My name is Katie and I am 30 years old from Chicago area. I would like to share my story with the hopes of finding others who can relate. I know everything has been discussed many times over in other posts, which I am slowly going through. But, since this is the new member introduction section, I thought I would give a bit of a summary (sorry if it is long).
Back in July of 2003 I woke up with severe back pain that prevented me from being able to move. I did not suffer any injuries prior to this. I went to a chiropractor, because I thought maybe I had thrown my back out and needed an adjustment. My mom has been going to chiropractors forever and has always been helped. The chiropractor, I am convinced, herniated one of my discs during adjustment. Needless to say, this was horrible. I went to see an Orthopedic Surgeon who took Xrays and after examining me determined I strained my back. He gave me a back brace, Rx nsaids, and a script for PT. As I was moving back to college soon after, I started PT near home for several weeks without any success. I saw 2 different PT, neither was able to help me. Once I moved back to school I was miserable, I had to sleep on the floor, couldn't get through more than 5-10 mins of class without having to stand up. I saw 2 more PT on campus, and again no one was able to really help me. Nothing gave me relief from the sciatica that I had developed. I insisted on an MRI and then saw a Neurologist near school. He sent me to a back specialist for PT, and he saved my life. He is trained in Orthopeadic Manual Therapy and after 4 months with him my pain was gone. Something not noticed by anyone prior was that my pelvis was slightly rotated...This incidence gave me a total of 8 months of PT.
Fast forward 9 years to June of 2012. I was at a store and when I was walking in, I tripped over inconspicuous pavement that was unlevel. When I fell I twisted and landed on my back. Extremely angry, I called the police to make a report. As he was taking the report my back started to have increasing pain, so an ambulance was called. They put me on a backboard and almost immediately I started to have the sciatica return, after not having it for so many years. Saw a doctor at the ER who dismissed the issue as some strained muscles. Was given pain meds and muscle relaxer. For several days I felt like I had literally been run over and was in so much pain. I went to see an orthopedic spinal surgeon who after examining me, his impression was Acute left lumbar radicular syndrome post minor trauma. He sent me for Xrays that showed moderate disc space narrowing with marginal osteophyte formation at L5-S1. The dr gave me oral steroids and tramdol with a f/u a week later. I was not improving, so he sent me to get an MRI and for PT. The MRI showed DDD. After no improvement and increasing Tramadol dosage all the way from 50 mg 2x day to 300 mg ER at night time, he sent me for a lumbar ESI in August. The procedure was extremely painful and gave me no relief whatsoever. I continued PT and decided to get a 2nd opinion since the dr was not forthcoming with everything that showed up on my MRI.
I saw a neurosurgeon who reviewed my MRI, examined me, and sent me for a diagnostic facet injection. I continued PT, and had the facet injection in September. It wasn't bad, but very painful afterwards for about 15 minutes. The pain went away completely for several hours, and then came back. On my f/u with the doctor, he said this was pretty indicative that my pain was coming from my facet and that he recommended that I have a rhizotomy. I continued PT and wound up having some zoning out episodes where I was conscious but unresponsive. I was taken to the ER several times, had an EEG study, the rhizotomy rescheduled from mid November to December, saw a neurologist, had a 24 hour EEG, and an MRI of my brain. I had also had a CT scan at one of the ER visits. Everything came back normal, and the doctor believes I was having an interaction with the high dosage of the Tramadol I was on and the Lexapro that I have been on for years and side effects from the Tramadol. Some changes to my meds brought me back down to 50 mg of Tramadol 2x a day. Overall I have had about 10 of these zoning out episodes, including one during the actual rhizotomy operation. This is still a mystery to me. My 24 hour EEG did show some abnormalities, but nothing I guess to be concerned about...
So Dec 6, I went in for the rhizotomy and well no one could have prepared me for the post surgical pain I was going to have. My mom stayed with me for a few days and I needed help with everything from dressing, to turning, to icing, to eating. It was horrible. I was on Percocet and Valium and wound up having withdrawal from the Tramadol since I stopped it cold turkey per pharmacist instructions not to take it with the Percocet……on top of this I wound up having a reaction to the steroids, I was so bloated, was experiencing temperature changes in my back from burning to cold, my heart was racing, and etc. I have gained 16 lbs since the procedure.
I saw the neurosurgeon 2 weeks later with worse pain, and he basically told me he was surprised the procedure did not help since the diagnostic facet injection worked. He said I had three options: fusion surgery (which I am not open to and he doesn't recommend it – I also just researched that it is not recommended for the problem I am having), learn to live with it, or see a pain specialist. He gave me a script for that and more PT. I am sorry but I refuse to live the rest of my life managing pain medication and am tired of seeing doctors who do not have convenient office hours because I work during the day and have already missed over 10 days of work since June due to this issue. I don't want to mask the pain, I WANT IT TO GO AWAY.
After doing a ton of research I decided on seeing a chiropractor who my mom recommended after she saw him years ago and got relief. I had my first visit a week ago and think he can help me. He sat down and showed me my MRI and pointed different things out, he also showed me the MRI from 2003/2004 and showed me the changes. I am going in 3x a week for adjustments, ultrasound, electrical stim, and will start massage therapy/myofascial release at the end of this month. We are also going to do PT there and his office staff are extremely nice and patience. The doctor actually spends more than 3 minutes with me and is very knowledgeable and compassionate. Next week I will start on their disc decompression machine, which I am most excited about. The adjustments don't hurt per se, but where he places his hands to make the adjustments causes pain because my back is so tender. Right now I wish I could go in and get adjusted, because I do feel good afterwards.
I am still experiencing excruciating pain and basically cannot live without my ice pack or meds. I work an office job and sitting all day is the absolutely worst. Prior to the rhizotomy the only time I did not have pain was when I woke up in the morning. That changed quickly, I now have pain when I get up in the morning and all day until I go to bed when I still have it. I go to bed with an ice pack, I rub countless types of creams on my back like icey hot and I have this lotion with arnica in it. (No, don’t use at the same time). I use a eucalyptus Epsom salt soak as well a few times a week. My mattress and bed are brand new and definitely helping in the long run, since I moved into my own place in October (yes at the same time all this has been happening, crazy timing).
Anyways, that is pretty much my story. I am still very lost, depressed, and feeling alone. The chiropractor’s office also does trigger point injections and does injections with lidocaine & sarapin (plant derived anti-inflammatory). I am staying away from injections right now. See below for the medical details from my MRI & diagnostic information, dates of procedures, and medications I am on. The pain I experience ranges from muscle spasms, to sharp shooting pain down my back, through my butt, and behind my knee. I am unable to lift, bend, twist, carry, or pretty much do anything. When I have chores to do, I take ¼ a tab of the Percocet to help me get through the pain.
MRI - T12-L1: Small right paracentral disc protrusion; L4-5: Mild Disc desiccation, broad based disc bulge with moderate-sized left foraminal protrusion, bilateral left neural and recess foraminal narrowing, Minimal spinal stenosis (This level is what my chiropractor believes is the main source of my sciatica pain in addition to again having a rotated pelvis and severe bilateral SI joint pain and tons of inflammation/muscle spasms); L5-S1: Moderate to severe (it is pretty severe) disc desiccation & disc space loss. Mild facet arthropathy. Broad based disc bulge. Mild to moderate bilateral foraminal narrowing.
Dx: Degenerative disc disease in the lower lumbar spine, Discogenic Back Pain, Left lumbar radicular syndrome (sciatica), thoracolumbar back pain, Lumbar Facet Spondyloarthropathy
7/2012 - 11/2012: PT
8/2012: Left Lumbar ESI with no change
9/2012: Left Lumbar Facet Steroid Injection for Dx purposes made pain go away for several hours
12/2012: MAC Bilateral Lumbar Rhizotomy with Facet Blocks at 2 levels caused increase in pain.
1/2013: Started seeing a Chiropractor for adjustments, electrical stim, ultrasound, massage/myofascial release therapy, disc decompression
Tramadol 50 mg 2x/day and PRN
Gabapentin 100 mg in the morning, 200 mg in the evening, and 400 mg at bedtime (I tried to get off the 2 daytime dosages per my doctor since we didn't think it was doing anything, and I started it back up again per my doctor because I started crying and feeling extremely helpless a day after stopping it)
Percocet 10/325 1/4 tablet in the evening PRN
Lexapro 40 mg in the morning
Lorazepam 1 mg in the morning, 1 mg 1 hr before bedtime, 2 mg at bedtime (I have not been sleeping well so my regular doctor increased my dosage to see if it helps)
Nuvigil 125 mg in the morning
Metropolol ER 25 mg in the morning
That is my story. I am in constant pain and will not sugar coat it. This sucks big time, I hurt, am depressed, cranky, and just not enjoying this experience. I don’t even want to talk about the insurance issue with what they will cover and what they won’t and all of the out of pocket expenses I have had…that is for another day.