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19 year old female with chronic back pain looking for support/advice

JessyLovestheCubsJJessyLovestheCubs Posts: 43
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:34 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi everybody, as the subject says I'm 19 and already have chronic lower back pain that is just getting worse. I'll give you my history first:

-6 years ago I was diagnosed with spondylosis thesis. I was really active (it was my last year of junior high)and I continued to be active for a couple more years until the pain got too bad and I had to quit playing sports. I was given a back brace and that was it.

- I learned to deal with the pain for a few years. I couldn't stand or walk for long periods of time because it hurt so bad. I kept going to the doctor but didn't get much help.

- Last year (my freshman year in college) I couldn't deal with the pain anymore. I couldn't walk to class and I couldn't go to many of my school's events. I saw an orthopedic doctor and had an MRI, ct scan, and x-rays done. The doctor said my x-ray said I didn't have spondylosis thesis anymore but the MRI showed a bulging disc so the doctor gave me a back brace and told me to take Aleve.

- A couple months passed and I still had no relief so I went back to the doctor and he gave me stronger anti inflammatory medicine to take around the clock.

- I thought the back pain was getting better after that. I still had some pain but it wasn't as bad so I was happy and just dealt with it. Then 7 months later (this past July) My back started hurting excruciatingly bad. I had shooting pains down both my legs and into my feet. I could barely move and had to quit my summer job. My orthopedic doctor is an hour and a half away and hard to get in to so I went to my family doctor who gave me Tylenol with Codeine to deal with the pain until I could get in with the other doctor.

The Codeine didn't help much but it took the edge off. When I finally got in I had another X-ray that didn't show anything. My orthopedic doctor said I should wear a back brace. He had given me a back brace 7 months before so I was a little irritated. He was surprised that didn't work so he put me on Neurontin. He said to come back in 3 months if it didn't get better and he would probably have to refer me to a rheumatologist.

- That was about 4 weeks ago and things have just gotten worse. I still have low back pain, shooting pains down my back into my butt, legs, and feet, sometimes burning pain in the back of my knees and shins, a tingly feeling in legs and feet, and weakness in my feet and toes and sometimes legs.

- Last week my pain was so bad and I was having trouble peeing. It was just numb and I couldn't get the pee out. Also my feet were extremely weak. I went to the emergency room and they did an MRI and put on an iv and gave me morphine for the night. They said there wasn't a substantial change from my MRI 7 months prior. They said there was a chance I had some signs of degenerative disc disease and some "narrowing," but not enough to cause the amount of pain I was in. They sent me home with Tramadol. I didn't like the side affects and it didn't help my pain so they gave me Vicodin. Still, it isn't helping with the pain much.

I have wanted to go back to the ER almost every night since then but I can't because I know there is nothing they will do for me there.

So, now I'm going to the orthopedic doctor in a couple of days and I'm really worried he won't give me any answers and he'll just send me home in pain like everyone else.

I'm really tired of having this pain. I've missed out on so much already, I just want to do the things my peers are doing without pain. I'm really tired of laying on the couch all drugged up and in pain everyday. I'm not sure how I will even be able to handle school this semester (which starts in 6 days.)

Has anyone felt like this before? I feel like I'm just being passed around from doctor to doctor or I'm not being taken seriously because I'm so young and having back pain.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what this could be? Is going to a rheumatologist the right thing to do or should I be going to a neurologist?

Any answers or kind words would be appreciated. I'm losing sleep over this. I just want to be able to be a normal 19 year old. Sorry this is so long.

Thanks,
Jessy
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1

Comments

  • I have done physical therapy several times. All of them hurt me more than anything.
  • I'm sorry you're having back pain so young in life. I can relate in a way because I came down with fever and arthritis in all joints at 14 and had to drop out of PE in junior high. Anyway, it is so hard and so unfair that young people are discriminated against or blown off because they have back pain. Don't waste with doctors who won't listen or believe you just because of your age. They have this antiquated belief that you can't possibly be in pain because your young. Also, they act more suspicious towards young adults who need pain meds.

    I wish you could get in with a pain specialist or neurosurgeon who can evaluate you more in depth. Not everything shows up on an MRI and further testing is needed such as a ct myelogram which spots problems missed by MRI's. It is more invasive and they inject dye into the spinal canal and put you on a table that tilts you and then they roll you around. After that they do the ct and sometimes you can find out the results while you're there. Another test is a discogram which is invasive and can be painful. It provokes the disc by means of a needle in hopes of finding the pain generator.

    There is help out there but the major hurdle is finding a doctor who will listen and be open minded. At least for now you have Tylenol 3 to help you until you find another doctor. I really hope you get the help you need so that you can get back to your normal life. Take care and welcome to SH :H
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  • Thank you! I will have to tell my mom all the things you said so she can schedule me appointments with new doctors! Thanks for reading my long rambling, the advice is soooo appreciated. :)
  • Welcome Jesse (unfortunately) to the site and am sure you will find others that have had complaints and there are people younger then you (thinking they were the youngest) on the site. Please note I am not in the medical field so please read this posting in that light.

    Just to let you know I am an old man (relatively speaking) but problems started late teens. I had X-Rays and was told the X-Rays showed problem with spinal processes (where muscles join the spine were not properly formed and a few floating pieces of bone). Later X-Rays many years later showed the spinal processes to be fine so something changed or a bad interpretation which are not unheard of. The pain you describe for the last 4 weeks I can relate to (again unfortunately)

    You mentioned an Orthopedic doctor in the next few days. Is the Orthopedic doctor a standard bone doctor or a spinal specialist? If the Orthopedic doctor is not a spine specialist suggest you find another referral but suspect he/she is. I know mayday321 suggested a neurosurgeon and suggest you should do a search on this site “Neurosurgeon Orthopedic” and filter by “articles”. Both can specialize on spine and you should read the 4 or so articles. If preparation to meeting the specialist suggest you review http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/preparing-meet-a-spine-surgeon-or-spine-specialist I really agree with mayday321 and you need a good doctor to deal with this.

    I am recovering from a herniated disk (your initial indication is bulging) and also went to the Emergency room but sent away with drugs and told to rest. I went because I was told if got worse or trouble with urination then proceed to ER (the problem was really the muscles spasms were to great so stopped me and took 3 attempts to empty the bladder). First 2 weeks were non-stop pain and next 4 were only when moved or stood. My initial introduction was on http://www.spine-health.com/forum/new-member-introductions/hello-all-herniated-disk-immobilized-3-weeks-now and Good News posting http://www.spine-health.com/forum/good-news/disk-herniation-conservative-non-surgery-and-improving and maybe there is something in there you may find useful. Do not give up or fall into depression and I am sure you will improve with the right advice and treatment.

    There are a lot of articles on this site on back conditions and suggest you spend significant time reading them.

    As a general comment I am somewhat surprised with the back brace as normally the aim is to build up all supporting muscles so I would continue with the advice you have but query the Orthopedic doctor next week and most importantly be prepared. From your photo (with puppy) assume you are at home (as mentioned mother) and have someone looking after you. To put the pain in perspective you can tell your mom that I have had women tell me that the disk pressing on a root nerve is worse than child birth and while specialist will ride over the comments on the pain they will recognise it. I would write down all questions in advance, take my parent (be hard to get there otherwise in your condition and also to be hard to keep them out of consultation) and write down all answers afterwards but try very hard not leave (and will be easier with mom in consultation) until you are comfortable and your questions answered. Some doctors are very good at brushing off patients and pushing them out the door.

    One other thing is the Physical therapy is very difficult until the disk is off the nerve (assuming that is the case) but there is likely to be some exercises you can do (even in bed or laying down). I am very sure you will be back with Pysical Therapy so look around and find a good one now if you can.

    In my opinion (and I am not in the medical field) you need good, expert information on your condition and its management so you can actively manage your condition.

    Please update your posting after your meeting with the orthopedic doctor and best wishes.
  • good luck at the doctors i hope that you can be sorted out with the minimal amount of upset and disruption to your young life .i wish you well and hope that your pain subsides you may want to try the acticare device {there is a post about it at the moment ..its worth a read ..i have 2 of them} they may help you with your pain.
    STRAKER
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  • Hi! Thanks for all the advice it is really helpful and I'll be sure to show all of this to my mom. But no actually I am not at home. I moved into an apartment an hour and a half away from home at the beginning of August. But I do live with my boyfriend and he has been taking great care of me and my mom is always in touch.
  • Hello, I can't help feel bad for many people as I read the stories. People with low back pain, ie. herniated discs, spinal stenosis, pain radiating down the leg and leg weakness. Steroid injections hold no benefit for the patient. The however are a great money maker for the doctors. Unfortunately, the the back doctors' due what is best for their wallet, not the patient. Any one with chronic low back pain, should look into Non surgical spinal decompression. The doctors will be very negative on the subject, and may snap at you for asking the question. Doctors are suppose to due no harm and have the patients' interest at the first. We all know this is not reality. I am telling this from experience. Do some research into Non surgical spinal decompression. The positive results morph shots and sugery.
  • Hello, I can't help feel bad for many people as I read the stories. People with low back pain, ie. herniated discs, spinal stenosis, pain radiating down the leg and leg weakness. Steroid injections hold no benefit for the patient. The however are a great money maker for the doctors. Unfortunately, the the back doctors' due what is best for their wallet, not the patient. Any one with chronic low back pain, should look into Non surgical spinal decompression. The doctors will be very negative on the subject, and may snap at you for asking the question. Doctors are suppose to due no harm and have the patients' interest at the first. We all know this is not reality. I am telling this from experience. Do some research into Non surgical spinal decompression. The positive results morph shots and surgery.
  • Jessy- please see NS or even another OS.

  • you have so much pain and very little answers, keep trying and try some more, eventually you will get someone to hear you, it has taken me a long time but finally im getting there. however on the down side, even if they can find the reason for your pain it is not a magic potion, and they may not be able to stop it, but hopefully they can make you more comfortable. you are very young to be suffering such awful pain, i wish you well on this journey.
    its not one any of us chose to take, and im sure we would get off at the next stop if only the pain train would slow down long enough to let us get off.
    all the best, and stay strong :H
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