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Please help!!!! Chronic back pain and 2 normal MRI's

graham809ggraham809 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Chronic Pain
Im serving in the USAF currently but am undergoing a Medical Evaluation Board which might put me out of the military. i have been seeing doctors about my pain for 1 and a half years now with nothing. ive seen neurosurgeons, rheumotolagists, pain specialists, and of course my PCP. ive had multiple injections: epidural, steroid, trigger point, and even a nerve cauterization procedure and none helped ive had several of a few of these. im on percocet 5mg/325mg, neurontin 1000mg, flexoril 5mg, and some others for hypertension and cholesterol...did i mention im only 23 years old????!!!! WTF???? im losing my mind here and no one can tell me what is wrong with my back...everytime i search the internet it tells me i have Spinal Stenosis but i havent mentioned that to my doc...i would think that they would see something like that on the MRI's....AHHHHHH what should i do....



  • Well, the internet can't tell you what you have, a board certified orthopedic specialist can. Certainly stenosis would show up on an MRI.

    Have they suggested physical therapy? And have you followed through with it, including the home exercises?
  • Hi Graham,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find many in the same situation as yourself.

    As far as your situation what does the actual MRI reports say themselves? If you have not gotten copies then you need to do so and look at what is on them. You are young enough there shouldn't be much on them. Also they are prescribing all those meds and doing those injections for some reason question why they were done to begin with? You need to know what they are treating, not just take stuff and not know why. I haven't always asked those questions either or got the detail but i have learned when it comes to the spine you need to be your best advocate.

    So give us a little more information and if you don't have it get that information. Once again welcome to spine-health. Look forward to reading more of your post. Take care.
  • Not everything will show up in an MRI. It's one of the most advanced tools they have for looking at the inside of the body without actually opening you up, but still, some things just don't show. Have you had a discogram? It is NOT a fun test. They put you out (slightly) and then begin to inject dye and pressure into your discs. They wake you up enough so you can yell when they get to the ones that really hurt. Then they send you off to get a CT of your spine with the dye in it. If you haven't had one of those, ask your doc if he/she thinks it would be worth a go.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I had injured my back at work 2 yrs ago and have been told different things by different DRs'. I had two fractured vertebrae along with some herniated discs and some signs of DDD. I just recently had an MRI the other week which showed everything has healed extremely well on it's own with physical therapy and a few injections. My only issue with this is that I am still in an extremely large amount of pain and my blood pressure shows it every time that I'm in the office. But now due to my "clean" MRI this current DR wants to send me to another PT (My 5th) and gave me an injection on one of my facet joints due to build up. My leg has the worst end of the pain all the way down to my heel, and i haven't been released for any work yet and it's been over two years. So I asked what could possibly be causing me to hurt so bad and he said he doesn't know and showed me no interest of trying to figure out my leg pain anyway. So I understand the frustration of having a clean MRI and tons of discomfort. Just keep trying new DRs' until you find one that's willing to give you a real answer. I'm in the work comp system so they don't want to approve me seeing anymore DRs, they say I have seen enough. So best of luck to ya and keep us up to date if something ever does come about.
  • of course i know that the internet cant tell me what i have but thats all i have left to go to....my docs keep telling me that they have no idea and keep pushing me to other docs that say the same thing...and yes i have done PT...worse thing i have ever done...did it for 3 months to "strengthen muscles" i couldnt walk afterwards!
  • i will def. do that ma'am thank you
  • I'm retired USAF and can tell you that there are still options for you even while the MEB is ongoing. You should have a patient advocate assigned to your squadron at the MTF. Find out who this is and let them know your concerns and ask about getting a second opinion. Since the Air Force no longer trains or staffs neurosurgeons, Tricare is there to pay for you going to a civilian doc if need be. Your PCP can also advocate for you and place a referral request in for you to get a second opinion. Even as a retiree on Tricare Prime, I just recently went through the process of getting a referral for a second opinion. It processed within a day and gave some recommended medical facilities to call.

    You can go to the Patient Administration office and request copies of the radiology reports. You can also go to the Radiology Department and request copies of the images and reports. If they balk, tell them it is for a second opinion and they have to either provide them to you or send them to which ever doc you go to for a second opinion.

    Don't give up. If you want to stay in, you have to prove it to them that you are willing to fight to do so. Your First Sergeant is also another avenue for you to tap if the Patient Advocate is not helpful.

    Don't let them push you out the door.

  • i hope everything works out for you, and thanks for the input!!!
  • I think you need to sit down with your docs find out what is going on... if they don't know what is wrong with you how did they decide on giving you ESI's and what sounds like a rhizotomy ???

    If you have access to an advocate I'd definitely go that route... you need someone that can help you get answers and help refer you to someone that deals with whatever is found.

    Sounds like lots of treatment and drugs for what amounts to be an unknown issue... very weird.
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