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30yo with spine issues

Hi there everyone,

I decided to try and get more serious about trying to find a way to improve my quality of life which has been severely reduced since my early 20's due to spinal issues resulting in chronic pain that i will describe in as much detail as I can below. This has been the root cause of my depression, anxiety, lethargy and hopelessness. In the past several years i have gone through phases of telling myself "ok, i'm going to be proactive about this and try to get answers" and then something will happen or i reach a dead end with a new doctor , lose my insurance etc and then i feel like i have to start all over again. I am hoping to meet others that may share similar experiences and stay vigilant. I just lost my job as a direct result of missing a week with a spasmodic episode which left me basically immobilized. Lost my insurance and am once again at a crossroads. Now the option of surgery has come up while unemployed. I have incredible support from my family and my care providers and don't want to lose momentum., but obviously want to exhaust every possible solution before going under the knife.

Ok so here is what i'm dealing with, straight from the most recent MRIs (dont know what most of this even means)

Multilevel severe endplate irregularities and wedge-shaped deformities of the vertebral bodies consistent with advanced Scheuermann's disease and increased thoracic kyphosis

Thoracic MRI june 2012: Advanced disc degenerative disease at nearly all vertebral levels with disc dessication, loss of heaight and Shmorl's nodes of vertebral endplates. Anterior wedging of midthoracic vertebral bodies T6, T7, and T8 with 20-25% loss of anterior height with "Scheurmann's like" exaggerated mid thoracic kyphosis with apex at T7 with Cobb angle of 32 degrees.
Multilevel thoracic spine degenerative disc disease, characterized by multiple Schmorl's nodes extending into the superior and inferior bodies of T5-T10 vertebral bodies, markedly advanced for age, with exaggerated mid thoracic kyphosis. most severely compresses the T9.

Lumbar MRI Feb 2012--
multiple schmorlls nodes involving the T12-L1, L1-2, L3 superior endplate, and L4 sup. endplate. Compatible with Scheuermann-like disease. Bone marrow edema pattern about the L2, L3 and L4 endplates. Grade 1 anterolistehesis of L5 on S1 with possible bilateral pars defects. Otherwise alignment unremarkable. Disc desiccation seen from the visualized lower thoracic spine to L3-L4 level. Small high T2 signals seen posteriorly at L1-2 L2-3, and L3-4 disks with annular fissures. The conus terminates at the L1-2 level. Normal in signal and contour.

L1-2 Mild disc bulge without sig. facet arthropathy
L2-L3 Mild disc bulge without sig. facet arthropathy
L3-L4 Mild disk bulge with minimal bilateral facet hypertrophy. Disk material encroaching into the inferior recess of the neural foramen bilaterally, causing mild bilateral neural foramina stenosis. no sig. central canal stenosis.
L4-L5 Moderate bilateral facet arthropathy with mild bilateral ligamentum flavum infolding, with moderate right neuroforamina narrowing.
L5-S1 mild disk uncovering with possible contact of the disk material and exiting L5 nerve roots, especially on the right. Probable mild bilateral facet hypertrophy

current meds -
amitryptaline 25mg at bedtime,
bupropion 150mg in morning,
oxycodone 10mg IR 2-3 times/day as needed,
Oxycodone (contin) 30mg 2x day.
Lidoderm patches as needed, and trying
Flector patches

been on relatively same dosage of opiod meds +/- 10-20mg/day for about 1 year now and am getting adequate relief (usually). thankfully not building too much of a tolerance.

Stuff i've tried in the past-
Have had 3 epidural cortisone injections , last one about 4 years ago i think. Physical therapy caused more pain, massage therapy helped a bit, but i can not afford those anymore either. Stuff i have tried and discontinued- neurontin, baclofen, remeron, nortriptaline, fentanyl 25mcg (worked well but fell off too early, def a better solution for the psycological benefits of not having to reach for a pill bottle as much.. just wish they actually stuck for 3 days!).. have tried many other antidepressants used as off label pain management but cant remember all.

My hope is that i can reduce or eliminate the need for opiates eventually. Right now they are a godsend, but I don't want to turn into someone that is lazy about looking for any "real" solutions just because a pain pill is available and an all-to-easy out. Really, they are chains- i have run out while away from home before and withdrawals+pain = HELL ON EARTH.

I look forward to getting to know you guys , and sorry for the lengthy post i just wanted to be thorough!


  • Cosmos82CCosmos82 Posts: 2
    edited 12/26/2012 - 7:57 PM
    no replies in a month, just wondering if this is an active forum? thanks everyone
  • I just joined here yesterday, myself.
    I can relate to your story well.
    I've avoided medication where I can (in fact, I think I avoided it too much early on - should have sought proper pain management then, but didn't know what that was as a "chronic pain novice"....)
    I too am avoiding surgery at all costs. For me that's working, but it's obviously not a viable choice for all conditions/ injuries.
    What are the kind of things you do, proactively to improve your situation?
    I've joined here to help me focus on that too - so that I don't let my awareness and effort drop off gradually... (Been there and done that too often!)

    Best regards
    Happiness is your chronic pain being less than it usually is...

    Migraines and so many herniated discs (the same ones over and over) that I have literally stopped counting
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  • I am surprised you are on such a relatively low dosage of pain medication based on your MRI report.

    I must admit that when I read this post originally, there was thoracic issues in it and I thought I would let those with personal experience with that area to comment. If there is no response from them, then maybe a post in the thoracic forum may get responses.

    I can certainly offer comment on lumbar issues based on my own experience, if you feel that is appropriate?

    Some more information would help, such as;
    Can you describe your pain symptoms to us? (Please see dermatome to assist with description - http://www.spine-health.com/forum/spine-health-announcements/dermatome-map)
    Do you have any nerve damage?
    What is your spine specialists' diagnosis?
    What surgery has been offered?

    As you will see by reading the posts here, this is a very active forum site with many posts per day. It's easy for a post to fall thru the cracks. There are also many physician written and peer reviewed articles that you can research on this web site.

  • First, welcome, sorry you have to be here especially at your age. I can't relate with the thoracic but can with the lumbar issues, also have cervical.
    In your intro you mentioned the psycological effects of reaching for a pill, I can relate. I also tried the fentanyl patch and didn't get the desired relief. There is a patch that works for me it is a 7 day Butrans, and use pills just for breakthrough. The only issue I have with the patch is skin reactions can be pretty bothersome, takes a week to heal once the patch is removed. but the relief far outweighs the irritation. irritation is from the medicine not the adhesive which holds up very well.
    Agree with DaveFusion on posting to the other threads to get more responses. Thoracic issues aren't as common, of couse I'm sure you know.
    Let us know how you are doing.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,314
    edited 12/27/2012 - 8:56 AM
    firstly let me say ..even the most hottest of topics will more than likely attract some attention at some time so please don't be downhearted ..now down to you ..you poor man .your got severe spinal problems there i am not too surprised that you are needing a higher amount of narcotics.have you tried gentle swimming ..i find that's help ..whilst i am doing to be the pain come on latter and it hell.unfortunately with you back i doubt you will ever to get off narcotics {i think many of us here including would love to come off them but without them ..its unbearable pain...i would have thought a massive fusion or AND artificial disc where ever possible to a massive fusion or combination of bath ..but my friend i think your in for massive surgery
    i hope things work out
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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  • Welcome and I am so sorry you are having so many problems with all levels of spine.. Even though I have cervical herniation I dont have any pain at this level. I have had 3 lumbar surgeries and last on May 24, 2012 was on thoracic 7-8. It was a failed microdiscectomy and still have problems with it. The pain in thoracic spine has been way worse than any other area of spine. I think the fact that there is not as much known about the thoracic spine and is rare to have problems here that makes me nervous. I have to go to specialist 4 hours away who dealt with thoracic surgeries.

    I hope that you are able to avoid surgery at all costs. Seems like once you start it is a domino effect:( Well I wish you well and please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing.

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