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Help! Need input advice for sciatica.

ajamiesonaajamieson Posts: 65
After a fall from my horse last September I had severe sciatic pain and 3 months later had a lumbar fusion with a laminectomy. I was relatively free of pain until a few months ago. The sciatic pain has been getting worse over the past 3 months to the point where I sometimes use a cane to walk. I am 45 years old. My surgeon said spinal injections don't always work. I am worried because I don't want to live like this for the rest of my life. I know compared to others I have it pretty good but I am getting kind of depressed. Part of this may be my own reluctance to take pain meds. I have a prescription for vicodin, percocet, nortryptaline, dilaudid, flexerall, valium, etc. The percocet gives me headaches, the vicodin does nothing for the pain and the dilaudid makes my vision really blurry. I am really pretty averse to taking pain meds in general.

So, what choices do I have? I am really concerned.

Thanks for your feedback.


  • Good to see you again, although I'm sorry that you're having more problems.

    I understand that it's not a cure to take pain medications - what does your doctor say? Have you had another MRI? No, injections don't always work, but it depends on what exactly is going on and are always worth a try. In my opinion, and many others as well, all conservative measures are worth trying before surgery.

    So what are you doing to get to the root of the problem? Getting tests done? Suggestions for treatments to try? What is your doctor saying?

    The more info we have the more we might be able to help. I understand your pain and am sorry you're going through this, but it's always best to try and get to the root of the problem and go from there.

  • Hi and thank you for your quick response. I had another MRI 2 weeks ago and it showed nothing. The doctor's office P.A. called me and said since the MRI looked fine there is nothing they can really do for me. Part of me is wondering if I am insane. If they can't see anything in the MRI how can I be in such pain? The doc mentioned injections but has yet to call or email me back about setting one up. I feel sort of discharged and don't know what to do. Since I have an HMO for my insurance I am limited in terms of medical options.
  • Well, that certainly is a difficult situation. I know there are a multitude of tests that can be done if you have pain and nothing shows on an MRI, but I certainly can't suggest what other test should be done.

    I would hope that your surgeon's office would suggest other ways to try and find the problem. This is an all-too-common problem with spine patients - finding the problem. What do you do if nothing shows on an MRI?

    Perhaps you can call your surgeon and ask if there are other tests that can be done to see where this is coming from. At this point, I'd suggest being your own advocate and keep talking to them and see what more they can do. If you're only able to walk with a cane at times, it sounds like a problem that has to be taken seriously.

    Is it your surgeon's office that you've been talking to? I really find it so strange when people have a surgeon that does surgery, then seems to drop them when they have more problems. My surgeon has always taken me seriously when I have had more problems and he continues to treat me with testing and whatever treatment he finds necessary, always choosing conservative treatments first.

    Hang in there and like I said, maybe another call to surgeon asking for more help would be beneficial.

  • Is it uncommon to have pain from no apparent source? I wonder if the doctor just don't believe me since the MRI doesn't show anything.
  • I don't know whether they believe you or not, but if they don't, then I'd consider getting a second opinion.

    My personal feeling is that if there's pain, there's a reason. It's a way of our bodies telling us that something is wrong. You know, after surgery, some people get worse nerve pain and their surgeons tell them that they need to not worry, it takes time for the nerves to regenerate and get back in order, so be patient. If this is the case with you, then they should tell you. If it isn't, then they should do more testing to figure out the problem.

    I personally would not let this go, I'd talk to my surgeon and if I couldn't get any response, then I'd go to another for a second opinion. If your surgeon is not fellowship-trained and doesn't work solely on spines, I'd probably try to find one of those because in my humble opinion, they seem to care and understand more about radiculopathy and neuropathy that other surgeons.

    I'm lucky to have found a spine center that has these types of surgeon (my surgeon is an ortho and specializes in difficult cervical problems and botched cervical surgeries), and the center also has physios and PTs.

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