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What should we do now?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,208
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Lower Back Pain
My husband was at work lifting a huge pizza oven when he compressed T8-12 (July 8th,2008) after going to the hospital and them telling him he just had pulled chest muscle he went back to work for 3 weeks on July 31st he was at worked and was knocked off a 10ft ladder and his feet were 8ft in the air. I took him to the doctor (he was almost kicking and screaming cause he hates them) the doctor did an xray and found the compressions. After being rushed to Haborview Hospital they said that he needed to see a specialist we saw a specialist that just seemed to be not doing his job and said that he was too fat and needed to loose weight and he wouldn't have leg pains. I begged and pleaded for his lni claims manager to do something to change doctors. She refused for three weeks so in mid November I got fed up and called a lawyer. Since then we got transfered to a nuerosurgeon who finally did an mri and found his buldged disc between l4-l5. They sent him to physical therapy for the last 8wks and 2 weeks ago he had a steriod injection with no relief at all. My question is what do we do from here. His doctors took the day before christmas eve off until today and no one will call us back. I have asked what his plan is and he wont say anything he said lets take it one step at a time. I can't stand it anymore I want to know his options. I know surgery is one of them but is that going to stop his pain in his legs? If it doesn't what will? Is there a test that can tell if he has permanent nerve damage? Its going on 6 months and I feel like I have no more answers than when we first started. I feel like I am beating my head against a brick wall trying to ask the doctors questions. His physical therapist seems concerned because he is loosing the ability to even put weight on his left leg at times. I really don't want him to be paralyzed. I could handle it but I don't think he could.


  • Mnay of us have had to go through the same thing-waiting for doctors to call back, insurance issues, waiting for tests, appointments..the thing is you and your hasband canbnot give up hope or patience. Our healthcare system is in poor health itself and it takes a persistent and logical approach to get help.

    SO far it sounds like you have done the right things. This is a workplace issue, so keep that lawyer handy and keep moving the doctors towards a resolution. The leg nerve and pain will get better once the problem is found-so hang in there and good luck!
  • Your husband is one lucky guy to have a wife that cares enough about him to have done this research to help him out. Bravo to you =D>

    I can sympathize and understand your and your husband's frustration with the whole process. It does take time before most docs will do surgery. They like to rule out all conservative treatments first PT, injections, etc. There is a test that can be done to check for nerve damage. The neuro should be able to do this. I would express your concern to him or have your husband.

    I have been dealing with chronic back pain all my life and had a fusion finally on 7/1/08 at L5/S1. I still have pain in my lower back as well as the nerve pain in legs, hips and butt. There are successful surgery stories and not successful ones so you can't really go by that. In my opinion, your husband should try all other methods that are offered to him before surgery unless the docs feel surgery is a must. Docs usually like you try at least 6 months of treatments before they will consider surgery. I have been discharged by my ortho and pain mgmt doc because they feel that they can no longer do anything for me. I still wanted to try a couple other types of injections and have a nerve test but they said they can't help me anymore. I don't know if it's because I switched to insurance that doesn't reimburse the docs as much since it's gov't or not. I am back to primary doc and he is referring me to neuro.

    I would suggest your husband get a second opinion by another type of doc if possible. Is this a work comp claim?

    I will be praying for your husband as well as you. It must be heartbreaking to watch your husband be in so much pain and not be able to take that pain away. I wish there were more caring, compassionate, understanding spouses like you out there.
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  • yes it is a work claim thank god. he is our bread winner. i was about to start school when this all happened. well he was at a nerospecialist now he is seeing a nerosurgeon. He has had 6 weeks of pyhsical therapy which doesn't seem to be doing anything. I am a care giver so pushing the doctors to find out what is wrong with him doesn't bother me because I have seen doctors take there time just because. They know that his disc is pressing on his nerves between the L4-5 he went in to get an injection to hopefully take some pain away and it didn't work. The person doing the injection said that from the sounds of things and what he saw he has nerve damage already. Do you know what the term is for the test to find out what nerves are damaged? I want them to check his upper back as well as I think some of the symptoms are coming from there too.
  • There should be a list on this site. There is a nerve conduction test, EMG and I can't remember the name of others. Try searching nerve test on the spine health home site.
  • I'm sorry about the rotten treatment your husband has gotten. This testifies to the inept and unfair practices of Workmen's Comp and their "doctors". I have heard so many horror stories and it always gets under my skin. I hope your husband is not seeing that specialist who told him he was fat. By all means retain your lawyer because you will need him to fight for your husband's best interest, and to get him to see a good specialist. Have they ever done an MRI? This has been going on too long and evidently your husband is not faring any better. After all conservative measures fail, then he should get a referral to see a surgeon. I am concerned about his nerve pain in his leg and I don't want him to have permanent nerve damage. I really hope your husband gets the care that he needs. Is there a possibility he can see a doctor on his private insurance?
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  • with the others. Lots of us have suffered the same frustration that you are going through. The first thing that you should do is get a doc that you are comfortable with and is willing to figure out the source of his pain. Problems of the spine are really hard to diagnose because you can have 10 people with the exact same MRI or xrays and some of them will be in pain and some will not. So, figuring out what is actually the cause of his pain will take patience. But, you do need a doc that is willing to keep testing until he can diagnose the problem and find a solution. Most of us have been exactly where you are. It really takes persistence. I went undiagnosed for 2 years until I found my current Pain Management doc. He did steroid injectons, epidurals, rhizotomys and a discogram. These things are all diagnostic. By seeing what helps the pain can sometimes diagnose what is causing the pain. Don't be discouraged. He will find an answer. You are right about surgery. There are never any guarantees that surgery will be successful. It is always best to exhaust all conservative treatment options before even considering surgery. Sometimes surgery is mandatory if you are risking permanent nerve damage. Other than that you should always stay as conservative as possible. Surgery can not be undone. Good luck and please keep us posted.
  • Exactly as stated by many above. And kudos to you for being proactive. Those of us who suffer the physical pain seldom realize the pain our spouses go through watching us, or all the other stuff they have to do while we are laid up.

    My advice is to lean on your worker's comp company, and get your lawyers involved. Call the EOD offices or Labor Boards if you need to, but start screaming now. As a "portly fellow", I was told to over and over that my back problems were weight related (this was many years ago). I kept going to new doctors until i found one who would listen, and got the right tests done. Once you have the proof that you need (which it sounds like you do), then you have scream louder and louder so the insurance companies don't drag out something that could be taken care of quickly by a small microdiscectomy. Read up on your terms, and go in to battle. Many of these folks expect to deal with uneducated (medically, that is) clients, but the minute they get someone who seemingly knows what they're talking about, things magically change. ESPECIALLY if you're versed in Worker's Comp law. You don't need a JD to have enough knowledge to combine those disciplines, and begin getting folks to listen.

    Best of luck.

    Mike in Los Gatos,
  • yes he has had an mri. They told him that it could cause nerve damage that is why the doctor is looking to do surgery. Amazingly I trust him it has been a long time since I can say that about any doctor. My husband is lucky enough to have his nerosurgeon be his primary doctor for his case. Our lawyers are very much in this and they are the only reason we were able to get a second opinion at all. I was mainly frustrated when we couldn't get to the next step cause no one would call us back. My husband was finally able to get ahold of the person that did his injection. The doctor gave him the option of doing another injection (that didn't work) or scheduling another appointment with our nerosurgeon to discuss further treatment which is looking more like surgery. I have been researching the different types and I am full of questions to ask him. Not only about the surgery but aslo about other non-surgical treatments. My main concern is having them find the nerves that are damaged or even effected before they try cutting him open. Thanks for your answer and I will search about more nerve tests that I can ask him about. P.S. our LNI lady hates me because I am more knowledgeable that she is about my husbands condition and I am constantly correcting with she writes in his LNI file by email which automatically gets put into our file for her supervisor to see. She started messing with out payments and she got a call from our lawyer and now my husband is on bimonthly payments that come out automatically and she has nothing to do with it anymore.
  • Surgery is not a "magic pill". Even if you removed all the WC issues and just made this a normal everyday case, the docs would have more than likely strung everything out for 6 months. It takes time to see if conservative treatments are going to work or not. It takes time for things to heal.

    Also, doctors tend to react with more haste, when the one suffering is the one making an issue of the pain. If your husband is trying to downplay everything because he doesn't want to see the doc, it could be working against him. While you're motivating the WC folks, motivate your husband too. I don't mean that trying to be a smartalec, I mean that sincerely.

    Good luck,

  • your husband is suffering. I'm one who had 3 back surgeries but have permanent nerve damage nonetheless. My back was dangerously unstable, so I DID need the surgery, but never helped the nerves.

    The weakness in his legs can really be dangerous. He may need to get a cane, a walker, or make sure to ride a scooter at larger stores. For me, I get just a few seconds notice when my leg is about to "go out". If I can't sit, I will be falling. At 42, I have my own cane and walker, and while I used to be mortified, I now realize having them has kept me out of wheelchair. All in how I think about it.

    Does your husband have numbness in his legs or feet? Have you kept a pain diary? Things like that can help lend credibility when you visit with the docs. Listing things he can and cannot do, what makes it worse, etc. My problem nerve (finally diagnosed by EMG) is S1, which is right at the base of your spine. Any sitting, standing over 20 to 30 minutes sends me in a nerve flare that takes days to settle down.

    I just got my SCS (spinal cord stimulator), so hopefully with the help of that blocking the nerve pain signals, I may get some of my life back. So far so good, anyway.

    Good for you to be working so hard in his favor. But I agree with Hagland, is your hubby not cooperating and does he still not want to bother going to docs? That can be confusing to the docs. You've now done the 6 months of conservative care, so you should be able to move forward with at least additional tests. Also, on the MRI's, they have to order a separate thoracic and a lumbar. Did he just have the lumbar MRI? If so, do you know if he still have the thoracic compressions?

    Good luck!

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