BACKGROUND: (1) Female, age 66, back pain for 25 years, controlled with Tramadol, Celebrex, and Tylenol. (2) Had a stroke at age 51 because of Factor V Leiden (blood coagulation variance), forcing me to stop teaching (one vocal cord paralyzed and other problems); take Gabapentin for nerve pain in affected areas. (3) Both knees have been replaced; both shoulders should be replaced but haven't been. (4) I was doing pretty well, going about my life, reading, doing things with family, putting up with pain and adjusting activities accordingly. (5) About 6 months ago, I started have shooting pains down one leg and greatly increased arthritis pain. Also had numbness and tingling in all extremities, to varying degrees.
CURRENT: (1) Saw an orthopedist and then a physiatrist, who prescribed MRIs (upper and lower spine). physical therapy, 3 epidurals, and also a "nerve study" (EMG) of upper extremities. The PT helps so long as I keep at it; the epidurals did not help. (2) Diagnosis: Osteoarthritis, scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, with some narrowing of spinal cord space (upper and lower), two bulging discs, sciatica, and a nerve impingement. (3) I will be seeing my physiatrist again next week, as well as a neurosurgeon. (4) I have aching pain that prevents my walking very far or standing very long, and I have sciatica symptoms pain sometimes (when bending too much or putting weight on left side first when sitting down).
MY QUESTIONS: (1) To those of you with similar conditions—How did you proceed after epidurals did not help? (2) I am fearful of surgery...which kinds are pretty safe, and which are riskier? (3) How hopeful can someone in my situation be about living out her life with only bearable pain and no wheelchair?
i know that these forums are not for dispensing medical advice—but I am interested in other people's experiences and outcomes. Thanks so much!