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I am so lost right now...new to back pain...drs not sure what the problem is...

Started by 100000001354837... on 07/24/2011 8:15pm

Ok...I am a 35 year old manufacturing associate...my back pain started with moving a sizable piece of equipment at work in early May...however it has gotten progressively worse (pain). I have been out of work since May 18 due to this problem.

My MRI results are as follows...

Cervical...

There is low-grade multilevel degenerative change within the cervical spine

c2-c3 There is minimal uncovertebrel degeneration but no evidence of canal or foraminal stenosis is seen

C5-C6 Minimal disc bulge is present

C6-C7There is niminal disc bulge at this level only mildly indenting the ventral aspect of the cervical subarachnoid space

c7-t1 Focal prominence of the nerve root ganglion within the right neural foramen is noted of uncertain significance

T1-T2 Patent neural formina

Impression: Low-grade multilevel degenerative change is present with mild indentations on the ventral aspect of the thecal sac and mild uncovertebral degeneration on the left at the C2-C3 level

Thorasic

There is a tiny right paracentral disc protrusion seen at the T3-T4 level. A tiny left paracentral disc protrusion may be present at the T5-T6 level. These do not significantly deform the thoracic subarachnoid space

Impression: Thoracic spine imaging shows minimal degenerative disc disease as described

My pain is such that it is focused at my spine under my shoulder blade...I have felt debilitating pain in this area in the form of burning, numbness, aching and sharp pain. The numbness radiates down my arm and sometimes down to my pinky or thumb. It also radiates over my shoulder and along my ribcage making deep breaths, yawning, sneezing and choughing very painful.

My internist says that there is something obviously wrong...she sends me to an orthopediac and he tells me...and I qoute..."Your spine is completely normal, move with confidence that you are healthy. Sometimes we need to hear that we are fine." I was so dumbfounded I could not ask the questions that I needed to after his "conclusion". He prescribed me NSAIDS (which I have been taking for the past 3 months with 5mg of flexiril and 7.5mg of percocet for really bad pain) I am still in pain and not sure what the next step will be. I am scheduled for a brain MRI to rule out MS by my internal doc.

But at this point I just want to get well. My job includes bending streatching, lifted up to 59lbs and pushing up to 500 liters of fluid material...(most times it is 200 liters)...this is all very manual and hard work conditions...especially now. Problem is that this is a workers comp case...and at this point I am so afraid of them releasing me back to work and I either get hurt worse or something...this ortho just made me feel like it is all in my head. So guess what I did...I stopped ALL pain meds and only continued the NSAIDS...and guess what...my pain is the same...even worse at times...(waking up during the night with pain...more tired while driving...(oh yea...I drive an hour to and from work...how nice).

I just need some advice...help...understanding...this is the absolute worse I have ever felt.

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I am so sorry you are hurting. I feel you need to see another doctor. My MRI was no where near yours and I am on pain patches and have had 2 ESI (epidural steriod injections) given by my Ortho. I am going to a Neuro this week for nerve testing. You need to move forward for your own well being. Good luck to you

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I think u need to get a second opinion, try going to a neurosurgeon this time instead of an ortho. Also there is a test called a discogram that they may or may not be able to do for you. I know they can do it for the lower back, not sure about the upper. It's suppose to be able to go in and see where the pain is coming from. Also maybe an epidural injection would help. But I really feel that a neurosurgeon is the way to go. Just make sure u find the right doctor. Good luck

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I agree with Wendy Mack, you need a Neurosurgeon, NOT and orthopedic, big difference between the two. I am a veteren of five back surgeries in five years and one neck surgery and at this point I am feeling really good. In my opinion, at this point you should not be working because your job is making matters worse. You should be getting physical therapy and if the pain and numbness is going down the arm and the physical therapy does not help after at least six weeks the next step is cortisone injections. There is a 50/50 chance they will work. If all else fails, you will need surgery. The NSAIDS you are taking are worthless and the pain medication you are on is not strong enough. I take Endocet (aka Percocet) 10/650 and I only need 1 tablet. This scenario I described to you is what I went through before each of my surgeries and I am currently going through it again for another possible neck surgery as I am now in physical therapy again. Wendy mention a discogram which is something I had prior to my first back surgery and I pray to God you don't have to experience that because even though they gave me morphine, it hurt like $#@&^%. Most of all, don't be afraid to stand up to your doctors, they may have the diploma and the knowledge but IT'S YOUR BODY AND YOU HAVE THE PAIN. DON'T BE WILLING TO ACCEPT NO FOR AN ANSWER. Good luck to you.

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Salimah,

I absolutely agree with the other posts! You must fight! (I promise this isn't just crazy rantings!) I was injured in an on the job car accident. I listened to my doctors when they told me it was no big deal. I listened when they said its just a muscle injury. 2 years later at the ripe old age of 23 I was walking with a cane when I finally fought back. I demanded they change the medication that wasnt helping (and was making me so groggy I didn't want to take care of my kids). I demanded a second opinion - and from him I demanded a second mri. Come to find out I ruptured a disc at L5-S1 and it was getting worse. You have to fight when your gut tells you something isn't right. You may not always be right but right or wrong you need to make your doctors prove it to you. Thats the best advice I can give anyone in pain. And please don't worry about taking pain meds. I know pain meds have gotten a bad rep recently but heres my philosophy (and my doctors) - if you are taking something so that you can function then it is beneficial, if you are not functioning because you are taking something then its not. Basically, if it makes you a better you then its worth it. I would rather take my meds and be able to go to the store and to take my kids to after school activities than not take my meds and not be able to move and not be able to do the basic things my family needs. And your doctor knows best but be careful with nsaids - they can be hard on your kidneys.

And your primary doctor is the one who will release you to go back to work. Make sure that doc is someone you trust and that they understand your pain...as long as they know you can't do what your employer will expect then they shouldn't release you. Workers comp will make it seem like they make those decisions but ultimately they don't. Doctors do. But make sure your doctor fights for you. Workers comp does what they do cause it works. Most people accept what they say and don't fight...docs don't either. They are supposed to be there for the worker but thats not exactly the case. If they try to force you back to work before you're ready or if they try to close your claim before you and your doc think its time then please please please get an attorney! Don't wait! I thought I could do it on my own...I couldn't. Its too much! You can't do everything, nobody can - and thats what they count on!

I wish you the best and I hope I was some help. And I'm sorry...I think I rambled a bit. :-)

:-)
~ Michelle ~

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I totally understand you. We should always listen to our doctors, but they can be wrong. They are human! I had the same problem - job required me to do a lot of physical labor and driving, not to mention me being active. I had laser surgery though and feel great now. Your symptoms sound like surgery could be helpful but I am no doctor.

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I was injured at work as well. It took them 11 months for me to finally receive spinal fusion surgery. Fight for your rights and if you are getting no where get an attorney. When an attorney took my case, no money up front, I oviously have a case and my attorney knows my job injured me and there will be a settlement. Once she became invovled they had to listen. It almost sounds like it is a nerve problem. I had a discogram for low back, its a bit rough but tells you exactly where the pain is coming from. Good luck to you!

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Hi breadgirl,
It is Nancy,how are you feeling?I started to have a lot of pain on right side over the hardware site,doc says it will eventually need to come out.My neck has been killing me too,i have good days and bad days.How about you?
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy

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Hi breadgirl,
It is Nancy,how are you feeling?I started to have a lot of pain on right side over the hardware site,doc says it will eventually need to come out.My neck has been killing me too,i have good days and bad days.How about you?
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy

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Hi Nurse Nancy,
been wondering how your doing. Sorry to hear not so well! :( I've been ok, have gotten off the narcotics and now on ultram, which works ok, but I really miss my Norcos, but can live on pain killers forever. So they may be taking your hardwear out? why? Once in while I feel something in my back especially when I drive, it feels like theres a bump there and then I feel and nothing. PT says my body will get used to it but it does freak me out if I think about hardwear in me. So I try not to think about it. I have a FCE coming up end of August. I'm not feeling too confident I will do well. Only useing 5-6lbs at PT and my job requires much more than that. I guess depending on the results from the test come out, my work may let me go or if Pt and they think work conditioning will help. I gotta get up to being able to push and pull 300lbs. Yeah thats gonna take a while and from what my attorney says my doctor will more than likely put restrictions on me and I won't beable to go back to work 100% so who knows, all a waiting game. Well again sorry to hear your not doing well, keep in touch! Miss talking to ya

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Hi Mary Ann,
I was curious ,what is an FCE? I wasn't sure if they call it something different in other states.Are they sending you to a doc to see if you can return to his new pain in my work?I was also wondering how is the pain you have now ,and do you feel like you can return to your old job.I could not imagine returning to work at this point whether it be a desk job or doing my old job.I have so much neck pain,along with this new pain in my low back.I see my doc next week,praying i did not herniate the disk above already.If it is just the hardware i can live with it knowing he can take it out once i fuse,hopefully at a year which would be March,my doc says it is not meant to stay in.I have applied for social security,waiting for my hearing.Work comp is done paying me,they only pay you for 2 years.I am getting state disability now for one year and then we will see what happens next?I am sure my job will also terminate me sooner or later.,i hate not knowing what is going to happen.
Take Care,
Nancy

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Hi Nancy,
A FCE is a fuctional capacity evulation. They are trying to see if I can return to work on light duty, full duty or not at all. I also applied for SSDI. I am currently still receiving workmans comp and will until they settle with me. The pain for me has gotten better but still not able to do alot. I expected to be much better by now, but maybe I'm expecting too much. Who knows what any of us are suppost to be feeling by now. My surgeon feels I'm a bit behind where others may be. Therapy 3x a week and I see progress, but its more like strengthing not me being able to return to work. Honestly my job caused my injury and I know physically as well as mentally I do not know about going back. Makes me very scared to return to a job which caused all my back isses. I still have that tear at l4-l5 and a bulging disc at c5-c6. Who know I could blow them out and thats now a chance I want to take. At this time I don't see myself being able to do much. Can't stand for long periods of time without feeling my back getting tired, nor sitting for long periods of time and getting uncomfortable. So what are your plans? I know you still have issues with your low back, do you plan on fixing it? Keep in touch and thinking about you often. Take care!

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Hi Breadgirl, With your ongoing spinal abnormalities, you are correct: You have, at worse, a bomb waiting to go off; at best, another storm to weather sometime in the future. It seems most probable that you will NEVER be able to go back to handling/lifting heavy weights. You WILL probably, with patience, rehab yourself to manage, perhaps, up to 20 lbs. (That's where i'm at now 5 years post surgery and, advice from my surgeon, will never increase above that level! My youngest grandbaby is almost at that weight and is already very difficult to hold, no less lift!). Physical therapy cannot be rushed and, in reality, should never end. Therapists will continue to work with you as long as you are serious about your efforts and they can see some improvement, no matter how little. Oh yes, that C7-T1 problem described may be your shoulder to pinky symptoms. Maybe a new neurosurgeon may want to review that...

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Murifsto,
What type of back surgery did you have? My PT that I have is wonderful and definetely does not rush anything with me. Some of my problem may be mental, fear of being hurt again, who wouldn't be. I have had 4 children and let me tell you this back pain has been horrible. Better since surgery but rehab is very difficult, time consuming and just draining. I honestly do not feel I will be returned to my job, but with it being a work related injury I have to go thru the protocol of it all. I'm hoping to start back to school after I'm fully recovered and maybe try for medical coding. Something where I can sit down and not blow out my back. I know now that this will always be a struggle for the rest of my life. Having to always watch what I do, how much I lift and keeping up with exercises. It seems like a sentence sometimes but I try not to get down, stay positive. Good luck to you and keep in touch. Glad to hear from others who have had surgerys in the past and to see how you are doing.

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Murifsto,
What type of back surgery did you have? My PT that I have is wonderful and definetely does not rush anything with me. Some of my problem may be mental, fear of being hurt again, who wouldn't be. I have had 4 children and let me tell you this back pain has been horrible. Better since surgery but rehab is very difficult, time consuming and just draining. I honestly do not feel I will be returned to my job, but with it being a work related injury I have to go thru the protocol of it all. I'm hoping to start back to school after I'm fully recovered and maybe try for medical coding. Something where I can sit down and not blow out my back. I know now that this will always be a struggle for the rest of my life. Having to always watch what I do, how much I lift and keeping up with exercises. It seems like a sentence sometimes but I try not to get down, stay positive. Good luck to you and keep in touch. Glad to hear from others who have had surgerys in the past and to see how you are doing.

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Hi Mary Ann,
I saw my doc last tuesday,he feels the s1 screw may be what is pressing on my nerve and causing the pain and burning,he said the FDA recommends removing the hardware after fully fused,he usually likes to wait at least a year,He requested another MRI on my neck to see if things have gotten worse and if we need to approach surgery after hardware removal in back.I hear what you are saying though about feeling like this is a life sentence,but then again i know others have it way worse.I can't even lift my grand children,i can not imagine going back to work whether it be my regular job or sit down.My SSI hearing before the judge should be coming up sometime in the next 6 months,i have an attorney for that.Please pray for me and i will pray for you that we get it,Oh also i found a supplement at health food store that seems to be working for the nerve pain,it is called Nerve Sheild.Take Care,let me know how your FCA test goes. Nancy

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FYI, i had 2 failed lumbar discectomies followed, 6 years later and after being wheel-chair bound for much of that time, a triple: Fusion with hardware at L1-L2, L3-L4 and L5-S1. 6 days in-hospital followed by 16 days in-patient rehab (my legs had atrophied terribly) then months of rehab at a local hospital rehab out-patient center. The best feeling was walking out of the hospital on my own legs (of course i still used a walker for a while). Less than 3 years later, due to degeneration of my cervical spine, the same surgeon fused me from C2 thru C5 (C5-C6 was auto-fused!). Of course i still have pain and must undergo periodic radio frequency ablation of C2-C5 spinal nerves without which i get terrible occipital neuralgic head-aches and neck pain but i live with it and feel so much better than the deep depression i was in before my major lumbar repair.
It will get better. Stay with the rehab. Listen to your surgeon, he knows from a variety of patients. I am only one voice. I wish you the best.

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Thanks Murfisto,
your advice is very encouraging,i know i am feeling better with my back already,just a little pressure from the one screw on .S1 nerve,but the hardware will eventually come out.I do have disk degeneration in my cervical spine too,i am contemplating surgery in the future on that too.i did find that supplement that seems to help with the nerve pain.it is called nerve shield.
Blessings to you,
Nurse Nancy

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GOOD NEWS IS NO HERNIATIONS OF DISCS, just bulging noted,( which is where pain is coming from) .the bulging discs r presssing on ur spinal nerves,I suggest u see a neuro surgeon and bring ur MRI report and disc. Let the neuro surgeon make the decission. personally if u can avoid surgery, I think some rest,whatch ur movements and an anti-inflamatory might do the trick, but im not a doctor , just a nurse. But I do highly reccomend seing a neuro, and choose one wisely.and deffinaltly get 2 opinions b4 u make a descission. If u cant find a neuro through word of mouth, research your best hospitals in ur area, and try for apt. w/ one of the head surgeons,but word of mouth is always ur best recommendation, someone, or someone who knows someone who has seen this surgeon already,and his bedside mannor. Good luck to you,feel better. RENE,fellow spinal PAIN SUFFERER. .my surgery was in march.and at times pain is still unbearble,depending on what I did for day or days prior

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I so appreciate this forum. No one (even familly) understands back pain unless they have experienced it. I had some minor surgery on another issue and before I left the hospital, they were so concerned about the pain level, when you have a root canal, again so concerned about the pain level, but the worst pain I have ever experienced is with my back but you leave that doctor's appointment and they don't seem to care. When you can't stand for any length of time, sit for any length of time, do the things that need to be done at work or at home, it becomes not only a physical nightmare but a mental one as well. My friends are frustrated with me as I can't do things with them anymore and I feel bad as well. You feel that your life is over and that everything you once took for granted has been taken away. I have been to 5 doctors and have arthritis and degenerative disc disease and the last doctor said there is nothing they can do. I am afraid of stronger medicine so I take 2 Tylenol arthritis. He wants me on Tramodol and Neurotin.

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PAIN!
This is a cautionary tale: when one has unrepaired spine/nerve-caused pain, and some say that it is the worse pain one can suffer from, it becomes chronic pain. most pain managers see this kind of pain every day and know how to manage it. one real side effect of chronic pain is depression. i know it well. after losing 20% of my body weight and arguing with everybody on everything, my alert pain manager told me and my DW(darling wife) that i was suffering from severe depression and MUST begin a course of anti-depressants. It has been months of finding the right drug at the right dosage but i no longer argue, i stopped thinking about ending my life, i started eating normally and began looking forward to each day. Life is now much better for both me and my DW.

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HI THERE,
scond opinion always first next step.
2. consult w neuro surgeon, by recommendation, or surrounding hosp. w head neuro surgeon finding good reviews on internet or by recommendation again.
3. ur MRI doesnt sound like surery,( but im not a doctor, ) avoiding surgery w means of use of, ( anti- inflammatories ,pain meds, injections ) whatever u choose n condition requires/
Good luck, feel better. hope next blog shows some improvement. :) RENE

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I'm going to try once again to find someone who understands my situation......In other messageboards, I've been told that I'm a coward etc.....

I was diagnosed as having spondylolisthesis in 1997. I'd first experienced the pain in my lower left back in 1991. It was then put down to firstly; a crack in my coccyx, after a fall from top to bottom of the stairs. When the pain continued, it was assigned to a spread of the arthritis I'd suffered for some years.
Prescriptions for various anti-inflammatory drugs had no effect on my pain. Aftre six yeras of this treatment, I was unable to take the anti-inflammatory drugs, because they were causing serious digestive problems.
At that point, my then GP sent me for a series of X-rays. They showed that I had spondylolisthesis in my lower left spine.

Over the following eleven years, the pain varied in intensity: sometimes, it didn't affect my mobility at all, while at other times, I could barely walk.
I tried so manhy different painkillers and suffered horrible side-effects from some of them.

By the beginning of 2008, I was in constant pain and my mobility was seriously becoming limited. I had an assessment by an Occupational Therapist - when I'd fallen several times in attempting to get out of the bath. Her assessment brought about the installation of a shower by the local council from who we rent our house. I was also granted the Blue Badge for parking and was given a wheelchair.

My pain continued to disrupt my life and I used that wheelchair for over a year, every time hubby & I went out.

In the Spring of 2008, I changed GP. The one I'd been seeing had prescribed first, paracetamol and when that failed to have any effect, he prescribed Tramadol. That drug caused the most AWFUL effects; I was too dizzy to get out of bed without help and then I began to vomit twenty minutes or so after swallowing my morning capsules. My GP seeemed to have given up at that point. And that was why I decided to see another GP within the practise.

This one went out on a limb, trawling the Internet to find a drug that would give me some relief from pain, while refering me to see a consultant at the Spinal Clinic at the local hospital.

The consultant told me that she could SEE the displacement at the lower end of my left spine. She sadi I'd need an operation - a simple procedure, she said. She'd remove the compressed disc and put a couple of pins into the vertebra to prevent it slipping any further.

Before she did the surgery, however, she wanted me to have an MRI - so that she could be certain of the degree of vertebral slippage and exactlty where she needed to place the pins......
I had the MRI in April of 2008 - and a horrible experience it was. I was then called back to the hospital to discuss the surgery.
Suddenly, I was told that the discectomy I'd been told I'd need, would not be appropriate; what I'd actually need was fusion surgery.

Well I knew something of this procedure, having seen my former father-in-law go through it - and ending up worse off afterward.
At the age of fifty, he had to give up driving - so his beloved and- hard earned Mercedes rusted on his drive.
He had to take early retirement from his job - and so became dependant on State benefits. That lead to the loss of the family home - because he couldn't afford to keep up the mortgage.

But, I'm not as limited in thinking that I'd take that one case alone. I researched fusion surgery, onlne and I spoke with fusion patients face-to-face.
I spoke with six people who'd had fusion.
Four of them most BITTERLY regretted having it; they'd suffered MORE pain and LESS mobility afterward. Two of that four, had suffered failure of fusion and had needed further surgery to remove the grafts and implants.
Those whose fusion had succeeded were, suffering acute spinal arthritis, years after the surgery.

I decided NOT to have fusion surgery. When I spoke to my GP about that decsoon, he told me that he was glad I'd decided so. He had several patients who were enduring the effects of failed fusion - and who he could nothing for but to find them a pain relief drug that helped.

Now, in other forums within Spine Universe, I've been called a fraud, a coward and an ignoramus.

Why.....? Well, in the first instance, because I advised newcomers NOT to have fusion surgery.

In the second instance; I was told that declining surgery made me a coward. This came from a man who's had the operation, had it fail and is awaiting another operation......

Finally and, I feel, most hurtful, was to be told - most patronisingly - that I don't actually KNOW what's wrong with my spine.
This was because I mentioned that, in the UK, we aren't routinely told which number vertebra is casuing the problem. Ergo; people saying that they have a displacement of the L5 lumbar, or whatever, means nothing to me.

All I know is that I have spondylolisthesis. It's somewhere in the lower region of my left spine and I'm in constant pain. I've never been told which particular number of vertebra is displaced.

Does that make me ignorant and less deserving of support within these forums.....?

After all; I may NOT know exactly where the cause of my pain lies, but it's a factor in every moment of my life.

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Having been down a similar route, at this point I would start looking for disability attorneys. You should be seeing a Neurosurgeon as what you describe implies problems that point towards your nerve system. I am not a doctor.. You need the proper diagnostics so you can show your attorney the records of the MRI's and x-rays that the neurosurgeon will have to obtain. Good luck keep up informed of what happens.

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Maggi, My goodness there are a lot of folks who have something to say and say it!
Coward? Let those who suggest you are cowardly wear your moccasins for one day and then say you are a coward! You have a disease, without question; a disease that is shared by millions of fellow sufferers as, it seems, arthritis or arthritic changes in the spine are far more common than i realized when my body started to degenerate. I gather you love under the benefits of the UK and so must visit your assigned GP, who then has the responsibility to try to treat your problems to the extent of his/her expertise. This is unfortunate because you sincerely need to see a spinal specialist; either a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic surgeon specializing in the spine and, concurrently, a pain manager. Between the spine specialist and the pain manager, they should come up with a 'treatment plan'. You MUST, if at all possible, request to see these specialists as NO GP has the needed education, training or experience to provide adequate treatment for you condition. Please get proactive. It's the only way you will get better.
One more thing: Fusion is NOT the wrong approach to some spinal problems, it's the ONLY approach. Remember, i said 'some'. As to the extent of yours, only your specialist can recommend and only you can approve. Stop listening to sad anecdotes about fusion failures. there are far more successes than failures and if it is the right path to take, take it!

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I have had Degenerative Disc Disease since 2005 and I am so Frustrated I could cry. I have been an Engineer for Raytheon in Tucson, AZ for 28 years and have suffered with Degenerative Disc Disease for six years. I have been through the Physical Therapy; the Pain Management at the Pain Clinic and a lot of medication. I am currently deign treated by the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and there is still no relief. They just keep trying the same old technics over and over again just at different places. My own Neurosurgeon here in Tucson told me six years ago that I was too young for such extensive surgery at the age of Fifty-Two, so he sent me to a Pain Clinic for six years and the Degeneration continued as one would expect; this year (2011) my Pain Dr. told me there was nothing else he could do to help me, so he sent me back to the referring Neurosurgeon who now after six years said it was too back for Fusion, which is the only thing that he does and refused to do anything. I have a Brother who is a Doctor and a Cousin who is a District Court Judge; she said that I should sue my local Neurosurgeon to get his attention. I can't believe that there is so much incompetence in the Medical Community. Are they just in it for the Glamor and the Money, or do they really want to help people? I think that if a young person decides to go to Medical School, He or She should do it for the right reason or forget it. Too many people are relying on them for help, which they don't seem to be getting.

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David, I think your neurosurgeon is full of (nonsense-OK?)it. You cannot be too far along in DDD for surgical help not to be available. I was already in my 70's with severe degenerative disk disease and my surgeon (he is an orthopaedic surgeon with practice limited to diseases of the spine) got me out of a wheelchair and back on my feet and walking after 9 hours of surgery and 22 days of combined in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation! Find another surgeon, neuro- or orthopedic, but one who specializes in the spine and he/she will lead you to better management of your condition. Go. Do it! Do it NOW! Do not accept an answer that is certainly not in YOUR best interest!

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I appreciate what you say, murfisto.
However, in the UK, we don't have access, under our National Health System, to the variety of experts to which it seems you have access in the USA.

It's not true to say that my GP hasn't the eexpertise to understand my particular spinal problem; before going into general practise, he specialised in spinal problems in our countys' largest teaching hospital.

I HAVE seen a spinal specialist: it was she who recommended fusion surgery. Having done so, she passed me over to her junior.

That was the last contact I had with the Spinal Unit.

Pain Manager.....? I have spoken to someone who was supposed to help me find a regimen of drugs that would help me get through the days when my pain was off the scale. Not to mention the sleepless nights......When she'd reviewed my drug history, she shrugged and said,' I can't offer you anything your GP hasn't already tried.'

We have, in the UK, an organisation going under the acronym, 'NICE.' That stands for, 'National Institute for Clinical Excellence.'
They control the approval of drugs allowed to be released to GPs.
They also have the power to control the availability of diagnostic procedures and surgeries......

So, then, the average spondy sufferer doesn't have a great range of options, having decided NOT to have surgery.

Trust me; I didn't just listen to the stories of those who had failed fusion; nor did I simply read the results of long-term studies online.
I took months to consider, to weigh the data as it related to me - and taking into consideration other health issues I have that might have an effect with respect fto undergoing a general anaesthetic for as many hours as would be needed for fusion surgery.
I also studied the exact procedure that would be needed to effect a fusion procedure given the position, as I understood it to be in my case.
It would mean an abdominal incision - which carries sizeable risk of irreparable nerve damage, rendering the leg & foot paralysed.

Too great a risk, I considered.

So, I exist on a daily diet of Co-codamol and Gabapentin, for the pain. I take a Securon tablet each morning - to control a heart arhythmia and use three inhalers to keep my COPD under control.

Before going to bed, I take the pain meds and the inhalers - and two Amytriptilene.

The latter were originally prescribed as a tranquiliser, to help me sleep - with the side-effect of easing my depression. They haven't had either of those effects for a very long time - but I can't stop taking them unless I can be weaned off them, gradually

I'm in a very dark place right now.

What I DON'T need is to be given advice that has no relevance to my situation.
See a spinal specialist - when I already HAVE. Find a PaIn Manager.....When that person has told me I can't have any further pain relief than I already take......

I'll apologise in advance of beinng told that my attitude is negative and discouraging.......

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Absolutely no need for any apology! I understand the problems associated with chronic pain as i share those problems. The major difference is between the UK health care system and here, in the US. When i had my two bouts of extensive fusions, both lumbar and cervical, my surgeon required that i undergo extensive testing to prove to him that i would survive 9 hours of anesthesia; i passed the tests. I had no idea of your health condition when i wrote before so i have no business making suggestions, only offering information based on my own experience with the hope that it might be interesting if not useful. When i had my lumbar spine 'done', i was told a new approach to this kind of surgery would be used, and i thoroughly studied the process and enthusiastically approved as it would NOT involve the abdominal approach, rather the 'lateral'. You can google "XLIF" and "AXIALIF", techniques that were newly approved by the US FDA that year. A first cousin of mine had the almost identical surgery done to her at the same time but using the traditional abdominal approach. My recovery was SO much faster and less complicated than hers as my abdomen was not touched during my surgery. I have no idea if this approach is approved in the UK or if any of your surgeons are trained in its use but it certainly was much easier on me.
I, too, am on amitriptyline. My surgeon recommended i increase my dose by 10mg daily per week until i reach 100mg per day. By the time I reached 50mg per day, i realized i was too sedated so i worked backwards until i reached MY optimum dose of 30mg per day. I cannot tolerate gabapentin although i realize it would have been a useful drug.

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I've exhausted every option available to me.

Life is somewhat difficult all round of late.
My husband has been ill - a heart condition.
Tried to suspend my pain so that I could be with him when he's needed me.

The Co-codamol, the Gabapentin, they have little éffect in terms of easing my pain. Buit, I must continue taking both - because stopping them is NOT an option - as I discovered when I acccidentally ran out of Co-codamol last year.

Husband is under much pressure at work, I know that..

But I'm under pressure, too -because every time he comes home and brushes dust off the TV, it makes me feel so INADEQUATE as a housewife!
I HATE not being able to keep up with my housework.
It is NOT ME! Before spondy, I kept my house clean......
I do KNOW what's wrong with me; I have chosen NOT to go the route of surgery.

I'm very depresed just now.

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I certainly hear you. That my darling wife puts up with me is hard for me to believe. I do what i can, as little as it is... At least we're both retired.

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