I hesitated in joining this forum because I'm not the type who likes to complain. However, I've come to the point that I need some advice from those who understand what I'm going through.
Ten years ago I worked for a construction company and screwed up my mid back ( the doc says it's between t9 and t11ish). I was lifting something FAR heavier than I should have been and I felt a pop followed by excruciating pain. I was laid out in bed for a few weeks until I could move around without pain. The doctor I saw insisted that it was merely muscle damage and it would heal. I was able to go back to work, but my back has never been the same. Over the years it has just randomly locked up on me when I'very been doing mundane things like sitting down on a couch or walking. During these times the doctors I saw would just give me some hydrocodone and flexeril, insist it was just muscle inflammation, and send me on my way. During those years I've been married, had five kids, worked my way through my undergraduate studies, and now I'm about to graduate law school. I've always just pushed through the pain and taken lots of NSAID's because I didn't have time to let pain stop me.
Over the past couple of years, however, the problem has become worse. I've become debilitated with pain on a number of occasions recently, and each time I go to a doctor they insist it's merely muscle problems. It has become apparent to me that this simply isn't the case. The pain has always been directly on my spine. On the 4th of July I ended up in the ER with pain in both my back and solar plexus that felt like someone was hacking at my nerves with a dull blade (I can't really describe it, but it was intense and I'm not ashamed to admit that I was bawling like a baby). I'm a "shut up and deal with it" kind of guy, so hearing me screams freaked my wife out and she broke every traffic law imaginable getting me to the hospital. Apparently the doctor thought I was exhibiting drug-seeking behavior because he was really reluctant to give me any pain meds (as if a $2,000 ER bill is the most economical way for a drug addict to get high, right?). He finally relented when my wife got pissed off at him.
So, an MRI and three doctors later...no one can figure out what the problem is. The MRI looks normal, but two doctors have noticed I have a vertebrate that moves freely back and forth. One suspects scar tissue from the original injury was getting inflamed and pinching nerves, thus causing the severe pain I felt the day I went to the ER (which THANKFULLY has not repeated itself), while another suspects ligaments causing my problem. Because the MRI shows normal they all throw their hands up in the air and say there isn't much that can be done.
So, here's the problem: My back hasn't stopped hurting since the 4th of July. At best it's annoying, as if someone is constantly poking me with a sharp stick. At worst I have to dope myself up on hydrocodone or tramadol (I can no longer take NSAID's; too many over the years have caused stomach issues) and lay in bed. Since the doctors feel there is nothing they can do they have basically told me that I have to learn to deal with it. I refuse to live my life on opiates and lay in a bed. I have a family that needs supported, a wife who needs a husband, and five kids who need a dad.
My question is this: What can I do to improve my quality of life? What have any of you found outside the realm of pharmaceuticals that help with the pain and help you get through the day?
Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you in advance for your time.