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Back Pain/Leg Pain/Numbness

64pvolvo1800664pvolvo1800 Posts: 250
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Short story is this: I have low back pain which I've had for years. Three years ago I laid carpet in my mountain cabin and tore it up. Went for MRI which showed bulging and such at L2/3 4/5 and DDD L5S1. Had epidurals 3 times, after PT and TENS failed to help. Same result with ESI.
Fast forward to eight weeks ago and 3 years of Ultram increasing to the 2 every 8 hrs and I am past the point of escaping the pain and now my back burns deeply as well as shooting pain and numbness in my left leg and hips. MRI show impinged L1 and L5 from L1/2 and L5S1 discs.

Question is this: I am in pretty substantial pain and the shooting pains keep me from sleeping well. I am able, by biting the bullet, to still DO the things I enjoy. I'm torn between just telling myself to quit being a pussy on one hand and on the other hand I tell myself to go get fixed and take a step up to narcotics to cope with the pain.

I go in Wednesday for the discogram to try and narrow it down to a fix and I see my surgeon on Thursday.

To complicate things, I am a recovering addict and the narcotics almost killed me 8+ years ago before the C4/5/6 ACDF. I'm scared to death of them. 2/14/03 was the last of my "using" days thank god.

Any experience, strength, and hope will be greatly appreciated.


  • If you do go ahead with surgery, then perhaps you'll only need to be on the pain meds for a few months. When you see your surgeon on Thursday, let him know that you're a recovering addict and that you'll more than likely need help to come off the pain meds at the appropriate time. I'm thinking that you went to a clinic to detox after your C4/5/6 ACDF??

    It's a hard decision for you to make and there's no way you're a "pussy" when it comes to trying to cope with back/nerve pain.

    If you're a Christian, then perhaps you could regularly pray to God for strength to cope; or if you're not, then join a meditation class.

    Let us know how you go with your surgeon and wishing you all the best in whatever decision you make.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I have indeed made my surgeon aware of my nature early on before the ACDF. I did not need to detox again after the three surgeries I've had since Ive been clean. After each one I have actually tossed the remaining pain pills out early (to a fault one time :( yikes!)

    I do have a very strong support group and I've made provisions to stay accountable and not handle the pills directly as well.

    I'm very anxious about the test tomorrow and even more paranoid that he will come back and say he can't repair me. One thing at a time though......

    Thanks for your experience and encouragement. I'll keep you all posted.
  • well, the party otherwise known as a discogram has passed. OMG, what fun that was <<says as his lip is bleeding>>
    It turns out that L1/2 L2/3 L4/5 and L5/S1 are all in serious trouble. Reproduced the exact pain at each level. had the CT scan afterward too and will meet with the surgeon again at 8AM.
  • First, congrats on kicking your addiction!

    I understand your reluctance to make the move to narcotics. There are no pussies when it comes to back pain...chronic pain is a life killer. Keep in mind that if you have surgery you are more than likely going to need narcotics for recovery. So you might as well have some relief now too. Maybe start with vicodin. I find that using a heating pad also helps quite a bit.
  • Well, I am realizing my worst fears. The CT scan and discogram actually confirmed tears and ruptures in ALL 5 lumbar discs. The surgeon says he cannot fuse all L1-S1 together and cannot guarantee any relief at all from just doing an L5/S1 fusion. He WILL do that one level if I really want to try it. The contrast films look like a leaking sieve at every level and not one of the discs is even close to healthy. He could not understand why the L3/4 was not causing pain as well given the tears.
    I asked about laser and ADR but he feels that laser is just a gimmick and ADR cannot be used on 5 consecutive levels successfully.
    I am very disappointed and I was only agreeable to narcotics for a short term to an end at surgery to fix me. Now it looks like its a long term pain mgmt need and I am not willing to go on with narcotics.

    1) has anyone had this extensive a lumbar decay and what have they done successfully to deal with it?
    2) anyone had success with just fixing the lowest level in spite of multilevel damage, successfully?
    3) any other long term NON narcotic pain mgmt suggestions?

    I'm sick and I'm headed to meet with my circle of friends to share my pain but I welcome any and all constructive experience strength and hope you can offer.
  • OK, so my GP understands my narcotic reluctance and she is starting me on Cymbalta and Neurontin on top of the Ultram to see if we can get ahead of the pain mgmt without the narcotics.
    Have any of you tried this non narcotic route for pain mgmt?
  • The only things I can think of would be a pain pump which would take the dosing out of your hands. I believe it also allows for a lower dose since it goes directly where you need it. The other would be a spinal cord stimulator. I was told that if you get relief from a TENS unit this might be a good option.

    Have you tried injections? Or would they consider a RF ablation? A good interventional PM doc might be worth talking to. There are other options which your doctor doesnt seem to consider.
  • TENS, PT, Acupuncture, AntalgicTrac (sp), and Epidural Steriods have all proven ineffective and/or harmful in the last three years. I've tried all they have suggested.
    I'm looking into an inversion table now along with the meds listed above.
  • Multiple levels of ADR can be had in Germany.

    Saunders Hometrac lumbar traction table > inversion tables.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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