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Managing Pain in Today's World

Ferenczy36FFerenczy36 Posts: 18
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Lower Back Pain
So I injured my lower back back in December, and have had flare ups off and on since then. Went to see my GP doctor, who has expressed in several instances he prefers approaching things with the natural course of action first. When I had a sinus infection and went to see him for an antibiotic, I got lectured about how antibiotics aren't always the answer and how they are bad for the body. So when I started going to see him because of my back injury, he met with a little bit of resistance in prescribing any pain killers or muscle relaxers. Eventually after several visits I was able to get him to prescrib fifty 5/325 hydrocodone for the pain and twenty 10mg flexeril to help at night. He explained to me that these amounts are the maximum allowed in a 30-day period. These meds were a blessing as they allowed me to rest through the night and function during the day at work during a flare up. However, I am discovering that I am in pain roughly half and half in a 30-day time span. Maybe 10-15 days feeling pretty good, 15-20 days of pain. So with 15-20 days in pain, I have been taking roughly 3-4 painkillers throughout the day, which pretty much uses up my monthly allowance. After the first 30-days of using medication, I went to see him again because of continuing pain and to get a refill as my prescrip was about to run out. However, I couldn't help but feel a little judged by my doctor like I was just fishing for pills. All he kept saying was how bad hydrocodone is and how I should not be looking to it to relieve my pain, but only assist me in getting healed. That my pain should be at an incapacitating level in order to warrant taking it, that I should just be using naproxsyn instead. He then went on to request that since I was going into my 3-4 month of lower back pain, and was beginning to experience a little numbness in my tailbone, I would need to get an MRI done immediately. So I did that which revealed:

At L4-5, there is disc desiccation and a posterior central
annular fissure. Broad based disc herniation is present causing mild indentation of the ventral aspect of the thecal sac without neural foraminal narrowing.

At L5-S1, there is disc height loss, disc desiccation,
spondylosis, and degenerative end-plate signal changes including bone marrow edema at the end plates. These findings result in no significant central canal stenosis or neural foraminal narrowing.

My doctor's message back to me concerning the MRI was, no emergency surgery needed, but follow up with new doctor immediately(currently changing insurance plans on July 1st) after plan change.

So I guess I am sort of testing the waters out there to see if anyone is in a similar situation? Is my condition just the typical run of the mill lower back pain sufferer? I will be going to be setting up with a new doctor under my new provider, and relaying this information over. I feel like the pain medication has really helped me get through the days when the pain is at its peak, and from what I am reading from others using hydrocodone for pain, I am taking a relatively small amount compared to some who are taking 6-8 pills a day and some even in stronger doses. I totally understand the narcotic nature of the drug, and that many abuse it for recreational purposes. However, that is just not who I am at all. Even when having a bad streak of back pain where I am taking 4 pills a day for 5-6 days straight, I'll then go maybe a week or more afterwards with no pain at all and no desire at all to continue to take the pain medication. I guess I am hoping that my new doctor will be more understanding about pain management and not make me feel like everytime I go I am being judged to decipher whether I am genuinely in pain, or just fishing for pills.


  • Ferenczy36,

    Welcome to Spine Health!! What you might want to do is get with a spine specialist (a Neurologist or Orthopedist), that is board certified in the spine. A GP is just that, 'general' medical physician. A specialist will be able to look at your MRI, examine you, and possibly send you for more tests for a true and complete picture.

    Your MRI does show issues going on, but that is only a piece of the puzzle. A good spine specialist will know the right tests to match with the rest of the puzzle. Please let us know how it goes. Again, Welcome aboard!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I agree with Brenda! Perhaps your doc will send you to pain management. That will place you in a position of finding ways to help your pain by injections, blocks, etc not only by pain killers while they find out what they can do to help you. Hopefully they will listen to your feelings and things will go well for you and welcome. I wish you the best.
  • I'm not sure if it would be considered 'run of the mill' but my condition is very similar to yours. Even your MRI results sound quite similar. The first doctor I saw was in ER and I was immediately put on pain killers. I have been taking them for a year now and though my family doctor doesn't like using pain killers she has no other treatment ideas so I continue with pain killers and physiotherapy. I am still in alot of pain after a year, still have shooting pains down my leg, numbness down my calf and side of foot and no reflex in my ankle on the right side. I had an MRI last week and will discuss with the orthopedic surgeon on Monday about what to do next. I don't expect a recommendation for surgery but I hope he will have some suggestion to do something that will help. I can't imagine not taking pain killers with this pain, I would have lost my mind and been bed bound months ago. Though, like you, if I don't' need them I don't take them (that is rare). Hope you find something that works for you soon. Good luck with your new doctor.
  • Thanks for the words of encouragement all. I will be going to see my new doctor with my new health plan on July 1st and will present the results from my MRI and request to be referred to a Orthopedist. I also have a bum ankle that I need to seem the ortho about that never healed properly from an injury over 10 years ago which now needs surgery. In fact I have been somewhat holding off on the ankle surgery until my back is somewhat stabilized as it will have me on crutches for 1-2 months. Ugghhh...I suddenly feel like my body is falling apart lately.
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