I have been using your website off and on for a while now, and despite my nervousness, I decided that today is the day for my introduction!
I just have to say though that there are some amazing people on this site. My hat really goes off to you for the courage you have to keep going, and not give up. Except for 4 or 5 short periods of back problems earlier in my life, I’ve really only been dealing with what I would call ‘intense and life changing pain’ for about 4 or 5 months now. When I read about people dealing with this for years and decades, I feel sad, but hopeful as well, that if this is my ‘fate’, then maybe I can find the strength too.
The start of my adventure begins back in March, I slipped on some ice in my laneway and as soon as I hit the ground and hear that audible ‘crunch’ and felt that excruciating pain, I knew this wouldn’t be good. After several tries, I made it to the house and eventually made it to the hospital. I was diagnosed with a stable compression fracture of my L1. (I do not have osteoporosis, never been on steroids, don’t smoke, etc. I’m a relatively healthy 32 year old).
I was admitted to the hospital for pain management, prescribed a brace to wear for a few months, and went home after a week.
Things progressed as I expect would be typical of a healing compression fracture. Eventually, I felt I was ready to try going back to work. (this was 2 months later). I work in health care, as an office worker, and my employer was very good about making ergonomic adjustments to my desk. But my first day back, I began having a new pain in my right leg. I pretty much ignored it (very intelligent, I know) and let it escalate over a 3 week period until I was unable to sit, stand, walk, or lay down. I had constant pain in my lower back, thigh, back of the knee, calf, and foot, which, with the exception of 1 or 2 days, has not gone away since, though there are days it is significantly less.
My GP ended up sending me for an MRI, which showed the following:
L1: anterior wedge compression fracture
L3-4: facet joint osteophyte formation, bilateral neural foraminal stenosis
L4-L5: spondylolisthesis, (grade 1) tear to the disc with ‘broad based disc osteophyte complex bulging (still don’t really understand what that means….), bilateral foraminal stenosis, and bilateral facet joint osteoarthritis.
I was fortunate to see an ortho. Surgeon (where I live in Canada, if you are lucky enough to get on a waiting list it is not unusual to wait 3-5 years to be seen, unless you are referred through the ER department, which I was). He did not seem concerned and feels that physio will help me return to my normal activities. When I tried to tell him about my concerns re: my leg and foot pain, he dismissed it and said I do not know what real pain is. But then at the end of the appointment he asked me what I was taking for pain, and prescribed me Lyrica. (I have not starting taking this yet.) I have been in PT for about 2 months now and just recently switched to a new one that is more specialized in dealing with backs.
Even though the specialist was quick to dismiss my situation, my reality still is what it is. Because of my leg and foot pain, I am only working 4 hours a week (and struggling with it), and except for medical appointments, I barely go out. If I do, my greatest anxiety is centered around having a place to lay down when things get unbearable. I’m not able to sit more than about 5 minutes at a time, and I’m still not driving, so I’m dependant on others. ( No public transportation anywhere close to where I live).
I am very aware that my pain/situation could be much, much worse, and that I am fortunate in so many ways. Everyday I am grateful for what I have and that things are no worse than they are, but this is still a big adjustment to make, to go from a ‘normal life’ one second, to everything changing the next.
My plan is to continue with this new PT for a while and see if I experience any improvement, especially now that I’m not immobilized in a brace as of two weeks ago. If this doesn’t produce any lasting improvements, than I guess I will start the Lyrica.
Thanks for taking the time to read this long winded (yet at the same time very condensed) version of my story. I’m sure many of you have read similar stories hundreds of times, so I appreciate you taking the time to read this one.