What if they can't find the reason for the back pain?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 495
   Posted 2/6/2008 3:53 PM (GMT -6)   
So some of you will remember various posts of mine in the past.

A brief (or not so brief) summary is:

I woke up in the morning one day in October 2000 in more pain than I had ever felt in my life.
Over a few months I was finally diagnosed with having ruptured two discs (the L4-L5-S1) and each was pushing on a nerve, one down each leg...
In 2003 I was no longer able to deal with the pain, and had my lumbar fused at the L4-L5-S1.
Things were great for a yearish.
Then pain started coming back slowly getting worse.
I started back on pain medication.
I went to a doctor and was told they couldn't see anything new. I went to a chiropractor for a few months, and did physical therapy for a few months, both told me the same thing, there was something underlying that they hadn't found or the shots/pt should have helped... I shouldn't still be getting worse. Both mentioned that it could be scar tissue trapping the nerves or pulling and pushing in places they shouldn't be.
I went to a pain doctor who only did shots, and after 4 rounds of more than 20 shots each, I was told they were nerve blocks and trigger point injections. Well, of course I got no relief. Same thing - I should be feeling pain relief, something had to be causing problems that couldn't be seen. He warned me that getting operated to remove the scar tissue would probably create more problems than it would fix, they could very easily make it worse, and the scar tissue would come back worse.

So I got a new PCP - she's awesome.
My new PCP signed me up for pain management from a doctor who booked me three months out (as the first availible). I got a call a week prior and told they were no longer taking new patients and wouldn't see me.

In december I had weight loss surgery, with the hopes of less weight meaning less pain.
Since the surgery the pain has gotten worse, even with me being sixty pounds down my pain has worsened.

I had a CT scan done last week, and was told afterwards that my doctor would have the results in by the end of the day (it was done around 3pm)... my thoughts prior to the new CT were - I'm screwed either way. If they find a new cause I've hurt my back worse, if they don't what's making it worse. Either way I'm dealing with more pain.

I'm waiting for my doctors office to get back to me on the new pain doctor, and results of the CT. I was happy/scared about the fact I was told the results would be given ASAP to my doctor. Normally I'm told a week.

So here is a question... do any of you have scar tissue issues from a surgery that are bringing back the pain? If it turns out that they can't find anything else wrong, what are the chances it's scar tissue? I'm looking for any advice, or ideas. All I know is that my pain is getting worse, and quickly, and I HATE the idea of more pain meds, but seeing as how what I have is barely working I don't know any other way to handle it.

"When we come to the edge of the light we know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, of one thing we can be sure; either God will provide something solid to stand on... or we will be taught to fly.'"

"Cause when push comes to shove You taste what you're made of, You might bend, till you break Cause its all you can take; On your knees you look up Decide you've had enough, You get mad you get strong Wipe your hands shake it off, Then you Stand" From "Stand" by Rascal Flatts
Dx.: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Ulcerlative Colitis, Chronic Inflammation of the Colon, Ruptured & Fused L4-L5-S1 w/pinched nerves, Degenerative Disc Disease, Chronic Costochondritis, Back Muscle Spasms, Asthma, Benign Tremmors (hands)

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16605
   Posted 2/7/2008 12:30 AM (GMT -6)   
Tammy yes, I have seen people particulary its been ones with fusions for some reason that has had scar tissue to form and cause terrible pain. The way I understand it is, some people are more prone to build alot of scar tissue than others. I am one of these that does build up scar tissue and it has created some difficult times for me. There are certain areas of the body that its easier to remove scar tissue than others. Most of the time if its a person's back the drs tend to want to leave it alone because it will come right back. Sad but true. They can also cut out too much scar tissue and open up a whole new can of worms. I sure hope they can do something to help you. Hugs, Susie

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2008
Total Posts : 28
   Posted 2/7/2008 6:35 AM (GMT -6)   
Thats what happened in my shoulder..I have not had surgery but I have scar tissue pushing on the nerve that runs from my shoulder to my neck and it kills...I have two herniated discs in my back aswell and never even considered surgery for that...just too much to risk and if my pain is managed right now..chances are its only going to get worse so leave it be...but sorry to hear..hope it all works out for you

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 649
   Posted 2/7/2008 4:38 PM (GMT -6)   
I am the adhesion Queen! :-) Oddly, the scar tissue caused problems everywhere in my body except for the fusion and plating done in my neck. That pain I cured by myself after the medical system gave up. Sometimes enough stretching, exercising and weight bearing activities will bust up the adhesions, or result in strong enough muscles to take the stress off the skeletal system. My knee is packed full of scar tissue, and that got much better after I built up the muscles - particularly with rollerblading. The side-to-side motion hit the right muscles. Of course, all that activity hurt something awful the first few weeks, but it was worth every bit of it.

If I could exercise my way out of the problems with abdominal adhesions, believe me, I'd do it! Those I'm stuck with.

Scar tissue is the normal body response to any inflammation. That can be inflammation from infection or trauma, like surgery. The body tries to heal itself, so scar tissue forms. This process begins immediately, but symptoms don't always present early on. As the scar tissue ages, it gets tougher and thicker. Some people tend to grow only a little; others grow a lot; but all it takes is a bit in the wrong place to cause problems. It's entirely possible that you've got some wrapped around a nerve. Adheliolysis surgery is such a difficult decision. Additional surgery will probably buy you some weeks, months, or even years of relief. It all depends on if your body reacts to the additional surgery in the same manner. A good surgeon will be meticulous about blood loss and keep the incision as tiny as possible. Cox II anti-inflammatories have been shown in some studies to be effective at keeping scar tissue at a minimum if taken 2 weeks before surgery and continued for another 2 or 3 weeks after. Anything to keep inflammation to an absolute minimum.

Another bad thing about scar tissue is that it doesn't show up on tests. It's soft tissue, so x-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds and MRIs are useless unless the scar tissue has pulled some major structure far out of it's correct position. Adhesions are a common side effect in women with endometriosis, and it's usually not found until surgery is done. In some women, the adhesions will pull ovaries or the bladder very obviously out of place, which makes diagnosis easier for the doctor. Yet another bad thing about adhesions is that many doctors do not believe they cause problems, so that's another battle to be fought.

So there you have the short version of my adhesions lecture. :-)
Living in the Republic of Texas minus a gallbladder, a couple of cervical discs, appendix, uterus, and 18" of colon; but still alive and living with my husband, 2 dogs, 1 cockatiel, 1 quaker parrot and 2 gold fish. 

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