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Low back and cervical pain PAINFUL.....

Hi People, my name is Linda and I am 57 years old. I live in Portland Oregon and have all of my life.

I wish to introduce myself and let you know a little of my past medical history. Back in mid 1980s I went to my GP and complained of pain into my shoulder blade into my chest in the front. I felt as if my right arm was not connected to my body. It was constantly "buzzing" and my hands would not work right. Actually I felt as if my had were a claw and I had no ability to do much of anything such as buttoning buttons, real difficulty with writing anything ; my handwriting became terrible. I told all of this to my GP and for 7 years he told me there was nothing wrong with me and that I simply had "msuscle spasms". Since he was the doctor I did nothing other than listen to him and take soma which he prescribed. This went on for a little over 7 yrs. I finally ended up in ER one day crying as I was in such pain. The ER doctor told me immediately that he knew exactly what my problem was without even performing anything other than physical exam stating I had a herniated disc and to get into my GP the following monday. I saw GP who said once again, "there is nothing wrong with you but because you are so insistent I will send you to a neuro sx which I saw about 2-3 weeks later. He ordered MRI. I had real pain one friday at work (worked as a paralegal) so was at desk for long long hours at a time. I called NS because I couldn't feel my arm and asked if I could go to chiropractor because of the pain. Dr wasnt in until monday so nurse pulled my chart and said " Honey, dont you let anyone touch you until you talk with NS on monday". Needless to say that weekend was pure hell. I cried the entire time. Spoke with NS on monday who said I needed appt and to get in asap. Saw him and he told me (after telling me nothing was wrong with me the first time I saw him) that I had a large herniated disc at C6-7 compressing the spinal cord and exiting nerve at C7. Made appt for a week later and had cervical fusion. All went fairly well but still have numbness and buzzing feeling in arm and still didn't feel quite right. Treated iwth him until I fused about 8 weeks later. First surgery was 1989 for c67. Life went on.altho I didn't feel 100%.

Then about 7 years later i once again began expericing same problems but on the left side involving left arm not my right. I could not find a doctor who would believe me and once again was denied proper pain meds for my symptoms and complaints. My GP would allow me 2 Ultrams per day. This just did nothing to help me out. Finally I called an osteopath that I had treated with 15 years prior and he agreed to see me altho I had to pay for services out of pocket due to my ins. and he was not covered as a provider. He examined me and said he didn't like what he was seeing. He referred me to a neurologist who in turn conducted an EMG study which noted permanent nerve damage in cervical spine stating it was most likely a result of the prolonged wait for my first surgery. He ordered an MRI which revealed again another herniated disc and this time also moderate to severe stenosis in my c spine. Referred me to another neurosurgeon who explained his plans for surgery which I had in 2000. He fused c5-6 and took bone from my hip hoping it would fuse like it had after my first fusion in 1989. However, to this date I have a non union and have had 3 doctors suggest to me that I undergo another fusion to secure my spine as he said it is very dangerous to be walking around with a non union if i fell or even got rear ended at a very low rate of speed I could be in serious trouble. I declined this surgery as all three of the NS's suggested plates and screws plus a wiring of my neck frrom the back from C3 to T1 I think because of the stenosis but not really sure. Anyway, since that time I have continued to have serious problems. Mainly, my hands feel like "claws" as if I have no real control over them and they are very stiff or I actually don't know how to explain this other than saying they feel like claws. I further cannot sit in one position for any length of time (over 15 minutes max) without moving about or I go through extreme pain just to move. Deep into the bone pain and burning that feels like a fire stick. I actually need to take a deep breath before I move even a little bit because of the pain. This has affected pretty much all of my activities, watching tv, reading, computer, talking to someone face to face, anything where I am forced to keep my head stationary pretty much all of time.

Then 2 years ago this month, I got out of a car and stepped backwards to shut the door not knowing that there was a curb directly behind me. I lost my balance and kind of went down onto the curb in a sitting position kind of hard but not really. Immediately I felt a 'crunch" and began to roll around on the ground of the sidewalk. Several drivers stopped offering me assistance and one man walked me home. I got home and realized that I could not sit down at all. I called my new MD which I hadn't yet met as I didn't have an appt with him until November and this was Octtober. I changed ins. companies thus making me change doctors. Explained fall to nurse she told me to go to urgernt care which my friend took me to. She loaded me into her subaru in the very back of the wagon and told me to take a deep breath and slameed the door shut. She took me to urgent care who advised her that I could not be seen there as I would need to be ambulatory to be seen at urgent care which I definately wasn't. my friend then decided she was taking me to hospital against my wishes but felt I was going into shock so took me there. Dr. in ER acted as if I was crazy becuase I had merely sat down on the curb and I think he felt I was drug shopping however i explained I either heard or fellt the crunch I wasn't certain. After giving me 6 dalaudid injections I was okay to take to MRI where the MRI revealed I fractured vertebrae at L-5-6 and minor fracture to L45. MRI showed some movement but did also say that I suffer from moderate to severe lumbar spinal stenosis at multiple levesls with the worse being I believe L4-5 and L5-6. I have had 2 epidural shots in my neck but they did nothing to help with pain and deep burning.

I am on a pain contract and have been since after my last fusion in 2000. I am prescribed MS contin 60 mg 3 x day, 6 oxycodone, 5 mg per day, 2 somas per day, zoloft,, antenonal (sic) ,methotrexate for psoratic arthritis (sic) and take vitamin D and B as well as folic acid.

Has anyone gone through anything similar to this. I am not certain what to do as far as surgery on cervical and lumbar spine. NS has offered surgery stating that "things are really, really tight in my c spine" assuming this meant that this was due to stenosis and the narrowing. The lumbar spine bothers me when standing or walking and I have pain into my left leg where it is noted on MRI that they felt there was nerve involvement at L-5 I belive. Also when I sit down on a chair, sofa, anywhere other than on floor I experience severe pain in my pelvis and down into my leg not sure if this is related to low back or not but pain is extremely fierce. sharp shooting and deep pain into groin/pelvis down into leg if sitting with legs down for 3 or more minutes. I don't have my medical records with me right now but can post later the exact phrasing on the reports if need be.

I would love to be able to walk or stand for more than 5 minutes at a time maximum.

I am scared because my older brother had decompression of his cervical spine 4 years ago after many years of complaining to his GP only to be paralyzed bot hands and legs which landed him in RIO (Rehab Institute of Oregon ) about
2 months after his decompression surgery having to learn how to walk and use his hands all over again. He still wears braces on both legs, has severe atrophy in both calfs and also wears braces on both hands losing the use of his limbs with each and every day. Again this was a result of the delay in surgery after he complained for 3 or 4 years with the MD not listening to him until it was too late. He has a condition which the NS said is fairly rare called "DELAYED CENTRAL CORD SYNDROME" and MD doesn't feel he will improve anymore than he has.

If people could let me know the surgery results after undergoing surgery for severe stenosis in lumbar spine and whether or not anyone has had any problems similar to mine in the cervical spine I would honor any help or suggestions.

Thank you and i apologize for the mispellings in this post but it has taken me over 2 hours to type and I am type all out. I used to type 120 plus words per minute and now I can't sit for that long.

Thank you again and any suggestions would be greatly apprecaited.

Sincerely, Linda J from the Great Pacific Northwest Portland Oregon


  • thank you for looking at my post
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 10/15/2013 - 4:36 AM
    I am sorry to hear how much you have been through and how long you have been suffering.
    You are not alone and here there are others who have similar stories and we understand how difficult living with back pain is. There are also others who have had to wait too long to find out what is going on and have felt that people think their pain is not as bad as they say.

    I had a fusion with decompression (laminectomy) of L4/5 for severe stenosis and grade 2 spondylolisthesis which gave me wonderful relief of the awful sciatica that I had in both legs that would have me in tears some days. Before my surgery I could only stand for about 5 minutes and walk for about 10 minutes before I would be looking for somewhere to sit down and I would even lie on the floor when desperate. That was 3 and 1/2 years ago. My back is not perfect and I do still have some pain from around that area and feel like my tolerance for standing and slow walking are going again. I know that the discs either side of my fusion were not good at the time of surgery, so I wonder if they are now playing up. Even so, if I had to make the choice again I would definately go for this surgery. I am still very much better than before my surgery.

    I did go on to have 2 levels of my neck fused due to chronic degeneration throughout my neck. My neck was 'very tight' on the cord and I was showing some signs of myelopathy. I was left for over 2 years by the first neurosurgeon that I saw and I got another opinion who thought that we should get on and do it to reduce the chance of more damage to the cord and get rid of the risk if I fell or was in even a minor accident. That was 11 months ago and I do still have most of my symptoms but he warned me that I may be left with them. He explained that the surgery would be done to stop the progression of damage to my cord, not to relieve with the pain but that he did hope that I would get some relief of pain. He had thought he might need to do another surgery from the back afterwards to complete getting the compression off my cord but luckily the post surgery MRI has shown that I now have fluid around my cord again. He only fused the two worst levels because he said that there was a much higher chance of not fusing if he did more than that. He said I am either self fusing, or will self fuse at the level below my fusion.

    I also have problems in my thoracic spine where two of my discs are slightly compressing my cord.
    I have a narrow spinal canal and suppose that this means that I have problems quickly once the discs go and the bone spurs start to form.

    I understand your fear, especially after what happened to your brother.

    My experience was that the lumbar spine problems caused me much more pain than my neck.
    The relief I got from surgery at the L4/5 level was wonderful.

    My neck was of more concern for the surgeon because the spinal cord is there and damage high up in the neck could cause problems from there down. My fusion was at C3/4 and C4/5. The pain I had there was not nearly so bad but also I haven't got much relief since surgery. I do suspect that this is because I was left for too long. Everything that I have read seems to indicate that there is a much higher chance of success if the surgery is done within a year of the symptoms showing themselves. That didn't happen with me. I do wish that I had had my surgery earlier. I will never know if that would have given me a better outcome, but I suspect it would.

    Do stay here and get to know us better. Just knowing that there are others out there who are suffering with similar problems to us can help to make us feel less alone. Ask any other questions you may have, but please be aware that we are not doctors and can only share our experiences with you. Do take time to read the Rules of the Forum.


    Please note that duplicate posts are not allowed.

    Looking forward to getting to know you better. :-)

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