Hello, I am a 21 year old male with chronic lumbar and cervical spine pain.
I remember having lower back pain as early as 15 years old. I told this to my doctor but he said I was too young for back pain and didn't even do an X-ray. I've always slept on my stomach (its the only way I could sleep as I have had insomnia since 16) and often had to put a pillow under me, then two, then three to alleviate the back pain, which was minor in comparison to now. Also I played Linebacker and was on the wrestling team in high school, both of which required a lot of running. For the most part I was fine, but once in a while I would have excruciating pain in my lower back to which I responded to by sucking it up and finishing the run, even tho i'd be close to tears by the time i finished (sports mentality). Over the years I've played on a lot of injuries, including a partial meniscus tear. Part of this mindset came from my desire to be a Navy SEAL since I was 7 years old and my love to overcome a daunting physical challenge.
When I was 18, I started feeling this weird clicking feeling in my lower spine/tailbone whenever I sprinted but didn't think much of it. I still continued weightlifting and was a certified personal trainer by this time. When I was 19 I was in the gym doing squats with only 185 pounds (I had maxed at over 400lbs) when all of the sudden I felt this weird, excruciating pain in my lower back. It was completely different than anything I had ever felt before but it went away immediately when I stood up. I stood their for a second and when the pain did not return I tentatively started to go down again. immediately I felt the same pain again and at that point I walked out of the gym. But I still had to work that day. I made it through half the day but then had to go home. By the next day my back only ached a little but I had this tingling feeling going down my leg and my left hip felt really tight. After about a month of this I finally went to the doctor, who was skeptical about a bulging disc because of my age, but she gave me a X-ray anyway. Upon review of the X-ray she immediately referred me to get an MRI. However this took several months because I have an HMO and my insurance company took forever to approve it.
The MRI showed that I have lumbar spinal stenosis and a bulging disc in L5-S1 and an inwardly herniated disc in L2-L3. It was believed that The l5-S1 bulge was causing the sciatica. The ortho's response to this was to prescribe three epidural injections, all of which did absolutly nothing. However after the very next day of the second injection I had extreme pain in my neck and could barely move for the next three days until it subsided. The pain management surgeon said that this had nothing to do with the epidural. About two months later the same thing happened in my neck again and the Ortho surgeon referred me to a neurosurgeon and another MRI of my cervical spine. Turns out I have a complete straightening of the cervical vertabrae (lordorsis) and a bulging disc in c5-c6. The neurosurgeon also diagnosed me with lumbar arthritis.
Ok, fastword to today. I'm almost 22 and my pain has progressed to the point that I have absolutely no life. I tried physical therapy, didn't help. I bought a latex memory foam bed, an inversion table, a home cervical traction unit, a foam roll, thera cane and multiple ice bags. I stretch, Ice and do various exercises religiously every morning and every night. All it does is help me make it through the next day. I have trouble walking more than 15-20 feet at a time. I have sciatica pain down to my toes, (although my foot just goes numb usually by mid day) and chronic lower back pain. My neck constantly hurts and the "knots" in my shoulders are massive. I am very familiar with myo-facia release from when I was a personal trainer, but none of these techniques alleviate the knots. I've tried chiropractic and deep tissue massage. Nothing has helped.
Unfortunately I have to work a 40 hour week. At one point I worked 65 hours a week, which I know didn't help me, but I qualify for almost no state aid and have to support myself.But this is all I can do. I go to work and come straight home, just doing basic erends after work is a gut-check for me.
As I stated before I have an HMO, which has made getting medical treatment extremely difficult. The first Ortho I saw was extremely rude and literally walked out on me when I was in the middle of a question. I have received several different diagnosis to the point that I'm not even 100% sure whats wrong with me. The only general consensus is that I'm too young for surgery. However I feel that my age is holding me back from sufficient treatment because doctors are skeptical of my level of pain, just like the doctor said when I was 16, "your too young to have back pain". This is partialy my fault because I was too prideful during the first round of appointments to truly admit how much pain I was in. However my pain level has increased 5 fold over the last two years, there has to be something I can do because I can't keep living like this. I have an appointment with a different ortho surgeon on september 20th to start the process all over. Is there anything specific I should bring up to him? What surgical options do I have? Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.