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Recently diagnosed with Spinal Stenosis and bulging discs. My husband and I are stationed oversees. Seeking advice!

Started by 707780210@facebook on 10/04/2011 4:01pm

I think God himself made me aware of this forum! I hope someone will read this who might be able to shed some light on my back/pain issues.

I'm a traveling spouse who resides in Puerto Rico. This fact makes my situation that much more dire. I've experienced severe upper and middle back pains for the last two years. I was finally diagnosed in the States in June of this year: Spinal Stenosis and bulging/herniated discs (C5-C6 & C6-C7). My symptoms include pain in back of neck, through shoulder, proceeding to middle back area (right side). Every once in a while I experience a tingling sensation in my right arm, mostly in my tricept and forearm areas. On a scale between 1-10, I constantly endure pain that I would rate as an 8.

I visited a reputable pain management specialist in the States who recommended I receive Nerve Root Injections (NRI) . Subsequently, I returned to Puerto Rico and visited a pain management specialist who is not willing to give me NRI because he believes my case doesn't merit it. He further explained there are serious risks associated with NRI, primarily paralysis. He told me that my bulging disks are a legitimate concern, but the pain in my middle back is probably due to muscle rather than nerves since nerves don't travle the entire length of spine (north to south). Instead, he prescribed physical therapy, of which I've received six sessions. I'm sad to report that therapy has not produced ANY results and my pain persists exactly as it was prior to therapy. Note: He also prescribed me Hydrocodone in 5mg tabs, which has helped to take the edge off.

I don't wish to offend anyone, but the truth is I have little faith in Puerto Rican medical professionals. That is why I'm reaching out to anyone who might be willing to share perspectives, experiences or advice related to my issues. I'm only 31 years old and healthy otherwise. I'm depressed and worn out. I don't know exactly what I should do, but I'm nervous that I might have to deal with this for the next 60+ years. I thank you in advance for any recommendation or suggestions you might offer.

-Gina

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Gina welcome, yes this site is great, because we all have same issue just at different disc levels,and only a fellow sufferer can understand the pain we feel. As far as u being out of states, u cant ignore your issue, so I suggest finding best hosp, n then seing if on staff they have a good neuro surgeon, Being in service usually you guys can get best of care and docs, u just need to do a little background research on ur surgeon n they usually r located out of the better hosp. Isnt VA helping u w some guidance n names of surgeons.In all my years of nursing our VAs always were seen by best docs. good luck on ur venture,...always here to try and help out w any ?s u might have.plus theres quite a few of us nurses on this site that r always willing to try n answer a ?...were not doctors, but we know how system works.. Stay strong, be patient ,(always get 2 oppinions,atleast) refferals from others whom have had surgeries are always ur best bet, n when ur in waiting rooms, ask people about their experience w that doc,,youll b a bit surprised what people tell u. Hang in there, feel better n good luck. :) :) :)

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I have a nerve root stenosis (not central cord as that is potentially much more serious) at C-5. At first I had some of neck and shoulder pain (not a bad as 8 for sure) but then I started having tingling and worse than that certain finger simply stopped responding to commands. For example I could not touch my little finger with my thumb or at least not with any force at all. I was referred to a renown neck surgeon. He reviewed my MRI's and sent me for both physical and occupational therapy. He stated that many of these cases will resolve with time but it was important that if the weakness and lack of response to commands persisted for more than 3-4 weeks that i would be absolutely necessary to relieve the compression of the nerve root surgically as the disability would become irreversible. He stated something like pain is not a reason for surgery but function IS. Fortunately, my disability did resolve within the time he specified although occasionally I do have tingling in that hand so far no failure of major function.

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Hi Gina
Being in the Military or Military spouse. You could catch a hop over to state side to see a Dr. on one of the better bases. I wouldn't suggest surgery in Puerto Rico. The Hop is free and the Hospital is free so I would go that route.

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Thanks to all for taking the time and making the efforts to reply! I really appreciate it!! Just to clarify, my husband works for the government, not the military. Therefore, we don't qualify for VA benefits.

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You seem awfully young to have spinal stenosis and bulging disks. One disk maybe. Before you commit to NRI please do some research on the latest back surgery techniques such as micro-surgery. Check the skills of the neuro-surgeon or neuro-orthopod before going the surgery route. I had back surgery in 1971 (yes I am old) and had 25 years of peace. Ten years ago I was told that "nobody should touch your back". Today I'm told the small, loose, fragment of a disk I have by my nerve root can be removed relatively easily. You say you are depressed. Depression can magnify pain immensely. Conversely long-term pain can cause depression. It may not be clinical depression, but it may be keeping you from getting mobile which helps back pain. A viscious circle. A mild anti-depressant such as Celexa might help. Begin a strict light exercise regimen under guidance of a PT to improve your mental strength. Be nice to yourself. Be very careful though. A good PT is hard to find. If an exercise hurts do NOT do it. You are young and will heal quickly, but you need to help your body with this one. That is crucial. I speak from a lot of experience. If you are over-weight, diet and lose weight. No sugar, salt or fat if at all possible. You also might try Flexeril or another muscle relaxant. And lastly: Do you get enoug quality sleep? I get horrible backaches IF I DON'T GET ENOUGH GOOD SLEEP, and if I get too big around the waist. I recently lost 20 lbs because of my disk problem. It helped a lot. Good luck.

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