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Worker's Comp and Pain

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:38 AM in Chronic Pain
Saturday Aug. 15th I lifted a heavy box in awkward position. I felt a pop in lower back and a burning that spread up to my neck, across my shoulders, between my hips, basically everywhere. I finished working the day and noted the way the pain spread and changed.
Monday I went to the Worker's Comp Clinic and immediately realized I had entered realm where I didn't know the rules, the language, customs, nothing. I was just hurt and wanted the doctor to find what was broke and lets fix it. Bing batta bing. That was 2 1/2 months ago. Wow.
My first clue that I was outta my league was after the initial consult with PA, I was signed up for physical therapy. Weird, shouldn't we find out whats wrong first? Guess not. I told the therapist the same exact thing I told the PA: I felt a pop then the pain spread up my back. By end of the day I could barely walk, pain in hips, groin, left foot dragging occasionally, pain in upper back/neck area, radiating up my neck, arms, shoulders and hands hurting. Incredible pain. She said "you should have an MRI before we get started, let me go check on that." She came back and said, we could go ahead and get started because "patients in serious shape usually experience "shooting" pain". O.K., so I did not get the vocabulary pamplet on my way in, I described burning electrical type pain in my hands, arms and shoulders, hips and groin but that is not "shooting" pain so its O.K.????
Before I knew it I was at a chiropractor for adjustments. I specifically asked if we shouldn't do Xray or something before adjusting me. No, no, perfectly safe. Crack crack. My ears begun ringing and have continued every since. After breaking down in tears I finally got an Xray and MRI. Results?
Disc desication @ L4-5, L5-SI. L4-5 broad posterior bulge w/ PROBABLE annular tear. Small cent disc protusion w/out neural forminal stenosis. L-5-SI small disc protrusions w/out spinal canal stenosis. Mild left neural foraminal stenosis. Cervical = normal.
Basically, according to my comp dr. nothing. Tension in my upper back (MRI & Xray of neck) and I'm just getting old and bulging in lower. Most people don't even notice bulges.

Well, I am noticing it. I am in incredible pain all day every day. Lower back, hips, buttocks, groin, thoracic pain, ears ringing, head hurting and I still have no actual diagnosis other than "strain/sprain".

Does anyone know what the report actually said. Am I crazy? A hypocondriac? A whiner who just has no tolerance of pain?


  • Well, at least you haven't lost your sense of humor. I'll try to just comment on what I perceive to be the relevant issues. First, your instincts were correct. Because so many people have back pain at some point in their lives, we all tend to be treated as though it is fairly insignificant and will get better with an advil and a little course of PT.

    I can't really say why the pain spread through your neck, shoulders and lower back...I am just going by what you quoted from your MRI report. What the doctor said is correct. Almost all people of a certain age will show bulging discs on a MRI. Most have no idea they have bulging discs until the MRI shows them, because they are asymptomatic. This is true, but inconclusive. Some of those people do have symptoms and pain associated with the disc bulge.

    In your case, a probable annular tear is mentioned, which is always a probable cause for pain. Any time a disc bulges, there is a chance that it is pushing out into the spinal canal or foramina, which can cause nerve compression (which is what causes refered nerve pain). Also, when there is an annular tear or a rip in the disc, there can be a chemical reaction from the fluid that can leak out, and this can cause pain.

    There is good information on this website, written by spinal specialists. You might want to read here to begin with:


    Some of the symptoms you mention pertaining to the neck, headaches, etc. sound more like cervical problems. The hips, groin, buttocks sound like pain that is referred from a lumbar spinal nerve.

    I would suggest you find a fellowship-trained spinal specialist and go for a consultation. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis at the beginning so you don't waste a lot of time and money needlessly.

    I wish you good luck in your search for some answers.

  • I've been reading the board for a couple weeks, now. And my sense if humor is about all I have left. I have to laugh at the irony or cry and I don't know that I could quit crying once started. Thank you so much for understanding and humoring my very long winded ventilation. Dr. did order an EMG, which lasted 15 minutes including the time spent with a heat pad on left hand. Immediate diagnosis was Charp. Tunnel. So now Dr. abscribes any pain I report in arms, etc to the Charp. Tunnel.
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  • No you are not crazy or a whiner. The bulging discs in my C spine caused me a lot of pain and problems.
    I ended up getting a fusion that took care of my pain and other problems. To this day I have had no more pain in my C spine.
    From what I have read here an annular tear can cause a lot of pain. Others that have had them can tell you a lot more than I can. But I do know they are painful.
    Fighting with workmans comp will also be long and painful.
    Wish I could be more help. Best of luck to you.
    Patsy W :H
  • Don't wish to undermine how you feel, but the Doctor is executing the standard play book for a back injury. The Doctor may be correct. When I first ruptured a disc umpteen years ago, I went the conservative route. You'll know in a very short period of time if the conservative route is working or not. Do the PT, hopefully they've given you some NSAIDS or at least the advice to take Ibuprofen. For your sake, I hope you only strained some muscles and the rest of your back is showing normal wear and tear.

  • welcome to the wonderful world of workman's comp. thank god i do not have or use it. it is crazy world. a guy i work with had workman comp people video tape him because he could not lift. the doctors are rejects and they won't oay for things that the deem unnecessary or important. they would not pay for my friends meds because they were too expensive.
    good luck and i feel sorry for you
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
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  • Thank you for the condolences. Very much appreciated. It is bad enough to be hurt and not understanding the complicated world of back injuries. But add the more complicated comp. red tape and I feel as if I am the only one who cares if I get better. I hired an attorney thinking that would help. Now my attorney is telling me everything is going great because we are reaching the MMI date and Dr is happy because he has set MMI date at 1-3 weeks from now. I'm the only one saying hey wait up, I'm not fixed yet guys. Attorney sees a settlement and partial disability as the ultimate goal. Dr sees a red rubber stamp "Closed", as a goal. I would just like to be were I was when I showed up for work on that fateful day.
  • I had annular tears in 2 discs and a tear in the third. Sometimes the only positive test for these, as was my case is a discogram. It will confirm the painful discs. I would ask your Dr to have this before you try to settle. It could make a difference on what they decide to do in the future. If you need anything, pm me. Good Luck
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