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24, 4 herniated discs, and not getting any pain control from MD.

como kidccomo kid Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hello all. New to this site and these forums. I know this topic has probably been touched upon before but I didn't have time to read all the threads.
Here is so background info about me. I am 24 years old. I am a nurse at an Orthopedic center. Last year I was diagnosed with DDD. I had one herniated disc at T8-T9 and various changes on an MRI. On Xray a deformity where my L5 leans and has actually formed a joint with my left hip was found as well as severe arthritis. About 6 months later developed severe lower back pain. Had a repeat MRI recently to include lumbar spine. I now have 4 herniated discs ( L4-L5, L3-L4, T6-T7, T8-T9). I have a VERY high pain tolerance (passed gallstones for 3 yrs and thought it was acid reflux, broke my humerus and didnt realize it for a week, dislocate my shoulder and pop it back into place on my own).
My current problem is that I am in a large amount of pain and want to manage it without surgery. My doctor is fairly unwilling to give me any treatment. We are going to try a 2nd (1st was done a yr ago) injection in 2 weeks. Have tried physical therapy and chiropractic help with out benefit. But other then tylenol and ibuprofen has done/ perscribed nothing for my pain. My question is, what treatments have others tried? What are other people's doctors willing to perscribe for pain? Thank in advance for your time and input!


  • I've had many different procedures and treatments, as have most of the members here. Injections, PT, TENs unit, etc. etc...

    It's almost irrelevant what my Dr has Rx'd over the years and course of my care, as it will have no affect on, or mean anything in your particular circumstance, because medications act differently on each patient, and because there is the tolerance factor also if we are talking about pain medications.

    What I mean is that because you have not been RX'ed anything as of yet to help manage your pain, it would be unfair to measure anything your Dr may Rx to anyone here, who may have been in some type of PM for years. To expect anything similiar and then not get it, may leave you feeling that your pain is either not as bad, or that you are not being taken seriously. When the facts are that people who have been in PM for any length of time would just be considered more tolerant to certain medications, and therefore they may need higher dosages of a particular medication/s. I'm not saying that you would expect the same type or mgs of these medications, though I have read many times that new patients (new to pain meds) do seem to have higher expectations after reading what many people say on the forums about their own meds.

    I'm sure some will come round and give you better answers about what their Drs are willing to Rx, it's just a personal issue with me (right now).
  • Sorry to hear you're having a lot of back issues and pain right now. Are you still able to work unrestricted or do heavy lifting?

    If you are working never bend but instead crouch down. I wish I had known that when I started my career or remembered to do it that is. Never twist your back or neck but instead turn your whole body especially lifting things and if you lift something hold it close to your body and not away from yourself. ie instead of carrying dirty linens somewhere bring the whole cart close to you.

    I always got second and third opinions for my treatments and my Family Dr. helped me right away with pain meds but I was 47 when I hurt my back and that was my last day at work though I had mild nagging of my back for 3 months prior to my leaving work, I used Robax Platinum which is Ibuprofen and a muscle relaxant in it that helped a lot.

    Physiotherapy and gentle manual traction helped me as well as a infrared platinum heating pad for my lumbar disc pain and it's supposed to help with annular tear pain my Pain Management Dr. told me. Ice helps also.

    I hope you can get some pain relief soon and hope the injection helps. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thank you both for your responses. I appreciate your time and support. Robin, I understand where you are coming from. I am a nurse and am familiar with treatments and medications. I am already feeling like my Dr thinks that I am not experiencing the pain that I am in because he seems to be unwilling to give me things to control my pain. I was mainly asking for peoples opinion on what treatments and medications are out there to try so that I can present him with options that neither of us have maybe thought of before. Maybe other physicians are trying alternative things that wouldnt necessarily come to mind right away. Charry, I hadnt heard of Robax platinum. I will have to research that!
  • Oh you poor thing! Four herniated discs and nothing but OTC meds for pain control O_O I would find another doctor if that's possible. I'm a graduate pharmacy student and I've seen people on Oxycodone 20mg four times a day as needed for headaches. Perhaps it's not my place to judge but those must be some killer headaches. Even for migraines. . . I have no idea who that doctor was, but it just seems that doctors go one way or the other on pain control. They either hand opiates out like candy or don't give them out at all. Pain Control and addiction are very misunderstood by the medical profession. Yes, some people are prone to addiction, but that doesn't mean everyone that is on opiates long term will become an addict. Dependent, yes, but patients become dependent on a plethora of medications.

    Anyway, I'll tell you what I'm on and what has helped me the most. I don't have a high pain tolerance. Well, I don't even know if it could be called that. I'm of the belief that my sensitivity to pain stems from an extra abundance of nerve fibers. I lived 24 years of my life without pain so I know that when I have pain I'm not making it up. Just wish doctors could FEEL the pain I have. Then maybe they'd be a bit more empathetic.

    Also, I had hip surgery last year so some of the medicines I'm on are also for that. I have bulging discs in my neck, but it doesn't sound anything like what you have. . .

    Tramadol 50 mg: 3-4 tabs daily (More helpful for my hip than neck. This is not a controlled substance so doctors are more willing to try you on this than opiate pain killers. It's stronger than Tylenol, but weaker than Vicodin. It's a partial opiate agonist as well as an SSRI so it works on nerve pain as well. At least that's what it's supposed to do. . .)

    Lidocaine patches: Apply 1 patch daily (Very helpful for my neck. My mom who has several herniated discs tried this, not believing it would work, and she said it was wonderful. It has relatively few side effects. The major downside is that it's expensive if your insurance doesn't cover it)

    Cymbalta 20 mg capsules: Take 1 capsule daily (I'm taking this for nerve pain. It helps a bit. Not a lot but I'm looking for all the pain control I can get! I've been on higher doses like 60 mg and I could not tolerate the side effects. For me they were awful!)

    Gabapentin 300 mg capsules: Take 1 capsule three times daily (I was resistant to try this because of the potential weight gain. I haven't gained any weight though. Perhaps this is because I have a natural propensity to be thin? Anyway, it's been very helpful for my neck pain)

    Tylenol 1 gm four times daily (I'm not sure if it does much, but I'm desperate for pain relief >_<)

    Naproxen 400 mg 2-3 times daily (This is a high dose. 1.2 gm is the max dose even with a doctor so I monitor myself closely for ulcers. I take a PPI with this because it's such a high dose. I think this does more than Tylenol)

    Anyway, that's what I'm on for pain relief. My spinal surgeon is ready to do a cortisone epidural so I'm hoping for some relief from that! My mother, who has DDD, has had several cortisone epidurals in her life. She said that none of them worked until her new doctor did it. I don't know if technique matters. . .

    Hope that helps you some :D See if your doctor would be willing to refer you to pain management. Usually doctors try you on anti-seizure meds and other things before they try opiate pain killers. Also the fact that you're young is only to your detriment in achieving pain control. My pain management doctor told me they really didn't want to resort to opiates in someone as young as me because of the potential for abuse and addiction.

    In addition to this I use heat and ice, which also helps :)
  • Thanks Chibipinkbunny. It's helpful to know what works for others even if it isnt a good option for me it is nice to know there are options. Thank you for your input and kindness!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    discussing various types of treatments. Some in the standard medical arena and those some outside.

    You really do need to spend the time to read and research these areas since there is so much information..

    I was a bit surprised by one of your statements. As a RN, I am sure you know that recommending a particular medication to a physician is something that is not recommended.

    While I am not in the medical field, I've been around medical professionals just about all my life. The one common statement I have heard from so many doctors is that nothing is more irritating or questionable is when a patient, regardless of their background starts to tell them what medications should be considered.

    I like Robin would understand your situation better if you included what your doctor has been doing in terms of treatments, medications, recommendations, etc and the rationale behind it.

    With all the treatments available today, there is no reason a person should continue to be in pain with out any relief.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks for the input Ron. At the present time my treatments have included 2 ESI's and a round of physical therapy. I have tried a chiropractor (had spinal decompression machine) against my better judgement. For medications I take tylenol and ibuprofen. An occasional flexeril for spasms. Yes, as an RN I know that coming in asking for a particular drug does set off red flags. Perhaps if my doctor was willing to offer more suggestions on his own I wouldnt consider suggesting anything myself. I do work every day along side my doctor in another doctors clinic so there is a fair amount of trust there. He has openly invited me to email him if I am in need of something. I have now read the many postings and articles. It was a first time post and I apologize for reposting something similar to others.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    Maybe it would serve you well to be referred to a pain managment specialist. I have found the internal medicine and/or family pracice docs are more reluctant to RX "heavy" meds.

    The PM guys seem to be more open about the idea of RXing stronger meds with titrated dosages utill pain relief is achieved.

    Just thinking outloud,


    Spine-health Moderator
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  • Def a good thought. I think that is a good route to explore. And I appreciate your input! Thank you!
  • Def a good thought. I think that is a good route to explore. And I appreciate your input! Thank you!
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