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Any success stories here?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have been suffering with lower back pain (going down the right leg into foot) since July. Have had some chiroprac., physical therapy and acupuncture. The first two made matters worse. Had to stop acupuncture due feeling afterwards intense burning in much lower female anatomy. Had MRI done in late Dec. 08. At L2-L3 mild right facet arthropathy and mild bilateral facet arthropathy, left greater than right. L4-L5 there is a mild disc bulge there is ligamentous hypertrophy. there is minimal bilateral facet arthropathy. ( I'm 65 yrs old female) I haven't been back to the neruo since but was wondering if anyone here can tell me what all this means?

Second question: ARe there any success stories here?
Third question: Is there anyone who is stomach sensitive to pain medication but was able to adapt to it in a short period of time? I've read that the patches are just as strong at the pills.

You see, I have a very sensitive stomach (spastic colon/stomach found from several upper GI tests). Back in the early 90s I had to take strong doses of ibuprofen due to an accident and dental work but there came a time when it began burning my esophogus and stomach. I can't even tolerate tylenol any longer cause it gives me a severe stomach ache for long hours at a time.

Since having the sciatic/lumbar pain..I haven't been able to take anything. I tolerate it 24/7. I use to be able to sleep comfortably on both of my sides but since a couple days ago...my right leg is causing a lot of discomfort.

I keep praying every day that God will have mercy on me. I haven't lost faith but I have to face reality and come to terms with myself that God alone will not end my suffering.

I'm actually scared out of my mind (since not being able to tolerate meds)that surgery will some day soon be in the picture. I know every one has different healing pains and lengths..but I've also noticed the after surgery pain (on this site) is worse than before surgery. That it takes any where between 8 - 12 months (maybe longer) for the nerves to heal. In some cases, not at all.

It truly breaks my heart to read all your pain stories. I wonder how many here put their trust in God?



  • with no religion or faith, I'd advise you to see the best medical professionals and take their advice! Then put your faith in whichever God you choose.
  • cleverlee, I had my first surgery 8 years ago. for L4 and L5. I had little success. BUT I just had a second surgery on 3 levels with great success. I am 53 Years old and had been disabled due to chronic pain since 2001. I am now 9 weeks post op and feel GREAT. I hated being on so many meds for so many years. I am very pleased and nearly pain free. Being on morphine for years. I feel and I coming into a new awakning. My Drs are in San Francisco and would would recommend them to anyone. Seton Medical center. Good Luck
  • Have you had facet joint injections yet from your Pain Management Dr.? I also have facet joint arthropathy. The injections helped so far. Have you had epidural injections yet for your leg pain? I had 3 epidurals and they helped alot. If you go to your regular Dr. he can give you a referral to a pain management Dr. Also most of the meds can be taken with something the Dr. orders to stop the nausea. I would give a pain management Dr. a chance before going right into surgery and try everything before surgery unless you have nerve damage and only further tests and a Dr. could tell you that. And I believe that God put Drs and Nurses and medical people as his hands to heal you through pain Management or Surgery. We can't just lay back and suffer without meds or treatment. All good things come from God in my opinion and that includes getting treatment. Take care. 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 -

    I can understand your concern about taking medication - I, too, am very sensitive to medication.

    A couple of things I discovered with my fusion surgery -

    For the most part, the meds they gave me via IV in the hospital did not bother my stomach at all. However, the oral meds after I went home made me feel horrible. I took teeny (my doc called them slivers) of one pain med (hydrocodone) and valium at the scheduled times for about 2 weeks following surgery. Then I just stopped taking anything and used only heat and ice for pain. I am now a bit over 6 months post fusion. I still take nothing but use heat and ice on days when I ache a bit from adding new exercises in PT or some other unaccustomed activity. Also, ultrasound on a sore hip really helped that pain about 2 weeks after surgery. PT in a therapeutic warm water pool has also helped much with aches and pains.

    I am not back to "normal" but find I can do most things if I use some sense about how I do it. I do, however, have 2 close friends who had the same surgery about a year before I did and they are doing great. One is back to scuba-diving, traveling, etc - she is in her early 60's. The other (late 50's) just returned from a snow-mobile and cross-country ski trip.

    It is a long and slow recovery that requires a great deal of patience. However, I did not find it terribly painful - mostly incision pain and that went away pretty quickly.

    is your doctor recommending surgery?
  • It is the fusion surgery that has the long healing period. I don't see anything that you mentioned from your MRI report that pops out to me as needing that big a surgery. But obviously I am not a physician, and am simply speculating! You need to see either a neurosurgeon, orthopedic spinal surgeon, or a physiatrist who specializes in the spine to get a proper diagnosis.

    Facet arthropathy is an arthritic type condition. Back pain is caused as the facet joints of the back degenerate and become inflammed. This is a normal condition for all of us as we age. It just happens sooner and more severely in some people. As the bone becomes irritated, it starts to grow more little rough pieces of "bone." These can grow into the openings that the spinal nerves need to pass through, resulting in a compressed or "pinched" nerve. This compression causes pain in the lower extremeties, if it is a lumbar compression. Also, the bulging disc at L4-5 is taking up space, probably compressing a nerve or nerve root.

    If the spine is stable, the surgeon might want to go in and "clean up" these overgrowths to make room for the nerves to pass freely, and thus alieviating your pain (hopefully).

    Regarding the pain meds ~ my 87-year old mother-in-law had a lumbar fusion last February. Immediately after surgery they gave her morphine in her IV line. She didn't like the way it made her feel and refused all pain meds after that point. So, it can be done. I'm sure a pain management doc would have some ideas for you on how to manage pain.

    For example, my physical therapist recently had hip replacement surgery. She used a TENS unit to manage the pain rather than taking medication.

    The first step is to get that diagnosis, and maybe a second opinion, too. Good luck.
  • Hi Charry, I've been to a pain mangemt dr for information about steriod injections. He mentioned injecting in the specific disc area too. Mentioned that it is very possible for a slight amount of the steriod to leak into the blood stream.

    Sadly, my body can not tolerate steriods. They burn internally (besides make me terribly nauseous).

    Last year I was given an oitment that contained steriod for the external upper part of my ear. It didn't burn my ear but it gave me shooting pains in my upper back and upper chest. Also, produced severe burning in my lower back and down my right leg. All this burning pain stopped after I stopped using the oitment. I also have an oitment somewhat like orabase (ingredients: steriod) to use orally for any denture irritations. I've used this for many years till late last year when it began burning inside my mouth..which never happened before. It not only burned...late at nite I had a terrible burning sensation through out my stomach and intestines. Needless to say, I no longer use anything with a steriod ingredient. So, facet joint injections are out.

    I have to find the right pain meds and I have to take them. I also have to change my attitude. Right now I'm deeply depressed. All I do is cry and pray. I realize I must change my attitude towards life and towards pain meds.

    Everyone on here has been very supportive and informational. I am so grateful for everyone's understanding and replies. Only now, it's up to me to do what is best instead of crying and feeling sorry for myself all the time.

    Thanks for writing back, Jan

  • Hi gwennie17, You have given me so much information. Thanks so much for replying so quickly. I'll have to do research on the TENS unit.

    Yes, I agree... I have to see my neuro surgeon about the results of my MRI. See what he recomm. I'm holding off on surgery, however, till all my options are used. Oh, yes too on a second or third opinion. There's a highly recomm specialist in NY which is about a 2 hour drive from my home because when it comes to back surgery you WANT/NEED the best to operate. He's out of my network but at least my insurance will pay some part...if I so choose that route.

    Thanks again, Jan

  • Cleverlee,

    There is a whole thread on successful surgeries, try finding it at the forum home. I consider mine a success, I had three level lumbar fusion nine months ago and I am at least 99% (or better) improved. Like you, I can't tolerate narcotics either, during my surgery they inserted a morphine pump and by the evening I started getting sick and also developed a headache. next day was the worst, so they removed the pump and put something in my IV. When I left 3 days later I no longer needed pain killer. But I am sure for those who still need pain control but are sensitive to medications there are some alternatives. Just tell your Dr. in advance what are the drugs you can't tolerate, and let him worry about the rest.

    Best wishes,

  • Hi cleverlee, I had a 360 fusion at L4/L5 with hardwear and ADR(artificial disc replacement) in November 2008. It has been almost 3 months and I am going back to work soon. I would have been back to work earlier but I do have a physically demanding job so I stayed home the extra 6 weeks. My surgery took just over 2 hours, very quick for this procedure. I had my pain controlled and was walking quite a bit before I went home the next day. My back pain was gone, I just had incisional pain. I was told it would be gone when I woke up and the pain was gone. I got better everyday as the first 3 days are the toughest. I was very anxious the week before surgery but that day...very calm, eerily calm and strong. It was like I knew the outcome before I went in. Spiritually at peace and ready. Here I am 3 months later, pain free and wishing you great success. Best Wishes
  • I'm answering your question about Fentanyl patches. Well, it's 80 times stronger than morphine and you change the patch every 3 days. For people like me who find it wearing off sooner than that, the doctor lets us change it every 2 days. I'm on 75 mcg and I have tolerated it very well. It does take a while for your body to get used to it, and you may have nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, and sweating for 2-3 weeks initially. Like someone already said, the doctor can give you something for nausea and vomiting. I had this problem because I was wearing it on my upper chest. Once I put it on my belly, all the side effect went away. I don't get euphoria or loopyness, and I feel fine driving on it. Of course you should always be extra cautious when you're on medications like these. I also need to take Norco 10/325 for BT pain.

    As for surgery, I did have a 2 level TLIF fusion on L4-S1 and unfortunately it didn't relieve the lower back pain and sciatica.
  • Hi cleverlee. Regarding success stories, yes there are lots here. Go to the Good News forum under Casual Conversation, and especially the following thread: http://www.spine-health.com/forum/good-news/many-successful-surgical-patient-outcomes

    Regarding stomach problems with meds - like you, I ruined my stomach from years of taking ibuprofen and even aspirin upsets it like heck these days. However, I have found that some of the new COX 2 anti inflammatories are very gentle on the stomach and I can tolerate these (e.g. Celebrex, Arcoxia [Etoricoxib]). I have no experience with pain patches (e.g. the fentanyl patch) but many here have had very good experiences with them.

    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • Hi Cleverlee :)

    I have to add that besides not tolerating meds well on my stomach, I also have a definite prejudice against using them.

    I did have a horrible reaction after my surgery - throwing up after back surgery is NOT fun. It's downright one of the most miserable experiences in my life.

    That said. I am glad I had my surgery. I feel it was a success. I took very little meds and only take Tylenol now on those really achy days. It's not like I HAVE to have it even.

    Honestly though - before my surgery I was willing to risk a lifetime in a wheelchair over living in the pain I was in. It had to be that bad. It's a personal decision that no one else can make for you.

    Best of luck
  • Have you talked to your doctor about this sensitivity? There are many medications that can help this, like protonix which is given to almost all hospital patients.

    And if you do require surgery they have strong IV medications to help you, like IV pepcid, zofran, IM/PO Pheneergan for nausea.

    A year ago I hurt my lower back lifting a patient up. I felt a tightness in my back. It went away, in November started up with the right leg sciatica, got worse and worse, had surgery 1/29/09, happy to say the sciatica is gone and I am up walking about. Still healing of course and have an issue here and there (sleeping in a chair atm due to the staples), but I know it will be over soon and I will be back to a more normal state prior to the sciatica.

    So yes there are success stories here.
  • Hi Cleverlee,

    Lots of good advice coming in for you, only thing I'll add as a fellow tummy sufferer is the benefit of meds that line your tummy and prevent the nausea, cramps, burning etc. I've been prescribed Nexium sometimes, and zantac others... i've found both fabulous and my oral meds havent' bothered me.

    Best of luck!
    L4-L5 fusion 1998; ACDF C4-6 2008; DDD
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