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Chronic Back Pain Becoming Worse: Recent MRI and Considering Surgery

SLRSSLR Posts: 1
edited 12/14/2015 - 12:35 PM in Chronic Pain
Hey everyone,

So I have bee dealing with chronic lower back pain since I was 13, I'm now 28. Up until last year, the pain was mild to moderate, and conservative treatment usually meant resting for a couple of days and taking ibuprofen. I'm active, I used to run and weight lift and my core was pretty developed. However, for the past year, I have had 3 major flareups that have caused the most intense pain I have ever experienced in my life. I was legit bedridden and on intense pain medication. After each flareup, it took me about a month or so to recover. For the most current flareup that started in the beginning of October (the most painful one), I still have been restricted from most activities, including simple core strengthening exercises from physical therapy, brisk walking, sitting for more than 30min, laying on my sides, any sort of bending, etc. Most days I can't tie my own shoes. I've been wearing a back brace for most of the year. Sitting and standing cause pain, with sitting being the worst, so I constantly have to alternate positions every hour. Lying down is the most tolerable position, and walking can be a little tricking but offers some relief. If I trip, pain immediately shoots down my back and I literally can't move a muscle until it stops after a few seconds. Sneezing and coughing are very painful (has been for years). I've been taking Naproxen for almost everyday since September, I've done physical therapy and I always felt worse after leaving and it would take me a few days to recover. I have scoliosis, and I had an MRI (FINALLY!) last week and these are the results:

At L4-L5, the disc is desiccated. There is a Schmorl's node involving
the inferior endplate of L4. There is a posterior central left
paracentral disc protrusion. This indents the thecal sac was slightly
sent this the torso left. This partially fills the left lateral
recess. There is no central canal stenosis are there is no foraminal

At L5-S1, the disc is degenerated. There is a broad-based posterior
disc protrusion indenting the thecal sac. This does not cause canal
stenosis. The foramina are bilaterally patent.

Limited views of the retroperitoneum are unremarkable.

1. Degenerated L4-L5 disc with a posterior central, left paracentral
disc protrusion.
2. Degenerated L5-S1 disc with a mild broad-based posterior disc

I will be following up with the doctor this week, but with my chronic and now worsening pain, spine abnormalities and conservative treatment failures, can anyone give me advice about speaking to the doctor about possible spine surgery? Or advice on how you manage/treat your chronic lower back issues? I'm tired of being told to" get some rest, take this pill, do yoga and get better" by doctors, and I absolutely will not go to a chiropractor. I no longer want to put a bandaid over the problem and I am just really depressed and frustrated over this situation. Any advice, shared stores or any other info would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

While you provided us with details, please read the following and answer some of those questions. The more we know about a member, the easier it is to help out

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
    - Recommendations in terms of Medications, Treatments, Exercises, etc

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 : 12/14/15 18:34 est

Moderate to Severe Back Pain Since 2000


  • PlumbTuckeredOutPlumbTuckeredOut Philadelphia, PAPosts: 325
    Definitely not a doctor and not too well practiced at reading MRI reports but with these things being said, I don't think you would find a doctor willing to open a can of worms by performing surgery under these conditions. I definitely didn't understand it when I was your age and in mind-blowing pain but it is very unlikely that surgery will lessen your pain- it may very well increase pain. Doctors do not perform surgery to lessen pain- not spinal surgery.

    When it comes to the spine doctors wait for a significant loss of use, an immobile leg, loss of bowel or bladder function. Back pain may be caused by muscle which will not lessen with surgery, or nerve. Nerve pain takes years to heal but there is nothing medical science knows of, yet, to mechanically lessen nerve pain.

    You mentioned wearing a back brace. This is creating a false sense of security while allowing your own muscles to weaken as they depend on external support. I was working at a crazy, on my feet all day job and I used a brace for a week. The following week I noticed more muscle weakness. I went back to my doctors and listened to the "I told you so"! I'm currently asking pain docs if it's okay for me to wear a support collar when I sleep. I awaken with horrible headaches since my neck muscles cannot maintain a decent amount of support when I sleep creating migraines. But I'm asking before I do anything!

    I'd suggest looking for a yoga group for people with disabilities. One helped me greatly 20 years ago and I went onto teaching it. The movement is smooth without jerking and gently aligns the body and strengthens the muscles.

    I'm putting off more surgery now. I'm waiting for a breakthrough in minimizing risk and increasing benefits. I've had 2 surgeries to repair disks that were causing loss of function. I got function back but I'll be in pain forever. And the surgeries are not and cannot be permanent. There is so much to learn but somethings can never be undone.


    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by...... (Robert Frost)
    I still don't know if I should have taken the one that said, "Caution! Dead End" (Me)
  • All that plumb said is spot on but......
    It doesn't hurt to ask about surgery, know your options. Even if it's something to think about in a few years.
    I'm 36 and I've been told for years I'm too young blah blah but I need my quality of life NOW ...I have 3 children and being partly bedridden is not fair on anybody especially my kids.
    I have 4 prolapsed discs in my neck and I'm having 2nd meeting with my neurosurgeon in a couple of weeks and he wants to operate.
    However, I'm like you, eager to be fixed but I keep reminding myself to listen to the ones who have had surgery because there is no going back and if the after is worse than the before....
    I'm positive tho, after 3.5 years of every conservative treatment there is, that I need surgery. I'm worried my nerve damage is permanent after so long.
    I think my age is on my side healing wise but I am a few years older than you.
    Get your options then think long & hard.
    Keep us posted :)
    Kirsti x
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