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New to Back Problems, Having a Rough Time

Hi everyone. I'm a 39 year old male that has recently been diagnosed with some back issues, and I'm having a rough time with it. Sorry that this is long, but I just have to type it all out - maybe it will be therapeutic.

Some background: For the last 8-9 years, I've been an avid runner. I was fairly overweight prior to this time in my life, but in these last number of years have been a very healthy eater, have a good weight, and have run multiple marathons and half marathons at a pretty good pace. This winter has been a cold one, but I've gotten out to run when I can in between watching/coaching basketball games for my kids. About 5 weeks ago I went for a normal run on a Monday night. Tuesday night I watched a game and felt fine, Wednesday morning I woke up with some hip pain. I was convinced it was piriformis syndrome, and took some time off of running as the pain was fairly intense. I saw a chiropractor who diagnosed me with a bulging disc. I went through the treatments and over the next couple of weeks was feeling a little better, but not to where I felt I could run again. Convinced it was my hip, however, I went to an ortho and had them do a hip MRI.

During the same time, I'd been helping my parents pack up their house to move. While I was not lifting heavy objects, I was bending, picking up small boxes, reaching to paint, etc. About three weeks in, the pain started to intensify. Had more trouble bending to put on shoes, etc. Last week it all came to a head. Got out of bed on Thursday (the day I was supposed to have a follow up on the hip MRI) with very intense pain. Thought it was going to calm down, got dressed, drove to work, but when arriving, couldn't sit down at my desk. Minute by minute, it was getting worse. I went home to lay down, but it continued. Laying on my stomach brought some relief, but I was in bad shape. My father in law drove me to the ortho, but by that point I was in pain no matter how I was positioned. Managed to get into the office slumped over a wheelchair, and they wanted to do a MRI on my back. (My hip doctor came in and gave me the great news that my hip MRI looked great!) I couldn't lay on my back without yelling, so they had to send me to the hospital to get the pain down and sedation so they could do the MRI.

The pain meds helped some and after the MRI, I was given the back diagnosis.
Bilateral pars defect at L5
L2-L3, L3-L4, and L4-L5 disc bulges
L5-S1, there is disc desiccation, a disc osteophyte complex and mild ligamentum flavum thickening

The doctor said that they could typically go in and clean up the L5-S1, but the pars defect means that a surgery would be a fusion. They decided to do a nerve block to take care of the pain, went home on Saturday in a bit of pain yet, but manageable. The pain relief has been amazing, I'm feeling nothing right now a week later. My left foot, however, gradually went numb over the course of the week. My first question I haven't been able to find an answer to - would the numbness be from the pain block, or is that due to nerve impingement? I don't know if I should be worried about it or if it's just part of the process. 

While in the hospital, I was on dilaudid (hated how it felt when I got out of bed) just about every hour for the first two days and had some percocet as well. I went home with prednisone (15 day dose), hydrocodone, and tizanidine (which I took a couple nights but stopped). By Tuesday night, I wasn't having much pain and had taken just one hydrocodone during the day. Took one before bed, and that was the last one. This has been the worst part for me, as the withdrawal symptoms have been pretty significant. Feel tired, but can't sleep very consistently until last night when I finally got some rest. I have no appetite, and just feel down in general. Burst into tears a couple times, even! I can't believe that I'm feeling this way after less than a week on them. Is that abnormal, or could the prednisone be having some effect?

I'm worried I'm going to make things worse since I'm not currently feeling pain, but I'm being very cautious. My doctor told me that in all likelihood I'll have to have surgery in the future, and really has been wonderful, but was pretty vague on recovery details. No referrals to a physical therapist, no specific recommendations on exercises to strengthen things, mostly just "let's see how it goes." I'm fairly fit, as I said from running, but feel like I should be doing specific things to try and fix this. I bought the 7 Steps to a Pain-Free Life book by Robin McKenzie. Anyone have any luck with it with a similar situation?

If you've read this far, I really appreciate it. Just getting it out makes me feel a little better.

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Comments

  • Hello there I'm Lisa, 31yo with and and off back pain since my teens. My story is a little bit same in the way that you're going to need the fusion eventually. Or you could be that rare person that does great with getting nerve blocks and nothing else. However you're experiencing new symptoms with your foot as well. Today was my third back surgery, I know how you feel exactly like you have no control over your own body, and the pain just a persists. The longer you wait the longer it will take to heal, youre young you should take the precaution now, but that's just my advice and experience. I had scoliosis surgery in 2003, may 2017, laminectomy, disc replacement, spinal fusion and revision of the first surgery. Just left the hospital today after doing another procedure because the screws never fused to my bone. It's rough, but you can talk to me on here or email 

  • First, I’d like to tell you, you aren’t alone. Once spinal problems come into your life, it’s an unwelcome guest that doesn’t want to leave, causes problems, and makes us emotionally vulnerable. In my experience only, yes nerve damage with cause a numb foot. Everyone is different. Before my cervical fusion, I would trip over my foot “stumping”. Had pain in the bottom of my foot like I stepped on a nail. Went to podiatrist, they said I had an issue I can’t remember the name of and did a series of injections. The shots were unbearable! I quit going for them. Continued with visit to a renowned “clinic” for neck pain problem. Ended up having cervical fusion. First time the nurse walked me in the hospital after surgery, all I said was....”my foot pain is gone”. First time in two years I walked without that pain. Long story but short message. Yes, your feet can suffer repercussions from spine issues. Secondly, I would find a neurologist instead of orthopedic. It was explained to me as if you have an electric wiring issues in your house. Do you hire an electrician (Nuerologist) or a foundation contractor (Orthopedist)? Best of luck to you. My suggestions are based on my experience only. I am NOT nor ever in medical field.

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