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SublimisSSublimis Posts: 7
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hello everyone. I wanted to introduce myself and tell my story to others who understand my situation. It is long, but I hope you all will bare with me. I had back pain on and off since I was in my mid 20's. I am 34 now. The episodes starting occuring more frequently and last year I had one that wouldn't seem to go away and the pain seemed to travel into my butt and down my leg. The doctor prescribed physical therapy, which I did religiously and the physical therapist suggested that I get an MRI which the doctor complied reluctantly. The MRI I recieved in May 2010 showed disk bulging of various degrees on all 5 lumbar levels with DDD predominantly invovling the L3-L4 through L5-S1 levels resulting in narrowing of the neuroforamen. It also showed a Shmorl's node at L3 with endplate Modic changes at L3-L4. It made sure to state that I didn't have central bony canal stenosis on three levels, but made no mention of it on the other two (Hmmmm). Now, I had no idea what this meant. I new that doing the PT and taking a lot of Motrin was not fixing the problem. The doctors then wrote me a referral to pain management and the neurosurgeon. The surgeon wouldn't even see me until I went through pan management, so off I went. On my first visit, I was diagnosed with Lumbar Facet Anthropathy and Spondylosis. She recommendes that I have an epidural steroid injection, put me on Arthrotec and Neurontin. I had 3 ESI's (two in the right side L5/S1 and one on the left). I was continuing with the PT and lost over 50 lbs. I was feeling pretty good for about 5 months before the pain started again in my leg. I had some numbness in my groin and they sent me for my second MRI. The second MRI doesn't go into any detail once so ever. It just says I have mixed degenerative endplate changes at L3-L4 and L4-L5 with mild to moderate degenerative disk disease. I gave the new MRI to my pain management Dr. and she said she disagrees with the results. She said she saw some annular tearing at L5-S1 and wanted to do more ESI's. Again, I had three of them. This time with no success. The doctor said she didnt understand why and made me feel like I was faking. She decided to discuss my results with the doctor who was giving me the injections and called me to tell me that they wanted to try Facet Injections. I went for the Facet Injections and the doctor told me that my condition was rare and that is why they didn't think to do these first (Hmmm, ok). She said if it helps, I can then have a Facet Rhizotomy. I think this injection is helping, though I think I need them on both sides of L3-L4 and on the right L4-L5.

I decided that I need to educate myself on these treatments. I have done everything they have asked me to do. PT two to three times a week for 9 months, losing the weight (my own desicion), all of these injections and they in return made me feel like a faker until the last appointment. I do understand that there are drug seekers and sellers that they have to watch out for. I didn't even start taking narcotics until about 3 months ago because I just couldn't take it anymore. I am a bit pissed off. My research has shown me that the reason to get Facet Injections is Facet Arthropathy (what THEIR OFFICE originally diagnosed me as) and Spinal Stenosis. To my understanding, some of the home excercises that I have been prescribed and doing for over a year are worse for my facet joints. Even the last MRI indicated more Modic changes. I am not sure what to do or how to feel about all that I have went through for apparently no reason. They seem to finally be on the right track now and I don't want to put them on the defensive if I go in there waving my paperwork in their face.

I am sorry for the long story and appriciate any who made it this far. I would like some advice on how to handle what I have researched and what they are now doing. I now realize that I need to be a better advocate for myself instead of putting complete trust in the doctors. I go for an EMG in September in both legs. After that, I will see the pain management doctors to get the results. I just don't know if I trust them anymore.

Again, sorry for the rant!



  • Hi and welcome. I know it gets very frustrating and you just want what ever is wrong fixed. There is only 1 problem. Mri can show many things that dont look perfect but is not always the cause of the pain. Most of us started off thinking its simple just find the problem and fix it.

    Spine is so complicated in many cases its very hard to find what is realy causing the pain. If they seen stenosis then that would be 1 of the reasons they want to try pt along with injections because sometimes person gets lucky and it resolves itself without further having to worry about the other ddd that shows up on the mri.

    You mentioned 1 of the dr,s seen tear in the disc? That would be posibly a good reason to do a discogram to test the disc. They know the complications that come with surgery and they know usualy to have the patient try everything under the sun to try to avoid it if its a good dr.

    The last thing you want is posibly having surgery on a level or anywhere on the spine where it posibly looked bad on mri but was not the cause of the pain. Thats actualy what hapens a lot and is the main cause of failed back surgery. If that hapens that would just worsen the condition where the original problem realy might have been or is.

    So find the best dr, and even then get other opinions untill they all agree on the same results before doing surgery. But of course try everything before jumping under the knife.

    Most of the pain specialists work close with the neuro or ortho dr,s to confirm the tests they do with there injections to confirm where the pain is coming from before the surgen can even consider doing surgery. Good luck and i hope this helps. Keep us informed of further findings and you will find a lot of suport from many members here.
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
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