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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

I am a 35 year old woman, in generally good health. In December, I had a slip and fall at work on some ice in the parking lot. Saw the doctor the next day as the pain was terrible, and he diagnosed me with a sprained knee and a lumbar strain. Put me off work for a few weeks and gave me a scrip for percocet. I followed up in 2 weeks; my knee was all but healed, but my back pain was worsening. I was sent for Xrays, which showed spondylolythesis, spondylolysis, disc space narrowing and severe arthritis at L5-S1. My doctor put me off work a few more weeks, gave me more percocet, and referred me to PT.

At the same time, my employer also asked me to see their physician. That doctor also said it was probably just lumbar strain, gave me anti inflamatories and put me off work a few weeks. The pain kept getting worse, so this doctor sent me for an MRI. The MRI showed spondylolisthesis, spondylolysis, L5 foraminal narrowing, loss of disc height with signal intensity, moderate bulge and facet arthropathy and a central annual fissure at L4 and L5. This was in early January. This doctor also put me off work for several more weeks.

At this point, I started experiencing pain in my hip, groin and thigh, as well as numbness in my feet. My doctor then referred me to a neurologist and a pain management clinic. Because this was a WC claim, it took weeks for them to even approve a consultation. This is when I contacted an attorney, because my employer and their insurance company began harassing me on a daily basis, saying that my claim was "excessive" and there was no reason for me to be missing work. I have a desk job, so they figured it would not be hard for me at all. Unfortunately, the pain worsens when I sit or stand, and being in a seated position for 8 hours a day would be sheer torture.

Then in mid-January, the insurance company sent me for an Independent Medical Exam. The IME went through the motions, examined me for 10 minutes, tried to force my witness to leave the exam room, and did not even make eye contact with me until the end of the exam, when he stated "Don't bother sitting down; I have everything I need." The IME's report stated that yes, the fall was the cause of my injuries, but that he felt I was fine enough to return to work for 4 hours a day. My attorney basically told me that I need to do what they say, or I could risk losing my job. So I returned to working half days, even though my own doctor and my employer's doctor both agreed that I should not be returning to work at all for several more weeks. Work was torture. I had to take frequent breaks to lay down in the First Aid room. At this point, I also started PT 3 times a week. My PT determined that my pelvis is also out of alignment, and we've been working on fixing that. My PT asked the insurance company for a portable stim machine that I can use at work: denied.

So I continued PT, meds, rest and worked 4 hours/day. Finally was approved to see the neurologist in mid February. He determined that I did not have any severe permanent neurological damage, but recommended SI joint injections and suggested I could benefit from a facet injection and a radial frequency procedure. The insurance company denied the treatment, my appointment for the injection was canceled.

Around this time, I was also finally approved to see the pain management specialist. He agreed with all of the diagnosis thus far from the other 3 physicians, and also suggested whiplash due to the way I fell. He agreed that I should have the SI Joint injection. It took almost a month, but the doctor and my attorney were finally able to get the injection approved by the insurance company. I've been continuing to see my own doctor during this time for monthly check ups. He was able to get another approval for extended PT. I felt like I was making progress - slowly but surely. I still had bad days when it was nearly impossible to even get out of bed and my pain was a 6/10, but I pushed myself, and there were at least 2 days a week where I was able to manage my pain with meds and rest, and it would only be a 2/10 or 3/10. I was beginning to feel optimistic that, even though it was taking longer than I hoped, I was making progress in the right direction.

The insurance company contacted my doctor and asked him to increase my hours at work. He spoke with me about it, and we decided to comply by increasing to 5 hours a day. This was apparently not the answer the insurance company was looking for, so they had their IME, who I had not seen since January, write an amendment to his original report stating that I can return to work full time as of March 1. I was not even notified of this until March 11, the day of my scheduled SI Joint injection. My attorney has filed for a hearing, but that will take 6-8 weeks. In the meantime, they are cutting off my benefits and all further treatment.

Last week, at my follow up with my doctor, I had a breakdown in his office. He prescribed antidepressants.

So I had the injection last Friday. I walked into the office, unmedicated, with my pain level at about a 7/10. The procedure was almost unbearable. The first needle was tolerable, with the local anesthetic, but I did not feel any relief when that was injected. When the doctor inserted the real needle, I experienced pain like I have never felt before in my life (I have given birth TWICE with no pain meds, 17 and 21 hours respectfully, with Pitocin. I know pain.). Pain shot down my leg, I screamed and almost rolled off the table - the nurse had to hold me down. When it was finally over, I was in more pain than before. My leg felt weak and I could barely walk. I went home, iced it, rested on the couch and took my percocet.

The next day, the pain was worse. The percocet was not even helping. I was taking it every 2 hours (7.5-325mg). I took an oxycontin (15mg) at bed time, and managed to sleep for about 4 hours. By Sunday evening, my pain was at 9/10. I was on the floor sobbing. I could not stand up straight, my left leg was weak, I was having spasms in my back, running a fever, having pain with bowel movements and difficulty urinating. I was ready to go to the ER and beg them to help me. I called the emergency line for the pain management doctor and he told me to either go to the ER and tell them I need an MRI, or take 2 oxy and try to get through the night, but come into their office first thing Monday morning. I opted to avoid the ER and took 2 oxy. Four hours later, I took 2 more. Finally managed to get to sleep around 2am, and I was up again at 6am in excrutiating pain.

I called the office as soon as they opened at 9. They got me in at 10. My doctor was not there, so I saw the PA. She did an exam, and gave me MORE meds - a steroid and a muscle relaxer to help with the spasms. She scheduled me for another injection next week, this time they're going to try to L5, and gave me a note for work through today, but told me if I needed another note to just call them.

Today my pain is a 7/10. I am expected to return to work tomorrow for a full 8 hour day. I have worked for my company for 5 years, and I am a good employee. I always perform above and beyond, I never call out sick. And now they are threatening to terminate me. I am physically and mentally unable to do my job right now. I have done everything they've asked for. I have seen every doctor. I have been patient in waiting for my treatments to be approved, and I worry that the delays have only exacerbated my injury. I have been patient with waiting to receive my benefit checks from the insurance company - they make me wait weeks, and only send a partial payment after my attorney has threatened to file for a hearing. I am willing at this point to pay out of pocket for all of my treatments - I don't even care about the money. I just need to get better. I have no quality of life at all. I can't take care of my children. I can't keep my home in order. I can't do anything I used to do. I don't even want to see my friends, because I feel like a burden. I had to miss my best friend's wedding because of this injury. I have lost 20 pounds in the past 3 months since the accident, without trying and obviously without exercise other than PT. I can't sleep at night. I am at my breaking point and I don't know what to do or who to turn to, which is why I am writing all of this to a bunch of strangers on the internet. I am desperate. I need a miracle.

Please tell me it's going to get better. I need to know it's going to work out.

I apologize for this being so long - I just wanted to give as much information as possible so you can get the full picture of my nightmare. Please help me.

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