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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

New Here
May 26, 2009
My name is Kathy and I am new here. I am looking for information and opinions.
I had a discectomy at L5-S1 approximately 6 years ago.
I had a decent period of relief. I had some bouts of sciatica and muscle spasms. One day, I picked up my then 3 year old...who was about 45 lbs. I felt something pull in my back and my sciatica and back pain started again. An MRI showed a bulging disc at the site of my previous discectomy. A neurosurgeon in the same practice where I had been treated previously advised that I wasn't a surgical candidate at that time and referred me to pain management. I spent 2 years under the treatment of a pain management Dr. I tried various injections, nerve ablation, the trial for a spinal cord stimulator. All of these things offered some level of relief, for short periods of time. I didn't go with the SCS because shortly after my trial, I was laid off and no longer had insurance. When I lost my insurance, I changed back to just seeing my primary care Dr. He was treating me with Zanaflex, Ultram, and an anti-inflammtory in three month cycles.....much more affordable than seeing the pain mgmt Dr, as I was paying for everything out of pocket. I muddled through the past 3 or so years, between the pain management Dr and my primary care Dr.
This until about 3 weeks ago. I noticed it starting kind of slowly....the pain just increasing more and more. The Ultram wasn't working like it once had and I assumed I was just accustomed to the medication. It wasn't long before I figured out that something else was wrong. I went back to my primary care Dr, who gave me a shot of steriods and a short term prescription for Lortab. That same night, I ended up in the ER because the pain was so bad. I went back to the pain mgmt Dr, who sent me for another MRI since it had been almost 3 years since my last one. He also referred me back to my neurosurgeon...he really feels like he's out of options to treat me. He would be willing to go through with the SCS, but my pain right now isn't nerve pain/'s the acute pain in my lower back.
So...the MRI reflects the previously operated on disc still bulging more than it was 3 years ago, but not herniated. There is much less space between L5-S1 than there should be. The neurosurgeon who did the discectomy thinks that spinal fusion is the next best course of action. Frankly, I'm fine with that. I am at the point I can't do anything. I am out of work because I can't sit, walk, or stand for more than about 10 minutes at a time...and when I attempt to, it's excruciating.
The current issue is that he isn't comfortable doing the fusion himself. He told me that he doesn't really do many of them...and while it's in his opinion the fusion will provide the relief I need, he just doesn't feel comfortable enough to do the surgery. He referred me to another neurosurgeon in the practice and told me that he would get me an appointment ASAP. I called this morning after not hearing anything for a week....and the soonest appointment that they can get me is over a month away!!!
At this point, if the neurosurgeon who did the discectomy wouldn't perform the spinal fusion himself, I'm wondering if it's even worth waiting the 5 weeks to see the other Dr in the practice. Should I attempt to get in to see an orthopedic surgeon instead? I know my primary care Dr could give me the name of a good ortho....
I'm just so frustrated. I can't do anything, I am in a lot of pain AND medicated, yet here I sit, waiting for a Dr to do something, *anything to help me.

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