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6 months in, no improvement and no real diagnosis

CDW123CCDW123 Posts: 25
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello -

I have done quite a lot of reading on this site so far and have found some really interesting information. I appreciate it.

I am a 52 yr old Mom, small business owner, primary bread winner (90%) of HH. I have been quite physically active most of my adult life (though put on 20 lbs & fell out of shape due to a medication I quit last Nov.) 6 months ago I was walking my v. young, strong dog and wham!, massive pain in my lower back. First time ever. After the initial acute pain subsided, I have not been able to sit or stand to work for any length of time w/o substantial pain and massive muscle spasms that radiate (mostly) from my right lower back straight up to neck right & left, sometimes causing numbness alternating in right and left hands. (I work at a desk/computer)

After 2 months in, had 1st Lumbar MRI. Showed L5-S1 central herniated disc, broad disc bulge, smaller L3-4 left lateral herniation. Beginnings of arthritis. Was told it was not a big deal & v. treatable with PT. So I threw myself into PT & decided this was a wake-up call to get back in shape. 4.5 months of PT did nothing. Muscles spasms just worsened.

Went to see PM Dr., suggested cervical MRI & steroid shots.
Results of cervical MRI (don't know what it means yet - still need consult) Multi level spondylosis most pronounced at C6/7 level - R. paracentral & neuroforanimal disk protrusian/disc osteophyte complex.

Just had my 2nd epidural steroid shot at L5 and some trigger injections. Very mild, temporary improvement only.

Working is getting harder & harder to deal with. I'm feeling hopeless. My daughter is in her last year of HS & off to college next year & I'm terrified I will have sell my 1/2 of business & everything else I own. I have an expensive private disability policy that would yield nothing for 3 months & then will not cover everything when it does kick in.

Don't know why I can't get a little better and the spasms won't stop.
I'm was taking Percocet (1 to .15 a day) Now on Dilaudid ( 2-4mg day) Baclofen and Valium for spasms, Aleve, Ambien for sleep sometimes, just started Lexapro for depression. Only drugs that seem to actively work are Valium and narcotic painkillers.
Any advice would be much appreciated. After reading many post here I feel like a lightweight, but I do feel like my life is on the edge.


  • hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i am happy to hear that you have been on the forum and found it useful already! you are taking an awful lot of percocet in a day at 15. perhaps it is time to talk to your doctor about something better suited to controlling your pain.. your consult will give you a better idea as to where to go next. please feel free to drop in anytime. spineys are a very friendly group.. Jenny
  • Hi and Welcome!
    Wow, you sound like a very active woman! Good for you! Since the steroid injection helped a little, have they talked to you about trying again? Also, has the PT folks explained about no bending, twisting, or lifting? If you can really adjust that aspect of your life, you'll be amazed at how it helps.

    I'm more experienced with Lumbar (lower back) issues vs. Cervical (neck) issues.

    Don't be so quick to think disability. I know how hard it is not to imagine that but you still have options, I'm sure.

    I know others will offer advice.
  • Hi -

    Thanks for getting back so quickly. I really appreciate it! I meant 1 to 1 & 1/2 percocet a day. (2 every so often) I just switched to the dilaudid to get the 6 months of tylenol out of my system. The liver thing was concerning me. Also wondering if there is any way that the narcotic painkillers can contribute to muscle spasm? I've heard a bit about that. I don't know if I can do it, but I'm going to see if I can cut back more. Try more heat & ice. We'll see.
  • Thanks for getting back to me. I do appreciate the encouragement. I just had another steroid injection last Thursday. Feeling sort of okay. Got some weird spasms not on my left side for the 1st time in 2 -3 weeks. The test will be getting in that chair at work again tmw. Not looking forward it, unfortunately.
  • You're at the beginning of your journey - The "Is this how it's going to be for the rest of my life?" Journey. It may not be - and I'm sure you've already begun searching all the different treatments available to you to avoid that - conservative, surgical, alternative.

    It was right about 5-6 months after my back injury when I realized - Oh, this pain isn't getting any better. Now, I manage my pain with medications, exercise, rest-rest-rest, ice, heat, relaxation. I never found a surgeon who seemed sure he could make my pain better - and I don't have the dreaded "nerve" pain, or any loss of motor skills - which surgery can bring on. But I'm limited to 4-5 hours of light activity a day - and the rest of the day, I rest. And I take a cocktail of medications to manage the various pains - physical and mental - which as you well know, have their various side effects.

    There are tons of treatment options for you - and you can get a lot of info on this site - Dr's and personal/patient info - to help you make your decisions.

    I'm not saying you're like me - you may be able to find a surgical option that works or whatever. But what I found the biggest help when I began my journey (4 1/2 years ago now) - A pain management doctor! One you trust. A good one. My pain management Dr has been key in helping me learn to manage my chronic pain - so that I can get the best from myself, given my limitations.

    All the best. Like someone said above, too - even worst case scenario - there are a lot of steps between what you've had, and disability. Take all this one step at a time. I started out with a leave of absence from my job - I never got to go back - but maybe you will. Or maybe this is going to be a time of great change in your life.

    Spine-Health has lots of companions for you on your journey - good or bad, there's a lot of us here that have been through, or are going through the same thing. We all have unique spines, injuries, treatment and life stories - but we all know pain, and the anguish of starting life over with a knife in your back (or neck) - haha! But you'll see here how a lot of people do it - and you can still be A FABULOUS PERSON and have chronic pain, so don't let that worry you!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    ..and you found the best site ever for questions, venting, whatever you need. You're not alone.

    All the above posts..great advise. I esp like Coyote's summary of the journey!

    For me, it was almost unbelievable when my painful issues started demanding so much of my time. And I'd wake up the next day to...Hello, still here!
    My pain has become like a person I care for... corny.. but it helps me to be more patient with myself :) A day at a time for me.

    Sorry for your painful situation, but glad you are here. Some people are here for a time and improve and move along in their life. Awesome, of course!

    But while you are here there are many kind people to walk along side you on your journey.
    Keep in touch!

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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