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Frustrated after meeting with ortho doc this morning

deltaladyddeltalady Posts: 610
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Chronic Pain
This morning I met with my new ortho doc to discuss the results of my MRI (taken last Friday). I was hopeful that this doctor (who is one of the best in my area) would finally be able to figure out what's causing my ongoing sciatic pain in my left leg (suffering since October of 08). But, to the contrary, he could not find a reason to operate and told me if I were his family member there is no way he would let anyone operate on my back. I appreciated his honesty but am now confused about my future. He recommended a pain management doctor. To say I am despondent, frustrated, worried, scared is an understatement. How did I go from being a competent, capable adult who could provide financially for myself and take care of myself to what I am today? I can't even apply for disability because from what I'm told they don't recognize chronic pain as a disability. I don't know from day to day whether I will be in mild pain or severe pain. If I was able to manage my pain, I would not have lost the job I so dearly loved a few weeks back. I wish there was some type of interventional counselor that we could speak with to help with mapping out a plan for an uncertain future.

To complicate matters, my incision site on my left foot where I had surgery last October (which started this downward cycle) has become inflamed (for not reason)and my podiatrist is scratching his head as to what caused this issue since it's been such a long time since the surgery. Put me on antibiotics in the hope that this will take care of the issue and he won't have to go back in and clean out the infection.

I know that there are wonderful people on this website that are going through much worse than me at the moment and my heart goes out to you.

For those of us that are problem solvers, which I am, not being able to manage my own health is driving me nuts -- but again, as a woman of faith -- I must lean on God to assist me through this tough time.

Thanks for the ear! Sorry for the long post -- just had to vent.

Your sister in pain,



  • I understand completely your pain and frustration. I had pain for 2 1/2 years before, every injection, therapy and test imagineable and no one coulold find what was causing my pain. It was only after I went to a spine clinic they had me do a dicscogram and found three discs with tears that a MRI would not and did not show. I had a CT, Myleogram and none of those tests found the tears. Have you had a discogram? I also went to about 8 orthos or neuros before I found one that found the problem. I thought I was going nuts. I hurt so bad I couldnt do anything, but they couldnt find it either.
    Just thought that maybe you would appreciate knowing that there are people out there that have had the same problem. I really think if you have tried everything else, maybe a discogram is what will show something for you.
  • Hello Judy -

    Wow, after reading your post I really can relate to what's going on with you, since my path to a Pain Management Doc followed a very similar (and disturbing) course.

    Having said that, in my case...seeing the Pain Management Doc was the BEST thing that could've happened. After reviewing my films, he put me on two different medications that worked excellently to control my chronic pain and then prescribed Chiropractic and Physical Therapy. He told me plain out, that if neither worked...then it was time to take a more aggressive approach. Well lo and behold, two short months after beginning Chiro and PT (and after 1 cortisone injection) my condition worsened and on June 1st I had a C6/C7 ACDF which I'm very hopeful will give me my left arm strength back as well as reduce my pain levels.

    So, I would suggest being very hopeful when seeing the PM Doc, and realize that it's just another step in the progression of things...with the goal being pain relief and the return of greater function. Remember to reflect a "I will work WITH you" attitude when you see him/her, because doing so will help them make a positive association when deciding whether you're a "compliant" patient or not...and that matters a great deal when they're prescribing the meds that will help you to endure over the next months and perhaps years to come.

    Take care Judy and best wishes, I certainly do hope that things work out for you!

  • Thank you for commenting. I know the feeling that you start to think it's all in you head. And no, I haven't had a discogram and was not offered that option by the latest ortho doc -- just sent on to pain management. I'll certainly look into it. What happened after the discogram for you? Is it the surgery I see you had in December of 2008? How are you doing now?
  • I appreciate your commenting and your words of wisdom in dealing with the Pain Management Doctor. I will certainly be compliant as my goal is and will always be to achieve a better quality of life than I have had for almost a year now. I didn't realize that it wasn't the end of he line in my search for a fix to the problem.

    Take care and thanks again.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    in dealing with Spinal problems is that after all the testing, the doctors come back and tell you that they do not believe you are a surgical candidate. That part happens very often, but what can make it worse, is then WHAT DO YOU DO?
    The best doctors will not stopped there. They will continue to work with you to identify what your problem is and then work on an action plan. I firmly believe that there isnt a person walking around today that some doctor can identify what their spinal problem is and come up with a solution.
    Sometimes the best doctors are the ones that will tell you, I really dont know, but I will refer you to someone else. I always appreciate someone who is willing to admit that they do not know everything.
    But are willing to figure ways to get those answers.
    Seeing a pain management doctor could be an important step for you. They will go through the gamit of all the conservative treatments, look at various spinal injections, adjust medications, etc
    They can really be your best ally in your fight against spinal problems.
    So, Judy, I completely understand your frustrations, everyone can.... But now, lets think about your next step as opening the correct doors to find a solution that will help you deal with day to day living without having as much pain and discomfort.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • When did you first notice you had problems with your L5 disk? Did you have an injury or did the pain come on slowly? Have you ever had back problems before?

    Could you describe your leg pain, where is it located, do you have it all the time, when don't you have it, etc?

    I can sympathize with you today. I had a very unsatisfying appointment with my PM doc this morning. It is very frustrating when either they can't find the source of the pain or they can't do anything about it.

    Hang in there. You have many options left. If you have any choice in the matter, find a PM doc that has training in the field (interventional pain management) and isn't just an anesthesiologist who decided to switch to PM.

    xx Gwennie
  • I understand what you're going through and I know it feels like you've reached the end of the road by being referred to pain mgt. Not so...like everyone mentioned they can really help you by getting you more comfortable, and can offer different treatment options. I felt the same way 6 months after a microdiscectomy I had. I refused at first to go to PM because I thought it was the end of the line. I said I didn't want pills thrown at the problem...I wanted it fixed. What happened was I originally herniated L4-S1 and a month after surgery I reherniated L4-5. The doctor reassured me that the pain clinic was integrative and offered everything from behavior mod therapy to neurostimulators. I did go and was started on an ER medication right away. Pain specialists will refer you back to a surgeon if they feel that something surgically can be done.

    So Judy, it's certainly not over. But I am curious why they won't operate to decompress the nerve. Maybe you do have a herniation but it's not pressing against anything, and the doctor is hoping it will heal with pain mgt and conservative measures. My surgeon sent me for a ct/myelogram to confirm the nerve impingement before going ahead with surgery. It was found and only then was he comfortable in proceeding.

    Ask your doctor about this and see what he says. You are also free to get a second opinion from another surgeon if you want to. I do believe in having surgery if it's absolutely necessary if other treatments don't help, AND if your condition is worsening. Nobody wants to risk permanent nerve damage. Your doctor needs to tell you if you are at risk.

    I am speaking only from my personal experience, and you should speak to your doctor before making any decisions regarding your care. I hope things work out for you and you get to feeling better soon. Take care :H
  • Thanks for you comments -- To answer a few of your questions, this was a second opionion with an ortho doc. There was any significant finding on the MRI -- showed bulging disc at L4/L5 like my prior MRI -- but didn't show nerve impingement. I also had a prior EMG in late December 08 and it came back fine.

    After reading everyone's post above, I am feeling better about seeing a pain management doctor. I hope to find one who will listen to me -- going to the ortho docs is like going through the fast food lane at MacDonalds -- get you in and out -- no time to talk about your life or emotional issues.

    Today's been a tough day -- I've had an all day headache which I know is stress related from my discouraging appt. this morning but tomorrow's another day. I think I need to stop worrying about the future and just take it a day at a time.

    I did have something nice happen today -- a friend from New Orleans sent me the cutest care package filled with stuff to put on a smile on my face -- just a bunch of bath products, inspirational cards, funny things, it was real sweet of her and certainly lifted my spirits.

    Anyway, thanks for your comments -- I appreciate each and every response from my SPINEY friends!
  • That was really sweet of your friend to send that for you. I know it made your day O:) I hope you find a good PM doctor too. Take care
  • After the discogram was done they saw the tears and my only option was a fusion. The intital ortho wanted to do three levels, and being scared I went to annother one that was reccomended by a friend. That one said only 2 levels. He explained the more levels at once the greater risk of failure and since one was not torn all the way it could wait. So that is what I did. I can still have to have another level done later, but I felt I would rather have it later than risk failure. I am 6 months out of a long reocvery. I am better than after surgery but have a long way to go. I think that people that have one done seem to recover quicker. I also have a pain specialist, who I went to while I was searching for the right answers. Myleograms dont always show tears, Mine didnt, that is why I suggested a discogram. You have a herniated disc, so I think you should be a canidate for it..
  • :) As always, your wise counsel is welcome -- I'm puttin on my "Big Girl" pants and forging forward to the pain management doctor. :D


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