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One Herniated Disc/ Two Degenerated Discs

Started by Mrs.CLC on 09/14/2010 5:28pm

I am a 27 year old female. I herniated my L4-5 about six years ago now and went through everything imaginable to help the pain (epidurals, physical therapy, chiropractors, meds, etc.) which was intense across my lower back towards the right side and shooting through my buttock into my right thigh. I finally ended up seeing an Orthopedic Surgeon in December 2009 when I started losing feeling in my right outer calf and foot. He informed me that I also had two degenerated discs (above the herniation and below) that were basically completely gone. He recommended a discectomy , which I had in January 2010. About three months into my recovery I woke up very stiff and leaned forward slightly only to be hit by blinding pain. I was told that I most likely re-herniated the same disc (that is definitely what it feels like). I have been trying to cope with the pain but I am at my wits end at this point and have recently started feeling something similar to grinding in the area. I have permanent nerve damage in my right leg and foot already. My family doctor is prescribing me Norco 10/325 four times a day (which I was told is a lot) and it is just simply not working. I am afraid to ask for stronger medication because of the risk of addiction (as it is, if I don't take Norco for a while I start to feel ill) but I just can't handle it anymore. On top of it all my husband and I want to have a baby very badly and I just don't know how that will even be possible which is devastating for me. I see my family doctor on Friday 9/17. Does anyone have ANY suggestions for me? Maybe a medication or alternative treatment? After doing some research today I'm starting to think maybe a stronger medication isn't a horrible idea. Any input would be really appreciated!! Thanks for reading this, sorry it is so long!

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10 Responses

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Aww hun I'm sorry for all that ur going through!!!! Ask for a mri and emg study to better pin point where ur problems lay. Don't give up hope!!!!:-)

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hi mrs. crc
as far as pain relief i would change to a pain dr instead of using the GP. several drugs may be the best bet for you. there are drugs like lyrica and neurontin that may take away more pain than the narcotic. a NSAID and tylenol may also help. why not see an expert in pain relief.
it sounds like you really have to stabilize your spine by possibly getting a fusion. if the fusion works you will then be in a better position to care for a child. if you have a child now i wonder if the spine can handle the work load.......pete

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Thanks for the input everyone. I have seen a pain management doc and he did some injections and tried some meds. Then he basically said I have no clue, go see the surgeon. Supposedly the best in my area. I am currently on five Percocet 10's a day and not getting much relief for constant 10 level pain. Trying to avoid the fusion, everyone tells me they are in more pain after the fact then before, even certain specialists. I saw a Neurologist recently and she gave me some information that I didn't have before and seems that she will be very helpful. I am in so much pain I have resorted to taking more than prescribed daily (VERY BAD, I know) and ended up running out early which puts me in quite the predicament. Do I tell my doc this? Will he label me a drug addict and cut me off or throw me in rehab or something? I am not an addict, I'm just in too much pain. I'm becoming very depressed and thinking about dying a lot (don't freak, I wouldn't hurt myself, it is an obscenely selfish act). I don't know what to do. I am currently in unbearable pain (sobbing for hours now), have weakness in my legs, also having trouble standing up straight. I am waiting on MRI results the neurologist ordered. She also did an EMG which showed major compression of my S1 nerve on both sides. I can call my family doc (he gave me his cell number). My husband wants to take me to the ER, but really, what the hell are they going to do? Give me a couple shots, write me a worthless prescription for Vicodin, and tell me to see my doc Monday. Any thoughts? Soon hopefully? Please help me. =(

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People who want help seem to know how to shoot themselves in the foot.

If you were given pain meds for a specific time frame, then you either take them as prescribed and keep being allowed a refill, ask for more or different medicine as that is not working, or take them like you are, whenever you want and run out early and then say "I am not addicted"

I would also add that while you may be in considerable pain, I 100% doubt you are at a 10 all the time.

No matter where I have gone a 10 is passed out from pain unconscious, etc. and something like a 9 would be if you were having an injection and during that injection the Dr. touched a nerve and you got that pain in your leg where your leg spasms and has a stinging feeling.

I cry a lot from pain and I put my pain at an 8. One reason people don't get help is that they over exaggerate their pain levels and Dr's know this. I had a long talk with a Dr. the other day about pain levels and they said they find it very interesting when they ask a pain level and someone says 10 and they are laughing and joking, talking on their cell phones, etc.

You need to be on something long acting and prob stronger than perc's. Have you tried asking about something like morphiene or methadone?

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that stinks, I hope you feel better Mrs.CLC

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Ask you pain Dr. about a spinal cord stimulator

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Thank you very much to SP.
Kytom - What exactly is a spinal cord stimulator?
Backhurtsinthisarea -
One thing I have learned over the years is that pain in interpretive. Your 10 is going to be different from my 10. The way my docs have always described a 10 is as "the worst pain you've ever felt in your life. To the point of making you cry.". So using this as my basis, I would not be exaggerating anything - this is in fact, the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. Also, I am well aware of how to take prescription medication. After dealing with this type of pain for a little over six years now and the multitude of other major medical issues that make it very hard to treat me, I'm at my wits end. It just came to a point that I simply didn't care anymore. I only took extra medication for about four days, then contacted my doctor's office. He just started me on Subutex, about twice the normal starting dose, (which I was a little nervous about) and it is working very well (it is a sublingual med and tastes horrible - only complaint). I have made appointments with a new pain management doctor and my orthopedic surgeon, so I am hopeful that things will get better soon. Thank you for your input and I just want to let you know, in the friendliest way possible because I do believe you were trying to be helpful, that your writing style comes across slightly condescending. Good luck in your pain journey, praying that you all feel better soon! =)

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I am very sorry for your pain, and yes you do need to see a pain specialist who understands treating opioid naive patients (going from Vicodin or Percocet to Buprenorphine/Subutex sounds like a shortcut to me) - I've been in pain for 12 years and they are finally trying me on a BuTrans patch (Bupe) now.

And as far as the the pain ratings chart, it isn't interpretive, but it is subject to the patient's education by their doctors or online education by other pain patients. Someone who is new to actual pain treatment should be given a little bit of kindness by others in pain and those treating it...

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Hi Mrs CLC
Sorry you are suffering so much, I understand what you are going through. In 1986 I had surgery for a ruptured disc at L5/S1, and yes 3 months later it ruptured further and had further surgery. After a few years the spine became so unstable I had a fusion. For 2 years after I still had a considerable amount of pain but it was different than before, it was then that the surgeon recommended removing the hardware, (rods and screws). Though it took a good year or two to settle down I was pretty good for a number of years. I now have 4 herniated discs and a whole bunch of other stuff going on with my back. The fusion did work for me and given what I was like before I would do it again. I never had relief from the injections, I did get some relief from acupuncture, but like everything it was temporary. Today I take Demoral as needed, amitriptyline and advil which helps with the inflammation. Some days are better than others, but I often just sit and cry as the pain makes it difficult to sleep and pain just wears you down. During the warm months I use the swimming pool as much as possible, this helps even on days when it's so painful just to walk.
I think it is difficult to put a number on pain, the worst pain I felt was when I woke from the fusion, so today if I was asked my pain is no where near that, but it is still extremely painful.

I hope you will soon find some relief, but I agree with someone else who said perhaps you should take care of yourself before you have to look after a little one.

Good luck

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Your pain sounds similiar to mine. I had a fusion l5-s1 march 2011. I don't regret it but it is definetely not a surgery for whimps. I had been on morphine for over 6months prior to surgery and this made my recovery much more difficult. I had to be weaned off it post op and with all the other recovery your trying to do after surgery was very difficult. I made it thru it and recently just weaned myself off Norco. That sort of sucked as well but I didn't use any withdrawl meds with it. I definetely was sick to my stomache alot and I could tell my body missed it. I was put on Ultram (tramadol-generic) and it works but not as well as the Norco. I've been told it can take 12-18months to completely heal from a fusion surgery. I am almost 6 months post op and my PT feels I'm about half way thru it UGH! Its a long road back but I think it will be worth it. If I were you I would get to a doctor who only does spine surgery and a pain management group. They are much better equip to handle your pain and can give you a much better cocktail of meds to help you. Good Luck!!

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