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Update - saw surgeon today

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Lower Back Pain
Well, it's good news, assuming all goes as planned. My x-ray shows that my fusion is solid and so is my hardware. What I'm having he called mechanical pain. No nerves are involved, and I agree - it never felt nerve-related, and I know nerve pain.

What he said was that because my L4/5 is fused and I have two rods and four screws, when I bend, lift, twist, walk or whatever, something has to move and it's obviously my L3/4 and/or L5/S1 because my L4/5 can't. The pain that I'm having is due to that movement, probably at L5/S1 due to where the main pain point is located, and the pain that is radiating up into my chest, in my hips, butt and sometime legs, is referred pain from either or both of those levels.

The plan is to take a Medrol Pak, wear my brace (yes, 24/7), rest (but don't stop moving altogether), and restrict my lifting to 30 lbs for a week. I reacted well to the last Medrol Pak I took when I had a bulging disc at L4/5, so he thinks it will help. If the Medrol doesn't help by Monday (I should get fairly quick pain relief), then I need to call him and we'll start some more PT.

The way my insurance is structured, getting an MRI at this point would be too expensive for me right now as I have to meet my $500 deductible before the insurance starts to kick in 80%. So, because he doesn't think anything serious is going on, he said if he wants to do an MRI, we'll start widdling down my deductible a little at a time until I can afford to have one done. It's not imperative to have one at this time, so that's awesome.

He made a note that I'm taking more meds than usual so my insurance doesn't balk if I need some early and even offered to prescribe Percs. (No thanks, I have a LOT left over from surgery and those are for emergencies only in my world.)

He made me feel like this is a common occurance and understands the severe pain that comes with it. I'm so happy that my hardware and fusion are still good and that hopefully, this is an easy fix. Now I don't think I'm dying. Ain't that grand? :-)

Thanks for listening guys. Sometimes, even when we're in such debilitating pain, it can be something not so difficult to treat - it's not always the end of the world, just something that a spiney has to go through and take some steps to get that beast back into the corner.

Take care, all, and here's to some pain-less days.


  • You are solidly fused & hardware is intact! I'm sure you are very relieved with this news.

    Hoping the steroids, rest & bracing provide you with quick pain relief!

    Yes, here's to pain free days!
  • Cathie,

    That is great news indeed! Excellent for you, and too confirmation that you are fused now. I know it must stink to have to go back to the brace, but hopefully it will give you a reality check that you can't do what you did when your back was normal woman!! *HUGZ*

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

  • What relief you must be feeling.
    Now that you know it is nothing realy serious you can use the medrol pack, put on the brace and rest, knowing that you will hopefully feel better soon.

    Have a relaxing weekend and let us know how you are doing.

  • Good to hear you are fused and that your hardware is solid. I have a question, if the pain you are experiencing is mechanical, wouldn't you be feeling it at the main pain point rather than it being referred, as he mentioned you having referred pain? I was under the impression that referred pain was nerve related and ran along the nerve/s, but mechanical pain was more it hurt exactly where the source of injury occured. Maybe I'm just confused.

    The Medrol Pak, I haven't used in a long time and don't remember, do they cause weight gain? I know that shouldn't be a major cause for concern in the battle against pain, but weighing all of my risks vs benefits and trying very hard to manage my weight, I do worry about these things.

    You have had some good news and I really hope everything goes as planned. Many times we hear the other side of the story here at SH, so this is good to hear :)))
  • So your l4l5 is solid as a rock, cool, I know the mechanical pain you speak of. Its a mother--. I am fused same level. Even when i yawn when i stretch in bed because the l4l5 is fused and it dont bend, it forces the l3l4 in a movement where it hits the front muscle of my legs. Not sure if you have same thing hapen when you try to have a good stretch when you wake up in the morning. It seriously makes me jump when i do it cause makes muscle hurt. Great that at least you fused and hardware is ok . Maybe they did 1 thing right for a change.
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I'm glad the news was good today. I know that at least mentally you're feeling better. How about physically? Are you in as much pain now? I hope not. Hopefully the Medrol will kick in soon and do the trick.

    Thanks for the update Cathie. You've been in my thoughts my friend. Hope to catch up with you soon. Take it easy and follow orders!

  • Thanks for all the congrats - it really is a congrats moment as hubby and I were thinking the "S" word. Whew! Still the brace (which already makes me feel a bit better) and such, but I'll do anything to relieve this severe episode.

    Robin, my main pain is centered in a certain area, lower right side of my lumbar, thus his thinking L5/S1 - he really thought it'd be my L3/4. Anyway, because it's so inflamed, the pain is radiating out into my chest, butt, hips and upper leg area and is called mechanical because the pain is coming from my joints above and/or below my fusion working too hard. Mechanical pain, I've learned now, can have nothing to do with nerves and it causes internal pain in my bones and surrounding areas (muscles, tendsons, etc), not nerves. It's a whole diffeent animal. New to me too.

    The Medrol pack is only a 5-day pack and thus, won't cause much weight gain, if any. It's like a major shot of steroids in a short period of time, but packs a major punch to the pain and inflamation.

    I've learned a lot today with the difference between types of referred pain - some is like my mechanical affecting bones, muscles and tendons, and some is nerve-related, causing sciatic-type pain as well as other nerve pain. I could totally tell this wasn't nerve-related, it was too "inside" of my body, if that makes sense.

    I am extemely relieved that I didn't "break" anything and this is fairly common with people that have fusion and then become very active. Something to keep in mind for those that have fusion and then start to have strange pain. It didn't seem very strange to my doc at all.

  • Cath,

    That is great news, and hopefully the medrol pak will take care of things. Been on those a time or two or three myself. I personally never had any side effects from it, as they are so short lived. Actually about all i have gotten from them is relief. Right now I would be willing to thumb wrestle you for them. Were still in the rain and more rain pattern and I am hoping for relief soon, but who knows. But I am glad to hear all looks good, while the brace doesn't sound appealing it is better than the alternative I suppose. Are you off work now, or able to go back to work?
  • I'll be back at work Monday, but alredy told my boss about my restrictions. She say she goes to the gym to lift weights, so won't mind lifting the heavy boxes when needed - just call her. What a great boss.

    I loved my Medrol last time and sorry, I'm keeping 'em. Although my Walgreens was out of them and have to make a special trip to find them somewhere tomorrow.

    Like I said, the brace already makes me feel better and I ok with it. Like you said, beats the alternative. :-)

    Take care.
  • Alex, glad to hear someone knows of mechanical pain. It is a MF and man, you think you're dying. I have been having pain on the top of my right leg, but I've given it its walking papers.

    Debbie, i'm already feeling better, just with the brace. Can't get the Medrol until tomorrow - my pharmacy is out of it - a major pharmacy, Walgreens. Unbelieveable, but I'll find it tomorrow. Like I said, the brace is helping and maybe more importantly, my mental attitude is extremely relieved and mellow. I was thinking the worst and got the best. Thank God for large favors.

  • Ok I getcha. I've been going through some tough cycles myself and really-not even thinking straight sometimes. Right now it's going to take everything in me just to stand up and get into the shower..so I have been trying to understand why the changes and gather info from others. Even if I have been going through this for eons, things change over time and embarrassingly enough-I forget things too.

    I do remember though how it feels to be worried and thinking something bad might be happening then finding out that things aren't near as bad as they could have been & that can fill you with an almost euphoric feeling, if even short lived.
    Must be a lot of people getting the Medrol, or it is gaining in popularity.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Congrats on the fusion, however sorry for the hardware pain. I can relate to that pain. Ive noticed my hardware pain more so now that I am working again. Sitting at a computer 9 hrs a day does stress the spine. We have not spoke much since both of us returned to work. How is it going for you? After being back to work for about a month everything settled down for me and I believe I am going to be able to do this! I hope the medrol works for you
  • No, we haven't spoken much since we both started work again. My work is so much different than yours in that I'm walking, standing, lifting and bending a LOT. That's my work day. But, I think I can make this work. I love the job and the skills I've brought are what my boss was looking for, not my strength.

    Mostly I believe this, even though I'm having these problems, because my boss is willing to work with me. Like I said, I already told her my issues and she's willing to do the lifting for me next week. She lifts weights, so she said she'll look at it like a workout.

    I'm very happy that you believe you can work again and hang in there. That's awesome! I know how worried you were and how difficult it was at first. Great to hear that you've settled into it.

    Robin, I figured you'd understand with a little explanation, even it it's just because you forgot. Mechanical pain isn't mentioned a lot around these forums and I'm hoping that some here might start thinking about their pain and whether it might be mechanical as opposed to nerve-related. It can cause some extremely severe pain, but with an understanding and knowledgeable doc, it can also be taken care of. Like I said, when I explained everything to my doc, he knew right away what was happening and knew what needed to be done. I can't say I'm out of the woods yet as I haven't tried my Medrol and haven't been resting and wearing my brace for a week yet, but I have very high hopes and expectations - obviously Alex knows what I'm talking about.

    So, I wore my brace to bed last night and threw it off in the middle of the night - it might not be as easy as I think wearing it for a week. I'll do it, but it's not going to be easy if I can't even make it for one night. :-)

    In any case, things will get better and is fixable without surgery, so I'm pretty darned happy.

    Take care all.
  • So happy that you've fused and hope by now you've got the Medrol pack and getting some relief.

    Good news too that you won't have to have more surgery now - you've had more than enough during the last few years.

    Interesting what you said about mechanical pain because I've started getting more pain from L5/S1 and L3/4 recently and it started after I'd done a few days walking in MBT shoes. They were wonderfully comfortable and I was able to walk much longer distances and I felt so fit but only for a few days. It's possible that the shoes caused my spine to be in a position that it didn't like. So I'm resting and doing what I can to get back to where I was.

    Take care


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Cathy so sorry to hear that your in that much pain but thats great news that you don't need anymore surgeries.I think you've had enough problems and just need a big break! >:D< Big soft hugs and start feeling some relief soon with your pain pack ok!
  • Just saw your posts - was out of town for work last week and behind on the home pc stuff. So sorry to see that you are having such terrible pain issues - Prior to my cervical surgery there were a few nights that I considered going to the ER so I understand debilitating pain - there are no words for it! I am the same as you - still have all of my pain meds from the surgery as I stopped them very shortly after surgery and only take them in extreme pain conditions. Great to see all hardware and fusion is solid and hopefully the treatment works for you! Take care and keep us posted! You have always been there for us so now we can be there for you! Good vibes your way!
  • Glad to see you are fused and doing better, except for the mechanical pain. Hope the medrol pack helps. I have started working, and am fusing well. I overdid last week and am paying for it. I have to remember that I am not six months out, and havent worked for 5 years, so I have to work into it slow. I am working at a greenhouse, helping customers, watering plants, taking orders. Not doint much lifting, but think I have been bending to much. That and a 8 hour day on Thursday wore me out. Having some pain, so took the weekend off to rest.
    Hope you get better. I am still wearing my brace, I just was recently told to start weaning off of it, but to wear it at work.
    Hoping things are going better for you...Robin
  • I really appreciate your support and good thoughts.

    I'm through the Medrol pack now and it's helped tremendously. I'm still having some pain, but it's not debilitating any more. I've been wearing my brace on and off when I feel I need the support. I'm thinking I may just wear it to work every day, but I really like to tuck my polo shirts in - it makes me feel more professional. But can't do that with the brace.

    So for now, taking it one day at a time. I find it amazing that when the lumbar pain subsides, I feel more pain in my cervical area. I think that the lumbar pain over-rode (is that a word?) the cervical pain and now that it's lessened to a large degree, I'm only feeling the cervical more.

    It's a never-win situation. I'm just lucky to have a job, a great surgeon and very supportive hubby. The rest I've just learned to deal with. Whatcha gonna do?

    Thanks again.
  • Oh that's good that the Medrol pack has helped with your pain.

    Even though you know you're never going to get better, you're always encouraging to those in pain.



    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
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