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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

I was reading your post about your upcoming surgery for spinal stenosis among other problems. Forgive me a longwinded post, but I just wanted to share with you a story about my mother. She is 75 and has had increasing back pain for about 10 years. In September, she got up one morning and was unable to walk due to weakness in her legs and excruciating pain. She was hospitalized near her home in WV where the doctors there told her she had "neuropathy" that was causing her problem. She was there as an inpatient for nearly 3 weeks. No CT, MRI, etc was done, just flat films and a bone scan. She came out of the hospital with the same symptoms and went home where she was able to manage, POORLY, for 3 days before she had to be admitted to a rehab facility (read: nursing home)I had tried to get her to have more tests done in while she was hospitalized but she didn't want to upset the doctor. My mother is also an RN, and has a very deferential attitude when it comes to doctors. She would NEVER question one. After 3 weeks in the rehab facility, I finally talked her into seeing a local neurosurgeon, the ONLY one within 100 miles! She had an MRI done before she saw him and was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and some arthritic spurring. He was about 40 years old and after seeing her told her, "if you were younger I would suggest surgery but at your age, it's best for you to realize that you're slowing down and just take it easy. We can do epidural injections to try to control your pain" I was livid to say the least! She is active, fit and trim and in good health with no major disease issues. She was ready to accept that and wouldn't listen to anything I had to say. After 2 sessions of injections, which DID help the pain she was about ready to settle for his opinion. I finally talked her into going to a large medical center in NC, just for a second opinion before she gave up. The neurosurgeon I made her appoinment with there was about 65 and told her there was absolutely no reason for her to live the rest of her life in a wheel chair and in severe pain. He told her the same things I'd told her. He like me had a major concern with epidural injections for pain management when there is a problem that needs surgical correction. We both see it as a "bandaid". You do nothing to fix the problem, just cover up the body's response to it, thereby allowing even more damage to occur. If you have pain that has no hope of surgical intervention, that is a different matter of course. But to give her that as her only option had really bothered me and it bothered him also. The point of the story is this.. she had the surgery 4 days after seeing the doctor in NC. She went back to the nursing home the next day, stayed for 3 weeks and is now home, alone and doing GREAT! Yes, she still has pain. But I keep reminding her when she calls me complaining of hurting after doing her laundry, which necessitates her going up and down the basement steps, that she was ready to settle for not walking just a few short months ago. Hers is all in her lower back and mostly down her right leg, but it's getting better every day. She is not driving yet because she's still a bit scared of not having enough strength in her leg to be safe. She walks her dog 1/4 of a mile about 4 times a day, climbs in and out of the tub alone, and does a LOT of things she really shouldn't. The reason I wanted to share this with you because you mentioned your age in one post and I wanted you to know that people older than you are having good outcomes from various back surgeries. She didn't have to have a fusion, though it was mentioned pre-op just as they mention all the possible side effects and complications. I hope things go well for you and will keep you and all the others here in my prayers. *S* I also wanted to tell you that as far as I know, lower back usually means lumbar and sacral bones, nerves and other tissues. Since this area feeds nerves to most everything below your waistline (internal organs as well as skeletal structures) that is why we tend to have pain in our buttocks (remember the old 'sciatica' complaint of our grandparents?), hips, thighs, and even lower in our legs when there is any problems in the spine of that area. Didn't mean to ramble so.. *S* Best of luck to you and everyone posting here.

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