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New to back problems, struggling

sadiedtssadiedt Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in New Member Introductions
Hey all, I'm Sara and I'm in search of some advice. I've been struggling with acute back pain for almost a month now, but have only possible answers so far and some very contradictory advice from my doctors. I had an old injury in my lower back six years ago, which I thought had healed with nothing more than a bit of pain. After some falls about a month ago, I realized that I couldn't feel my right foot/leg anymore, and went in to the ER.

So far, I've done the X-rays (scoliosis and damage from the accident in the lower back), and gotten my first of three cortisone shots for what the pain management doctor believes are probably herniated discs (l3-s1). I've got a referral for an MRI, but am nervous about the cost and not sure if it's necessary.

More than anything, I'm struggling with how limited I feel. I can't sit up for more than an hour or so without getting a bit nauseous from pain, so I'm off work, and because I can't feel my foot, I can't drive.

I'd love some suggestions on how to cope with pain and isolation, and what steps I can take to fix it. I have no idea which doctor to listen, what to do, or even how to cope with the pain and fear about the numbness!

Whew! Sorry this is so long. I didn't realize I'd have so much to say. Thanks in advance for any advice!


  • an MRI scan is a wonderful tool for establishing your back pain problems .so i would say go for it .the consultant will be able to tell what is wrong with you ..a normal x ray is not much good for back pain .CT/MRI are needed for an accurate diagnosis .have sedation if you are worried ..they don't hurt but they can be a bit daunting if you are claustrophobic
    good luck
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    One of the frustrations about spinal problems is that finding a solid action plan to help reduce pain and discomfort is almost impossible until the full diagnosis is revealed.

    There are so many different types of spinal problems associated with the various disc levels. Some are basically normal, just the aging of our spines (DDD - Degenerative Disc Disease).

    I think for starters I would look at the various types of spinal conditions that there are.

    Spinal Conditions

    and the various treatments.

    Spinal Treatments

    I am starting you out on the total list of situations that Spine-Health has details on. As you find out more as to what your condition is, you can narrow down your reading.

    You will find many people here who are in the same situation as you, just starting out with spinal problems as well as find us seasoned veterans who have been dealing with problems for over 30 years.
    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
  • First of all you're not alone on Spine Health. There are so many of us who have been thru so many things. Its a big family of support.

    I agree with backache, an MRI is a very useful tool and lets you see things not seen on x-ray.

    I was lucky to have a good spine specialist. You definitely want someone with back surgery experience. And don't hesitate to get a 2nd opinion either once you have your MRI.

    Pain is no fun and if there is a way to relieve it, even if it means surgery and a long recovery it is worth it. And I am speaking from experience!! I had weakness in my right leg and numbness in my big toe plus back pain and I never knew when I was standing or walking when my leg would not hold me up. Those particular problems were caused by the vertebrae slipping forward. Fusion fixed it both times (different vertebrae).

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. so glad you dropped in.. please have a good look around and make yourself at home! you have been given some good advice already so i will just add that i hope you enjoy the forum and find it of benefit to you! good luck with your upcoming appointment for your MRI.. you are going to need more than an x-ray,it does not show enough.. stop by anytime! there is always someone home! Jenny :)
  • HI
    I agree with the others that you need an MRI to get a better picture of what's happening.. And you need a doctor that is qualified and that you like and trust. Luckily, I like all my dr's, and if they can't help, they refer me to someone who can! So far, so good, all things considered!
    But please, get on this soon....the longer you wait can cause nerve damage that won't heal and from what you said, there are nerves involved here...Best wishes in getting to the root of the problem and hopefully fixing you up to feel better!
  • HI and WELCOME :) I am pretty new here and find this site so supportive and helpful in many ways.. ( check out the forum) I just wanted to say ... I know MRI's are expensive and scarey believe me I have had sooo sooo many lol , but I am always like nope no CT nope no x rays I want a MRI they are the most accurate ( at least for me ) ... I am very impatient and do not like my time wasted , so I push for them. I want to know and I want to know now.. example... when I went on comp... they did x rays they didn't show anything diagnosed me with a lumbar sprain, then sent me for a ct because it was not getting better ... didn't show anything , but a schmorls node ... nope pain still there not getting better heard popping and severe pain to where I was stuck ( couldnt move for 30 secs or more ) finally did a MRI with contrast ... whoops your five screws are moving around pinching your nerves... and whoops you did not fuse from your surgery years ago... n wow you should not even vacuum your house.. Get the MRI please ...
    I wish you the best of luck and we are all here to support you anyway we can
  • I'm sorry you would have to pay for an MRI. Is there any free MRI clinics where you live? Or University hospitals where you could see a Orthopedic Surgeon where you could get free treatment or even ER where they could do the MRI? Any numbness in leg or foot and weakness is a concern and hope you get the right treatment.

    In the meantime, icing for 15 minutes can help or using heat. Your pain Dr. should be able to help by ordering a pain medication to dull the pain and a nerve pain med like Cymbalta or Lyrica and you can get help paying for these meds directly from the company website.

    I know I live in Canada and healthcare is free though the waits are longer, I don't know how to manage paying for tests or treatments. Try the free MRI clinics or ER if the numbness weakness gets worse by going to the ER to see if they'll do the MRI. It takes only one good Dr. to listen and help you.

    I use a cane to walk and find it takes the pressure off my foot. I hope you get the help you need soon. 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
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