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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

Hello all:

This is my story – I work in a professional position and for years I traveled by planes, trains, and automobiles – sitting most days. In late 2007 my world changed, as did many other Americans. After a year of not finding work, I dusted off my massage license and began working as a massage therapist in a local resort.

I ended up with lateral and medial tendonitis in both elbows, began to have upper extremity pain, which in my mind was all connect. The numbing of my hands and the intense pain began to derail my career. I started getting excruciating low back pain as well. In April 2011, my doctor put me on medical leave and I started PT for the neck and upper extremities. This was the first time I was diagnosed with nerve damage. And, I was eventually told that I could not return to massage.

In early 2012, I took a drive to eastern Oregon, and found that my left leg and hip started hurting. I hadn’t injured it, as far as I recall, but the pain kept worsening. I went back to my doctor who put me on muscle relaxers and pain meds. But the pain in my leg got increasingly worse. I ended up going to the ER in July, and an X-ray showed no issues with the spine, so I was again, put on muscle relaxers and pain meds. I decided that I should get a massage, that was the first time I realized that I couldn’t lay on my stomach, and that my lateral left thigh was numb. I followed the massage by a visit to my chiropractor. When he put his hand on my lumbar spine the pressure caused intense pain, so he carefully touched each vertebra, and while my back had not hurt, each touch sent me into incredible nerve pain.

In April I quit walking, the pain in my left hip and leg was too great. In August I quit driving more than 15 – 20 minutes from home for fear that I would not be able to make it back, as often I couldn’t. I was no longer able to do the heavy cleaning in my home, and found that no matter how I tried, I could not sleep more than an hour or so, could not sit in a chair for more than 10 or 15 minutes, could not stand or walk for more than about 30 minutes. I began to revolve through my house, sitting, walking, standing, laying, but never getting comfortable.

In September I changed doctors, and on the first visit she tried to lift my left leg – the pain was shot through me like a lightning bolt, all the way through my hip to my back. After this visit, my doctor sent me for a CT scan; it showed that I had three herniated discs in the Lumbar spine, so she referred me to the Spine Center for evaluation. A few days later I ended back up at ER, I can only say that the pain felt like someone was ripping my leg off at the hip and back. By then my lower leg and foot was also numb and my foot was occasionally dropping. An MRI was ordered on my Lumbar spine, which resulted in a robust diagnosis: degenerative disc disease, 3 herniated discs, and spinal stenosis.

I was referred to a neurosurgeon, who then advised me that I needed to have a Micro-Laminectomy. He said that the herniated discs would heal in time, but the stenosis was a genuine issue that would require surgery. That was early October 2012. In late October, we scheduled the surgery for November 29 – this coming Thursday.

About 3 weeks ago the pain finally subsided; I haven’t been on any medication since then. My left foot is numb, and from time to time my right hip with get a sharp pain and my right toes get the feeling that someone is wrapping them in rubber bands (prior to this all the pain was in the left side). I am still quite limited in the activities I can do, but I can sit in my recliner for up to about an hour, then I have to stand and stretch. I sleep all night in my bed without issues. I don’t take walks, swim, or even go shopping for any more than just the basics needed for fear the pain will come back.

Of course, now that surgery approaches, I wonder if it is worth the risk since I seem to feel better than I was. The sinking feeling comes when I realize there are no predictable outcomes with this surgery, but there are risks.

All that said; has anyone else had this kind of reduced pain before surgery?

I continually ask myself if I am too early in the stages of spine issues to have a surgery that may not help, but may later lead to more issues?

Any advice, encouragement, suggestions are welcomed.

Feeling a bit like I am damned if I do, and damned if I don’t!

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