I'm a 41 year old with a strong medical background going on 22 years in my field. My past history - in my late 20s, I had low back pain and pain in my left groin. I visited a chiropractor who did some adjustments, but also told me to get with my primary care to make sure that I didn't have something going on. I had my first MRI with the results being an L4-5 annular tear. I was referred to pain management and the doctor did 3 steroid injections. That made me 100% pain free and I went to physical therapy to learn about the exercises I needed and good back mechanics.
I few years later, early 30s, the pain returned. Back to pain management and another round of injections. The injections seemed to be helping me out for a good year or more.
2010 - again, pain management and injections. My insurance requested an MRI which now showed the tear and osteoarthritis. Pain relief was good for about a year. After it wore off, my primary care prescribed Butrans patches which helped for a while.
2012 - pain returns while on Butrans. My primary care gives me oxycodone 5 mg twice a day for breakthrough. Helps for a bit, but later in the years I go back to pain management for another round of injections. The first injections caused a great deal of hip pain which made me decide to not see this PM doc again. My primary care increases my oxy to 15 mg 2x daily.
2013 - I stop the Butrans since it does not seem to help and continue with the oxycodone, ibuprofen 800 mg 2x daily, and voltaren gel. This gets me by for a bit longer.
2015 - I change primary care docs since he became a "concierge" physician wanting $1600 annually to see him plus $40 a visit since my insurance dropped him because of his concierge status. My back pain has become pretty bad, causing me to limp and spend most of my time on a heating pad. I go to pain management. It's a new doctor so he orders an MRI. The MRI shows severe spinal stenosis (AP diameter is 1.0), disc bulge, and facet/ligament hypertrophy at L4-S1. They increase my pain medicine to 10 mg 4 times a day, schedule me for a diagnostic nerve block, and refer me to a neurosurgeon. I did two PA appointments, but the pain management doctor told me to stop after he got the MRI results.
The nerve block gave me about 22 hours of pain relief so I was scheduled for a radiofrequency ablation on my right side and one on my left side 2 weeks later. The right side was done Friday and I have spent the weekend in more pain than I was in previously. Any weight bearing on my right side for more than a few minutes brings me to tears. I know and expected discomfort this weekend, but not at this level. Previously the pain was bilateral low back and buttocks, left hip and groin with tingling in my left thigh and lower leg.
The neurosurgeon appointment was Thursday. Both the pain management doctor and the neurosurgeon work with me so my appointments are very straightforward. The neurosurgeon told showed me my MRI and told me I need surgery. He feels my best route is an L4-S1 laminectomy and fusion. Boy did my stomach drop at that news! I told him I needed to think it over and talk with my husband.
I plan to get a second opinion and even a third if possible. I have a young daughter and I don't want her to always remember me as I am now. I want to get back to a life that's more normal than me being as useless as I am. It's a bit lonely so I'm glad I found these forums.
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