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Torn Discs & Work Comp Nightmare

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in New Member Introductions
Hey there everyone.

My name's Kasey. I have found information from this site to be quite useful, so I figured I would finally jump in and sign up. :)

The basics:
I have 2 torn discs (L5-S1 and the L4-L5) as a result of bartending (lifting beer kegs that weigh about 170lbs).
I'm a 27 year old female.
Injury occurred October of 2005.

I have had the following tests/procedures so far:
2 MRIs
2 Nerve Studies
Discogram with CT Scan
Myelogram with CT Scan
2 Facet Blocks

As of right now I am at a stand still as what to do. All the doctors I have seen do not want me to undergo any major surgery like fusions or replacements. I saw one doctor who has done a thing called "torsion rods," and am debating about going that route.

My work comp doctor basically just wants to medicate me (gives me vicodin, soma, etc every time I see him and argues with me when I want to take any action). Needless to say, this is getting really old, really fast.

My pain influences my everyday life. I have a burning, throbbing, shooting pain that radiates across my lower back and continues down both legs. At first it was more my right, but as of the past year, it's gotten worse down my left leg.

I just had a myelogram on Monday, which was THE worst experience/pain I have experienced so far. I started getting spinal headaches today (technically Thursday) and still have increased pain from the puncture site.

Umm.. without writing a novel, I think that's it in a nutshell! I look forward to hopefully finding answers on this forum!


  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. have you tried any nerve pain medications for your leg pain? :? talk to your doctor about this!! :-C i am sorry you had to go through a myelogram.. ~X( i hope you are feeling better soon from that.. please stop by anytime.. :D good luck with future pain treatments. =D> Jenny :)
  • It seems you've been fortunate enough to have undergone some very thorough testing. One can only assume that the doctors you've seen have explained WHY surgery isn't recommended. Other than your pain, is there some reason why you disagree with their advice?

    Personally, I wouldn't take the advice of one doctor over several doctors. It's not logical nor does it comply with common sense.

    Muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories may be extremely helpful for your pain. Modification of your activities may be helpful for your pain, as well.

    Yet - the only qualification (ha ha) I have to even offer an opinion is being an ex-professional in an entirely different field experienced with individuals who have ended up on my doorstep because they didn't take my initial advice - and who've wanted me to *fix it* after things got screwed up.

    I hope you're just venting your deeply felt frustrations at your situation and truly not considering the advice of one doctor against the advice of several doctors. I also hope I'm not speaking out of line. sigh.

    Feel better soon.

    Very Best Regards,
  • that you want a second opinion and that you don't feel that the doctor you are currently seeing is listening to you. You have the right to a second opinion....... Is your current dr a neurosurgeon or ortho surgeon? I am in the same boat as you but my worker comp adjuster is awesome at working with me and keeping the ball rolling and making sure I am getting the care I need. I wish you luck!~
  • Hi Kasey,

    Welcome to spine-health. Have a look around besides the forums are some excellent doctor written and per -reviewed articles that may help, as well. We are not doctors but have many experiences here. You will find others that are going through the same issues, as you are going through right now. Some on the beginning of the journey and some who have been in it for quit sometime now.

    Sorry to hear about the headache that you ended up with from the myelogram. Hopefully they were able to get a spinal patch done and stop that awful headache very quickly. I have had one of those and felt like a freight train going through your head. However it was a free pass to drink as much caffenine as I wanted. Have you seen the doctor since the myleo was performed and if so what are the interpertations of it? Anyway just wanted to stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Hope everything starts working out for you.
  • it has been so long since your injury and so much pain...when it goes so long the risk of permanent nerve damage is increased. you need a good plan to fix the trouble. do you have a spinal surgeon you trust?
    do you have a lawyer?
  • Thank you all for the wonderful welcomes and comments! This is what I truly need right now. :)

    To attempt to answer several questions in one post....

    I have tried taking Lyrica for nerve pain, but I can only get samples of the Rx as filling the Rx it is near impossible due to WC "pre/authorization" B.S. I have to jump through a million hoops for every little thing. Thankfully, my pain meds are filled at the WC doctor's office, so I don't have to struggle to get those.

    I have taken anti-inflammatories in the past and developed an ulcer from them, so I try stay away from them. Since I have done so, the ulcer has healed...

    For surgery... I would love to avoid it all together. I just know that someday it will most likely need to happen. The torsion rods I spoke of are held in place by screws above & below the verts of the disc affected. The pressure that the disc would normally take is then distributed onto the rod instead. I have a friend who had it done and is even back to kick boxing. The beauty of this, is that it does not interfere with future surgeries and is easy to recover from. Hence, why I'm looking more into it. Some of the doctors I have seen know nothing about this since I think it is a newer procedure. (All the doctors I have seen outside of WC have all been neurosurgeons). The one who does the torsion rods is with UCLA and recommended the facet blocks and rhizotomy first.

    I still may go back and get a rhizotomy since the facet blocks were successful and provided the best pain relief so far.

    I do have a lawyer, but I feel like they are not doing that much for me. I'm STILL trying to receive benefits of any kind, especially now that I have been taken off of work since May 1st. The WC adjuster is someone who I would rather have my attorney deal with as she is difficult to get ahold of and... a b*tch. The WC company is Gallagher-Bassett, by the way.

    I have all my films and reports downstairs and I will post what they say so everyone can get a better idea of what exactly is going on here. For the time being, the spinal headaches are worse and I was told to stay laying down and let it run it's course (which could be a WEEK). Ugh... I just don't see a light at the end of this tunnel.
  • for you. Hell, we're all in a bit of a quandary, ya?

    I'll have to google torsion rods so I can keep up with you.

    Please post updates.

  • Good luck on finding the torsion rod on google. It's hard to search for... I tend to only get results on auto parts. lol
  • I think I may try to scan my films to see if they even turn out. But, in the mean time, my plethora of test results:

    1. MRI 03/06/07
    At the L5-S1 level, there is disc desiccation. There is a 4mm central posterior disc protrusion. There is no significant effect on the thecal sac or nerve roots. The neural foramina are widely patent. There is no spinal stenosis.

    Impression: 4mm central posterior disc protrusion L5-S1 level with no significant mass effect on the thecal sac or nerve roots. The rest of the study is unremarkable.

    2. Discogram with CT Scan 05/18/07
    L4-5: There is a focal central midline annular tear of the disc with an associated 3mm disc bulge. There is no obvious neural foraminal stenosis. Posterior facets are normal.
    L5-S1: There is a diffuse tear of the disc involving the anterior right lateral, and posterior aspects of the disc. There is an associated 5mm central disc extrusion with mild effacement of the ventral thecal sac. There is no obvious neural foraminal stenosis.

    Impression: Post discogram CT of the lumbar spine as described. There is diffuse annual disc tear at L5-S1 involving the anterior right, and posterior aspects. There is an associated 5mm central disc extrusion with mild effacement of the thecal sac. Focal annual disc tear at L4-5 with an associated 3mm broad-based disc bulge.

    3. Nerve Study (Electroneuromyographic Report) 05/28/08
    This is fairly long, so I’ll just write the conclusion:
    EMG findings reveal evidence of at least mild S1 radiculopathy bilaterally, right greater than left. Electromyographic findings reveal slight evidence of irritation of the Si nerve roots on the right. Nerve conduction studies are predominately normal, with only increased F-wave latencies, consistent with S1 root level involvement.

    4. MRI 05/14/09
    Note: I did not bring previous films/findings with me when I got the MRI done.
    Findings: L5-S1: There is a central disc protrusion measuring 13mm at its transverse base by 5mm AP. This disc protrusion contacts, but does not displace or compress the left L5 nerve root. It mildly to moderately narrows the left lateral recess. There is also focal central indentation of the ventral thecal sac with mild narrowing of the central canal.

    Impression: Degenerative disc disease at L5-S1 where there is a prominent central disc protrusion which contacts but does not displace or compress the left L5 nerve root. It focally centrally indents the ventral thecal sac and mildly narrows the central canal.

    5. Nerve Study 05/27/09
    Basically a bunch of graphs and charts with this one sentence:
    This emg/ncv of both lower limbs is abnormal and is consistent with left L5 radiculopathy.

    6. Myelogram with CT Scan 07/27/09
    Findings: At L5/S1 a 6mm broad-based central disc protrusion is noted. The protruded disc has a transverse base of 14mm.
    Impression: 6mm broad-based central disc protrusion at L5/S1. No other bulge or protrusion noted. No significant facet arthropathy is noted. The central canal and foramina have normal caliber throughout the lumbar spine.
  • ALOT of stuff I've don't know anything about. Maybe if you input a few of those words into the search field of this forum, you could find other posts similiar to what you're experiencing?

    As for torsion rods pulling up car parts - I can't help but wish "Body Parts" I see at auto places included human body parts! :)

  • I am new here and am looking for advice and support...

    I am a 26 year old female who tore L5-S1 at work 5 years ago.

    Had MRI, CT, PT, epidurals, trigger point injection, pain meds and then finally a SUCCESSFUL I-DET. Had relief for 3 years! :-)

    Re-injured L5-S1 again at work this past December. New films show DDD and another tear...

    Had MRI, CT, PT, epidurals, SI joint injection, pain meds...

    All being handled by worker's comp which means a real pain in the butt...LITERALLY!!

    Have been referred to spine surgeon who suggests fusion.

    Had second opinion, that surgeon agreed with surgery but said I could choose between fusion and replacement...

    Scared, confused, in pain, and feeling pressured to make a decision... All i know is that i cannot live with this pain anymore...

    ANY SUGGESTIONS, COMMENTS, ANYTHING... is greatly appreciated!
  • Katie,

    You may want to post this separately in the intros so you can get a thread started for your own condition. I'm afraid that most of this one will be directly toward my problems...

    I want you to be able to get all the support you need, and fear that it may not get the recognition it deserves if it's under the guise of mine. :)

    Best of luck!
  • I'm sorry i dont really know how to use this site... thanks
  • Could easily be a version of what I'm after.

    During my digging around on the internet, I came across this:


    It seems very similar to what I was told about. I also found the emails between my friend who had the torsion rods, to try to remember everything that was mentioned (outside of the phone conversation from 2 years ago).

    These are from a motorcycle forum I am on and from 6/07:

    "No disc fusion for me, I wouldn't allow it. I have two flexible rods called torsion rods installed in my back. They keep the majority of your range of motion but bypass the majority of the pressure around the level you have them installed in. in the case of two busted discs, they'd fuse one and then use these rods on the other.. it is proving to be a very very effective technique. or they can replace one disc and use these on the other level since using the torsion rods does not preclude you from possible future disc replacement if the rods happen to fail for some reason (though they haven't failed in the 15 years thye've been in trials)"

    I think I then asked him what happened to him....

    "L5-S1 disc rupture and bulge with nerve canal impingement... I am a 30y/o male and I was 28 when this happened... just had surgery feb 21 07. waiting sux but it definitely beats having an unneccessary spinal procedure."
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