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Hello everyone...New here!

econgirl419eecongirl419 Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello everyone!

My name is Lindsey and I am 24 years old. I am a marketing student, and will be graduating in a year or so.

My pain all started in January of this year. It felt like someone was sitting on my lumbar spine, resulting in pain. I let it go for a few weeks, thinking I had slept on it funny. In February, the pain was not getting better so I decided to see a chiropractor. He said my SI joint was stuck in a funny position and my right leg was shorter because of this (a common problem he told me) and after a few adjustments I should be back to normal. I saw him until early April when I went to a "PRN status." I was fine for about 3 weeks and then the pain was back, worse than before.

Started to see him again mid April to mid May, about a month. Went back to a PRN status. That lasted the same amount of time before, about 3 weeks. I have been seeing him regularly since early June. He suggested I see my primary doctor, so I made an appointment. The purpose of the appointment was to get an order for PT.

Saw my doctor, got the order, and waited for PT to start. I had to go back to my doctor because the pain had gotten so bad, it was waking me up at night. She put me on a low dose of flexeril and said if PT didn't start helping soon, to see her in 2 weeks. She also ordered X-Rays of my SI joint and lumbar spine. I was told that there is "degenerative narrowing" in my lumbar spine along with mild stenosis. I was told that the next step will be an MRI and a referral to pain management.

It was almost a month since I've seen her, and the pain is once again getting worse. The pain is located in my right hip area. I have frequent muscle spasms in the area. The pain radiates down my right leg and I have started to have tingling sensations in my right foot. It has mostly stayed in back, but has since moved to the front of my hip.

I don't know what to do anymore. No one has found what's wrong with my back, and I've resolved to thinking it's all in my head. I have been a bit down the last few months because of this. I have to plan my day around my pain. I have to avoid certain activities because I know they will hurt. I have been taking 800MG of ibuprofen 2-3 times a day and may have to stop taking it because it has caused extreme stomach upset.

Should I do the MRI and pain management? I am nervous that pain management will focus on covering up the pain with drugs and not getting to the bottom of the pain.

I really needed to vent, it felt good to get that all out. Thanks, and I look forward to meeting all of you!


  • Welcome. Read around the site and you will find lots of info. As you read keep an open mind. Everyones experience is different.

    From what you wrote I think you need to go to a specialist. Since you are having nerve issues I would suggest a neurologist although some people prefer orthopedists who specialize in spine (make sure of the specialty). This doctor will do his own exam and most likely order an MRI and/or CT. Both are painless and non-invasive. They will show the doctor what is truly going on in your spine.

    In the mean time I would consider stopping the Chiro since it doesn't seem to be helping and depending on what is going on in your body it could be hurting. Same for PT. But that's my thought. I've had times when my PT refused to treat me until the doctor had reviewed the tests and written specific orders. It doesn't seem from what you have written that anyone has done this for you.

    But get the either a neurologist or orthopedist right away. There are definately things that they can do to help with the pain. They also can order some meds that should help. Pain management doesnt usually come into the picture until you get to injections or conditions that are long term.

  • Thank you Kris for your kind words!

    I agree about stopping seeing the chiro. He blows off any new symptom I have and minimizes the pain I'm having.

    I would like to stop PT as well. This lady walked into the room and one of the first things out of her mouth was, "If you lose weight, I can guarantee your back will get better." She has said this every time I've seen her. I asked her about seeing an ortho doctor, but she interrupted me saying he would send me right back to PT. She also doesn't think PM will do anything for me, and I should just suck it up and keep seeing her.
  • Oh Lindsey, I'm so sorry that you're having these problems at your age. First thing that I can tell you is that it probably isn't in your head BUT we've all gone through that cycle. Second, the lady who told you about your weight was not only extremely rude, but probably inaccurate too.

    Same as with Kris, my PT refused to touch me when my symptoms changed/worsened.

    I'd look into a specialist, either ortho or neuro, who specializes only in the spine. I always visualize a pain management doctor as the guy who comes in last, or next to last after other measures have been at least attempted. An MRI would probably give you a clearer picture of what is going on, especially seeing that you can visualize that you have something going on just from an Xray.

    You have to be your own advocate. When I was younger, I wish I'd found this forum, because it would not only have given me more knowledge regarding my condition(s), but it would have given me courage. And I'm a nurse! You'd think I'd be used to talking with doctors and their staff, but when it came to talking to them about myself, I failed miserably.

    Now I'm older and wiser (I hope), and am much better at communicating with my doctors and sometimes have to almost be insistent that they look further. You and you alone know your own body and what is normal. You know when something is just not right. Be assertive and the doctors will take note of that I promise you. Don't wait too long to have this checked out. You have a huge future in front of you-you'll want to live it well!

    Best of luck to you. Please keep us informed of what's going on. And please come back anytime you want to chat :)
  • Welcome to Spine Health. This is a great place for a ton of information and support.

    Sometimes in our haste and desire to find pain relief, we kind of lose track of where we're at. What's really important in anyone's health care management or pain management, is coordination, logistics and information all in an effort to keep focus where it needs to be and to keep sight of the overall picture.

    That's where our primary care physician comes into play. They are like the hub of a wheel with spokes running out in different directions to the specialists. If you break the spokes in between, then the wheel may still be round, but will not function properly. Or, imagine a case of the right hand not talking to the left hand ... same thing.

    We rely on our primary care physician to be our logistician and coordinator between us and the specialists. And equally so, the specialists rely on the PCP to be managing our general care during all of this. They also rely on the PCP to do the initial work ups to determine if there is cause to send us on to a specialist.

    Without a good foundation built first, then a structure cannot support itself.

    Have you discussed the next step or further options yet with your PCP? If your PCP said to follow up in two weeks if you aren't better, have you followed up? Have you voiced your concerns over being shoved off to pain management without further evaluation? Have you asked your PCP whether you should be seen by a specialist?

    Are you keeping a pain diary?

    There are all sorts of ways to advocate for ourselves. A good relationship with our primary care provider is generally a necessary step towards having an experienced, educated medical professional on our team as advocate or co-advocate.

    Welcome to the forums.

  • I have waited so long to follow up with her because I don't want to be seen as a drug seeker. I guess throughout this whole ordeal, I've been more worried about coming off as a drug seeker than getting the pain under control.

    I will be making a follow-up appointment tomorrow to voice my concerns. I have jotted a few notes down about my pain, but have never kept an actual diary. I will have to look into that.
  • It's not always easy to keep up with a pain diary. And at times you will feel that you are focusing too much on the pain as your write things down. But the only way to get a clear, true picture of what is happening is to write it down for a few days at the minimum.

    I did mine in Excel because I'm on the computer all the time. I liked that because I could sort by different columns which gave me a really clear picture. Write as often as you can and don't give up just because you missed a few days.

    Here's what I did :

    Date & time
    Body part (you can break this down by side of body and location if you have problems all over)
    Type of pain (sharp, numb, achy)
    Severity (pain scale works)
    What I took or did to relieve the pain
    Did it work
    How long the pain lasted

    If you are comfortable with your PCP that's great. In my case I found my PCP sounded like she knew what to do but she had no constructive plan of action. I did not make her the center of my care. My orthopedist(shoulder injury) and now my neurologist (spine) has this position. They ordered test, PT and medications. All of my other doctors (surgeons and pain management) sent reports to them. Everyone has a different opinion on this so do what you feel most comfortable with.

    Don't wait to get back to your doctor. There is no reason for you to be in pain.
  • Kris, I would love to just make an appointment with a specialist, but I can't. My insurance requires me to get a referral from my PCP to see any sort of specialist.
  • Lindsey,

    Welcome to Spine Health!! A lot of your questions might be answered by using the search box at the top of the web page. Others on here are/have been going through similar, and as such it might be of help. :)

    As the others have said, I would seek out a specialist who specializes in the spine. This could be a Neurologist or Orthopedist (not a surgeon). They can then give you a full exam and order tests (x-ray, MRI, CT etc.) as needed. If your PM won't refer, will your General Practitioner? From there hopefully you will find answers.

    I *think* some of the reason they are not as aggressive with your symptoms is your age. You didn't mention if you had an accident, just that the pain 'started'... At your age, they are probably not looking as seriously at your symptoms. We've seen that a lot on here. I am almost 50, and they look at us as 'wear and tear', age, accidents etc..and seem to be fairly aggressive (so far for me anyway). I too doubt "it is in your head". Our bodies seem to be great at "telling" us something is wrong. Listen to your body. Please let us know how it goes. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    You say that you need to start with your PCP, and I think that's good. Like C said, we need to start with the base doc to begin the what can be a long process to find out what is causing our pain.

    To jump right in to pain management I believe is putting the cart before the horse.

    Example: At 46, I started having severe pain in my back and went to my PT. She did an x-ray on my neck (why my neck, I wondered?) and said I have some problems there. Then she sent me to PT and the PT was told where the problems were per the x-ray so he worked on that. It worked for a while, then stopped working so my PCP sent me for an MRI. After reading my MRI, she said I need to find a spine surgeon, that my cervical spine was beyond conservative help, in her opinion. So I found a fellowship-trained spine surgeon (he happened to be ortho, but neuro is good too) and after reading my MRIs told me just how bad things were and I was on my way to surgery.

    I only tell you this story to reiterate that it's best to start with your PCP and trust that he/she will understand what the next step is, whether it's a referral or further tests.

    So try to take your time, I know it's difficult, but start at the beginning and work your way through the system to find out clearly what the problem is, where it's coming from and what treatments are available.

    I was lucky in that my surgeon was in a clinical setting that included physios and PTs, so it was kind of an all-in-one spine stop and has worked wonderfully for me.

    Good luck and don't give up on trying to find the root of the problem.

    Please keep us posted.

  • I don't know what made you all think I'm trying to skip steps, but I'm not. I've been working with my PCP for referrals and whatnot. Even if I wanted to see a specialist, I would have to wait until I got a referral. This is because of insurance requirements.

    I made an appointment today to see my PCP. But, she's booked for a month and I won't get to see her until September 10.
  • So sorry that you feel as if we are saying you are skipping steps. That is not the case and I apologize if you feel that's the case. With folks new to this world of spine issues and the hurry up and wait machine, we tend to go overboard in our attempts to help out in the only way we can. Like a big sister trying to tell her kid sister to avoid certain pitfalls, sometimes it seems as if the over protective big sister is being a nag, or constantly telling her she isn't doing things the right way. OOPS, sorry, we're just trying to give you an idea of how vitally important coordination is and not jumping the gun or having a false start.

    Mea Culpa

  • I think the concern came from this statement in your initial post -- "I was told that the next step will be an MRI and a referral to pain management."

    Also what you describe as your treatment so far seemed to be all over the place. An xray and some PT and the some Chiro. What we were trying to explain was the common steps in diagnosing and treating back problems. Pain management is much further down the road and you scared us when you said this was the next step according to your PCP.

    I'll go out on a limb here that will probably get me in trouble. Since your PCP is so busy is there any chance that they will just give you the referal to an orthopedist or neurologist? I say this because you are about to go back to school so wasting a month waiting to go to your PCP who is just going to refer you to another doctor anyway seems like a waste of time and a waste of an office visit.

    We all mean well here. But sometimes we misinterpret what is said and sometimes we get sidetracked in our own stories. Please don't get upset when this happens. Just give us an e-smack and get us back on track.
  • Insurance companies and medical practices rely on standard operating procedures. When we try to circumvent these, we run the risk of creating an even bigger mess. I think one of the most difficult things about being a spine patient, is having to learn to practice patience when you least feel like it.

  • I also want to apologize for making you think that we think you're trying to skip steps.

    I just want to second what "C" said in her first response to you - we are all just wanting you to get the best care and can sometimes go overboard trying to help someone new to the spiney world.

    You're doing fine and yes, we do sometimes need e-slaps to put us back on track.

    Keep up the good work on being your own advocate and again, we're just being big sisters and brothers here, that's all. We just want what's best for you and are trying to help the best we can.

  • Just wanted to apologize if I came across as bitchy.

    I emailed my PCP's nurse and this is what I found out. They think it's totally reasonable to get an MRI at this point. She did say that I will probably have to get the MRI done before they refer me to Spine Clinic, but it is not an unreasonable request. She is also going to try and get me seen sooner.
  • That's great news. Can they give your the script so you can get the MRI before your appt? If they agree that you need it then why waste the appt by going in without the test results? It's kind of like when they have you get blood work before the office visit.

    No matter what you are heading in the right direction. That's the important thing. As far as bitchy, we all go there some times. I think we were all afraid of scaring you away since you are new here. The info you can get here is awesome. I would feel terrible if I thought something I wrote was turning someone off.
  • So glad to hear things are going in the right direction for you :)

    As far as the bitchiness is concerned, if I had to apologize for everytime that I am, I'd be hoarse!

    Good luck to you in your spinal journey...
  • Hey everyone, just thought I would give you all an update.

    The MRI has been scheduled for Sept. 13. A little far out, but at least it will be getting done. My doctor also ordered some labs, a CRP and a HLA-B27 test to check for ankylosing spondylitis. Apparently, my symptoms are textbook for the disease.

    So, we'll see and I will keep you all posted...
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