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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

I woke up on December 15th with TREMENDOUS debilitating back pain that shot down my legs like a burning shock. could not stand upright, bend over, pull up my own pants, put on my shoes, nothing, I was STUCK. Went to the ER and they told me that it was sciatica and started me on valium and vicodine (minimal doses really).

Called the doctor the next day as the pain was excruciating and I needed help. The meds worked, but only for a couple of hours and I had to wait at least 2 more hours for the vicodine and 4 more hours for the valium. She added Prednosone (a 12 day pack) to the med cocktail and doubled both the valium and the vicodine as needed and added Naproxem when the Prednosone was gone. I then had XRays done that showed absolutely nothing.

Wednesday before Christmas I had no relief from the pain without the meds and horrible pressure pain in my mid to lower back while on the pain meds or not, but no sharp shooting pains while on the narcotics. The meds bring my pain level from a 7 to a 4.

I can now move around and do basic tasks on my own but can only stand upright for short periods of time. When I stand too long (more than 3 minutes), my legs begin to shake, the pressure pain increases and I feel like I am going to lose my balance (even with the medications).

The Wednesday before Christmas, I had a doctor's appointment and went in without taking any meds so she could see exactly what was going on. I had the sharp shooting pain down my left leg while in her office and the pressure pain in my middle and lower back was intolerable. That was the last time I had the shooting pain in the leg. She ordered an MRI which I didn't get until the following Tuesday. Those results came back normal.

I am frustrated beyond belief. I still have the huge pressure pain in my middle to lower back and my left hip, but even without the meds first thing in the morning, I don't have the shooting electrical burning pain in my leg anymore. It has been 19 days now. I tried this morning to not take any pain meds and see if I could do it, but I only lasted 1 hour (I have tried this a few times and I can't go without the meds).

I see a new Doctor on Monday morning. (The last one was a nurse practioner and I am uncomfortable with her for various reasons one of which she has prescribed me 4000mg of acetaminaphine a day and I think that's WAY too much, when I asked her to change the Hydrocodone dose to 10/325 instead so that I was getting the same amount of vicodine but less acetaminaphine, she told me no, just cut out 2 of the pills a day, well that still makes 3000mg of acetaminaphine a day and I think that is still too much. I also asked her to try me with Lyrica since it is non-narcotic but works for nerve pain and I would prefer not to be "fuzzy" in my head and she said no again because my current pain management was working and she didn't want to mess with that).

Is there anyone out there with similar issues and/or is there a doctor out there who might want to give me some direction on where to go from here? I know it's only been 19 days and there are lots of people that go much longer than this, but I just can't take not being able to function normally anymore, it's making me crazy.

Thanks for ANY help anyone has to offer.

One other thing about my medical history, I do have Factor V Leiden as well (which makes the Naproxem a little scary for me), so i am not sure if a blood clot in the right spot would cause all of this or not, but I thought I would throw that out there in case it might be a factor.

PS. I had NO injury, lifting, twisting or anything that would explain this, I just woke up like this.
I did not have the MRI's done with contrast.

My new doctor said this is clearly NOT a pulled muscle, it is DEFINITELY nerve compression from somewhere, we just don't know from where yet and he is baffled by the MRI results. He is going to ask the Radiologist to go back and look for any blood clots in the spine as they may show up in the MRI without dye, but if he wasn’t looking for that, he may have missed it. That wasn’t the purpose of the MRI so it’s very possible it was an oversight.

He had me stand up for a few minutes and could visibly see my legs shaking as a result. (I wasn’t sure if it was noticeable to the naked eye or not). It also caused tingling in my legs and feet when I stood that long. He had me standing up for about 6 minutes while he examined me and no matter where he pushed on my back or spine or buttocks, I didn't feel pain from him pressing. When he hit the part of my spine where the pressure pain starts, he said that is the thoracic, not lumbar, which usually doesn't get disc issues unless it's from trauma of some sort.

He is starting me on Lyrica (which will only work if this truly is nerve pain and this is not a narcotic, so I won't feel all doped up, but a powerful drug for relieving nerve pain, it also is used for seizures and given to people with fibromyalgia). He feels the results from this drug will help him to answer some questions he has pending in his mind.

He doesn’t want to send me to a specialist at this point because so many things are unclear right now and he doesn’t want to send me on a wild goose chase with numerous tests that would be frustrating, time consuming, physically straining to my body and possibly irrelevant right now. He changed around my meds to help me function better and said to give myself about 48-72 hours to start feeling more functional on this new pain management plan.

He also apologized that the Nurse Practitioner handled things the way she did and said it is clear that although she didn’t know what was wrong with me and admittedly he doesn't know for sure either, she shouldn’t have tried to sweep me under the rug and hoped it got better on it’s own and that is what he felt she did to me.

I am doing physical therapy now to help relieve my pain and cope with how to handle the pain while doing daily tasks and self care as well as learn how to protect my back. He suggested that 6 sessions may be enough for me. My first one was yesterday and it was pretty brutal and exhausting, but she assured me the next ones will not be as bad, she just needed to see exactly where I was at with what I could do. She said I was a perfect candidate for "traction" based on symptoms, but with the possibility of a blood clot in the spine, she didn't want to do that and take a chance of dislodging a clot.

The doctor said he can’t say for sure, but he TRULY BELIEVES it’s a blood clot that is pressing on a nerve in my thoracic area. He believes I will start to recover and he wants to see me in 2 weeks so we can re-evaluate what the physical therapy and medication has done for me and hopefully have an answer from the Radiologist as well on the possible blood clot in the spine. (He will call me right away with anything like that or from my lab work he did)

He ruled out Kidney stones entirely because my symptoms don’t point to that. He did take full lab work to see if anything shows up in my blood that might point to something he is missing.

That's all for now. I have started the Lyrica and can already tell a difference in the level of pressure pain in just 4 doses so that has me feeling very hopeful and indicates that this is clearly nerve compression from somewhere!

The doctor said my MRI results show that I have an amazingly healthy spine for a 40 year old woman who is overweight.

Here are what the 2 MRI results say:

MRI results #1.
Dorsal Spine MR
Sagittal T1 T2 imaging performed.
Revealing dorsal vertebral body marrow signal to be uniform. No endplate degeneration or canal deformity. Dorsal Cord displays uniform intramedullary signal throughout, no extra dural deformities are apparent.

Impression 1. Normal dorsal spine MR

MR results #2.
Lumbar Spine MRI
There are five lumbar type segments anatomically aligned and displaying uniform marrow signal.

The conus terminates at the L1 level and the spnial canal is average in caliber. The L2-3, 3-4, 4-5, and L5-S1 discs are all uniform in signal, there are no focal bulges or frank herniations demonstrated.

There is no facet arthropathy, lateral recess or foraminal stenosis.
Impresssion: 1. Normal study.

None of that makes any sense to me at all, but maybe someone out there knows what that means. LOL

I am in better spirits today as some of this pressure pain has been alleviated and is now at least tolerable. I have a very high pain tolerance according to my previous doctor of 12 years but this doctor doesn't know me at all, so I was concerned that he might think I was just a hypochondriac because my MRI results were normal. I am SO glad he took the time with me and treated me like a human being with compassion. I would appreciate anyone's feedback on if you think I am on the right track here or what your thoughts or feedback on my situation is.

I like to be proactive in my own healthcare because my personal belief is that the term "practicing medicine" means exactly what it says. I research my medications and anything that might be going on with me or my children because I have been burned by doctors before and I think they are all human and therefore DO make mistakes. I don't say that to be judgemental, just realistic.

My new doctor also changed my Hydrocodone because he said I was getting WAY too much acetaminaphine for 20 days and that was a large assault on my liver. I am now on Hydroc/Apap 10/325 every 6 hours, 4mg of valium every 6 hours and of course the Gabapentin (generic form of Lyrica because Lyrica is EXPENSIVE) 300mg twice a day (that is apparently a strong dose). I recheck with my doctor in 2 weeks. The goal is to wean off of these narcotics if the Gabapentin is going to work alone.

In case I failed to mention it before, I do have a genetic blood clotting disorder, so his "gut instinct" makes sense to me.


PS. I did do heat and ice for the first week, then went to just heat because that seemed to provide a little relief but the ice didn't seem to be helping me.

In answer to your specific area of pain. It starts at about the bottom of my rib cage in the middle of my back and the pressure goes all the way down into my hips. My legs and feet don't hurt, but the first day I had the shooting burning electrical type pain down my left leg and partially on my right side but not as far down. When I started the medications, I didn't have that pain, just the pressure pain from the mid back to my hips and my legs and feet would get a tingling sensation periodically like they were going to "fall asleep". If I stood for more than 3 minutes, my legs would shake and I would begin to feel like I could lose my balance although I never fell, I just sat down as quickly as I could and the shaking would stop right away as soon as I got off my feet. Hope that explains it well enough for you.

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