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chronic low back pain and don't know what to do

jeremy54235jjeremy54235 Posts: 46
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi all i am a 32 year old male. I have been suffering from low back pain since i was 16, at that age i started going to a chiropractor for 10+ years until i got sick of going back all the time and it not helping me. Over the past 4 years or so my pain has increased allot. I can not stand, sit, or lay down for long periods of time. the pain is not always terrible but never completely gone either, at its worst i would give it about a 8. Pain is located about belt level and a little lower. I saw a doctor and she had a x-ray but didn't see anything, and because it didn't go down my legs she would not send me for an MRI. She had me go to PT and that didn't help at all, now she sent me to a pain management specialist. He injected me with cortisone in 4 places and it helped some for about 2 days. Today i went back and he did a medial branch block. I don't know if this helped or didn't, i still had pain for an hour to an hour and a half after the injections and still had the feeling of pressure. Now its starting to hurt worse again. I don't know what to do anymore. Would like to hear feedback if you have any. Also the pain is like a burn and pressure and on both sides of the spine. Thanks for reading this.


  • Give the medial branch block a few days to take effect. It sounds like your PM is doing all the right things in order to diagnose where your pain is coming from. I also went to a chiro in the beginning and am convinced that he actually did more harm than good. Do not be discouraged. I went through much of the same for years going from one doc to the next. It was a PM doc that finally diagnosed my spinal issues and was able to help me. The injections will often only give temporary relief but if you do get even temp relief that is a good indication that is where your pain is coming from. Hopefully your PM will be able to suggest a procedure that may give you longer term relief based on his findings from doing the injections. There are lots of different tests that a PM will do besides xray and MRI. My doc told me that only the most severe issues show up on MRIs. So be patient with the PM. Work with him and he may just be the answer for you. Good luck and please keep us posted.
  • Thanks J.J. I am just frustrated and not getting much sleep. i am currently laid off so was hoping to get this taken care of in my off time. I think the nurse told me what was done today would only last a couple hours and if it helped the would do some radio frequency thing that usually last for 6-12 months. i used to take lots of ibuprofen which would help a little, but that led to other problems now pretty much all i am supposed to take is Tylenol which does nothing at all and at times i am rolling around on the floor in pain. So i really hope to find a solution soon.
  • where I was hoping that he was headed. It really sounds alot like your facet joints and a rhizotomy does usually give me about 9 months of relief. Just remember that ice 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off is sometimes very helpful for pain at the injection site. Try and stay focused on the end result of all this which will hopefully be relief from your pain. I know it is easier said then done.
  • Thanks again. I will update on what happens down the line.
  • I would think that you could get something a little better than Tylenol from your doc? Do you have a PM that does injections only? No meds? I do not think that I could handle that. I feel like you should be able to get meds that will at least take the edge off.
  • I guess i really didn't ask, they asked what i take and i told them that don't really do anything, but they did not offer anything.

    Tylenol, was because a different doctor thinks i have a mild ulcerative colitis and told me not to take ibuprofen, naproxen or other anti inflammatories.
  • might want to ask the PM for something that does not contain any ibuprofen. I do not like taking meds either but have come to realize that sometimes it is just what I must do to survive. Good luck and please do keep us posted.
  • As I was reading your posts, I too was thinking "why nothing stronger"?

    Maybe as you did not ask for it they think you don't need it - just a thought.

    Can you call and tell them it is this bad?

    PS: welcome to the boards - this is a GREAT group of people. You never have to feel alone with your pain again - just that alone keeps me hanging on when I think I can't :)
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • I will probably give that a shot, i seem to put things off untill i can't take it anymore.
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. so glad you stopped by. i hope you have pain relief soon. give the injection a few days to feel better. good luck and keep us informed. :D Jenny :)
  • Thank you all for the warm welcome. I am glad i found this site.
  • I am thinking the medial branch block was not the answer, back has been hurting pretty bad all day. How long is the block supposed to last anybody know? Any ideas on what else could be the problem? I don't go back to the PM untill the 16th ugh.
  • tbat you could call and get an earlier appt? The block is usually temporary and will last from a few weeks to a few months. My experience with these injections and blocks has been that sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. I think that there may be some inflammation just from having the injection done. Has your PM mentiomed doing a discogram? This is a good test to see if it may be a disc that is causing your pain. It will show things that do not show on MRI.
  • No he has not mentioned anything about a discogram. I do not know what the next step is going to be. I have not had an MRI either. Just an x-ray, then PT, and now PM. So far the PM had done cortisone injections and the block. The cortisone seemed to reduce the pain for two day then i was back to normal. The block i am not noticing relief from. I am starting to think i am a pin cushion though. Four pokes for the cortisone, six for the block. The muscles in my back were sore from the cortisone injections, but from the block i didn't have any additional discomfort.
  • Any idea what they may try next?
  • but if the cortisone helped maybe they will try a rhizotomy next.
  • Welcome to Spine Health. Your situation sounds so much like mine. You should see if you can get your PM or primary doc to get an MRI or CTscan scheduled for you.

    I too did chiro treatment, PT and the injections since my xray didn't show anything. I later had an MRI which an orthopedic surgeon indicated it didn't show anything significant to be causing the pain I was describing. I later had a discogram which confirmed that my L5-S1 disc was bad.

    In my opinion, I agree with others that you should call the PM and see if you can get something stronger to help with the pain when you need it and to push for an MRI or CTscan.

    good luck and keep us posted.
  • JJ, my PM talked about doing the rhizotomy if the medial nerve block helped, but that didn't seem to help once so ever. So i am just curious if any of you who have been through this can give me some insight on what to expect next.
    Wished i had something for the pain yesterday for about six hours i didn't even want to take another breath.
  • If the block did not work it seems the only things left to try would be an MRI and maybe a discogram. A discogram will show if a particular disc is causing pain even if it does not show up on the MRI. You really need to get some type of pain meds to get you through at least the worst flare ups until you can get a diagnosis. I never wanted to take the pain meds either but you will find that they can be a lifesaver when they are needed. Have you tried keeping a pain journal? It really can be helpful if you are keeping record of your pain levels and possibly narrow down what activity if any seems to make your pain spike.
  • Really can be frustrating but believe me most of us have been through this same process in order to get a diagnosis. The problem is that what may cause pain for one person may not cause any pain at all for another. It really is a process of elimination unless something major shows up on your MRI.
  • i have not thought about a pain journal, i probably should start one. I just feel like a pin cushion, and hope the PM isn't like the chiropractors that i have seen just keep coming for the money.
  • The PM really does have a purpose in all of these injections. They are diagnostic. If any of them work even short term it will indicate what area your pain is coming from. Not like the chiro that wants you back 3 x a week. Hang in there. It will take persistence to get a diagnosis.
  • I agree a pain journal would be a good idea. I think this will help to prove you are serious about the pain you are experiencing as well. Us Spineys have had issues with docs labeling some of us as drug seekers. There are so many non-chronic pain sufferers that abuse these that ruin it for us that really do need this to cope with everyday life.

    There are many different types of injections and as JJ stated it's for diagnostic reasons. You and I could have the same exact symptoms in the same exact areas of the spine but respond differently to the same injection. What might work for me, may not work for you.

    I wish you the best of luck and please keep us updated.
  • Ming, that's why am afraid to ask for any pain meds i don't want them to think i am just seeking pills. But then again its probably not to good to take 2000mg of Tylenol at a crack and that does not seem to help either. I do understand what you are saying about the injections, i just want relief soon. I am impatient and more so when i am in pain.
  • Too much tylenol is not good for your liver so you have to be careful with that. I know they will take you more serious if you do have a pain journal and you do have a long history of suffering with this pain. Most of us spiney's can only suffer so long before we have to graduate up to the strong meds such as vicodin. I don't know how personable your PM doc is but maybe you could express your concern of being labeled as a seeker and that you are worried that you may damage your liver or kidneys by taking to much over-the-counter meds and if he/she could prescribe you something stronger so you don't have to take as many tylenol. Best of luck to you. When's your next appt with your PM?
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. I'm glad you found us.

    I was just reading this thread and what you're going through sounds similar to my story since last June. I'm having lower back pain, hip pain, and pain down the back of my legs. (Are you still only having lower back pain? Has it spread to anywhere else?)

    I've tried ESIs, facet joint injections, and the latest injection, a medial branch nerve block. Most often the nerve block is done as a diagnosic tool to see if you get relief from the numbing agent during the 6 to 8 hours after the injection. If you get relief, then most likely a Rhizotomy (or nerve burn) will be helpful. If you don't get relief, then most likely a Rhizotomy won't help you either.

    I don't see how they'll be able to move forward until they do an MRI and possibly even more tests to see exactly what's going on with your spine. It could be facet joints, stenosis, bulging disc, DDD, or all of the above.

    Developing lower back pain so often takes quite a few tests to rule things out and I know it's very frustrating. The final decision my doctors made after all the injections I've had is to have a TLIF surgery. I'm not at all saying that this is in your future, but wanted to let you know that sometimes it comes down to that.

    Take care Jeremy and keep us posted.
  • The pain is only in my low back, every once in a while i get a stabbing pain from hip to knee but i just figure that as a cramp because it usually only last for a short time. I vacuumed the floors and did a washed a couple dishes, now my back is hurting very bad again.
  • not a doc but it really does sound like it could be your facet joints. The pain in my facet joints affect me that way. It is movement that makes the pain worse. I agree that you do not need all of that Tylenol. You should be able to get something more effective and less harmful from a PM. Don't worry so much about being labeled as a drug seeker. Take your meds as prescribed and follow your doctors orders. Don't give them any reason to believe that you are just a drug seeker and once you establish a mutual trust relationship with your doc and prove that you are being responsible with the meds you should not have any problem at all.
  • I called the PM office this afternoon, just can't keep going the way i am. The nurse called me back late and said she would talk to the doctor in the morning and let him know i didn't get any relief from the block. I also let her know about the how much Tylenol i have been taking with no relief and that i would like something that would work. So she is going to see what he wants to do next and see if he will give me something for the pain.
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