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Surgery or Suffer? help!!!

MikiMMiki Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in New Member Introductions
Long story short, I'm on Work Comp (WC) and have been dealing with this issue since 3/14/2010. I was taking care of a hospice patient when I felt a horrible pain in my back, could not stand up, & ended up collapsing on the floor. FINALLY got the job to send me to a dr and they were VERY hateful abt it.

Since May of last year I have had abt a dozen MRI's, 3 injections, been through 4 drs, a CT Myelogram (which led to a Spinal Headache & subsequent Blood patch...PAINFUL!!!!), 2 different PT offices, and finally a Lawyer.

I was diagnosed with lower back pain, then bulging discs, finally they have said it was herniated discs at L3/L4. It was confirmed I have nerve damage in my left leg...which explains the constant tingling and pain. I have not worked in a year & have had to fight for a pathetic $600 a month. (Note~ I have not received a paycheck for over 4 months. Thank God for tax returns, huh??)

I'm at my breaking point. I want this WC issue to just go away. I'm almost ready to resign myself to the pain for the rest of my life. I would love to return to work, take care of my yard (all 10 acres), enjoy camping/fishing again, etc. I was told I needed to be "rated" in order to close out my WC case. This was told to me AFTER I said I was too scared to go thru surgery. So, because I am afraid of being worse off than I am now, I have to see ANOTHER doctor, that has never treated me, and HE will determine how bad my back is? IS THIS NORMAL?????

I am re-thinking having the surgery. Any thoughts on this? I'm so frustrated about being at the mercy of WC drs and waiting on the WC insurance to give a crap about me. (I realize they have more than just me to deal with...I'm just fed up.)

Any suggestions?????


  • It sounds as though they are sending you to a IME(independent medical exam), and they will assign a percent of disability to your back. Now that is all good if your done with treatments. But I caution you on taking a settlement because surgery can and is very expensive. I and many here understand your frustrations with work comp. But if you need more medical care, you need to think about getting your medical taken care of. When you settle the claim your relieving them of responsibility and any future payments. Keep in mind depending on the state you live in most require full disclosure on a work comp injury for new employment.

    If it was me personally I would get your medical taken care of and give yourself a chance to return to work. It doesn't sound like your in a position at this point and time that your capable of going back to work. When it comes to injuries of the spine the small amount of money they will settle for is not worth not being better medically, in my opinion.

    What surgery were they recommending doing? One thing to understand if the nerve is compressed a surgery can relieve that pressure and take care of the problem. However if it goes on for to long it can become permanently damaged at which time there is nothing they can do. Once a nerve is damaged it is damaged. Keep in mind you will read lots of stories here about how bad surgery is but lots of those members have gotten better and on about living life. Did you get any relief even if short term on the injections. I have had the headache from the injection for the myelogram and it is not fun that is for sure. But the blood patch took care of it and no long lasting effects from it.

    I just personally think you need to explore all your options before you settle.

    Welcome to spine-health have a look around as there are plenty of threads dealing with your situation.
  • Welcome to Spine Health. :)))

    I can't add any more to Tamtam's post except to let you know my experience. It's very different to your's but the 24/7 pain issues and going to several doctors were the same.

    I'd read so many scary experiences about fusion and I thought if I was going to be worse off, then I'd grin and bear it. The doctors I saw at the time dismissed my pain and then I found another one who referred me to a pain specialist. I got some relief but it was short lived. The next step was a laminectomy/discectomy and that made my pain worse because it wasn't the right procedure for my problem. I thought how am I going to cope with what feels like a slow death. I had to retire early from work but I was lucky in that I'd been there for 23 years and had very understanding bosses. I found this forum and was encouraged not to give up. I saw three neurosurgeons and went with the last one and had L4-5 fused in September 09. It's successful and I have my life back again.

    The levels either side of my fusion may need surgery at some time in the future, but for now I'm out there enjoying life.

    Spine surgery and recovery is no walk in the park and it takes total commitment for 12 months plus. No surgeon can guarantee that you will fuse or be totally free from pain, and there are members here who are suffering.

    You are the only one who can make a decision as to whether surgery is the right way to go for you. I would go with Tamtam's suggestion to "get your medical taken care of and give yourself a chance to return to work".



    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I am also on comp. I got hurt in 2006. It has been a long time coming, but I have finally agreed to go for the big one! I have tried EVERYTHING! I even had a microdiscectomy, that did nothing at all. When your life changes so much due to the pain, things start to change. It took me so long to get to this point because I looked for a good doctor. I finally found one! You can go to as my doctors as you want on comp. RUN if any surgeon tells you that they will fix you, and you will be 100%!!! I would love to talk more to you if you want to, just pm me :)
  • Tamtam, Trish, & Heidi~
    Thank you for your advice. I spoke to my lawyer after my dr visit last week and said I was beyond frustrated. Then I spoke with my boyfriend (who has had 7 back surgeries from a vehicle accident) and decided surgery might be an option IF I had a decent surgeon. The idea of being cut open frightens me but the thought of settling the WC case and then having more issues later on worries me as well.

    I'm actually not certain what the surgery is called, I only know that the surgeon said he would "open me up, explore the affected discs, and then possibly shave the discs to create room in case the discs ever bulge again." He also said, "You will never be back to the way you were before your injury... you should remove that idea from your way of thinking... the best you can hope for is 50% improvement, but remember there is always a chance for 50% more pain…” I felt he doubted the amount of pain I have. The best way I can relate it is, "when your foot falls asleep and that tingling, sharp pain you get when it tries to wake itself up is how I feel about 70% of my day and at night, my leg constantly wants to move." He told me that the pain in my leg and the restlessness had no relation to my back injury.

    Now, I'm only a CNA, HHA, and CRA, but I know a little bit about body mechanics. The pressure on my nerves HAS created nerve damage....I had testing done that proved this. I realize that once the pressure is taken off, there is a chance the damage may not be permanent, or maybe it will be. I did not have this issue before so, in theory, this was created by the injury. Regardless, I felt like just another WC case & he was not looking out for my best interest. (Side note~ the facility I was sent to had a WC liaison present during my visit...I thought that was odd but I have nothing to hide, so I didn't question it.)

    I have had 3 injections...the first took a week to help. The second shot worked within a couple days...I felt great. I was able to walk without pain and slept a little better. The third shot was HORRIBLE! The pain was similar to the initial trauma. Five minutes after leaving the clinic, I had a migraine attack & lost my vision for an hour. (I suffer from migraines, and vision loss is not uncommon for my worst episodes.) The headache from the Myelogram was worse than anything I have ever experienced though. I wanted to die….not even joking. After suffering thru the weekend, they did the blood patch which was a God-send.

    I'm rambling here, but I haven't been able to get anyone to really listen to me until now. (I wish I would have found this website MONTHS ago!!!) I gave the WC company more than enough time to act. In hind sight, I should have been more aggressive but my nature is to stay calm & let God lead in the direction He sees fit. After much prayer, I acquired an attorney. In short, I am able to return to work, by the doctor’s standards, with restrictions of course. However, the company I “work” for had me do filing in the office, rather than send me out to patients’ homes. I’m okay with this, as I do not feel I am able to care for someone properly. BUT, working in the office meant dealing with their snide remarks (i.e. “do you think you can lift those papers or do we need to do that for you?” “Watch your step, you don’t want to hurt yourself…”) I have chose not to call in and ask to be put on the work schedule and now my attorney is a bit irritated at me. Yes, I know I will not receive TTD. Yes, I know it might hurt my case. See my frustration???

    After reading your responses, I have more hope for a better quality of life…even if it takes awhile to get there. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for caring enough to share with others. I look forward to reading about and chatting with those that have similar struggles.

    God Bless you all for being an encouragement to others!!! ~~Miki~~
  • I don't know if you have private insurance? I started my journey via Workmans Comp and was disgusted, and switched to private insurance! Do you have that option?

    If you don't, unless you have reached your point of maximum medical recovery, I would not let them close your case. It is a royal pain to get claims going again if you find a doctor that can address your issues. Just a thought....

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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