I am 39 and have degenerative disc disease- had first surgery at age 18 in 1987- then 2 lamonectomies with nerve root decompression and re-routing in 98-99, and finally,3 level anterior and posterior fusion with bone grafts taken from iliac crest, titanium cages, pedicle hooks, screws and plates in 1 very long surgery in 2001 and 1 year later yet another anterior fusion with another bone graft taken from the other side- as well as more pedicle hooks, screws and plates implanted...this is all relating to L4 L5 S1...all lower lumbar- I can say that considering the horrific condition that my spine is in- that all surgeries went fairly well- no complications- etc...I was told that due to the fact that this is all degeneration- not injury based that I should expect further surgeries in my future. My question is two-fold:
First, I would like to know if others who are this many years post-op and have had the amount of surgery I have had- continue to have chronic pain. If so, to what degree? What meds are you taking for long term pain management? I am under the care of a pain management Dr., and have been taking Methadone for PAIN MANAGEMENT 40mg a day. I recently increased to 40mg from 30mg after several years. I had been taking Norco-10 for about 8 years pretty regularly as well- most recently for breakthrough pain-with the methadone- but it has come to the point that the hydrocodone does absolutely nothing but make me irritable and yucky feeling-so I quit taking it-also concerned about the long term affects on my liver. I am feeling like the Methadone works really well- but need something for days when breakthrough pain is not tolerable. Can anyone suggest what works for them as far as something for hydrocodone tolerant person looking for immediate relief when experiencing "bad days"...I am happy to stay on the methadone- and after taking many different meds over past years- this has been most effective for me for my "base" medicine.
Secondly: I have a rider on my lumbar region for my health insurance...and am self-pay when it comes to back issues. I had a CT Scan last week and paid cash- I was given my own set of films- but the radiologist refused to give a report because my insurance was not covering CT- which I paid for myself anyway...my pain Dr looked at scan and said, "you have a solid fusion"- and that is not my concern. My concern is that I wonder if my pain is a result and by-product of my surgery and disease? Or do I have something else going on in there? I suspect that it is a bit of both- and will likely take my scans to Spine Surgeon one of these days. I would like to know what types of pain (if any) other patients similar to me experience now- several years post op. I have essentially four types and regions of chronic pain or discomfort-not one specific- I work from home and sit at a computer- and it takes its toll... I also have chronic left hip pain- that is worse when getting up from sitting to standing- also after touching the area where my grafts were harvested-(iliac crest region)- it will burn for a week- constantly.
I am aware that I eventually need to see a specialist- but really would like to hear from anyone who has been through a similar situation- because Dr's know from a medical standpoint - but only those who have endured this type of pain and suffering can truly KNOW... Any input would be greatly appreciated.