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hoping for some advice

poet_kellyppoet_kelly Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Lower Back Pain
I have been told I have a compressed disk in my lower back. For about four years now, I have severe pain off and on. I will go for weeks or even a few months that I feel fine but then will have several days or several weeks that I am in terrible pain. Once the pain was so bad I could not walk at all and had to call 911 and go to the ER by ambulance, where they admitted me overnight to give me pain medication by IV because none of the four or five drugs they gave me in the ER helped at all. While I do have periods when I feel fine, at other times the pain is very, very debilitating.

I saw a chiropractor briefly and the first time he adjusted me it seemed to help but the second time, immediately after the adjustment, my back went into a horrible muscle spasm. I had severe pain for several weeks and he refused to treat me anymore. I'd be afraid to go back, anyway.

I have seen a back specialist (an orthopedic surgeon) several times. He does not seem to have much to offer me. He referred me to physical therapy, which seemed to help a little but not a lot. He prescribed steroids on two different occasional and they did not seem to help at all. He gives me prescriptions for Darvocet, which help some but do not totally relieve the pain and I just hate taking them every day.

The back specialist keeps telling me I should take NSAIDS but I cannot take those because I had gastric bypass surgery 18 months ago and gastric bypass patients should not take NSAIDS. Every time he tells me to take them, I remind him about my gastric bypass surgery and he says, "Oh, well, you're kind of limited then." Like he doesn't know of anything else to suggest.

He said next time it gets really bad, he will do epidural injections if I want. However, he said they only help about half the people that get them. I guess I will give it a try, though, because I have to do something.

But aren't there other options? Has anyone tried acupuncture? Or does anyone have other ideas?



  • Wow Kelly,

    You're kind of limited then aren't you? Just kidding. (Relax everyone!)

    Welcome Kelly. I see that you are seeing an Orthopedic. Has he done any other diagnostic imaging lately? I realize that you said you were told you had a "compressed disk" about 4 years ago. Who diagnosed that? With what imaging? What level?

    I'm just wondering if there is something else going on in there. Can you attribute your pain flare ups to certain activities?

    I myself have not tried accupuncture. I'm sure someone can help you though.

    PT is important and you will learn the exercises you need to learn to maintain a strong core. (Don't take my word for it. Please make sure your doctor is OK with you doing those exercises first.) You could also see if your doctor would recommend you use a back brace during portions of your day. ESI's have helped many people as you will read on here. Then of course there's the usual suspects of ice and heat but in the middle of a huge flare up...

    Keep us posted.

  • I was actually only told it was a compressed disk about one year ago, after having both x-rays and an MRI done. But I've had the problem for about four years and I'm sure it's the same thing, I just didn't have it diagnosed until about a year ago. That's when I had my worst episode ever, when I had to go to the ER by ambulance. I haven't had any recent imaging done. Should I request it? I'm guessing nothing much has changed but I suppose I don't really know that for sure.

    Sometimes I can attribute a flare up to a specific activity. Like, once I bent over to make the bed and it was like my back just locked up. I kind of managed to fall onto the bed and I could not get up for about six hours. Once I was getting into the car and it happened. Other times I wake up in the morning and it hurts and I have no idea what caused it.

    My doctor is OK with me exercising. I actually had an appointment a few weeks ago with a personal trainer but had to cancel because my back was so bad. But it's feeling better now so I plan to rescheduled. I told her one of the things I wanted to work on was core strengthening exercises.

  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. it sounds as if you are trying many different modalities in order to get some pain relief. i hope one of them works for you.. i have tried acupuncuture and it worked really well at making me relaxed. :D good luck and stop by anytime! Jenny :)
  • I would recommend getting another opinion from a neurosurgeon. A neurosurgeon is my personal preference. Make sure that all he does is spinal surgery and that he is board certified. I think further testing would be recommended.

    Best wishes,

  • I can't help but think further testing is needed myself. Maybe another opinion is needed.

    As for a personal trainer. They are indeed great but when it comes to injuries in the spine there is something to be said for a well trained Physical Therapist.

    I would worry you could do more damage until you have addressed all mechanical issues in your spine. I am not a doctor and strictly speak from my own experience.

    Take care and do keep us posted.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    What tests were done that the doctors gave you an initial diagnosis of "Compressed disc" over four years ago?
    Thats kinda of a very broad term and doesnt detail much.

    I would strongly suggest seeing a spine specialist so that they can review your situation and determine if and any new diagnostic testing should be done

    Spinal injections, specifically Epidurals, is something that can help, but it is also something that I would not think a doctor would jump to. There are so many conservative treatments, that it would want to see first.

    Again, you need to take those first steps. That might even be with your PCP, who after a clinical examination may refer you to a specialist or start some treatments right away. So many spinal problems can be resolved without having to see specialist, without a lot of medications and surely without the mention of the word surgery.
    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
  • I believe you should see either an Orthopedic Dr who specializes in spines or a neurosurgeon.

    Did the chiro take Xrays? then send you away?
    If so, that could be a clear sign he saw something he did not like. Sometimes they will not tell you what they see, they just suggest you see one of the above doctors.

    A trainer would feel more comfortable if you have been cleared and there are no physical problems with your spine.
  • The compressed disk diagnosis was made after x-rays and an MRI about a year ago. I have been seeing an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in the back. We've tried more conservative treatments, including oral steroids, alternating heat and ice, and physical therapy. None of that seemed to help.

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