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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Hi everyone, I am a 53 year old male who in the last 8-10 months has taken the term “falling apart” and turned it into a nightmare. I've been dealing with DDD since the 2000. I've worked hard my entire life and very seldom ever missed a day of work. Aches and pains were never an option for me. I knew I had to work for living and I accessed my pain as a fact of life. But this nerve pain is a totally different animal. In June of 2000, I had the typical sciatic leg and low back pain in my right leg. I went through the normal bureaucracy that doctors and insurance companies puts one through. At the end of a year dealing with it, my then NS told me that it wasn't bad enough to operate and to live with it until I couldn't stand it anymore and then come back, see him and he would then fix it for me. In the Spring of 2009 it really started to effect my normal living. At the same time, I started to notice two spots on both shoulders about 3 inches down my arms, that felt like someone was basically holding a cigarette to it and also my left shoulder (not my dominant side) was feeling really weird and started getting weaker with any kind of activity at chest high or higher. This wasn't causing me great concern at the time, but now know the significants of it all. The right sciatic leg and lower back pain was my main concern and the most debilitating. Summer was coming and my summers are spent moving heavy furniture, using floor scrubbing machines and lots of floor mopping and waxing. My GP finally ordered an MRI for my lumbar in May of 09 and found my problem. He forwarded me to the NS I had seen in 2000. At this point I am literally pulling my hair out with the sciatic leg pain. I asked my GP and my NS both about whether I should be working or not, neither, once ever told me not to work. My first visit to the NS and all he wanted to do was the same old bull, PT and steroid shots . I told him what he told me 9 years ago and he basically called me a liar. He ordered steroid shots and later I told him I would not return to see him and found me another NS. The first visit to the new NS and one look at my MRI and he told me surgery was probably only way I could get any kind of relief. Again, he never once told me, not to work and this was the middle of June. I worked right up to the day before surgery. I did my summer work and actually finished it before school started. I had my lumbar surgery on July 21, 2009 (Micro Lumbar Discectomy Rt L4-5). I still have a lot of pain and weakness in my right leg and I can't stay on my feet for more than an hour at a time. Anyways, I got through that and then about a week into my recovery I started noticing my left shoulder was really giving me trouble and it just kept getting worse. A week before I was to return to work. I seen an orthopedic surgeon for my shoulder. Thinking this was solely a shoulder problem. I started the PT and also went back to work, again no one told me not to work. After a week of PT, I was back in his office and had a steroid shot in my shoulder and an MRI scheduled. The shot did nothing for the shoulder. By now the burning and pain was getting unbearable and I had a touch of TMJ for some reason. After the MRI he told me I had several problems in there but really couldn't tell me anything until he got a scope in there. I scheduled surgery and on October 8, 2009, I had a shoulder decompression, several bone spurs removed and my clavical bone scraped. When I woke from surgery I noticed a numb spot from just behind my thumb, to my elbow and it degenerated from there to my shoulder and my TMJ was unbearable. I could not eat anything solid and not able to use the arm or shoulder as it was in a sling, I just thought it was part of the process. In the mean time my right shoulder started the burning and pain the left shoulder had. My visit back with OS and I alerted him of what was happening. He suggested that his surgery would in no way cause this and started me in PT in hopes of it resolving itself. It didn't, by now though the pain did calm down somewhat, probably because I was using lots of pain medication. I finished the 3 week PT. The last day my left arm and both shoulders were really getting the best of me. When I returned for my final visit to the OS he did an XR and finally conceded to an MRI of cervical spine. In the mean time I seen a local ENT doctor and had a steroid injection in my jaw. Still couldn't eat. Upon receipt of my MRI findings the OS immediately sent me to have steroid injections to the c-spine and told me I had a very narrow congenital spine(Spinal Stenosis). The first shot did nothing and the second was the same. By this time my nerve pain was getting to terrible. The numb spot in my left arm and both shoulders were so sensitive, I couldn't even wear a heavy coat or shirt because it would irritate the nerve endings so bad. I could not do any kind of activity that required my arms or shoulders because the pain would haunt me later. Finally my OS sent me back to my NS. He at first wanted to try other things, shots, PT and the rest. I told him I had did all that and I wanted some kind of relief before I go completely nuts with this never ending burning, tingling and pain. He agreed and I had my third surgery (ACDF C5-6 and C6-7) on December 23, 2009. I'm right at 5 weeks post-op and I've really seen little or no relief. I have had afternoons that I sit and cry because I feel so terrible. My TMJ has finally calmed down now and I am eating more, but I really have no appetite anymore. Mornings are the worst and pain medication only dulls pain enough to at least give me a feeling that I have some kind control of it all. I had been taking Hydrocodone 10/500 up until my last NS follow up and he gave me a prescription for Darvocet 100/650. The Darvocet don't seem to help as much as the Hydrocodone. I'm currently taking 2 on good days and as many as 4 on bad ones. Where as the Hydrocodone, I could almost always get by on 2 and sometimes one a day. Is there any reason why I can't ask for a prescription change? The Darvocet also make me very weak, yucky and drowsy feeling. I mean, I feel like I can't even function with them. Getting to the point of my post. I have asked on several occasions, to both my OS and NS, will I ever be able to do the kind of work anymore or not? I can't get a straight answer from anyone and I'm running out of options. I worked about 4 weeks after my first surgery in July and am really beginning to wonder if I'll ever work again. I have exhausted all my sick time and vacation days trying to get through all this. I think sometimes, I am literally going nuts because of it all and I wonder if normal is ever going to happen again. I do nothing but sit in my recliner because with any kind of activity, I pay for later with pain and burning. I feel nothing has been accomplished with 3 surgeries in 6 months. I'm back to square one with no relief in sight. Is there any hope for this kind of stuff or do we just learn to live with it? Thanks for listening and I have enjoyed reading all your post here.

Cervical Spine

C2/3: Unremarkable

C3/4: Small broad-based posterior disc osteophyte complex eccentric to right causing mild central canal stenosis and mild to moderate right neural foraminal stenosis.

C4/5: Broad based posterior disc osteophyte complex slightly eccentric to the right causing mild central canal stenosis and mild to moderate bineural foraminal stenosis

C5/6: Broad based posterior disc osteophyte complex eccentric to right causing mild central canal stenosis and moderate right greater than left neural foraminal stenosis

C6/7: Broad based posterior disc osteophyte complex which causes no significant central canal stenosis, but cause mild right greater than left neural foraminal stenosis

C7/T1: Unremarkable

Multilevel degenerative changes most pronounced at C3/4 through C6/7 levels where there are multiple posterior disc osteophyte complexes causing varying degrees of central canal stenosis and right greater than left neural foraminal stenosis as detailed above.

Lumbar Spine

L1-2: Mild diffuse disk bulge present. There is a mild to moderate bilateral neural foraminal narrowing

L2-3: Mild diffuse disk bulge present. There is a mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing

L3-4: Mild diffuse disk bulge present. There is a mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing

L4-5: Mild diffuse disk bulge present. There is a moderate right posterolateral disk protrusion present. There is a moderate to high-grade right L4-5 neural foraminal narrowing. Moderate compromise of the right lateral recess is present

Moderate right posterolateral disk protrusion L4-5 with moderate right lateral recess stenosis and moderate to high grade right L4-5 neural foraminal narrowing. Please correlate with distribution of any radicular symptoms

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