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Flex X-ray found my problem!

I have watched this site for the past year. I have had chronic back pain for 12 years. Numerous MRI's, Myleogram, EMG and other tests. I have had numerous Rhysotomys, Epidurals, nerve blocks and tried every med out there. Everyone running tests on me could see I was in excruciating pain but in their report they would say everything was 'mild' I thought I was loosing my mind. The neurosurgeon said he couldn't see anything real bad on the MRI's worth fixing and if he did the hardware would be worse. After 12 years I was ready to take a bullet. Anyway, I recently found a spine institute in Utah (where I live) and saw an orthopedic spine surgeon. He did a quick assessment on me and told me my L5 was causing me pain. Shiz...5 minutes with this doc and he told me more than 12 years of doctors had. He then looked at my MRI (over 6 months ago..didnt make me spend another grand on a new one) and immediately saw the problem. WHY couldn't the neurosurgeon, neurologists, rheumotologists and the rest of the hacks I saw over the years see the problem? He showed me and explained everything he saw. He then ordered a flex x-ray. BTW 2 years ago another doctor ordered a flex x-ray and the radiologist could see I was in pain so he had me lay on the table. This new doc said a flex x-ray needed to be done standing. Well I'll be damned. This x-ray showed when I bent forward my L4 L5 slipped and when I bent backwards the L5 SI slipped the other way. He said my back was so unstable I shouldn't even be carrying my purse. I am now scheduled for a 2 level fusion in 2 weeks. I guess I am posting to say I didn't give up. I now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I found a competent doctor. I have never been so excited for a surgery. People don't give up. I wish all the best as no one knows what we go through with back pain unless they have experienced it themselves. They have no clue. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Donna


  • Donna:

    Good for you!!! Often times diagnosis, even if it is "bad" medical news, is encouraging because it validates our feelings. It's really weird - we feel better knowing that we have a medical ailment.

    Because you have monitored this site for a year, you know just how much information is available here. Read it all and "hunker down" for your two level fusion.

    Good luck.

  • The flex x-ray showed your specific problem in black and white (pun intended). I wonder how many of our members have the same undiagonosed condition? And to think you may have had this diagnosis 2 years earlier. So close. 12 years! What a shame. Wonder whether a complaint to the radiological company is appropriate to prevent a repeat?

    What type of fusion are you going with?

    Yes, back diagnosis can be more of an art than a science at times and the skill and/or experience of the surgeon is often key. (And the radiologist following I instructions, lol). Sounds like you did have one previous doctor that got real close to getting the correct diagnosis. Maybe your case should be in the neuro / orthopaedic surgeons case studies!

    Well done in persisting and researching. All the best for the op. and thanks for sharing with us here. Please let us know how you going as you travel along your spinal journey.
  • The doc said he will go through the back and take some of my facets to make the fusion instead of donor bone. It is truly amazing what a competent radiologist can do. As for a complaint....I have thought about copying a picture of the flex x-ray along with a letter and sending it to all the doctors that did nothing. One letter to doctors that 'tried' indicating the findings so maybe they could benefit from the knowledge and another letter slamming a few - especially the doc that wanted to label me as Fibro to get rid of me. Even before my current doc did the flex he saw the problem on the MRI. he did the flex to confirm. I had many Neurologists and Neurosurgeons look at the same film and not see any problem. I have spent thousands of dollars throughout the years and I have insurance. Funny thing is my current doctor explained my problem to me and he confirmed everything that I have told the doctors for years...I'm still in shock and lucky to not be bankrupt..(I support the affordable care act for this very reason and many more). Excited for the surgery and hoping after that I can come off all the meds without too much problems shortly after the recovery. I am also aware that the surgery may not fix the problem but I am hopeful. At least now, even if it didn't, i will know I have tried everything. BUT IT WILL WORK :) Like Airborne said...sometimes just having validation that I am not crazy is almost enough

    Thanks for the kind words. I have found this site very encouraging, empathetic and supportive for everyone that posts.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    I'm sort of a mirror image. But in 10 years I've had every radiology test done that's known to man. Including the stand up MRI with flex and extension. Over 10 or more years I've had 8 surgeries, but 1 was just to replace the battery in my worthless SCS. My last surgery was a 2 level fusion, at L-1, L-2, and L-1, T12. Then a open laminectomy at previous work on 3 levels L5, through S1. And at 11 mo. post op. I'm in more pain than ever. That drugs wont control. It's getting worse and worse. They can find nothing remarkable.
    So I believe I'm going crazy. And about ready for that bullet.
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I feel for you and hope you find some pain relief. I am no SW but I do know talking about it helps a bit. No one understands us if they have not experienced it. Like ANelsen said...maybe you need to doc hop. I went to the docs I was told to see...and I didn't go to others because I didn't want to look like i was just trying to get meds and I couldn't believe there was such incompetency. I sure wish I would have found this doctor earlier. He saw something remarkable where the other docs didn't . What state are you in? Maybe someone here knows of a competent doc in your area that won't give up on you.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    Thanks, I live in N. California. In the east bay area. In the last 12 years I've had 2 surgeons. Both board certified, teachers and surgeons for uc Davis and uc Berkley. Both doing their surgeries at San Ramon Regional Hospital spinal specialties wing.
    Supposedly 2 of the top 100 surgeons in the greater bay area. I've been seeing the same pain management Doctor for over 12 yr. He is well respected also.
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I'm so glad you've finally found the cause of your pain and I hope your surgery is successful and your recovery quick. I must tell you, however, that you should prepared yourself for a very long row to hoe. I, and many who have had multi-level fusions can tell you, It will take you at least a year to recover from that surgery. Also, depending on your level of damage, you may be in for a bit more surgery that you expect. I was scheduled for a 3-level PLIF. I ended up with two open incisions in my back, but they couldn't get my discs out, so I stayed four days in the hospital and then had a second surgery from the front to finish up the repair. I have a lovely scar from my pubic bone to just below my ribcage. I now also have a hernia in that incision! So -- like old age, spinal fusion is no place for sissies. Having suffered as long as you have, I totally understand your looking forward to surgery. Just understand that it's no cake walk.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I don't expect it to be a cake walk and plan on a long recovery. I'm also a pretty tough cookie..no sissies here :) Thanks for the info...I will take any advice or suggestions for after surgery.
  • So glad you had the flex MRI- and have real answers now.. well, real reason for pain! (sarcasm there).
    I went through a few years of being told... "It's all in your head", "you are a woman and can't handle the pain", "there is nothing showing on your MRI or CT to warrant this pain you 'say' you are in", etc.... then I had the Dynamic MRI. The dr. then believed me! how frustrating.. and how many years I wasted, in pain wondering if I was crazy.
    So glad I found this forum, and all of you!
    I look forward to reading more about your recovery after surgery....
    and Jim.... how I feel for you! You are such a wonderful person, (I can tell by reading your posts for a couple years now...), and I just know in my heart you will find relief! You are a trooper, you keep searching for answers and help... and by being here on this forum.. searching for your answers while helping so many other people... you will be victorious!!!\
    I admire you!
  • I to had a couple of MRIs and the first one revealed spinal stenosis . Started with nerve problems again, second MRI didn't reveal anything but the flex xray revealed my spine was unstable, therefore I now need a fusion for my L3 L4, the same spot I had a disc decompression March 2015. Surgeon tried to avoid a fusion but because of the spine instability I now need one. Thank heavens for the flex xray show 1/4" play.
  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 135
    I wonder what Mamacita's update from surgery and everything is since this was last discussed in 2012?
  • Please let us know how you are doing. I'm having a similar surgery Oct 22nd. Fusion at L5-S1 with stabilizer for Spondylolisthesis. Good Luck!

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,941
    Welcome to Spine-Health
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    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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