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Does it have to get worse?

Hello all!
After attending the ER in February with numbness and tingling on the entire left side of my body from my face to my feet, I was sent off for and MRI and diagnosed with left foraminal narrowing at C4-5 resulting from disc and uncovertebral joint disease & bilateral narrowing at C6-7 due to disc and osteophyte formation and, facet degeneration at L5-S1. I was glad it wasn't a stroke, like i had initially thought, however the pain since then wont go away. I was told I have fibromyalgia at 18 but the pain would come and go so I never thought anything of it and because my joints have always hurt, I thought it was normal. However it has been over 2 months and I am in pain every single day, there hasn't been 1 good day to break it up. My knees grind and crack, the left is the worst of the two, mu hips lock up, my shoulders are tight, I get achey wrists and elbows and my ankles are often stiff so walking down stairs is difficult sometimes, so I usually take the lift at work. Sometimes people make fun of my laziness but I tell them I'm thin enough not to need to take the stairs and that usually shuts them up. I struggle with sleeping and I'm always exhausted which would be fine if I was 70 odd and retired but I'm 32 with a mortgage and no one else to pay it for me. I'm seeing a rheumatologist for the first time next month and I am unsure of what to expect. My biggest dilemma is that I hate medication and the dopey feeling, I also have a crazy fear of dependancy and although I have to take pain killers sometimes, I will usually avoid them unless I physically cannot move or am close to tears. I have a really high pain tolerance and can handle it as it is now, and although some days are a greater struggle than others, I can still work and walk but if it gets any worse, I don't know what I will do. I've been using plaster bandages from the asian shop, they are covered in dragon balm which has a really strong smell, I stick them along my upper and lower spine and leave them on for a few days. They help me to be mindful of my posture and I find relief in these but I obviously can't walk around with them stuck on every joint and the smell isn't pleasant. I was wondering if anyone has any non-pill-popping ancient remedies or suggestions that help? Or ideas on how I can stop this progression?


  • I am also a newbee but not yet "introduced" myself to the site. You sound a lot like me 30+ yrs ago. Hopefully the rheumatologist will find something which can be treated. In my case it was, is, just degeneration of spine and joints. There were really bad painful periods but also really good and wonderful happy times with less pain. Never did I limit activities to avoid damage to joints. I avoided the "real" pain meds until my 60s. Now even with the opiates I ended up in the ER in March. So I'm off to see a neurosurgeon this week, but not real hopeful because my MRI reads like an old highway through Egypt.
    Possibly, you, like I will have long periods where your body will not get worse, will settle down and let the good times roll. I have found that whe i get in a severe long period of pain, a pain management doctor will help . The dragon balm is really funny...had to laugh. I am a thin one too so doctors could never blame weight as part of problem. Wishing for you the best outcome from the rheumatologist visit. Peace, Mims, age 69
  • Thanks for the reply. I hope I do have these wonderful days you speak of soon and that I too can avoid the strong stuff until I'm older. Unlike you though, I am avoiding doing things already.... like finishing my garden, and even lifting my godson and my friends kids because it just kills me and I feel a little weak sometimes and I get worried I'll drop them if my arm goes numb. I also have an over active thyroid which I think contributes to muscle aches and fatigue and this combined with my joint pain and lack of proper sleep is very unpleasant so I really do hope there's something that will help. What happened to land you in the ER? I wish you well with a speedy recovery. xo
  • The ER trip was the result of disc herniation at L4-5, nerve root compression. The hospital did not pick up on it but the MRI done later did. That is why I have been referred to neurosurgeon. I know th weak feeling, only it is my legs, especially'left. I have been in the store and if not for holding on to cart I would collapse to floor. Scarey. I am putting my hopes on surgery. I do so hope the rheumaologist finds an answer for you. (Hug) keep us posted.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    on your lifestyle.

    At times, various medications, doent always have to be narcotic/pain types are introduce to help you through a situation.
    But at times, these and other medications are the best ways to treat the situation.

    Every medical professional will try to avoid surgical procedures. It is in their best interest to help a patient through conservative treatments. In your younger years, you dont want to accept the fact that you have spinal problems. However, for many, this can not be avoided. So, you need to take the best actions . That comes from working with a doctor that you trust and agree to some of their action plans

    Your pain and discomfort does not always have to get worse. In fact for so many, the opposite is true. From early detection and approved exercise programs and medications, many people can 'beat' the bigger problem and continue to live in the future without pain and discomfort.

    You need to identify the problem early and set on the correct plans to eradicate those problems.early.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Lara,

    I have a lot of similar feelings, except I have been taking narcotics for two years. I had to- I got to the point your fear, being unable to walk, work, or enjoy my life. Narcotics helped me. They are still helping me. Because of increased tolerance, I went from Vicodin to Oxy. All this was scary for me, I'd go pick up a prescription and my husband would joke about selling it pay off our bills for the month. I didn't want to be taking drugs that I was told were so heavily abused. I went as far as having a pain pump installed to avoid taking narcotics (at least orally). I am still taking Oxy, and until my doctor and I work out the correct dosage and medicine in my pain pump, I will continue. The fact that you are concerned shows that you , in my opinion, would not become addicted and misuse them. I wish someone had told me, Hey, it's okay to take this medicine, you need it. I feel like I've seen so many movies/tv shows that highlight abuse of narcotics that the media had me seeing that as the only possible way to use the meds. It's not- two years, not addicted. Good luck.
    2000- spinal fusion, complete spine due to scoliosis
    2012- pain began, started treatment for chronic pain
    2013- install of pain pump, procedures to address complications
    2014-blood patch, spinal fluid leak
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