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This is terrible

richardmrrichardm Posts: 16
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi I’ve had an acutely painful back condition for several years now. I went to My Doctor initially who said it was probably ligaments and that I could get a physio
appointment but it would take about 3-6 months to come through. At that point I sought help elsewhere privately and stupidly didn’t go back to my doctor. The condition has worsened significantly over the last 2 years and over the last 6 months the pain has become constant and I am in the habit of ‘managing’ the pain with cold gel and pain killers at close reach wherever and everywhere I go. Problem is that my over use of anti inflammatory drugs has now given me stomach ulcer problems too. This makes things hard because I’m not supposed to be taking anti inflammatory drugs now.

In desperation I went to 2 chiropractors and have been shelling out money like this for 2 years. My recent chiropractor initially treated me for muscular I think and now says I need to get a referral from my GP as I only get pain relief from him for a day or so. He said the pain I am pointing him to is right on the facet joint. It’s always the same; I might get good relief for 10 minutes or a day, but it never goes away completely and always remains threatening and ultimately returns after bending to sweep up or something after tidying my flat or when I’ve gone for a walk.. I can’t bear this pain much more. I can no longer go to the gym and can’t sleep and walking for long periods also locks everything up to the point of having to stop and constantly bend forward. I’ve also been such a fitness fanatic the change in lifestyle is not coming easily to me.
The pain is right of centre of the lower back (L5) ( maybe an inch to the right of the centre) and it feels like a screw has been over tightened and locked up. It’s always in the same spot and doesn’t radiate anywhere else but the spot just becomes more and more acute. Ultimately other muscles around do spasm too. For years now I’ve got in the habit of having to appear to be tying my laces in the
street when I’m actually trying to get relief as bending forward does help. The bending forward does not provide long term relief, it just eases for as long as I am bent forward.
My sleeping is so disturbed now. I’ve had a terrible
few nights. I wake up at about 5am in pain and I try all manner of positions but nothing rids me of the acute pain. Lying on my front immediately makes things worse. My chiro said try pillows etc, but when I think when it’s this acute nothing helps. Twisting makes things very bad too, I find shopping in crowded places difficult since I’m constantly having to twist in and out of peoples’ way. It feels miserable night after night. In the end I have to get up. I think this is long term facet join pain. I’m annoyed I haven’t pushed my Doctor more. I’m going to back to him this week. I'm sorry to sound like a wuss, but think I will cry if he suggests muscular again though... I think it’s facet joint and I’m so annoyed with myself for allowing things to deteriorate so far. My question is how do I go about getting the fastest possible relief and how should I ‘manage’ my doctor to avoid lengthy waits and not being taken very seriously? I read somewhere that xrays etc may not show it up – should I insist on a facet joint injection..the thought of an anaesthetic injection that numbs the joint- wow that would be heaven.


  • I forgot to mention that the source of the pain is a small area about the size of a penny or 1.5cm and is very tender to touch.

  • Richard,

    Please get a second opinion and until you know the real reason for your pain, please stay away from the chiropractor until you know that they would be of help or not. Depending on your problem they could unintentionally worsen it, also the fact that you get relief for only 10 minutes makes me think you need different help.

    You need to be your best advocate (which can be tough) but please keep pushing until you get the answers and help you need.
  • Thanks Lisa, thanks for taking the time to respond.. Yes I will stop going to the chiropractors, - my family have said the same thing actually. The recent one really hurts me sometimes too, he's a very big fella and last time he put all his weight into my chest and his elbow in my ribs and for a week after my side was really quite sore. He said he will write to my GP to suggest further treatement and strong pain killers, but I guess that will cost me more money and I don't want to go back to him as he has hurt me twice. However, I've been in 2 minds because when i'm really desperate it's useful to have that relief even if it's just very short relief. He acknowledged himself that it might only last 12 hours! Fingers crossed I can get in to my Doc before Xmas!!

    many thanks.

    Does anyone know why the title of my my post been changed from 'this is hell' to 'this is terrible' ????
  • encouraged to be more polite and genteel here, so one of the moderators may have changed the title of your post. Most of us could use a big long string of four-letter words here, so we all get it.

    I would also encourage you to quit the chiropractic treatment. It sounds as though you have a more serious problem, such as a disc herniation or possibly an osteophyte pressing on a nerve. You get relief when the chiropractor manages to move whatever it is off the painful spot for a bit. I was seeing a chiropractor for my back for a while. He wasn't a "crack your bones" sort of guy, but used an activator (looked kind of like a little pogo stick) that would send shock waves to the appropriate spot and relieve the pressure. He actually was the one who recommended I see a specialist, because he didn't want to hurt me.

    Best of luck to you!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • What you are describing sounds like arthritis of the facet joints. It will lock your back up when walking and make it hard to sit or stand for long.

    A chiropractor did help my pain in the beginning also and then it got to where he just made it worse.

    I find that having rhizotomy's (nerve burn) about once a year is the best relief that I have found to date. These are performed by my Pain Management doc.

    I hope that you find relief soon and please keep us posted.
  • are normally done initially and if that provides temporary relief you may be a good candidate for rhizotomy.
  • The bending over to get relief sounds familiar to me. It was all that helped at all. I would lean over shopping carts and lean on machines anything to take the pressure off my L4/L5. You really need to see a doctor. I don't know what is wrong but I know with my condition a Chiro looked at my x-ray's and wouldn't touch me. Said he would make it worse. All they did was electro-stim and ultrasound. I highly recommend you go to your doctor and admit to the pain. Tell him how it is affecting your life. Let them know you can't deal with it anymore.
  • Maybe you could request an MRI of your back to see if there are any herniations/bulges that may be impinging a nerve.

    Without diagnostics, it's really just a guessing game.

    Good luck. I know how irritating (to say the least) these things are.

    Let us know what your doctor says?

  • Thanks everyone. It's really good of you all to spend the time to reply to my post. I am hoping to get to see the Doc tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

    Thanks again,

  • many of the problems you describe are similar to my own. Had a work injury 2 years ago and now finally have found a great surgeon who feels he can help. I hope your doctors appt. went well and that they can help with the pain and spasms etc. The pain and lack of sleep makes life harder so hang in there and if you don't have any luck with your doctor try for a second opinion.When they did facet joint injections it was great, although it's for diagnostic purposes the numbing effect was so great as pain relief. I'm not a doctor but I really feel for your situation and as another "quasi-modo" walker it would be great for you to get some help. Giant gentle Hugs n' Loves - Paula
  • Hi I've just been back to the Doctor. I told him the story and he said 'oh it's probably just ligaments..' He then asked how long I'd had it (clearly he wasn't listening to what i'd said...He pushed my legs up in the air and then got me to move from side to side and said it didn't seeem so bad!! I'm in despair and feel like nobody is taking me seriosuly because I look fit and healthy. I'm 36 but most people think I'm in my 20's so I reckon that might have something to do with not taking it seriously. He has requested a bllod test to check for inflammation... I wanted a referral to a back specialist surely that's the obvious thing to do???

    I was up all night last with it too so I'm tired and grouchy sorry.
  • First of all, you might want to grow a mustache so you look older. LOL

    Don't give up. Yes, since you've had cervical issues it's not unreasonable to want to see a spine specialist. I think it's common that once you have problems in one part of your spine another part is going to have problems as well.

    Does your health insurance require that your PCP give you a referral to a spine specialist? With my insurance, it's only necessary that the spine doctor I choose is in-network (unless I'm rich and can pay out-of-network - yeah, right).

    Hang in there and find the way to get yourself a fellowship-trained spine surgeon that can do everything possible to get you back on track.

  • Big thanks guys ;-)

    Yeah I'll grow a big beard LOL. I'm a bit confused about the cervical reference...i thought that was women's anatomy or necks? I am probably being dumb though....

    Oh I'm in the UK so I get NHS treatment which has it's pros and cons but no need to worry about insurance.

    Thanks for your support folks :-)warm hugs to anyone else out there in pain (especially alone in the middle of the night..it's so miserable isn't it!)

  • I spent all of Xmas Eve night and all the early hours of Xmas morning in pain with my back and the pain killers didn't touch it. I then spent most of Xmas day trying to sleep and was too tired to enjoy mesyelf. So, I went back to my Doctor today who recommended 'ice' which made me chuckle because I'm way past that point and have been putting ice on 3 times a day for months. I can't take co-codomol at work either as it makes me feel dopey and this is one of the few pain killers that don't inflame my ulcer. Anyhow, the Doctor agreed it sounded like the facet joint but recommended against injections as he said they often don't work but suggested a new chair at work!! (I was so exasperated by this point, I was desperate for hardcore injection pain relief and he was offering me more ice!!). He then finally said he would refer me to physio. Can anyone tell me if physio is likely to do any good given that I have been to the chiropractors many times? Also, I've always been a very keen fitness enthusiast and part of my difficulty here is adapting to the lifestyle change and not being able to carry on exercises in the gym or simple walking since it invariably causes an enormous amount of pain days after. Does anyone know if swimming will be just as bad for the facet joint? I’m uncertain about the twisting motion required when swimming.

    Happy New Year everyone.

    Warmest wishes.

  • I had to laugh at the doc recommending ice and a new chair. I bet you had to pick your chin up off the floor.

    I actually think going to a physio is a good idea at this stage of your spine problems. A physio is nothing like a chiropractor. The physio should try different injections that can be to try and ease the pain, or for diagnostic reasons to see exactly where the pain is coming from.

    I go to a spine clinic where there are surgeons that are fellowship-trained orthopedic spine specialists, physios and PTs. It's really a great situation because I have one of the surgeons (who is fantastic and I love, by the way) who did my ACDF. When I started having lumbar issues, my surgeon had me see the physio at the clinic and they kept in close contact throughout all my conservative treatments until they both finally got together and decided that there was nothing left to do but surgery.

    So, I think that being referred to a physio can be a very good step for you. Hopefully you can find a situation similar to mine where you'll have a good team that can work on your problem from all angles until you finally get some sort of resolution.

    I don't know about swimming - I haven't tried it with my facet problems - so I can't help you there.

    Good luck, Richard. I hope you're finally on the right path to finding out how to get your spine taken care of.

  • I was also a very active person as the gym, cycling were my life. Once my accident and the slow decline into more pain I could not go back to the gym and that made it all so much harder for me.

    The one adjustment I had to make mentally is that I had to understand I am injured and I do need to stay active and do some therapy but it needs to be for healing not for getting bigger, faster or stronger any longer. Unfortunately your situation is quite different than mine as I have mild herniation issues with the culprit being the L4-L5.

    You have facet joint issue but I am a bit surprised by the path you took. Have you seen any PTs? Did they give you a series or exercises to do to help your situation? Also I do not see any PM doc in your list of doctors you have seen. I would look for one.

    The other thing I have to say and this may be a bit harsh but it seems you are not taking enough control of your own situation. We are taught alot that if the doc says so than we just go along with it.

    By this time I would have already dropped your current doc and would have seen several other docs including a PM, NS, and spinal orthopedist and would keep doing it till I found the right one. Your wait times are too long...6 mos? That is unacceptable. You need to take control and get answers and relief now!

    Money is always an issue but is it worth going into some debt to get an answer...

  • Hi, Thanks for your post. I got quite excited by your encouragement to see other people who may be able to help, but I'm sorry I don't know what PM, NS or PT are. I'm in the UK at the mercy of the NHS. Maybe you are US?

  • richardm said:
    Hi, Thanks for your post. I got quite excited by your encouragement to see other people who may be able to help, but I'm sorry I don't know what PM, NS or PT are. I'm in the UK at the mercy of the NHS. Maybe you are US?

    Howdy Richard,

    NS = Neurosurgeon
    PM = Pain Management Specialist or Doctor
    PT = Physical Therapy

    Don't feel bad, I see some acronyms I don't know - MIL/DH? We should have a list posted on here! Take care.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • im from the uk also, i have had a battle with my gp as well to be heard. keep going back and if possible see if you can see another doc in the same practice.

    i saw a locum who knew nothing about me and he was the one who started the ball rolling, x-rays and hosp apps.

    it has been 2 yrs now and im still going through the system, ask to see pain management team.

    also please dont just rely on injections, i made this mistake, they have not helped me,
    i think the best thing is accept each day as it comes, and keep fighting your corner, my gp said because i was not constantly going to see him he thought i was ok
    NO i am not but i got so frustrated with 10 min app and not moving forward i went to see other docs in same practice.

    sorry for long post but it is one close to my heart, you deserve to be heard, go to physio they can make you hurt but they can also refer you to other people who can help, all the best
  • It is not a facet joint. You exhibit the classic signs of a gluteal fascia knot- most commonly encountered over the posterior superior iliac spine. It is not yet a recognised condition but I am working on it and reckon 85% of my LBP patients suffer them. Basically you tore your fascia membrane long ago and the membrane puckered up to heal itself, ensnaring a branch of the superior cluneal nerve in the process. These knots gel any time you sit still. Consequently you hate sitting too long, driVing is agony, standing still, turning in bed at night and getting up in mornings. Gentle mobility offers some relief. Your pain penny should be right over the iliac crest rim. It is a cinch to fix.
    Lie on your back and get someone to do a straight leg raise on the affected leg. You will probably experience a pulling pain and be unable to match the unaffected leg. Lie on your front and get the wifes elbow or a mates thumb right into the knot for a deep massage lasting about a minute- it should bring tears to your eyes. Now repeat your leg raise and all of a sudden it will improve if not match the other leg. You will feel bruised for a few days but no worries. Repeat the treatment weekly allowing it to settle in between. I perform 2-3 of these daily and my average number of treatments is 2.5 to discharge. Chronics with 15 yrs of daily pain have been dealt with in maybe 4-5. Try it, nothing to damage over that spot. It is the only act which will decrimp the knot.

    The information provided by members of Spine-Health should never be considered as formal medical advice. It is recommendations based on member's personal experiences only. This can vary from person to person, so do not take comments as medical rules. Edited by moderator Paulgla
  • Hi many thanks for your advice, but my chiropractor was regularly doing that thumb pressing thing into my sides and then getting me to lift my legs up which was, like you say very uncomfortable. He did 4 or 5 and it didn't cure my back problem though :-(
  • I went to see the physiotherapist yesterday. I was pleased, she was very experienced and fully qualified. Bottom line I asked her what she thought and she said 'it's not muscular...that (facet) joint really isn't happy'...
  • Hi I feel like I'm back in nowhere land again.

    I've had a couple of physio sessions which are quite spread apart but they aren't helping and actually I come out in more pain because they start by getting me to bend back and side to side which I never voluntarily do because I know it causes pain. The whole therapy is aimed at strengthening my stomach muscles because they say research shows this helps long term back sufferers considerably. I do not dispute any of this as a compliment to the overall treatment although I do do a lot of ab work anyway and have been very fit and active. But, they are not treating the root cause or even attempting to. I mentioned this and the physio just said 'do you want the next physio appointment or not?'. I was really depressed by this. So I asked her whether I should go back to my GP because I would like to look into the possibility of injections and having a specialist look at my back, she said that my GP and not the physio dept would have to refer me and my GP would have to pay for it ...'just like he's paying for the physio now'. I was tempted to say that actually my plentiful tax and National Insurance deductions out of my salary are paying for it, but didn't. She mumbled something about the fact joint not being likely to be seriously damaged unless I'd had a major injury or something to that effect. I'm at the point where I want to make a complaint against someone, - this has gone on for 5 years and I'm not sleeping and my lifestyle is in tatters.

    Please can anyone advise how I should best proceed? If I go back to my GP I've every reason to expect he will tell me to keep going with the phsio. Yet 5 years of this misery tells me if I do that I will be no better in 6 months and my fitness (which I have always taken pride in), will have dropped considerably because I am no longer able to manage the pain no matter how many tablets I take...even simple tasks like walking and especially going shopping dodging other shoppers is really really painful for me now...

    Many Thanks

  • Go back to your GP and make yourself heard. Tell him what your quality of life is on a scale of 1-10 (10 being fantastic). Also your daily pain numbers (same scale) but 10 being the worst pain. Keep a journal of these numbers daily and show him your life in black and white. Explain to him what an average day is like for you. And remind him again it's been 5 years! Stomp your feet, raise your voice, have a tantrum if you need to. Fight for your life. If he still doesn't listen, find another GP if posible. If not possible return to your GP over and over until he hears you. Fight the good fight. Good luck Richard!

    Faith M

  • for you. I agree with Faith, just keep making weekly appointments and telling him you want something done. An MRI would be a good place to start, if there's something wrong it should show up on that. Once you have an MRI and if it shows a problem, suddenly your GP will start to take action and pay attention to you.
    It is your right to get the treatment you need. Perhaps make an appointment with another GP for a second opinion and make sure your first GP knows this, their ego will ensure action then.
    Just keep pushing, another option (not sure if you can do it in the UK) is when you are at your worst pain wise go to the emergency room, that may produce some action.
    Hope you get some results soon.
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