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Chronic Back & Neck Pain...don't know where else to turn! Someone help!

desmoulinsddesmoulins Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Chronic Pain
I found this site while scavenging the internet for orthopedic surgeons who specialize in spine problems and am happy I found it. This will be a relatively long story but, if anyone can hang in there, read it, & help me somehow, I would be extremely appreciative.

I sustained injury several months ago at work while helping someone else lift their patient into a Broda chair (For those who are unfamiliar with this, picture one of those big lawnchairs with the thick plasticy stripes across them with padding & on wheels). The Nurse Aid I was helping could not get the patient positioned far anough back on her side, therefore the patient's weight on the edge of the chair caused it to start tipping toward me. Afraid both the chair and patient were going to fall forward, onto the floor or onto myself, I bear-hugged the patient, holding the patient & their chair in place until the other NA got help. When elp came, they lifted from under the patient's arms & I lifted the legs up & back. When I stood up I felt very sharp pain in my back, mostly to the right of my spine, but radiating to the left. Within a half hour I was feeling impulses of pain from my right lower back into right buttock, and down into my outer thigh. The radiating pain was also spreading. I filed an incident report immediately & was told by a supervisor that since I was a 16 hour weekend employee (this happened on a Saturday around 11am), I needed to stay and work my assigned shifts and wait to go to the ER until after the end of my 16 hours on Sunday because if I left I would bring them below staffing. The supervisor said I would be placed on a floor that required little to no lifting for the remainder of my shifts in an attempt to keep my pain to a minimum. She gave me Motrin and sent me back to the floor I'd been injured on. Not ONE of my shifts that day nor the next was on an easy floor that required "little to no lifting", however many of the staff I was working in bent over backwards to help me so I would not be injured further for the rest of that daylight shift, my Sat. 3-11, & my Sun. 7-3 shift.

For my 3-11 shift, I was on a heavy lifting floor and forced to work with an employee who does not normally perform NA duties. This person has had repeated knee problems & has a very difficult time lifting. Our working together further agitated my low back problems. Then, at 9:30pm while I was standing against a patient's bed spreading up the sheets, she entered the room and pushed the bed (the headboard was not sitting flush with the wall & she was apparently trying to straighten the bed) into my knees. This caused me to fall, & in trying to catch myself, I twisted oddly & hit the ground on my hands & knees. I instantly felt a sharp pain the whole way down my back & stiffness in my neck. My right arm & leg had severe, sharp, shooting pain & I was attempting to pull myself up using my left arm because I could not use anything else without the pain increasing. The lady who hit me with the bed left the room, I thought to get help but it was apparently to answer a phone call, then never returned to the room. Another NA entered the room and found me on the floor crying, then got the floor's charge nurse, who lifted me into a wheelchair. This too caused extreme pain in my entire back. The nurse then took me in the wheelchair to the supervisor's office. The supervisors had my fiance come pick me up & drive me to the ER. I was lifted into his car by himself & a supervisor. The supervisor gave me the paper I needed to turn in to the ER from the packet of incident report papers & said she would fill out the rest from what I told her had happened. Statements are supposed to be taken from employees as soon as possible after an indident yet none were taken that night. The nurse who'd taken me to the office had even asked if they needed anything else from her & they said no.

When I got to the ER, it was moderately busy & everyone seemed to be rushing. They asked what was wrong, I tried to explain, was interupted & told to just give the short version. When voicing the complaints of my upper & lower back I was told "whole back isn't an appropriate diagnosis. In which area are you feeling the most pain?" I answered honestly with "My lower back, mostly in the right and radiating outward. My neck is just really stiff" When asked about pain in other areas I answered honestly again with "The spams in my right leg have came and gone so that pain isn't constant & it seems like the sharp pain in my arm is decreasing" ( I had been given Valium & Percocet so that's probably why) They did a low back Xray & I was discharged after a few hours & my fiance drove me home. While getting into his car to leave the hospital I tried to help him get me in the car & noticed the shooting pain come back to the arm when I tried to use it to move myself. I saw one of the comp doctors listed on my workplaces panel of doctors on Tuesday. (I had been asked to go in Monday but I could barely move without pain let alone drive). I wasn't supposed to take the Percocet to drive but I had to because the pain was too bad getting in & out of my car. I described to the doctor all of the symptoms from both day's injuries & was diagnosed with a "lumbar sprain". She told me the spasms were due to agitation of the muscles from improper body mechanics when I lifted the patient. (In all reality, my mechanics were fine until I had no choice but to hold a 200lb patient & their chair by myself. I weighed 132 at the time) She said she didn't like the meds they'd given me & thought they were to much & told me to take a little over a week off work to rest & to take flexaril before bed & Motrin throughout the day to help with the pain. It helped a little but the pain was still severe & I was taking more Motrin than you should in a day, plus adding tylenol, which was making me sick to my stomach, so I got her ok to take 1 10mg tablet of flexaril 3x/day & the motrin. This helped slightly more but I still felt a lot of pain, had difficulties walking, getting in & out of vehicles, etc. She sent me to PT, which only made it worse & I had to return to the ER, where I was prescribed more Percocet. At my next appointment I told the doctor what happened & that the pain in my neck & the spasms were still persisting. She accused me of med seeking because of the Percocet & told me I needed to stop taking it or I would get dependent on it, so I did. She also prescribed me a Medrol dose pack (steroids) to help with the inflammation that was supposedly causing all the spasms. The steroids did decrease the right leg spasms & slightly increase my range of motion but I was still getting them if I used my right arm too much. I'd also started getting them in my left arm, although not as bad. The stabbing pains down my back also remained consistant. At this time, since I was released to work light duty, I also noticed that when driving, if I turned my head to far to check my blind spots I would feel a pinching pain in the back of my neck. My neck was still continuously sore, I was beginning to get migraines, & at random would twitch my hands or drop objects from them. She continued to insist there may be some agitated nerves from muscle inflammation & that it would go away. I was told to continue with PT, which continued to hurt me. The comp doctor became frustrated, accusing me of having heightened pain sensitivity/ low tolerance to pain & asked if I needed to see someone about possible psychiatric issues because "sometimes people who have those report higher levels of pain" (I have 4 tattoos. 2 are in supposedly sensitive spots and another is over a foot in size. None hurt. When I was a small child I ran a stick right beside my eye, & through my eyesocket because I was running & fell on it. My father reports I cried for 30 seconds while he got me in the car then started laughing & yelling "hammer down dad!" when I saw how fast he was going. I have several piercings & before the injury, enjoyed extreme sports (rock climbing, white water rafting, backyard tackle football with mostly guys & no equipment, so on & so forth) This comment was degrading to me. While the injury was stressing me out, my stress did not amount to a "psychiatric issue" & I've never had a low pain tolerance in my life. Feeling so much pain was the reason why I was so insistant about getting treatment because when I feel pain like that, something IS wrong. I relayed this & she referred me to a chiropractor because I kept asking for one & she thought I would be discredited. "Fine. You want to see a chiropractor? I'll send you to one & u can see once and for all that NOTHING is wrong with you but a little muscle pull!"

I went to the chiropractic appointment and upon describing the same symptoms I described to the doctor, the chiropractor did an Xray of my whole back instead of just my low back because he was worried that the symptoms I was having couldn't possibly be explained by low back muscle inflammation. He found: "right lumbar body rotation with edema in the right SI joint, inflammation & tenderness upon right paraspinal palpatation. Tight psoas muscles indicated by difficulty rising from seated to standing position (they also showed up on Xray, he stated because they were inflammed) Cervical spine restriction also noted in the reqion of the occiput & atlas-axis vertebra. Restriction on cervical nerve roots could cause spinal cord irritation and may have affected the lumbar condition. Lower cervical segments (C5-C7) had restriction on video flouroscopy during both flexion & extension, restricting ROM & causing symptoms pertaining to the patient's complaints. However, we were not able to adequately treat those assessed areas due to the fact the patient was not referred to us for problems of a Cervical nature". (All previous from report)
The chiropractor said I would have to discuss the cervical injury with the doctor to get the diagnosis adjusted or the comp insurance would not permit him to treat it. I called the com Dr's office to speak with her on the matter but she did not return my call, then took a LOA for personal reasons.

Over the next 4 weeks, I saw different Dr.s who were covering for her, all of which who said they were waiting for her to get back to see what she wanted to do about the new findings because I was not their case & they didn't know how she wanted to progress with this. In the meantime, the person at my workplace in charge of monitoring the work comp employees called me into the office to discuss why I wasn't better yet, making the statement, "I know people who fall off trucks and are actually seriously hurt who've had less treatment than u". She then berated me for not finishing my PT sessions, which I'd already informed her was due to pain & the comp Dr. I was being sent to had actually ended up temporarily discontinuing my PT because of the pain and had me solely attending the chiropractor at that time. Then I was berated for using a chiropractor because they did not personally believe in chiropractic work. I stated everything that was going on, including producing the report from what the chiropractor had found. This person then called the comp Dr. when she did return to the office with a less than nice attitude & demanded to know why that documentation had not been passed on to her. I had an appointment with the comp Dr. the next day. 1st time I'd seen her in 5 weeks & without much of an explaination or any evaluation, she released me to full duty. I was sent for a lift test (you have to be able to lift 75 lbs on your own to work in our facility) & failed it. I was pushed to complete it & began feeling stabbing pains that brought me to tears during the process. My employer was never informed of this & the Dr. left my release to full duty stand even though I could not physically meet the demands of the facility. (Also, part of my care plan at the time I was sent to the chiropractor was to finish the sessions with him, go for soft PT such as stim & ice & stretches, then attend strength training before full return to work)

I then went to see a different comp Dr. on the panel who said I had no business being near full duty in that much pain & put me on a 10-20lb light duty restriction. Both this Dr. & the chiropractor stated to me that putting me through the lift test probably sent my treatment backwards. He read the chiropractic report and acknowledged it, writing my diagnosis as lumbar strain/cervical strain. however, the next office visit I had with him, I was informed he was told by the insurance company he was not allowed to treat or even acknowledge my neck injury. I asked the work comp personnel at work about this & called the insurance company. I was told statements would be taken so they could get an idea of whay happened & figure out where to go from there. It was at this time I was told that the 2nd injury report had never been received (although the supervisor who was in the office with the other who was doing my paperwork swears she watched her fill it out & put it in the correct spot) So, this 2nd comp Dr. sent me for the soft PT then the strength training when I was ready. My lower back did start to feel better but my neck became more & more sore until at some points it felt like it was burning & visibly looked swollen & I was asked by coworkers if I was experiencing an allergic reaction. The Physical Therapist discontinued all upper body exercises for fear of agitating anything in my neck. I called the insurance company again to see if they had made a decision yet & was approached as if this were the first time they'd heard anything about my neck.

For a timeline, the incidents happened in February, I was sent to the chiropractor in March & tried to get treatment for my neck in March. When I got no response & was talking to the person at my work in charge of work comp in April, I submitted the report myself, which they said they would forward to the insurance company. I called the insurance company myself the same day. They told me they would take statements then did nothing. The second phone call to the insurance company about this particular matter was in May because nothing had yet been done. They set me up for an IME (Independent Medical Evalutation)and told me I could see my PCP to alleviate my neck pain but I was not allowed to have my neck manipulated in any way or it could result in denial of my claim. They told me the IME was so they could decide how to go about a plan of care for my neck injury & what to pay for. They did not take statements for my February injury until the end of May. The 2nd comp Dr. then released me from his care setting it up so that I would be on light duty until the last day I had to work before seeing my PCP & the IME, so I technically would not have to spend any time working full duty. He stated he was releasing me from his care so the IME could dictate treatment for my neck & that he would be happy to treat my neck if they decided they'd let him but, he could do nothing else for my lower back & therefor had to release me because he felt the rest of the pain in my back was occuring due to nerve compression in my neck & he was not allowed to acknowledge that.

My PCP put me on a 10lb weight restriction & tramadol, which has helped significantly but only when I take it constantly. They recommended some soft PT such as stim thereapy & light massage for my neck, which I was told to go to by the work comp person at my place of employment. (after attending one sessions was called by PT to tell me the insurance was cutting me off & not allowing me to go.)I saw the IME the next day, who I found to be very rude, consistantly interupted me when I tried to tell him what was going on, answered questions for me, & twisted my words around at every chance he got. He refused to give me any form of recommendation toward my care and said he would comtact my employer. Nearly two weeks went by with no word from him so I had to go back to see my PCP for another prescription. They still wanted me on 10lb restriction & insisted on PT & wanted me to do a manipulation clinic with one of their specialists for my neck. I had to ask them to hold off until the insuance company told me I was allowed so they didn't try to fault me with anything. On July 1, without any warning, after being off for 2 days I was told when I went to work my normal modified shift that I was full duty & had a note from our work comp personnel saying so but no Dr's release. I showed them my note from my PCP & they had me put back on 10lbs for the weekend. While I was working modified, a patient pulled my hair, yanking my head back & causing further neck strain & pain. I filled out another incident report immediately. I stated I did not know where to seek treatment (my PCP or a panel Dr.) because I didn't know if this would be part of the same injury or a new claim. No one ever got back to me. I was on vacation from July 3-14 & stayed home instead of going on vacation because I was waiting to find out how I should go about treatment. I did talk with my PCP who told me to just keep taking my pain pills & ice my neck until I received direction on how to be treated. Still no call from anyone. So I called a supervisor yesterday to see if they could get the work comp person to call me. They did but I was in the bathroom & missed the call by less than 10 seconds & called back immediately. I have this record on my phone. They say I never called. So I stopped in today to ask them about all of this & I was forced to take a Medical LOA because they said they weren't offering light duty to me anymore. I spoke with an attorney who told me to get referred to a different orthopedic surgeon than the one who did my IME and if they acknowledge that I am hurt then the insurance company will have to pay for my recovery & for the time my employer is forcing me to take off.

So after all that, here is my question: How do you know if you're chosing a good orthopedic doctor? I recently moved to the state I'm in & don't know the doctors or who to trust. The last one completely disregaurded the chiropractor's report saying it wasn't an applicable medical document so now I'm worried that even with proof I'll be disregaurded as some young kid med seeking. When my PCP put me on the Tramadol I specifically asked for a non-narcotic because I didn't want to be snowed while trying to work or live my life for that matter, just wanted something to make the pain more bareable. The only thing I'm seeking is treatment but the last IME made it sound like my symptoms didn't even make sense from a medical standpoint & stated I was elaborating & misleading intentionally. Yet every time he'd ask about a symptom it was him telling me "well what do you mean by that? Can u give me an example?" then he'd twist what I was saying. All I know is I'm in pain. My lower back feels 80-90% better than when this first started and in my opinion, if that were the only thing wrong, that would be livable but these stabbing & pinching pains honestly hurt & the fact I'm still getting migraines & dropping things from my hands scares me. Part of me just wants to give up because I'm scared to lose my job but the other part of me is afraid if I do that the pain will get worse & I'll be stuck like this for the rest of my life. I have dreams to further my education & really make something of myself so I don't want something like this to stop me from doing that. (Which is what the 2nd comp Dr. said. That I could just be one of those people who has "chronic back pain for the rest of my life & has to reconsider what I do for a living") But I don't want to reconsider & that just doesn't sound acceptable to me at all. I'm in my early 20's! I love working to help people. It feels like it gives me so much of a greater purpose in life. Which bring me to another fear: I can't stop my hands from doing this...what if it happens & I drop a patient? I would never be able to forgive myself. Plus I would probably be fired at that point anyway. It seems like such a lose lose. Someone please tell me what to do! All I want is for someone to fix me & get me back to the job I love. (Other than with this work comp crap I've never had a problem with anyone there & I love my patients)


  • Welcome to spine-health. You have come to a great place, full of helpful caring people who "get it"

    Please don't give up looking for help. I definately think you should see a fellowship trained orthopedic or neurosurgeon to go over everything with you. Have you had an MRI? I too am in nursing and hurt myself during a patient transfer. Have you asked your primary physician to help you with a referal to a specialist?

    Wishing you all the best.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Wow, that is all very crazy! You just need to get an MRI to see what is really going on, xrays don't show much, only bone. You probably have a herniated disc. I am sorry your workers comp and employer is acting in such a manner. Especially because they wouldn't let you go to the ER ASAP! I wonder who is in charge of HR there! Major changes need to happen.

    See what you can do to get an mri!
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • Sorry to hear about your problems.
    Was the attorney you spoke to a workers comp attorney? This is a specialized field and with the problems you are having with the workers comp insurance and your employer I would make sure you are protected. Your workers comp insurance should pay for whatever healthcare you need but sometimes they need to be pushed into a corner.
  • To answer all of your questions: Yes, I have had an MRI BUT, the 1st comp Dr. I saw was the one who sent me for it & wrote the script for a low back MRI only. It doesn't show my Cervical Vertebrae, yet the insurance company and that IME I went to are both using it to say I am fully recovered because the MRI of "my back" was a clean MRI. I keep attemtping to counter with "Yes, my lower back has continued to recover from the strained muscles however, no MRI was ever done on my Cervical Vertebrae nor any treatment. The only test that was done on that part of my body was what was performed by the chiropractor, which does show an injury. They don't seem to care.

    Yes, we do have an HR department but they say they are seperate from comp & don't know how all the technicalities work. We only have one person in the work comp dept. so every time I only have 1 option to go to. They are allowed to make comments such as "this is bullshit" right in front of supervisors when I tell them something about my injury without any penalty. They have treated me like crap in front of multiple officer personnel & nothing has been said. They've also admitted to violating a Dr.'s order when the Dr. wrote on my return to work light duty slip "8 hour shifts only" & I attempted to get a schedule with 8 hour shifts & was told I needed to stay on my normal 16 hour schedule for light duty & there was "no way" they were gonna ask for my schedule to be changed due to an injury. "Your full time status is on a 16 hour schedule so if you want less than 16 shifts you'll have to go part time". Nothing has been said about the violation of the Dr.'s order either.

    Yes, I have consulted a work comp attorney. They said if I can find a good orthopedic surgeon to back me up & agree I am injured, that the injury came from work, then I have a case in which they can fight for the insurance company to pay for my treatment & the time I'm losing at work. They want to fight for me but the insurance company has the right to deny payment if their Dr. makes a statement that I'm recovered or it's not work related until I can prove otherwise. This whole being on comp due to an injury thing is like being guilty until proven innocent...

    & yes, my PCP has been asked to recommend a specialist & I'm waiting for them to get back to me with a referral. They would have done it sooner but when I spoke with the insurance company concerning my first visit to my PCP I was told that "they didn't need to make any referrals" because the insurance company was already setting up an IME for me to be taken care of. The IME ended up disregaurding & discrediting me. After which I've heard to Dr.'s & 1 attorney describe the Dr. who performed the IME as a "Paid hitman for the insurance company. A son-of-a-b**** & a real piece of work who has a tendency to always disregaurd a patients injuries unless they are obvious to the extent of a visibly proken bone or limb severence." Basically this guy seems to paint any slightest improvement you've experience with very pretty colors, discredits current symptoms without reason, and writes a story depicting how his opinion is better than actual tests conducted by people like chiropractors because they're not "true specialists" or "real Dr.'s". I received the mdeical report from the IME today actually. (Earlier today when I went into work to talk about all of this & stated I'd never seen it I was regaurded a lier by the work comp dept. yet it came in the mail while I was up there...) In one breath there is a chiropractor's report stating injury & in another breath it should be disregaurded from consideration in my case because he views my complaints & symtoms "don't make sense" and uses the 1st comp Dr.'s ignoring of my symptoms as a means to say there is no documentation of these symptoms for the first several months of my injury & I "conveniently started complaining about them after the chiropractor found something". That's one of the twists of my words I was speaking of earlier. My statement to him was that I believed the 1st comp Dr. when she told me it was all due to low back muscle inflammation and overcompensation with other muscles because of those ones being sore & tried to follow her treatment but had no choice but to keep complaining when the symptoms continued to get worse. I was then sent to the chiropractor & since I then knew what the problem was attempted to get it treated but was ignored in that office until i switched comp Dr.'s to one in another office. The IME found it "convenient" that the 1st documentation of these symptoms was made by the 2nd comp Dr. Yet I switched because my full extent of injuries was not being covered nor treated & when the 2nd Dr. tried the insurance said no.

    I'm not giving up, this is all just very exhausting and I'm just scared from experience that I'm going to be disregaurded just like before despite having evidence & being in pain every day.
  • Hi,
    Read your posts and am so sorry that work. comp. is doing this to you...Have a friend who injured his shoulder at work in March, and after PT, no MRI, and no follow-up until he started bitching, finally had shoulder surgery this week... Damage would have been less if they operated sooner...PT is ok after the fact, but WC seems to use it as a time waster...
    I hope you found a good lawyer and a dr who truly is interested in helping you...regardless of WC or anyone else. You stick up for yourself and don't quit!!!
    Anything we can do to help...just post it!
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