Hi! I guess this is the place to introduce myself to the community. I am a 50 year old male. My pain issues started about 3 years ago, with low back pain that continued to get worse. Up until this time, for about 10 years prior, I would have 2-3 episodes a year that would last anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks, that was usually treated by pain meds /muscle relaxers, ice/heat and PT. Which always got me back on my feet and back to work. I have worked for 29 years in a Coal Fired Power Plant, as an operator and the last 5 years as a shift supervisor.
About 3 years ago I just woke up with low back pain in the 5-6 pain range. Seen my PCP, was prescribed the usual 5mg lortab and muscle relaxers, except this time my pain did not improve. So I was referred to a PM doc at a Ortho clinic. After 3 rounds of spinal injections with no improvement, I was told I needed a 2 level fusion S1-L4. MRI showed DDD at the lower 2 levels with an annular tear at L4-L5.
After a lot of research, 2 more opinions and lots of pain I decided on laser surgery to repair the tear and remove some bone spurs in the same area. By this time I can no longer work, my last day was July 21st, 2006. the laser surgery was done in Sept 2006. The docs said this would help without having do to a fusion surgery. It did help my left leg pain, but did nothing for my lumbar pain. Still unable to work and by Jan of 2007, I'm taking 40 mg Oxycontin ER 2 times a day and up to 40 mg of Percocet for break through pain. I do not have much of a life. I was also put on Cymbalta for it's nerve pain properties and help with the depression. PM is being done by my PCP.
Feb 2007 I was referred to the Leatherman Spine Center at Norton Hospital in Louisville KY. After a Discography was done in early March, they determined that the 2 level fusion was my best bet at pain relief.
April 2007, 2 level fusion performed successfully. After recovering from the surgery I began PT in a heated pool. My pain was probably 30% better than before surgery for which i am grateful but was expecting more.
I still require pain medications on a daily basis and am still unable to work.
Oct 2007 referred to my current PM doc. Great doc who has really tried to help me. An updated MRI showed good fusion at S1-L4. He took me off the Oxy and put me on Methadone 40 mg a day which really helped, also prescribed Lyrica 450 mg day and left me on the Cymbalta.
March 2008 we did a trail with a SCS. Decision was made to install the permanent device. Surgery was done first week of May 2008. The device has helped, but I'm still unable to return to work. I can't tolerate being on my feet much longer than 20-30 min, at a time. And much walking just makes the pain worse. I was put on total disability and began drawing Social Security Disability payments along with my employer's Long term disability. My doc does not expect me to ever improve enough to be able to return to full time employment. Sad. I really needed to work another 8-10 years, but I guess it was not meant to be.
I'm now using the SCS along with 50mg methadone, 450 mg Lyrica and the cymbalta. I guess this is the best it is going to get for me.
Anyway, after lurking around here I decided to join to see if I could contribute and maybe find some help myself.