New to the Forums, Mostly Dealing With Back Pain

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misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/10/2011 7:14 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone.

My name's Patrick. I'm 22 years old and I'm a student at the moment (although that may have to be put on the side burner..). I was also a waiter at Denny's until recently, when I lost my job in drama related to my health problems.

I've always had varying degrees of back pain since I was 12 years old. I have moderate scoliosis, but until recently that was the only thing that I though was causing my pain. Well, around New Years eve I had what I thought was a terrible 'flare up'. I've been basically bed ridden ever since. More like recliner-ridden, actually, because lying down even actually hurts more than reclining does! lol!

I called off work on a Holiday, and because of that I basically ended up getting fired. Some weird rule where you have to have an actual doctor's note stating that you were seen the exact day you called off...which I couldn't provide seeing as how my doctor was not in office due to it being a holiday. Now school is coming up and I have to make a big decision on if I should skip this semester or not.

My doctor looked over old MRIs which showed that I also had degenerative disc disease with some bulging in lumbar region. I forget which 'number'. I'm supposed to get a new MRI and see a neurosurgeon, but I see my regular doctor in the mean time. I'm on Hydrocodone, perscribed as Lortab, 7.5/500mg. It doesn't do anything for me, but I take it as perscribed in hopes of maybe getting SOME relief. I don't know if there are higher doses for it, or what to tell my doctor when I see him. I don't want to sound like I am whining...but I can't endure this level of pain, and it's affecting my life.

So yeah, Hi to everyone on the forums. I hope to find some advice on what to do about my condition, what kind of questions to ask and how to be a better advocate for myself. My main goal right now is to find out what is causing all this pain and find a way to alleviate at least SOME of it!

:)

Jim1969
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 2042
   Posted 1/10/2011 8:56 PM (GMT -6)   
I think most on here would agree that the last thing you want to do is go into a doctor's office and ask for a specific pain medication. Most doctors view this as drug seeking behavior.

What you do want to do is be open and honest about the current medication not working for you. Be specific and tell the doctor exactly how it is not working and ask what else can be tried. One important thing to keep in mind about pain meds is that the right medication at the right dose is more important that how "strong" a medication is deemed to be.

Also something you can and should do is start a pain journal/log and write down each day how your pain is, where it is, etc and if you have an increase or decrease in pain make note of what you did prior to that event.
2 confirmed herniated lumbar discs. Spinal Arthritis. Spinal Stenosis, diabetic peripheral nueropathy.

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/10/2011 10:35 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks so much everyone.

I'm not really looking for a specific drug. I have heard that certain ones work great for people and others not at all. So it could be that maybe I'd even need a lower dosage of a different med, for all I know. The ones I am on now don't seem to have any negative affect either, but I am semi worried about the non hydrocodone side of the medication. As in the aspirin or whatever it is that is mixed with it. It's like 500mg of it. Sounds like a lot to me when I need to take it 6 times a day.

I have been to physical therapy so many times, and I have actually done my exercises at home. Before this latest 'attack' I had lost 20lbs. I'm now back up to 190, which is still sort of borderline for my height, as in I am not actually considered overweight. I'd like to lose more and gain muscle, but I'm scared of what I can and cannot do. Since all this has happened I quit my core exercises that I was doing regular and also quit my cardio. I just can't do it at all, I can barely do anything really. So I mean, if the Dr. acts like it'll help--then maybe I could try something once I get this pain managed a little.

My main problem was that I have been treated for the scoliosis, but apparently not ever for the DDD and disc disorders in general. So I think that is why I found no relief. The exercises were designed to strengthen the side of my body that is weak and give rest to the over worked side pulling on the spine. So perhaps different exercises would be needed for this other condition(s).

I'll know more when I see my doctor tomorrow. I don't intend to ask for any specific medication, but I am going to be completely honest and tell him that I can't live with this pain. I may also ask if I can just drop the meds I am on now since I mean, if they do nothing...why take them?

I won't know most of things until I get my MRI and see the specialist I guess.

I'm just worried about things because it's like two polar opinions. An ER doctor basically told me that the MRI results showing a bulging disc and DDD disease could be a 'false positive' even though he didn't see them. He said I was too young for this and they often see bulging discs in MRIs from people without back problems so it could mean nothing. So he gave me another muscle relaxer and basically said my pain was due to the scoliosis. Basically he was saying I had no real problem and that the pain would pass I guess. Then my regular doctor sort of gives me a bleak outlook and makes it sound like I'd be disabled or at least unable to go back to my regular life. I don't think either of them really gets that this could potentially affect my entire life. I mean work, shcool, my income and family, it's all affected by it and I need to know what to expect. So yeah, thanks everyone!

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/10/2011 10:36 PM (GMT -6)   
Oh also, back surgery scares me so much. I've heard and known so many people who have gotten worse after surgery. I have had some who got better and improved, especially in terms of the scoliosis...but being as young as I still am I don't really know if it's a great idea. And my doctors seem to agree, but I'll wait to hear the opinion of the neurosurgeon.

Chutz
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 9090
   Posted 1/10/2011 11:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi mister~ and welcome to the CP family!

I'm going way out on a limb here and guessing you're a katamari player. smilewinkgrin I'm not a gamer but it sounds like it's a popular one.

Anyway, on to some of your comments....I have a couple of things to share also. First of all, I also feel that you should not feel bad about asking for help with better pain control. When a doctor first prescribes pain medication for a patient they are taking an educated guess at the kind and amount that will work best. There is no way they can know if their guess was right unless you tell them how you react to it. Make sense?

Like Pete suggested, start a pain diary. Here's a link to one that I, and others, have used with great success.
www.painfoundation.org/learn/publications/files/TargetDailyLog.pdf

This is also listed in the Chronic Pain 101 thread at the top of the page. There are also links to great topics and help there. It's well worth reading.

about the pain log, download a copy of this journal page and print one for each day. It only takes a couple of minutes to fill it out before heading to bed each evening but it's a gold mine of information for your doctor. Take the journal with you to every doctor appointment you have and ask them to review it while you are there. Don't take NO for an answer to your request. If the doctor doesn't have time to look at it then I'd certainly consider walking out the door and not returning. A good doctor will be impressed by your efforts and will be better able to prescribe pain medications.

Yes, there are lots of other medications out there to help and the amount you are taking is in the low range for CP folks with your kind of pain. Disk problems are extremely painful. I have a bulging/collapsed disk at L5/S1 and it shoots pains down my legs with the bulge hits on the nerve roots. Also have problems in my neck area so I can sympathize with you.

Another thing to consider is to get at least a second opinion even if it's not gone to the surgery topic yet. In the Chronic Pain 101 thread there is a link to university/teaching hospitals around the world. IMHO you will get the most advanced care and/or surgery available at these sites. And I'm like you...back surgery is scary! But, sometimes it's a great option and works out well. It's not often that someone with successful surgery gets on a health care forum to share how great their surgery was. Most often people come because they have problems, not successes. Just the nature of us humans. wink

Keep in touch and be patient if I don't reply quickly. My computer is down so I get on less often on hubby's machine. Rotten situation but one day it will be fixed or that machine will sail out the window and become a boat anchor...lol Somehow I got a redirect virus and who knows what else. OK, enough gabbing...

Stay in touch,
Chutz
Moderator on the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain forums

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. Albert Einstein

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/10/2011 11:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks everyone.

The pain journal will probably help me out. I feel dumb scaling my pain, because I always want to low ball it due to feeling 'weak' or whiny. I'll just have to be as honest as possible though, if I want to get over this at all!

One of my problems is that I have semi limited choices when it comes to a general medical doctor. My insurance allows me to stay within state, but I actually am closer to a nice hospital in the bordering state! The alternative to the clinic I go to now is one a few hours away...not exactly an exciting idea, but one I may have to think about if this one doesn't work out.

The guy I am seeing how, and I see him tomorrow, he strikes me both odd and thorough. He isn't as dismissive of me, but he also seems sort of set in his ways and a bit more abrasive.

I'm sort of scared of being disabled by this. I don't know if anyone else has that fear or experience of actually going through that, but it is a real fear of mine because I'm still sort of young I guess. I'd like to be able to get an education and career...but I feel like right now it's all I can do to just get by each day.

Thanks everyone for your replies! I'm definitely going to start a journal!

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/11/2011 1:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Well I saw my regular doctor today. I guess my MRI request was declined, and the doctor told me he can't help me at all. He said that he lacks the expertise and has little information to help due to the lack of the MRI. So I'm to see a Neurosurgeon on the 20th. Until then my doctor told me to stop taking all the pain medications if they aren't helping...and he basically told me I'm stuck with this until then.

So 9 days until I see this neurosurgeon for a consultation...if I get dismissed I just don't know what I'll do. I can't stand this pain and i can't stand how it's forcing me to live.

I guess also I'm skipping this semester as the doctor could only see me on the 20th...the exact day school starts. School is 30 minutes by car and I can't even sit up that long to drive, even without being on narcotics. Plus I'd be sitting around for hours in school and walking around campus...I just can't do it as I am right now.

So feel frustrated and depressed and, above all, in pain. lol!

I'll just have to take one day at a time and just survive until I get some help, I guess. I just wish I didn't have to feel so useless...

couchtater
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 1/11/2011 4:26 PM (GMT -6)   
I too suffer from lower back pain due to a totally collapsed disk. When my back's totally killing me and the pain med doesn't help me, I use an hot pad turned up to volcano level.
Sometimes it eases it.
You said you went to PT? Did they teach you the method to use to get in and out of a chair with little pain? Sliding to the edge of the chair, leaning slightly forward from the hips, and rise using your thigh muscles only? Then to sit stick your butt out like your sitting down on a toliet? Make sure to use only your thigh muscles to sit down?
They helped me with that pain avoider.
Joy

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/11/2011 6:29 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks couch.

When I went to PT last my pain was different and less intense, I didn't really have any trouble moving around. Thanks for the tip, though. I'll try it and maybe look up some stuff like that. If this kind of pain is something that is going to stay with me, I'll probably end up going to PT again. Right now, most of the time, I can stand up sort of easily but once I am actually standing the pain hits me like a sack of bricks. lol! So maybe easing up would help with that.

couchtater
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 1/11/2011 7:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Good luck with it all.
Joy

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 1/11/2011 10:19 PM (GMT -6)   
Alright, thanks Pebbles. Maybe I'll stop in on Thursday then. I'm eastern standard.
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