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Back Problems Message Board


Back Problems Board Index


First post
Mar 19, 2011
I just found this forum and there seems to be a lot of good discussion on back problems so I decided to join. A little about me:

I'm 43 and have had back problems for about 18 years. Initially I would have incapacitating back muscle spasms about once a year. Sometimes after squatting but sometimes doing very minor things like bending to take the dipstick out of my truck. When I get these I couldnít move for a day or so and then in about a week I'd be mostly recovered and in two weeks it was like it never happened.

In 1997 I had been having back pain pretty steady, not incapacitating but annoying, mostly when sitting. After a few months of this I was in my garage just standing at my workbench and my butt started to hurt. Then it went into the thigh and calf. My foot became 100% numb on the outside edge and I couldnít stand on my toes with my left leg, their was no strength. My leg got so painful I couldnít do anything so I ended up laying in bed for about 2 weeks, only getting up to use the bathroom while waiting to get a MRI done. By the time I had the MRI I could walk again, very slowly with pain but not the incapacitating leg pain I had before I laid in bed for 2 weeks. The MRI showed the lowest disk was dehydrated and the next one up somewhat dehydrated and showed a bulge in the lowest disk pinching a nerve. I went to see a surgeon and his recommendation was that as long as it was getting better to wait and see where it levels off and if it levels off at a point I couldnít live with to come and see him again. I was 29 and absolutely hated the thought of surgery. Over the next couple of years it got better in general but I would always get a burning pain in my lower back after sitting for more than about 5 minutes and the pain became intolerable when sitting more than about 30 minutes. I avoided sitting as much as possible and learned to live with it. My left leg has never been 100% since 1997 but in general since about 1999 I would say I havenít had pain in it but I do get occasional tingling in it and it is weaker than my right leg although I can stand on my left foot toes and lift my body weight, just not as many times as with my right leg.

By 2003 I was feeling better and could even sit for a while most of the time. I thought I might have a normal life for a while. Late in 2003 I was on my hands and knees crawling and stood up and had another back muscle spasm incident like I used to have in my 20's. It took several months to get mostly over it but I was never as good after that late 2003 incident. In late 2009 I did some stupid stuff and had another back muscle spasm incident. This time it has been over year and I'm still not close to being where I was before the 2009 incident.

My main problem is sitting. I can sit for a few minutes most of the time without pain but after about 5 minutes the burning starts and after about 15 minutes I have to stand up.

I decided to have another MRI and got the results a few weeks ago. It sounded similar to the 1997 MRI. Lowest disk dehydrated, next one up somewhat dehydrated and a mild pinch on the lowest disk.

I went to see a surgeon last week and looked at the new MRE images with him. I never actually looked at the 1997 MRI images, only the report. He said he didnít see any evidence of spinal instability but that the lowest disk was getting pretty compressed and the next one up wasnít exactly great. He wasnít pushing fusion but he said that fusion was the only surgery that had potential for reducing my pain.

Again, my pain is really in the lower back and I can pinpoint the area where it is centered, very low and slightly left of center. The pain point isnít tender to the touch, in fact it feels good to have a lumbar support at that level when sitting.

I had the impression that fusion was more aimed at nerve/leg pain or if you have bone on bone in the vertebrae. Again, I can walk fine and standing is generally OK but sitting is not bearable for very long, at least if I sit upright. In my truck I have a power seat and I have the seat base tilted back, similar to leaning back on the back legs of a kitchen chair, and I can tolerate sitting in my truck much better that sitting in a good upright office chair.

Does anyone have any comments on the appropriateness of fusion for my situation?

Again, the surgeon wasnít really pushing me to have it, he just said that if I wanted something surgical to help reduce my pain then fusion is what I was looking at.

One side note. I have never had a back shot as I hate drugs and anything that isnít long term. However, I am going to have a Facet Joint Injection next week. The surgeon said that there wasnít really much downside to trying it (other than the normal possible side effects) He didnít indicate I should get my hopes up but it sounded like it was worth a try. Does anyone have an comments on Facet Joint Injection?

I thank anyone who has taken the time to read this and anyone who replies.

Phil





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