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Going to ER for DDD Pain Like Going to ER for Hangnail?

Xplorer4x4XXplorer4x4 Posts: 3
edited 09/18/2013 - 3:09 PM in Degenerative Disc Disease
I wanted some unbiased opinions on a comment a nurse recently made to me. To try to sum up my road to a DDD diagnosis, I have had back pain for like 10 years. I am currently 28. Initially X-Rays and MRIs were fine when I was ~20. Fast forward to present day,the offical MRI results are as follows:

L5-S1 Mild DDD. Small posterior annular tear. Mild facet hypertrophy. No significant spinal stenosis or foraminal narrowing. Small disc buldge.

L4-5 Mild facet hypertrophu. No spinal stenosis or foraminal narrowing.
When I was talking to a nurse over the phone, she said there is nothing wrong with me. There is no reason for me to have pain. Some time between the MRI and the phone conversation, I had to go to the ER. I had no pain medication, and was in transition stage of finding a new physician.She said going to the ER for my back pain was like going to the ER for a hang nail. I responded that a hangnail does not have you curled up in a ball almost in tears and I am no small man. Is it just me or does this nurses' comment seem totally out of line?


  • RTgirl2011RRTgirl2011 Posts: 511
    edited 09/18/2013 - 4:22 PM
    I recently went to the ER, because I have excruciating pain in the middle of my back, my lower back, and left leg. Keep in mind I have had 2 laminectomies/discectomies, 2 fusions, and a staph infection surgery in this hospital. I get there and there, they immediately check my heart and my lungs. They didn't even bother to check my back, not even an xray. They told me my back was just a flare up. I called the surgeon's office to follow up and they didn't even know I had went to the ER. I explained to the nurse about my situation and she was very upset the didn't check my spine. They immediately ordered me a MRI which I am having at the end of this week. I actually hope there is something on it this time. It very depressing when you are on tons of pain and your MRI comes back normal. I just want my pain explained. I totally understand what you mean about going to the ER for a hang nail. One more thing, I totally would told that nurse shut her mouth when she said that. Unless you experience terrible back pain, you will never know what we spiney's are going through.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,347
    it would be helpful. But, yes based on what your posted, you should not have any pain that OTC could not take care of.
    Now, the nurses phone call., her comments should never have been made. She may not think you have any problem that requires an ER visit, but that is for the doctor and/or the ER medical staff (not just the nurse) to say.

    One of the biggest problems we see is when a person has pain, they go to the ER and either after some testing or just right out tell you that nothing is wrong...

    Ok, that may be, but you would not be going to the ER in the first place if nothing was wrong. Sure people have different levels of pain control and some people get over excited about a problem.

    But that should be handled by the ER and any medical staff in a very professional manner.. Didnt seem like the nurse in your situation did that.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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  • Unless there was some accident or recent/immediately prior to your visit situation, that caused the pain to flare, then going to the ER for a known condition, because you were in transition from one doctor to another was not the best idea. They are not there to run diagnostic testing/MRI/CT scans unless there was a new trauma or other medical reason for them to do so, and as far as pain management goes, they are only going to give you a shot of voltaren or toradol and send you home....
    Doctors and nurses frown upon patients with chronic back pain who show up in the ER because they are out of meds, they are not there to provide you with a prescription for any interim.
    It is entirely a different story when you are in a motorvehicle accident, or other trauma, heart attack or true medical emergency, but a flare up of pain itself is not one.
    Should the nurse have expressed her opinion that way? No, she could have been more polite about it, but there isn't anything they can do to treat ddd in the ER.....
  • I went to the ER on a Friday night due to severe pain and no feeling in my hand. I had pain meds but was freaked out by the sudden on set of pain and numbness. At triage I told the nurse I had ACDF surgery in Dec. She said there is no such thing as an ACDF surgery. I tried to tell her the proper name of procedure and she wouldn't let me say anything else and walked out.
    Thankfully the ER Dr. did not act that way she sent had them do X-rays and an MRI just to make sure there were no problems with hardware. It's a shame how some nurses act. I know they have a stressful job and see a lot of drug seekers but they should really keep their opinions to themselves. Thankful that Dr treated me with respect and gave me some pain meds and muscle relaxer to help with pain until I could see surgeon.
    Acdf C5 C6 12/13/12
    Laminectomy and Discectomy L5 S1 12/12/13
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