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Lower back, left leg and knee pain !!!!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Lower Back Pain
I am new on here and hoping to get some advice and help!!
I have had lower left back pain for about 6 yrs, about a year ago I started getting some pain in my left leg...I had been given many different types of pain meds and have had about 4 MRI's, all the Doctors said they couldn't see anything on the MRI that would cause the pain, so they kept giving me narc's and after about 6 yrs of taking the meds I started abusing them and became addicted to opiates,I put myself in Intensive Outpatient Treatment twice and looking at my family history I found out that I have inherited the addictive gene, I told my Doctor about my abuse but he kept on giving me Narc's. I'm not blaming anyone else, I know it's my fault because I'm the one who chose to continue to take the med's and to abuse them, plus my body had built up such a tolorance to the narc's that I was takeing a dose that would kill most people, just to control the pain. By this time I had also had six L3-4 nerve root blocks, and several trips to a Chiropractor and still no relief, the epidurals were lasting 2-3 weeks at most. Finally I went outside of our rural town of 6,000 people to Lincoln Nebraska to see a neurosurgeon and request a new MRI and an answer as to why I am having this extreme lower back and left leg pain, they did the MRI and he said he couldn't see anything... He suggested that I see a Neuropsychologist, I told him "I am not crazy" and I made him look at the MRI with me, I told him that there is something wrong with the area around L3 to L5, so he looked and looked and didn't see anything.... And then he finaly looked at it from the bottom up, and THEN he finaly found it!!! The disc at (I think) L3-4 had what he called "A laderal bulge" on the left side and it was pressing on the L4 nerve root, and that's what was causing all of the pain. So my Doctor scheduled my for a "Left Laderal Microdiscectomy", where they went in from the left side of my spine and carved the "Bulge" away. The first two weeks I still had pain from the surgery site, then that healed up and I was pain free for about two weeks and then the pain started coming back and radiating down the left side of my left leg, and it was WORSE than I had ever had before surgery. It so happened that at also during this time we were packing to move to KCK, and I was probably over doing it by lifting things, which I agree with but it had to be done. So after talking to my Surgeon he told me that the pain was from all of the packing, lifting, driving and moving, so he increased my pain med's which I was NOT comfortable with given my history of addiction, but like him, I didn't know what else to do except just lay down for a few weeks, but that was impossible. Now three months later the pain has gotton a hole lot worse and I am still taking pain med's, I have a new pain Doctor and he has now done three injections and each one has lasted about eight days and then the pain starts coming back, so last week I met with a new "Back Surgeon" and I like him very much, I explained my entire history including the addiction and the prior surgery and all of the injections, he looked at my post-surgery MRI and said " that doing another Discectomy would not help" he also said that "the first surgery should not have been done Laparoscopicoly, it should have been done straight on with a normal incsion, by doing it the way it was done, it messed with the Ganglion nerve, and the nerve is VERY pissed off" SO THIS IS MY QUESTION!!!!! And i'm sorry it took so long to get to it, but I needed to get my history out there first. Now, my new Surgeon has told me that I have two options.. #1 is that I continue on the way I am, and see if it heals up, mean while I am maxed out on the Injections that I can have for the next twelve months. Or option #2 is that they open up my back, from the back side and remove the disc and fuse my L4-5 vertebrea, this means that I spend four days in the hospital, and the next 8 weeks not driving or doing much of anything, which will be hard for me because I can't sit still. He also said that there is a 65-70% chance that the pain won't come back, but that also means that there is a 30% chance that the surgery won't help much at all..... SO I am asking for anyone that has experienced this to please give me some feedback, I don't know what I should do... The surgery seems very invasive and a very long recovery, up to a year they say..



  • I can't help you decide, only you can do that. I only have one question for you, are you tired of the same pain? Are you ready to work for a recovery? I also wanted to say the driving thing I was able to do as long as I wasn't taking pain meds. You do want to drive very defensively, don't take any chances. I recently had my surgery and it wasn't as bad as I envisioned. It was bad, but with the right nurses my pain was controlled and I was moving around the next day. It probably didn't hurt that my surgeon packed my spinal area with morphine before they closed. That way when I woke up I wouldn't have that jolt of pain that most talk about. The addiction thing is something you need a pain management doctor for. A lot of them do pop pill counts, where they make you bring in all your meds for them to count. Some also make you sign a contract about the meds. I also wonder if you were addicted or dependent. There is a diffence. Addicted is taking them to get the buzz, or high. Dependence is where your body needs the meds to function. Others can define that better for you. I really think you will make the right decision for you. It took me 10 years to make my decision so unless the doctor thinks there is an immediate need for surgery take your time. Write out the pros and cons. I hope you find some painfree days soon. You've come to a great site, I'm still a newbie but I've found some great tips and advice here. I would definately look up lumbar fusion because it is a big step.
  • Sorry to hear of your pain and your story regarding pain and addiction. It sounds like you have a very good surgeon who is willing to take time with you and listen. You are very luck in that aspect.

    Just a thought, can they determine which nerve is causing the pain and do a procedure where they burn the nerve to block the pain receptors from going to your brain. Just a suggestion and I am far from a professional but maybe it's something worth bringing up to the surgeon.

    In my opinion since your last surgery was so soon, I would suggest taking the neccessary time off that you need to relax, rest and recover from your previous surgery properly. From my experience, I was laid up for 2wks after my fusion but then was able to drive. I also overdid as you did and had a fall about 3 months post-op which may be the reason I have 2 broken screws.

    Having a fusion is a major decision and major surgery so please take your time to think of all the pros and cons of having surgery vs what his first option is and do research to see if there are other options that you can bring up to your surgeon. You will find a wealth of information regarding different treatments and injections and just about anything you want to know about the spine on this site.

    Good luck and keep me posted.
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  • Thank you for your support.. I agree, I think I need to hold for a while before making any big descisions, my wife was wondering about them cutting the Ganglion nerve also.. The surgeon didn't mention that as an option, I would think that would be less invasive, not sure. I will ask my surgeon about it...I just know that I do not want to rely on Narcotics to manage my pain for the rest of my life, I know that my addiction can take over at any time as soon as I let my gaurd down I am in trouble, my wife works well with me in the doses of my meds, and I am very thankful for that.
    I really appreciate your input, this is exactly what I am looking for !!
    Your friend, Les
  • Hi,
    You asked about my addiction, I never really abused meds to get a high, and it never made me feel that way.

    I guess it came to a point in my life when I felt like I needed the meds just to function throughout the day, as well as treating the pain, the longer I took them the more my tolerance built up and the more it took to treat the pain and the more it took to function.

    I think there is a very fine line if any, between addiction and dependant.

    Thanks you very much for your support and your input !! That is exactly what I need right now.. Not someone to make the descision for me, but to give me information on thier similiar experiences.

    Your friend, Les
  • Good luck with speaking with your surgeon. You should take a list of questions, concerns and suggestions to him so you don't forget to bring anything up. I'm with you on the narcotics. I have a highly addictive personality. I've been doing very good with my pain meds though and know to only take what I am prescribed. It helps that I had to sign a contract stating that I won't abuse them and they can do random pill counts or drug tests at any time. My pain mgmt doc does a pill count each month before giving me my new prescriptions.

    Keep me posted on how you make out with your surgeon after you talk to him again.
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  • Well i had 2 major back surgeries this time a 4 level fusion with 10 screws rods plates, i would not recommened it to anyone sry but i am having the same pain my buttocks legs r burning with pain and my knee i hardly sleep cuz of the pain.. also rec a neuophysical testing its not in my brain i feel the pain!! but i know how u feel just when i cut down the meds well here i go again i realize i will never be 100 percent but i wold like a life and return to work sorry to hear u are feeling so babd.. i really sux ro be in this pain idk if u should go through another surgery it might make you worse/or better think about that one
  • None of us can make the decision for you but we can tell you what we might do using our own personal experience as a guide. You have already found out that surgery holds no guarantees and can even make things worse. So you already know that it will be a gamble to consider more surgery. If I were in your exact same position I would not have surgery. At least not yet. If there is any way that you can at least hold off who knows maybe something with a better track record than fusion will come along and be a much better alternative. It sounds to me that your pain is coming from a nerve? Are you on any of the drugs that specifically address nerve pain? What about a spinal cord stimulator? Any chance that may help? I am not in the medical field and really don't know if these things might help but it would sure be worth checking in to before opting for another surgery that could make things worse. This is just my opinion but I hope that I gave you a few things to think about.
  • Thanks,
    I believe my surgeon told me that my "Gangalion Neve is really pissed off!! from my Discectomy in May". But I have had three epideral nerve root blocks with cortisone in that las 45 days, and now I am maxed out for a year on injections they told me.
    I have extreme pain that starts just left of my spine @ L4 and goes in to my left buttock and then fades away until it comes back on the left side of my left hip and then down my leg and thru my knee and then kida fades away going down the inside of my calf, my hip, thigh and knee are what really hurt.

    As far as meds go here is a list of pretty much everything that I am taking even PRN meds. I don't really care for my pain Dr. because after I told him my history, he still threw all the big "guns" at me without any kind of contract or any pill counting, my sobriety/recovery is very important to me, and it sucks because my addiction was to prescription pain meds, Iv'e never taken any street drugs, I don't drink or smoke....But if you would have given me a bottle of pain meds two yrs ago I would have used them to "Numb" myself from everything... At that point in time I was taking Norco 10/325 about 20-25 a DAY!! NO LIE!!! I was headed down a DEAD end road, thank GOD I realized what it was doing to me and my family, and I put myself in treatment. I have been clean for 18 months, and then had my microdiscectomy and my surgeon put me on hydrocodone 5/325 QID, and I did great with them, my wife helped me with pill counting and staying on schedule, Iv'e never had a "pain Dr." until now. My pain in my leg really started after my Microdiscectomy in May of '09 and has not gotton any better, it has gotton to the point where I am now with such extreme pain going out of my back and down my leg, it kida feels like you whacked your funny bone X10, with lots of pain, usually an 8 on the pain scale without meds, with my meds it stays around 3-4 which I can tollerate most of the time, I just wish I could somehow get the pain and/or nerve problem managed without Narcs, and I'm sure that is most peoples wish.

    This is a list of meds that I have taken on & off since my first surgery in May.

    Hydrcodone 5/325 not currently taking
    Lyrica 50mg TID working up to 100mg TID
    Oxycodone 15mg QID I don't like taking these.
    duragesic patch 50micrograms-used one patch & quit..
    Motrin 800mg BID PRN
    Ambien CR 12.5mg @ bedtime PRN
    Avandamet 2/500mg for Diabetis
    Diovan 80mg once a day- Blood preasure PRN
    Xanex .5mg TID for anxiety PRN
    Vitamins & fish oil

    Thanks for everyones continued help & support, it's nice that I can talk to other people that are going through the same things that I am, it's hard to explain to people even my wife, when they have never experienced this kind of on going pain, and the frustration that goes with it... You guys are the Best!!

  • I think we're in the same boat. I'm having issues at my L4/5 level - facet joint degeneration and hypertrophy, severe stenosis with impingement on some nerve roots, and a diffuse disc bulge. My pain (sciatica, severe hip, leg and lower back) started last February and I saw my surgeon about it in June.

    I've tried ESI, facet joint injections, and a diagnostic nerve block that would've led to a Rhizotomy had it reduced the pain significantly, which it didn't.

    So, my surgeon has also suggested a TLIF at L4/5. He says this is the only chance I have of getting rid of the pain in those three areas. I tend to be one of those people who would rather go ahead with surgery if my surgeon suggests it than putting on bandaid after bandaid. I tried PT with my cervical issues 1-1/2 years ago to no avail, so my surgeon said that he could do an ESI, but it would only be a bandaid - it wasn't a matter of if I needed surgery, but when. So I had the surgery.

    I'm in the same boat with my lumbar issues now. I have my surgery scheduled for Jan. 6 and will probably not cancel. Another consideration for me is that I want to be in recovery in the winter rather than waste my summer in a chair.

    Anyway, I understand what you're going through and I'm sorry that you have to deal with this. But that's why we're here, to give you support and friendship.

    Take care, Les.
  • I am glad to hear that other people have the same pain as I do. I live in a little town in Montana and have had pain going on three years now. the last time i went to my OS he told me to stop all my meds and just suck it up because this is what it is going to be for the rest of my life. I am going to another state in january to get a second opinion. I am at my wits end with the pain. NOTHING seems to help. I have been working out 3 times a week, going to a massage therapist and taking ib's and asprin with little or no relief. Hopefully my new dr will help me out!
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