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Hi everyone. I'm Katie, age 39 and have been dealing with chronic back issues since 2002. Currently being treated for L4-L5 & L5-S1 herniation with annular tears. I finally found a physiatrist who didn't want to just throw narcotics at me when I hobbled in with flaring pain feeling like a grapefruit was growing in my SI joint. My current treatment includes daily anti-inflammatories (you name it I've tried it)- currently Celebrex, chiropractic twice a week and PT (including pelvic floor therapy, skin rolling and trigger point massage). When I have a moderate flare, treat with a 2 week course of Prednisone and a severe flare with epidural injections at S1. So far, I have managed this way for 2 years. In years before I found this doc I did everything from PT, TENS, SI injections (which worked but my insurance stopped paying for them), Piriformis injections, pain clinic narcotics. I have not had to go the surgery route and hope to avoid it.
I have a very hard time during the winters which is when my flares are severe. Each spring and summer, the flares subside and I can manage most activities I need to or want to do. Each time I make it through a flare (which lasts for 3-6 months) I can manage again, but with a little more pain than the last time I was "ok". I have a great chiropractor who has seen these cycles in me for years and a physical therapist who helps to release a lot of the secondary muscle pain while monitoring my stretching and core regimen.
I accept that it is a condition that I have to try to manage and that pain (short of the miracle cure we all wish for) will be a part of my life. My fear is the progression of the pain over time. I am not someone who shares lots of details about my pain with others. My family and friends are supportive and helpful, but I know they don't really understand chronic pain. Reading about others' experiences has helped me to see that there are people out there who "get it".


  • Hi Katie, welcome to the form. Hope you can find many answers to your questions here regarding back pain.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    I think everyone's fear is what is going to happen 3, 5, 10 years from now after we first starting experiencing spinal problems.
    There are so many options and variables today that there is no given formula. I would say that the best course of action (of course after your doctor agrees) is to go the conservative route first. Try the physical therapy, the Tens units, traction, massage, Aqua therapy, Spinal injections, trigger point injections, acupuncture, etc first. See which one of those can give you some relief. Many of them are not designed to 'fix' the situation, but to give your body time to help heal itself. For so many patients, these type of treatments is exactly what is needed. They go through a course of them and their problem starts to decrease to a point where its totally manageable with OTC medications.

    But that is not always the case. That is where are doctors are so very important in helping us guide our course of action.

    You mention problems in the L4/L5 L5/S1 disc areas, which are the most problematic. Are any of the disc situation pressing on a nerve root? When that is the case, sciatica is usually present and most surgeons would love to operate sooner than later. But as long as your doctors are in agreement that surgery is not an immediate action, then try all the other options first.
    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
  • Hi Katie,

    Is your Dr recommending chiropractic adjustments? I've always been instructed not to go that route because of my spinal condition. I would just be very careful because with disc herniations, chiropractors can do more harm than good. Have you had a recent MRI? Since you mentioned that the symptoms are worsening, there could be changes. I was surprised at how much had changed on my MRI within 6 months. It's always good to go the conservative treatment route first. It's great that you've been able to avoid surgery this long. A lot of us often wonder what the future holds. I just try to take it one day at a time. Having some sort of plan definitely helps. I do hope that you get some long term relief without the need for surgery.

    I wish you the best of luck!
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • KatiedeeKKatiedee Posts: 8
    edited 07/27/2014 - 11:15 AM
    Hi everyone! My issues are primarily L5-S1. When it flares, I do have sciatica and Radiculopahy because of swelling and inflammation near the nerve root. I manage this with epidural injections that lessen the swelling and the sciatica. My most recent MRI was 14 months ago, when I started with this new doc who does the epidural injections. My symptoms haven't changed much in terms of what happens when it flares, and my pain and activity levels when it isn't flaring. This doc supports the idea of going to a chiropractor when I am not flaring to keep things in line. 2 different Physical therapists told me that I have hypermobile SI joints & pelvis which easily gets out of line. My chiro does very little to my lower back when I'm flaring; he keeps my mid & upper back loose and in-line at that point. My goal at this point is to manage and to avoid surgery (and I have a doc that supports that goal). Thanks for the info and advice!
    Best of luck to each of you as well!
  • Hi Katie I`m Sharon I`m 47 and live in the UK.I was diagnosed after severe back/joint pain (since teens) ,with DDD/arthritis/fibromyalgia.This was in 1993 & after the birth of my 3rd child.Previously I was told I was "too young" to have this amount of back pain! Funny ,as once my (new!) gp decided to investigate further ,after a really bad bout of pain & immobility ,the MRI and CT scans showed exactly what was wrong! Frustrated?Not much!!
    I have a wonderful family (lost my husband 7 yrs ago) ,4daughters ,2 still at home ,who are a great help to their mum:).I try to remain cheerful & positive ,but do get down at times...don`t we all?:)
    It was decided not to operate on my spine ,as the most damage was too "close to the main nerves".This I`m told would/could be dangerous ,and there`s no garuntee of success and relief.I`m about to have a change of meds ,from Zomorph (130mg x2 day) to either pregabalin or Neurontin (or sim ilar..)..I`ve been on morphine for almost 10yrs ,and tbh it`s not providing me with relief ,nor does it help with my sleep.I`m lucky to get 3 hrs a night.
    Like you I`m delighted to find this forum ,and hope to ,not only receive support ,but give some too!!My days ,and nights can be painful and long ,but I truly try to remain positive ,both for myself and my family..
    thanks for listening..this was meant to be a quick reply!LOL..Hope to talk to you all soon..:)
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