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So the Doc says

nurselynnaiennurselynnaie Posts: 167
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Chronic Pain
So my appointment with the surgeon was this morning, he said there is a 30% chance I may not need surgery, if I wear my back brace all the time while I am awake, use the bone growth stimulator as much as possible and quit smoking.
I have a appointment for the fitting for the brace and stimulator Friday. He said this is what happened, when I ws pulling the lady up at work the screws moved since they were loose and pinched a nerve causing the pain and also loosened the screws more. Which is causing more pain due to the fact that they are moving around more.
He said the cages are grown into the vertebra, but there is no bone surrounding the cages.
I no have a appointment Sept 12th with the pain clinic, no matter what I tell any of these doctors, they don't listen. I want to go to the pain clinic I want the pain controlled I do, but I do not want to be a wright off or disabled the rest of my life. He said if you can get your pain under control you shouldn't have surgery. If I do nothing and take my medicine the pain is there but controlled. I do not want to not be able to do anything, I want to go back to work, I want to be able to go to one of my kids games and not sit in misery.
Another appointment with no answers except do this do that and maybe you will be ok.. maybe you can be on pain meds your whole life.
I know I need to accept what it is and once someone tells me I will, I think lol... I will try to anyway.
No surgery anyway unless I quit smoking. Which oh will be hard, so anyway I asked for something to help me quit and he says you need to go to your regular doctor for that lol ...
How did everyone elses appointments go today I think there were a couple more going.. I hope everyone is well. Have a pain free or minimal day :)


  • Hi Lynn,

    AS I read your history, I have no idea why anyone thinks a stimulator and a brace are going to get you what you want back to work. First off ask the pain management doctor what is the odds your going to fuse at this point and time using a bone growth stimulator? If this was a fresh surgery, it would be different but it is not. Also the fact you have moving hardware, it is not like either one of those is going to set the hardware back to stop moving. I am not sure if he believes he will try this for awhile and see what happens, just so he can prove it won't work, not that I am a 100% sure it won't work, but I highly doubt the hardware will quit moving. But once you fuse the obvious is you wouldn't need the hardware, and that could be what he is hoping for.

    My opinion, is this is not the right doctor for you. You need a surgeon whom specializes in failed surgeries. If I understand right your surgery is 5 years old and hasn't fused yet and you have moving hardware? The fact that you have gone back to work should show what your goal is. Being a nurse is not a job, in which it is not physical. I am just not reassured that having moving hardware is ever going to get you back to work. I think the main issue you have is the smoking deal.

    If I remember correctly your work comp, so no they are not going to pay for any stop smoking medications, and you will have to get from primary. Keep in mind the injury and your smoking are independent of each other. But also sense you have a failed fusion more than likely, I doubt they would do a surgery, with you smoking. My guess is that the records will show, he told you to quit smoking and is going to see if you did it or not. If you fail to do so, it shows what is called not following the advice of the doctors, and some of this could be put back on you. I am not going off on you for the smoking just the way it works in the world of work comp. Now that there is a failed surgery, they will change the game even if they knew you smoked before.

    My best advice to you is to follow the recommendations and stop smoking, no matter which way you do it. There are several here whom are working on quiting, get a group going with them for support. As a former smoker there is never a good reason to smoke, and no good argument for it, so you will loose that on all fronts. It falls in the same argument as drinking and driving, it just don't work. I would also get the brace go to pain management. Once you have successful stopped and if pain management fails then I think they would look at you with a different set of eyes. But you will have that same issue I am thinking with all surgeons, just my guess.
  • What does smoking have to do with surgery? I have had numerous surgeries from back to esohphogus, shoulder, cancer surgery - nobody ever told me to quit smoking for surgery and if they did I'd tell them to mind their own F'in business. I'll quit when and if I decide too. Apart from that, I don't see how any of what he said (apart from pain meds) would help your issue if you have moving parts. Nothing is going to fix that except for some type of surgery to correct it. That has got to be awful. As for not wanting to be on pain meds for life - you need to get over that deal. There is a big difference between using and abusing. There is a bigger difference between feeling like shit all the time and feeling somewhat decent most of the time too. Make your choice and don't look back doll. Nobody wants to be dependent on drugs for life, but I thank God now that I have that option or I'm pretty sure I would NOT be here anymore. The thought of living day in and day out in that kind of pain just isn't worth the trip for me.
  • I was lying back in my recliner reading your post, Lynn, and sat straight up when I saw that your surgery was almost 5 years ago and your hardware is not stable.

    Before I read tamtams post, I felt the same...you need another opinion. Did your doctor tell you that you have a non-union or pseudoarthosis???? I do not understand how any of the new therapies will help you at this late date. I'm confused at the expectation of this treatment. When I had my bone stimulator, I was told that there were no studies of its use and success beyond 9 months. Please do some research for yourself to recheck this information.

  • The nicotine in cigarettes can be a deterrent for bone growth, so most surgeons will not go ahead with a bone fusion if the person is smoking. Some I've read will even go so far as saying you have to be smoke free for a certain amount of time before offering surgery.

    Lynn I'm sorry the appointment didn't go as you had hoped. I agree with Tammy, you should seek out another or more opinions.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • HI,
    I think you need to find a new doctor - ASAP! Those loose screws are not going to readjust themselves!! However, I too, am trying to quit smoking...my 1st anterior cervical fusion, did not fuse, and the doc thinks it's because of the smoking...it really does do a number on healing bones. When we did the re-do, 13 weeks ago, we did anterior and posterior this time, to try to get a "better, stronger hold".. However, smoking is still an issue for healing...hey, I hate to say that myself, but it's true..
    SO, find a new doc, try to kick the habit and let us all know how you are doing! Be well...
  • Lynnaie, what about getting one of those e-cigs? I know they're kind of expensive upfront, but in the long run, you'd save money compared to the cost of cigarettes? I did try something like them, except there was no vapour on exhaling. It worked okay, you still get the nicotine and titrate down, and it actually tasted horrid so put me off actual cigarettes, but the weird thing for me was exhaling and nothing coming out. I know, that sounds so stupid, but it's true. I'm going to try to find an actual e-cig to quit, probably later on this week after seeing my NS tomorrow, lol. Anyways, good luck!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Apparently smoking decreases bone growth esp in lumbar region. I agree very much about the feeling like crap or feeling at least a little normal. I guess what I was saying in my post was I think they are just throwing stuff at me to shut me up... They say a 30 percent chance ..plz I am too far post op for anything to change at this point I believe. I have done the pain clinic before and had every procedure there is when my original injury happened. I am so not looking forward to doing that again. I just want a fix weather pain meds, surgery or whatever. Just do it u know thats how I feel, get it over with, the waiting and the doc games comp games .. I want to enjoy my life. Guess the whole thing is getting to me, it is what it is and I know that. As far as the smoking I have set a quit date of Sept 1st.. we will see how that goes lol
  • That is what I was told I had a bone stimulator with the first two surgeries. Was told everything was good stop using it ... now it is what I need I highly doubt it. I am looking for more doctors to go see, until everything is stable in my back I am not going to be able to work. I am not going to be able to do anything. It is so frustrating, I would of been happier if they said ... ok quit smoking for 6 weeks and we will do surgery to fix this, instead of wasting my time. I would of even excepted hey , you are going to have to live with this the way it is go to pain management get it under control and you can get back to life. yet I get another lets try this and wait and see... so tired of waiting and seeing lol
  • I have tried those before and I am going to try it again. I have set a quit date of Sept 1st to at least give it a try. As you know with all the other junk in my life "empty nest" quiting smoking is already going to be a hard thing to do not to mention , really what else do I have to do lol ..... Time to start searching for a hobby I guess... Thanks for your support and I hope you are doing well today
  • The doctor said at one point we need stroner screws in there lol ... I have titanium how much stronger can we getlol ... I am sorry for complaining but I felt very let down after that appointment , you are right the loose hardware is not going to fix itself... I felt like saying hey just squirt some lock tight on those screws and let me get back to life lol ... but I imagine any doctor is going to have to make me try everything before they do anything since it is comp now ...
  • Lynn,

    As a fellow work comp person, I completely understand about the hurray up and wait game and try this and that. Unfortunately you have to do it, or they have some really nice words that look like your not trying. I don't agree with going to pain management in your case, as that is not going to fix loose screws. My suspicion is they are sending you there to say they tried and in the meantime you need to quit smoking. I seen you have a quit date, good for you. Pop down to the smoking forum and get involved with others for support. My opinion would be 6 weeks of no smoking and 6 weeks of pain management don't help, then you could return to a surgeon.

    In the meantime look for a surgeon that deals with failed back surgeries and that is their speciality. I am not sure of the laws of work comp in the state your under if you can pick the doctors or work comp picks them. I would get in a position for a second opinion, and if you have stopped smoking, well just another feather in your hat for surgery. Keep in mind if you have a failed fusion, no surgeon wants a failure on their record. But I would be looking for another surgeon, while you do this treatment. But I wouldn't mention it to the pain management, as they maybe less inclined to help you, if they are thinking you are doing surgery. Which no one can say your doing surgery till a surgeon agrees. Good luck on the stop smoking, you can do it, your spinal fusion survivor so you can do this.
  • Congrats on your quit date! We'll all be here for support when you get those nasty nic fits!!

    As for hobbies, I've taken up cross-stitching and beading (making jewellery) since this mess all started for me. I can do both sitting in my recliner, and I actually find it relaxing. For cross-stitching, you can buy the kits that the patterns are printed on the material, which I would suggest. I didn't get those ones (I had bought a bunch on sale at once), and it's sometimes hard to keep track of stitch counting when you've taken your meds, lol. And I've actually sold quite a few pieces of my jewellery to friends and friends of friends since I started doing that in May! It's a lot of fun for me, I love it.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Good advice thanks so much. You made alot of sense , since not much is making sense right now to me. lol I will be in search of a new surgeon, for a second oppinion , but like you said being comp you have to do what they say urrrr lol ...
    I hope you are doing well
  • That is a good idea I never thought about cross stitching ... I am def going to try that. Thanks a bunch

  • There are quite a few people on here to seem to be trying to stop smoking.

    Perhaps you should start a thread to support each other. ;)

    Good luck to you all :-)

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