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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

After 6 years of lower back pain, right hip pain, muscle tightness in my back especially on the right side, muscle tightness in my right hamstring, and numbness in the two smallest toes on my right foot, I am finally feeling human and pain free again.

I have had x-rays, MRI's and CT scans. I have been told I have sciatica, chronic back pain, piriformis syndrome, and an SI joint problem. I have a transitional lumbar vertebra (6 lumbar and only 4 sacral), with a psuedoarthrosis (false joint) on the right side. I have been through physical therapy, medications, and a couple different types of injections.

In May of this year, I started with a new pain management doctor. After a review of my records, various films and my medical records, he decided to do a pair of medial branch nerve blocks as diagnostics, he recommended RF Ablation on those same nerves. Facet joint disorder is the diagnosis. I had the procedure done at the end of October (on Halloween! - no he did not turn me into a zombie), and for the first time in 6 years, I feel like myself again. I have hardly any pain at all now. I am only 6 weeks post procedure. I do still get a bit of muscle tightness in my right hip, along with a little bit of tightness right in the spine, but other than that, I am feeling awesome. The pain never lasts long now. I have been able to start doing some exercises again to strengthen the core muscles to help keep this problem from flaring up again.

While this treatment will not last forever, I can do what I can to help keep it from coming back, and can have the procedure again if need be. I continue to increase my exercises and add a couple of new ones. I am only doing about 4 different exercises right now, and will not add any new ones until I meet with my doc for my follow up at the beginning of January.

The thing about facet joint problems is that it mimics disc herniation symptoms, and is very unpredictable as to when it will flare up and what will set it off. It's a very frustrating thing to have to deal with. Something as simple as sleeping wrong or carrying something a bit too heavy can set it off. You feel like you can barely walk, and doctors will often treat you as if it's all in your head since there is nothing majorly conclusive in your imaging studies.

With any back problem, keep pushing until you find a doctor that takes you seriously. Not all back problems can be fixed, I know that. Even mine only has a temporary fix, but I have the chance now to try and keep it from being a major problem in the future.

I actually have three issues besides the facet joint issue. I also have an SI joint problem, disc degeneration, and the transitional vertebra. I can now tolerate doing exercises, so I can build up the core muscles to try and limit future problems. The best things for me right now is that I have an answer, and I was able to get a temporary treatment that enables me to do what I can to help myself now.

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