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Need an opinion from folks


I'm a long-time reader, but I have rarely posted. I had a very successful ACDF (c5-6, c6-7) in 2009. I had a great recovery and no new symptoms at all until a "flare-up" earlier this spring (2014). My PCP treated it successfully with Prednisone and Robaxin. However, when it happened again in July, I saw an orthopedic surgeon. Alas, my previous ortho relocated out of state. I saw his replacement, wasn't impressed, and sought a 2nd opinion at a highly respected ortho clinic. I also had an MRI that showed a new herniation at c4-5 and some acquired spinal stenosis, cervical, C4-5-6. It's not a huge town, and there are only 3 ortho practices for spines. This one comes nationally rated, at a hospital also nationally rated. I found absolutely no negatives on the practice or the surgeon--let's put it this way, if it's your spine, this is the place to be. His patients score him 5/5 or 4/5 regularly.

The surgeon treated my July flare up (injected steroids) and all was fine again until Dec 1, when I woke up from a sound sleep with pain around a 7-8. I thought I was dying! It was like a kidney stone in my upper back. The ortho couldn't fit me in until 3 days later, but again, my PCP jumped right on it and treated it aggressively. At her recommendation, I did followup with the ortho within the week.

He says my symptoms do not correlate with the known herniation at C4-5 and ordered a new MRI. I get that on the 22nd, and I don't seem him again until...Jan 6!!!! I guess the holidays are a bad time to have a problem.

I'm about to lose my mind from the pain. I am suffering at work, at home, etc. The only thing that helps is resting supine. I have a cervical pillow and rest on the floor at work (I'm a professor and director of distance education). I cannot cook, cannot knit, and have numbness that increases as the day goes on (hands, neck, shoulders--along with agonizing pain). I follow up with my PCP this afternoon.

It's a busy time, but does this wait seem excessive? Also, while the surgeon was concerned, he kept saying things like, "I just don't see correlation between the (July) MRI and your symptoms...most people don't come in with pain, they come because they can't walk. You seem awfully young for this much distress." Yep, I was the youngest person in the huge office by a good 20 years.

I am currently taking Robaxin, 2-3 times a day. 100 mg Tramadol twice a day, Tylenol 1000 mg twice a day, and Naproxen 500 mg twice a day. My PCP also has me wearing Lidocaine patches and taking 50 mg Amytriptaline at night. Maybe it doesn't do much, but....better than nothing.

My quality of life has gone straight downhill since Dec 1. I do not know how I can continue to live and function like this for very long.

Should I ask for ANOTHER ortho? Remember, I have limited choices--the next largest town is about 100 miles away, and riding/driving are exceedingly painful. As it is, I drive 40 miles to see the ortho. Thank you for your thoughts!




  • EMS GuyEEMS Guy Posts: 916
    edited 12/17/2014 - 2:36 AM
    I'd stick with the Ortho you have. Pain is a horrible thing to go through, but it's typically not life threatening. If it makes you feel any better I've been having chest pain, shortness of air, palpitations and am waiting two weeks in order to see my doctor. I say this anecdotally because of the delay we sometimes get when we think we should be worked in sooner!

    I would recommend you keep a daily journal of what you're feeling and the time of day it's happening. If you do anything to make it feel better, write it down as well. Give the Ortho the best snapshot you can of what you're going through. One last thing...age is irrelevant when it comes time for pain. If it hurts, it hurts!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I'm sorry you're in so much pain. I've been there and done that a lot this year and like you, I am usually the youngest patient in the office by a lot...probably 30-40 years easily (I'm 36).

    That being said, I highly doubt you'd get in any sooner anywhere else simply because of the holidays. As EMS guy said, my DH was having jaw/chest pains and some general shortness of breath and even after seeing his PCP with these symptoms, the soonest he can get in to a cardiologist is in early January. It absolutely stinks, but sadly it is pretty common. I hope you start to get some relief and some answers soon.
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • andromache42aandromache42 Posts: 6
    edited 12/17/2014 - 9:16 AM
    Thanks, y'all. Sometimes I need a reality check on 'how reasonable is it not to see you right away.' Oh, I took in several pages of notes and documentation, pain logs, etc...ortho said, "I don't really want to see things, I want you to tell me." PCP, on the other, loves my note taking, lol. I try to be prepared either way. Thanks again!
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