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.