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Hi everyone, new to forum and thoracic pain:( Can ya'll help me?

Hi everyone, I am new to forum and posted a couple of topics before reading the New to Forum which was very helpful and should have done first:( I have had back pain since age of 20 when pregnant with my first child. I had a lamenectomy at L4-5 in 1994 and numerous ESI and lived my life without too much pain 3-4 for the next 14 yrs. Then in 2008 I began having sciatica in left leg and severe lower back pain and an MRI once again showed herniation of the same disc L4-5 and had another lamenectomy on Oct. 30, 2008. All was well until 3 weeks later when the left leg pain and severe level 8 pain returned and made appt. with NS who ordered another MRI which showed reherniation and had third surgery on same disc on Dec. 15, only ten days before Christmas;( This seemed to take care of the issues and pain level returned to 3-4 but had to watch what I did from then on.

I returned to school after a 25 yr. hiatus and am now working as a Certified Medical Assistant and have worked for my PCP for the past 5 yrs. I guess I should have mentioned that I did work as a CNA for 7 yrs and wonder why my back is a mess. When I could no longer do this after a knee surgery and elbow surgery it was then I returned to school.

All was well until last fall when I began having pain in mid back and digestive problems: abdominal pain and cramping. I had a full GI workup and all was normal. Then in Feb. of this yr. I began having chest pain and after an abnormal EKG was sent for cardiology workup. After stress test came back normal and I was still having chest pain my cardiologist decided on heart cath which also came back normal. It was during the recovery of heart cath when I had to lie flat with head at 30 degree angle for 3 hrs. that the mid back pain became so severe 9-10 that I cried the whole time. After being in agony for 24 hrs. I called my primary and had an Rx for pain pills called in. Thankfully I work for her and she knows my past history and knows if I call for pain meds than it is severe.

After 2 weeks of pain meds, steroid taper pack, muscle relaxers and no relief she finally did an x-ray and seen some issues with thoracic spine. I had a slipped disc at T7-8 and compression. I was referred to my NS where he immediately set up an MRI which showed a large midline and left para midline disc extrusion at T7-T8 causing moderate indentation and compression of the left side of cord. Mild to moderate multilevel DDD changes throughout the mid thoracic spine. This is not inclluding the moderate to advanced DDD in lumbar and cervical spine. None of this showed in MRI from 2008. He recommended surgery but wanted to get CT scan to check for calcification which would determine whether he could do surgery or not. The CT scan did show calcification and I was referred to Duke University Spine who are the only ones in NC to do this type of surgery on thoracic spine.

I never thought that I could have worse pain than lumbar with sciatica but I was wrong. The thoracic affects every aspect my body. My legs ache and the chest and rib pain along with abdominal pain have been horrible. I had a posterior discectomy of T7-T8 on May 24, 2012 and have had so many complications since. Still having pain in chest and ribs and nerve pain in legs especially the right knee. I have tried Nucenta 100mg 3X daily, all insurance will allow. Oxycodone 5mg for breakthrough pain, muscle relaxer, Gabapenting 1200mg, Xanax 1mg 2 daily, Pristiq 50mg. I stay in a fog all the time and don't drive very often due to this. Pain and depression keep me from sleeping more than 2-3 hrs and can't return to work until after I see the NS.

I had a MRI this morning to check for reherniation and blood work to check for infection but wont know until July 18 when I go back to Duke what results are. My primary had a copy of MRI results faxed to her office and she called and said there is no reherniation, thank God, but there are post operative changes, such as swelling and edema and pockets of fluid around the T7-T8 disc and what appears to be possible fracture on endplate of T8 but not sure. She said that NS would have to explain all this to me.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I go back to NS next week. I am sorry for the long story but just had to get it out. I feel so blessed to have found SH and realize that I do not travel this journey alone. Thank you for reading and sharing your stories with me. You will never know how much they mean to me.

Love kelli


  • lulusheartllulusheart Posts: 4,273
    edited 07/14/2012 - 10:31 AM
    hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. good luck with the results of your tests! i hope that the negative post operative changes do not last.. please make yoursefl at home here on the forum and stop by anytime!! you are very right when you say you are not alone on SH, there is a spiney ready to reach out to you anytime!! i hope that you find yourself out of pain soon!! Jenny
  • I am sorry that you are unlucky enough to suffer from thoracic spine problems and have needed to have a discectomy. Thoracic surgery is a tough recovery and I really hope that soon you will find some good relief from the pain.

    I have some thoracic protrusions, but at the moment, am managing the pain with meds. My neck is giving me my problems (I believe) and it looks like I'll be having a two level ACDF before the year is out.

    I hope you get some good news next week.

  • Thanks so much for the kind words.Jenny, thank you so much for the warm welcome. I will definetely keep you informed:) Jellyhall thank you for your encouragement. Im sorry you are having neck problems and hope that you can avoid surgery all together. It is so nice to know I can talk to someone who is going through what I am. I don't like to talk to husband about pain because he worries and since his heart surgery last yr. I try not to stress him out. Today has been a sad day for us as well. He got a phone call that his Aunt had passed away and they found her today. My hubby spent so many summers at her little cabin in the woods and we built a little rustic (no electric or water) cabin up above hers a couple yrs. ago and my hubby and son would go down for breakfast and showers when they went camping:) We will miss her much. She kinda reminded me of Bob in the forest. She had all sorts of wild animal friends including a buck who lives in her back yard most of the time:) Well I have to go but will let you know what happens Wed. with NS:)

    Love and hugs kelli
  • I went to surgeon to go over my MRI and bloodwork. The labs showed maybe some inflammation but no infection and can't really explain what the pockets of fluid are other than maybe inflammation. The MRI report showed a possible pedicle fracture at T8 but he feels that it is from drilling during disectomy but the only way to know is CT scan and it will have to heal on its own so don't want to go through anymore tests right now. I still am not allowed to start PT due to issues with spine. He said rest and medications and patience are all I can do right now:( I am out of work until further notice so don't know what will happen with my job and I really love it. I am going to schedule injections for lumbar and thoracic for now and see if that will give me some relief. My last injection was very painful. He could not enter at the T7-T8 level so had to go one level lower and had never had pain during an injection. I almost passed out from the pain so it makes me hesitant to have another. So I guess we will just wait and see how the injections work. Thanks for being here to listen to me. I really need an outlet for all this and yall are so kind to listen.

    Love and Hugs


  • We all support each other here.
    Some days we need the support, other days we are in a position to give it.

    Hoping and praying that your pain levels will reduce very soon. I think that thoracic surgery has an even longer recovery than other spinal surgery.

    Gentle hugs back to you
  • Thank you jellyhall for the encouragement. I spoke with the doctor I work for who just happens to be my PCP also and she is willing to wait for me as long as it takes. She said if I can return to work she will wait for me and welcome me back as I have been hard to replace. I was overwhelmed with her kindness. She is also offered me a yr. membership to our local gym for pool therapy when I am released for PT. Hearing this from my employer and getting some rest after the long trip to NS made me feel much better. Thanks so much for listening and if I can ever be of help please dont hesitate to PM me.

    Gentle hugs back
  • Hey Kelli wanted see. How you doing, I haven't talked to you in a while, how many thoracic issues do you have? I am going to new spine group to see what to do with me! I have issues from t5/6 to t8/9, hope you have some relief today! Lela
  • Your employer obviously really values you and is being very supportive. That will really help you to not feel so stressed when you go back to work. Pool therpy is supposed to be very good after spinal surgery, so that should also really help.

    Have a good and comfortable weekend.
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