGHT it hurt because I had stopped taking my antidepressants.

I started taking my medication again, but the pain continued to get worse. At this time I had an employer who also had back pain and was recieving treatment. "How did you get help?" I asked. "My doctor doesn't beleive there is anything wrong." "Cry," she said. "Go in and cry, then they'll listen."

So I tried it. I was about 4 months away from my wedding and I said to my doctor, with tears streaming down my cheeks, "I just don't want to have to crawl down the aisle!" And that's how I got my first MRI :) .

After my MRI I was sent to a Phisical Medicine doctor to review the results. He said I had an L5-S1 bulging disc and that I should get a cortisone injection. So I did. Nothing happened. I went back and asked, "so now what?" He was shocked and offended that I was suggesting his shot had not worked. He said that my only option was more shots, but that they would not work. He went on to explain, "If you took 100 random people off the street and gave them an MRI, many of them would have herniated discs. Some people CHOOSE to think it hurts, while others do not. IT'S REALLY NOT A BIG DEAL."

Well, that was encouraging. Those experiences with doctors caused me to give up for a while. I went on to see physical therapists, chiroprators, and other specialists. I had 5 more shots in my back and one in my hip (another x-ray showed a cyst on my hip that he thought might be the route of my pain). None of these things worked.

I finally decided that I should see a surgeon. He looked at my 3 year old MRI and said that there was nothing to operate on. I suggested that perhaps it was time for a new MRI as my pain had definietly increased over time. He said, "the human body does not change that quickly, there's no need." I turned on the magical tear machine, "Please," I said. He agreed. I waited two months and he never scheduled the exam.

I gave up yet again.

At work we had a new HR manager and I asked her about getting an ergonomic chair. She went on to tell me about her own experiences with back pain and recommended a doctor at a specialty clinic. I decided to call him.

I immediately knew that he would be different, because the first thing he said to me was, "you shouldn't have to live with pain." There was no need to cry, this doctor ACTUALLY wanted to help me feel better (amazing that more doctors don't want to help people!).

The first thing he did was get me a new MRI (I didn't even have to ask! :O . He put my old an new MRIs next to each other and it was like day and night. Even me, not knowing anything about anatomy, to one look and saw something VERY wrong. So, doctor #7 was wrong, my body had dramatically changed and the herniation was very bad. He recommended immediate surgery.

So, 5 weeks ago I underwent surgery at UCSF with and amazing surgeon. During the surgery he was surprised to find that unlike normal disc material, which is sort of gooey, mine had hardened and needed to be removed like bone fragments.

I am entering my fifth week of disability (I go back to work 01.15.09) and am a bit worried about my progress... which is was has led me to this forum.

After the extra pain and stiffness from the surgery went away and I am trying to resume some normal movement, I am really sad to say that my back feels exactly the same. I still have a lot of pain in the left/lower part of my back. I know that surgery was not supposed to be a miracle cure and that I would feel 100% better right away, but I thought it would feel better than this.

I understand from reading many other posts that this may be nerve related, not disc related. It makes sense, knowing that my disc material was so hard, that perhaps the nerve being pushed on needs more time to heal. However, what I don't understand is why it only hurts when I make certain movements and not all the time? What is triggering the pain if nothing is pushing up against it? Will it get better?

I see my surgeon for my follow up appointment next week, so I'm sure he will have lot's to say, but I'd love to hear from people with personal experience as well.

Thanks for reading the lengthy post!


  • That's a sad story you've had to live through for 3 years. I also agree not enough Doctors take people seriously about back pain. I had to ask my Dr. for an MRI because I could barely walk and was still working. Shortly after 2 nights of heavy work I collapsed and had to stop working. I haven't had surgery but I hear there's alot of pain after and it's still early. Do you wear a back brace? I wish you a speedy recovery and less pain. 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
  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i wish you the best as you progress through your recovery. =D> please keep us informed. Jenny :)
  • As soon as you said that you "lock up" I had a very strong feeling that you may be dealing with facet pain. Anyone that I ever spoke to that knew about "locking up" has had issues with their facet joints including me. You may want to suggest exploring that possibility to your doc. Good luck to you and please keep us posted.
  • I am sorry to hear that you have had to endure idiot doctors who believe that pain and injury has an age. I too went through the same thing for 4 years until after I gave birth to a child and had a marraige certificate. Granted I was still only 19, but at least then he listened. Having a babe does something to your nerves, or at least mine, literally and figuratively. ;-) I started to demand things from my doctors, and drop them when they wouldn't listen. Anyway, I had a discectomy 8 years ago, and the pain in my leg went away right away but I still had some back pain. I just had a two level fusion and I still don't have the answers. But, I would be happy to support you, and let you know all about my own experiences as well. Good luck and hand in there!

    One Love,

  • Welcome to SH...you will find a wealth of information on this site as well as caring people who will support you.

    Have you checked out the Neck and Back Surgery forum? Not sure exactly what kind of surgery you had, but I betcha someone on that forum has had the same one!

    If you had fusion surgery, we are really, really early in the recovery process.

    I wish you the best sweetie, and be good to yourself!
  • You're experience makes me angry. I was the one who delayed my treatment (by a mere 4 months) and now I have permanent S1 nerve damage. I can't imagine if a doctor put me off like you experienced!!

    Hopefully all is well and you are in good hands. Keep doing what you are doing, which is staying on top of it!!

    Welcome to Spine Health!

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