Hi everyone, my name's Connor and I'm 15 years old. I'd like to share my story and hopefully you guys can help me and give me advice and support. Thank you so much for your time reading this and I wish everyone great health. If you don't wish to read my whole story, please skip down to where it says "WHERE IM AT NOW". Thank you.
I've had chronic lower back pain and sciatica in my left leg for 2 years now. I've been diagnosed with spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis grade I at L5-S1, as well as a building disc at l4. The pain is in my left glute area as well has slightly above my sacrum and lower back. I have pain on both sides, but more on the left side/glute/sacrum/lower back generals area. I'd describe it as an aching and burning pain on both sides of my lumbosacral area, and burning down my leg.
It all started when I was tripped by another player during a recreational soccer game and fell on my lower back in an awkward position. Minutes later, I began to feel an extreme pain in my lower left side of my back. I still ran through the pain brutally for another 10 minutes to finish the soccer game.
In the following weeks, I continued to experience painful back pain and sciatica in my left leg. Getting out of my seat at school, walking quickly, and riding the bus would all hurt my back a lot. I went to an orthopedic doctor and he told me it was a muscular or ligament strain and that I should rest.
I took a few werks off of physical activities and the pain subsided. I was relieved and happy to be back in gym. However, during a dodgeball game, I twisted my back in an awkward way and the pain came back.
Then I took months out of any kind of physical activity in an effort to heal the pain. Over time, it did reduce significantly but never went away. I decided to run track with my ortho's consent during the spring after this, which I so greatly regret. I ran through the aching and the pain and I just wanted to have fun.
After the track season we went back to the ortho and we had an MRI. It showed a bulging disc at l4 as well has a stress response/edema at l5-s1.
After 9 months from my initial fall, my ortho said for me to wear an antilordotic orthotic brace for 23 hours a day and 7 days a week for 3 months, because he now thought that I have a stress fracture. It did not help.
I tried physical therapy. My therapist thought it was ligament related and refused to believe it would be spondylolysis from just a fall. He had me doing twisting movements and manipulated my spine to "heal the ligament". I actually was feeling better the first few weeks but then my pain got a lot worse. We wondered why. My mother, concerned, asked for a CT scan to find out if I have a stress fracture once and for all.
The results came out that I had a bilateral pats fracture at the L5-S1 level. I also had X-rays which revealed slight motion at that level and grade 1 spondylolisthesis. We stopped going to the therapist.
After receiving the CT scan results, my orthopedist said that my condition is beyond his scope and that he could not treat me. I would come home from school in such pain that I would cry. I was doing absolutely no physical activity. I felt so sad and hopeless.
We then decided to go see a spine specialist. He ordered proper physical therapy to stabilize my spine, and gave my anti inflammatory drugs for my pain. The drugs did not help. I went to this physical therapy for 5 months. It did help for a while. I was feeling confident and happy. I was hopeful that I would become pain-free and do the things I loved again.
Summer started. Going to the beach, walking on the sand, and the activity of summertime greatly irritated my back, so I took a break from the exercises and rested.
After the break I tried to ease myself back into the therapy but the simple movements I was doing before was now irritating my back and nerve. I stopped doing many of the exercises except for simple stretching and TA exercises. I also stopped going to physical therapy after the 5 months.
WHERE I'M AT NOW
Here is where I am at now. School has started and my life has been so stressful. Getting through the school day while controlling my lower back and leg burning is so difficult. I try to go to the nurses office during the day to lay down and stretch, and to just decompress from all the sitting and pressure. I also try to take walks during my classes because the pressure of sitting down really hurts my back and leg. It helps somewhat.
I'm doing no physical activity at all except for stretching and simple core exercises. I'm so upset and feel so hopeless writing this. I'm at my wit's end. I've suffered for 2 years with back pain and I don't know what to do anymore. I feel like my youth and happiness has been sucked out of me and I can't do the things I love anymore. I'm only 15 and I can't exercise, run, lift weights, dance, play outside, even ride my bike. I go apple picking with my family as a fun activity together as a family and I wind up with that deep burning and aching in my lower back, and my leg. Even laying down for too long starts hurting my lower back burning and my leg burning too. Walking at places like the mall hurts my back and I feel like crying so much. I actually cry almost every weekend because the stress of dealing with school while having virtually no enjoyment in my life is so depressing. I'm only 15 and I feel like my youth has been just stripped away from me.
I don't know what to do. I've been reading about spine surgery and spinal fusions a lot lately. People say to wait it out, and that you shouldn't have surgery until you're pain is so, so bad that it prevents you from doing daily activities. My pain isn't that bad, thankfully. I can still walk, get out of bed, move around, go to school, live. I just struggle with the constant pain, both emotionally and physically, of being so restricted from the things I want to do so badly and the pain of sitting at school and just getting through the day, everyday. Some days my back feels very good, but never to the point where it's pain free. And it never lasts.
People say that spinal fusions are such huge surgeries and I'm getting the feeling that someone as young as me shouldn't even be thinking about it. People say that it doesn't guarantee pain relief; the cause of the pain might not even be relieved by the surgery to begin with, and there are possible complications that exist. What if my pain is coming from some other source, like my sacrum or SI joint or some ligament, and the fusion wouldn't help with the pain at all? Plus, people say how you should wait until you're older, to the point where there's no other option. But what's the point of that? To have your quality of life, your youth, suffer all that time until you can't just take anymore? Until you have no other option?
I find myself asking: why me? How did this happen to me? From just a simple fall, and now my life has been completely changed?
All of this is just so depressing. The scope of it, the reality of it, my tears, my friends and other high school students living their lives seemingly carefree and happy. Running, doing sports, just having fun, just living without the pain. I feel like a robot, going to school everyday, then coming home to do nothing but lay down and do my homework to do the same thing the next day. Trying to control my back pain. Hiding my true emotions of utter sadness and pain with a fake mask and smile that I show to the people around me, while deep down I feel so empty inside. I feel so out of shape and tired and exhausted and sad and hopeless. I'm crying while I'm typing this.
I thank god that I'm still functional and that I'm not in actual agony or to the point where I can't walk or move, but I feel like my life has been taken away from me. I don't know what to do. Recently, I've been trying to stretch and do Pilates for lower back pain and such in an effort to help my back pain but the relief never lasts and I'm always back to square one. I'm always back to crying and sobbing for my life back.
This has been my life for two years and I don't think I can hold on much longer without utterly breaking down and giving up.
I stand here begging for fellow people who have fought through their back pain and can help me in my time of utter sadness. I really need advice, support, help, anything. What do I do?
I can't thank you enough for sticking with me through this gigantic post. I accept all of your help with open arms and I wish all of you the best of luck. Thank you.
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-- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator 10/10/15 22:17