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HELP! Paralysed in Foreign Country

MissMariennaMMissMarienna Posts: 1
edited 11/15/2015 - 2:45 PM in Chronic Pain
I’m going through the worst recurrence of sciatic pain I’ve had since the original injury almost two years ago. I’ve put my back under quite a lot of stress lately, with more heavy lifting than is advisable and also prolonged sitting (I’m travelling in Europe) which we know is a recipe for disaster. Still, it was just some pretty bad stiffness and aching (plus some new and admittedly concerning numbness). That was, until yesterday afternoon, when what felt like a normal turn through a door brought horrific, stabbing pain in my lower back. I had to lie on the ground. I’m now stuck in Athens barely able to walk properly.
Last year I was advised by my GP to get an MRI if I had pain in both legs. I wasn’t sure then whether it had been both, but now it definitely is: stabbing, agonising pain down both legs into my feet, around both hips and in my lower back. And also in one hand. Combined with the intermittent numbness in my feet, lower legs and left hand, as well as pins and needles in my hand and between my shoulder blades, it has me pretty worried. It's beyond anything I've experienced before. I have travel insurance, thankfully, but being in a foreign country, without my medical records and with a language barrier – not to mention the fact I have no experience with this degree of pain, I’m not feeling very confident about my trip to the hospital tomorrow. I’d be really grateful for any advice anyone can offer. I have no idea what they can/can't do for me, what is/isn't advisable and/or reasonable...
I realise when I go home for Christmas, an MRI, commitment to physiotherapy and probably a bunch of other changes will also be necessary. Right now I just need a way to live in less pain and be mobile for the next few weeks. I’m supposed to be in Paris soon for work, I need to be able to sleep, move, lift, etc. Would be good to know what options a hospital has open to them to make that happen. Thanks so much in advance.
Great to see a forum like this exists where people can support each other. Hope to stick around and contribute in the long run...
Full Background Info (if needed)
I’m 24 years old. My back has never been great, I have mild scoliosis and had occasional pain from being quite young but rarely anything that even required aspirin or affected me for more than a day or two. Then almost two years ago, I injured myself at work agreeing to do something stupid that I shouldn’t have been asked to do, that put a lot of repetitive strain on my lower back (I also worked in an office at that time, so lots of sitting down.) I was off work for 6 weeks with muscle relaxers (Naproxin) and some middle-range pain killers (co-codamol was the strongest.) I got some stretching advice from my GP and that’s pretty much as far as it went.
Since then I’ve been doing intermittent yoga and been trying to commit to the gym. That and some massage has really seemed to help a lot. But since working and travelling in the past 6 weeks has messed up my self-care routine, this has happened. For the past four weeks I’d say I’ve been having numbness and pins and needles between my shoulder blade. That and the regular and creepily loud cracking and popping in my neck alerted me to the deterioration of the problem. Occasional numbness in my left hand accompanied worsening stiffness, slight (but growing) leg pain and then since yesterday – bam: agony. Almost constant pain. I can’t sit or stand up straight. Even lying on my back isn’t always possible. I have sharp pain alternating with numbness in my left hand and the numbness in my lower legs is almost constant too. It feels like my tail bone is broken, any pressure is hugely painful. I have no idea what the best thing to do is.

Welcome to Spine-Health

One of the most important things that members can do is to provide the rest of the community with as much information about themselves as possible. It is so very difficult for anyone to respond when we do not have enough information to go on. This is not meant to indicate that you are doing anything wrong or violated any rule, we are just trying to be pro-active and get the information upfront so that people can start responding and your thread is more effective.

So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong, The fact that your test results are negative does not mean that you are fine and without any concerns. Many times it takes several diagnostic tests and procedures to isolate a specific condition.

Here are some questions that you should answer:

  • - When did this first start?

    . Year, Your age, etc
- Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
- Are there others in your family with similar medication conditions?
- What doctors have you seen? (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon, Spine Specialist, etc)

  • . Which doctor did you start with? Ie Primary Care Physician
    . Who are you currently seeing?
- What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?

  • . Physical Therapy
    . Ultrasound / Tens unit
    . Spinal Injections
    . Acupuncture
    . Massage Therapy
- What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results (MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc)

  • . Summarize the results, please do not post all details, we cannot analyze them
    . How many different tests have you had over the years? Similar results?
- What medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)

  • . Name of Medication
    . How long have you been using this?
    . Results
- Has surgery been discussed as an option? (If so, what kind)
- Is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
- What is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
of your situation and make it easier to respond.

Please take a look at our forum rules: Forum Rules

I also strongly suggest that you take a look at our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) which can be found at the top of the forum menu tab or by going to FAQ There you will find much information that will

  • - Help you better utilize the Spine-Health system
    - Provide pointers on how to make your threads / posts
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    - General pieces of valuable information

Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.
As such, no member is permitted to provide

  • - Analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie MRI, CTscan, Xray, etc)
    - Medical advice of any kind
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What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are

I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways it’s like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then it’s up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 11/15/15 20:45est



  • How are you today? What happened at the hospital? Must be scary to be ill away from home.
    I agree with you that first thing you need to do when you get home is have an MRI!!
    Really hoping that you've improved enough to continue your journey.
    Please keep us updated:) xx
    Kirsti x
  • CherylCCCherylC Posts: 185
    edited 11/18/2015 - 12:47 AM
    It must be very scary to be in a foreign country when this happened. I hope you have managed to get some help. Please let us know how you are.
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