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Hello from South Africa.

I've been diagnosed with 'failed back syndrome' after five spinal surgeries. I had my first fusion (L4/L5/S1) with instrumentation in 1995 after a car accident. Something must have gone wrong as I had another in 1996 which was very successful. Life was good until 2000 when I had a motorcycle accident that destabilized my spine. I had three further surgeries, two posterior spine and one anterior with three cages, and have been in severe pain ever since.

I was told by the pain clinic at our hospital that I would have to remain on morphine, probably for life. They also prescribed codeine to be used in between the morphine doses. About six years ago I started taking myself off the pain meds as I could not stand living like that. I now use pain meds periodically, only when the pain becomes so bad that I cannot walk. I'm not sure this was the best thing to do as I'm quite limited in what I can and cannot do, but just the thought of remaining on opiates for the rest of my life makes me feel ill.

Right now the pain is quite bad and I'm having other symptoms that are, to say the least, embarrassing. I have spasms throughout my lower back, shooting pains in the back and down my right leg and my left leg has become partially numb. Bladder control is iffy, to say the least and I'm being told that there is nothing that can be done for me barring pain relief. I really don't want to go down the road of constant medication again. Especially not after being 'forgotten' in hospital by my doctor, who took at trip to the states, and left me on pethidine for almost three weeks - which cost me a visit to rehab as we are not allowed methadone in an uncontrolled environment.

Why am I registered here? I have felt so alone for so long now that it's good to know that there are others out there who would understand, even if that sounds extremely selfish. I don't know if I'll feel the need to post very much as I'd prefer not to share my most negative moments, but maybe - hopefully - I can be of some comfort to someone else sometime.



  • http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-message-resource

    You don't say what levels of your spine you have had fused. The bladder and bowel issues, are they new? Or have you had those symptoms for some time? The reason that I am asking is that if the symptoms are new, there could be something else going on that is causing it.
    Are you also having any new or increased numbness or pain in your inner thighs? Genital area? You say that the pain can be so intense that you can not walk? If this is new as well or recently since your last surgery, then it would be wise to return to another spine surgeon for a diagnosis. You would need to tell them all of the symptoms you are experiencing, since bladder and/or bowel issues can be a sign of a major problem in the spine.....

  • I did mention which levels right at the beginning of my post. L4/L5/S1. The pain started increasing about three months ago and the numbness is progressive. I have pain in buttocks and the back of my thighs, but not inner thighs. Walking is difficult due to the pain on movement. I have been to see a neurosurgeon (highly recommended) who read my history, tested my reflexes in my legs, and told me that I had no reflexes to speak of. He sent me home with the diagnosis that I had been 'over-operated' and that I should learn to live with it. :=/

    My orthopedic surgeon, who did these operations, has suffered a stroke and there seems to be no one who will touch his work, not even to look at.
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