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Is my herniated disc back?

Posted by marie26 (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 12, 06 at 0:20

I was diagnosed with a herniated disc 3 years ago and was put on neurontin and vioxx. I was given an injection on 3 separate occasions and my symptoms and pain went away.

Now, though, my left leg (where my knee had excrutiating pain 3 years ago) feels numb. My knee sometimes aches but isn't unbearable. My lower back, though, is now hurting and it hurts much more when it is touched at a certain spot.

I've been taking arthrotec daily as an anti-inflammatory.

After the injections, I was told it could work for 3 weeks, 3 years or forever. I'm so afraid of it being back because that was the worst pain ever.

Does it sound like it is back and should I be calling a neurosurgeon. I've moved so I will need to find a new doctor.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

A herniated disc never really goes away. It surely sounds as if it may now be pressing on a nerve. You do need to see a neurosurgeon. You may just need another trigger point injection.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

If you didn't fix it, it's still there. I think you should see a doctor - maybe neurosurgeon. Where to go depends on where you live now. Search the web for information. Here is a site on spinal problems - there are plenty of others. I also use another one called Spine Universe. You can Google your problem and come up with lots of stuff!

Here is a link that might be useful: Spine Health


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

I went to my regular doctor yesterday and she has me on prednisone, arthrotec (replacement for Vioxx) and muscle relaxer. She felt swelling in my back and when she tapped my left knee 2 times on the knee, it didn't jerk. It did jerk on the third try. She also tried some exercises and pointed out to me that I wasn't reacting as I should.

I am scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday. The only thing I'm worried about is having it done at a rural hospital that many people have warned us about as not being that good. The MRI I had done 4 years ago (in another state) hardly showed anything but my neurosurgeon at the time was expert enough to recognize an abnormality.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

It would be a good thing if you could get this MRI done at the same place as the other one was done so that the old views would be available for comparison. How good the hospital is doesn't matter, it's the skill of whoever reads the MRI.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

I was living in Minneapolis when I had the original MRI done. Now I'm in rural Montana. I wonder if the insurance company (Blue Cross) would cover having the original doctor do a 2nd opinion from the new x-rays that I could send him.

When I was mentioning the hospital here, I was thinking of the skill of the person who reads the MRI. The original doctor saw something that the person who read it at the hospital in Minneapolis didn't see. My fear is that the person who reads it here will see nothing and let it go at that. I know I'm in too much pain for it to be nothing.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

It could be that someone (the hospital?) would send the first MRI or at least a report to your new doctor. At least, it would be a reminder to look very, very carefully at the new film.

However, I suspect that it has gotten worse and there would be no trouble seeing it this time. It could be that the first person that read your other one just simply wasn't up to the task.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

After waiting 8 days for the results and calling every other day, I finally heard back from the doctor's office. The MRI showed a lot of arthritis in my lower back. I had known about this for quite a few years. It also showed a bulge in the disk. The doctor wants to send me for a shot in my back which is fine with me because this helped me the last time.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

The doctor tentatively set up an appointment with surgery for the pain "shot" tomorrow. I'll know tomorrow morning if in fact it will be then.

I think I remember being given a valium before this procedure the last time I had it. There was no mention of taking anything this time. Is my memory failing me and I don't need anything before the procedure?


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

You probably were given Valium before the MRI. That's pretty common. The shot for pain, shouldn't require anything.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

I had the epidural early today. The anesthegiologist said that the discs are very narrow (it was difficult for him to find space between them) and he said he saw problems with discs 2 through 5 but mainly between 3 and 4. He also said I have a lot of arthritis in my lower back which I knew about. So, in the past 4 years things have gotten worse.

When I had the epidural done 4 years ago in Minnesota, it was at a new state of the art facility. The doctor looked at a screen to see where to place the needle. Here, in a rural area, the doctor had me sit on the side of the bed, lean over and he felt for where to place the needle. It took him quite a few tries until he asked another doctor to try his luck. The second doctor found it rather quickly. It hurt me much more today than 4 years ago.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

I'm hoping that my doctor will set up the next 2 appointments for me for the epidurals. I don't remember how far apart they were the first time I had them done.

Does anyone know how far apart these epidurals should be from each other?


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

When I was getting these shots in my back they did them exactly 2 weeks apart and I went to Memphis,Tenn. Also the doctor on all of his patients did a numb shot before entering the big needles in my back and everyones. He would also put you on laughing gas too. It would scare me to death each time I had to have them done. I went through 13 different sets of blocks and got about 25% relief from one of them and I stopped. Even the doctor there said we were not accomp. anything and I thought no kidding after I was the one that said I would not go through it anymore because I would be done in bed for 24 to 48 hours each set of needles and I hate needles. Good Luck with your back and I will pray for you as I pray for myself.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Thought I would come in to say if anyone has any relief answer to all the pain will help me out. My back hurts me so bad and tears roll down my face. I am sick of meds. Does anyone have suggestions. I have gone through nerve blocks and only 25% relief after number 13. Help me anyone. Thanks a million!!!!!!!!!!


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Sansan, do you know the cause of your pain? What type of doctor are you seeing? I had been to an orthopedic doctor when I originally had my disc problems. I could not move for weeks and I'd scream in pain if I had to get out of bed. This stupid doctor did tests and said he couldn't find anything wrong with me. It's only when I ended up in the emergency room one night that a doctor there suggested I see a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon was my life saver. I can't believe that the orthopedic doctor didn't even suggest it to me.

The one thing that's helped me is sensing when my back is just at the very beginning point of shutting down in pain. I then take arthrotec which is my alternative to vioxx and I'm very happy with it. I sometimes also take a muscle relaxer (again sensing how I feel) with the arthrotec but taking them together gives me a great night's sleep but also leaves me groggy in the morning.

A doctor had told me to do this preventative "pill taking" years ago and it's helped me immensely. At that time, though, he had only diagnosed lower back arthritis from an x-ray.

I got the second epidural the other day and want to get a third one if only for the hope that because 3 injections a few years ago really helped, I'll get a few more years of disc relief.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Yesterday I went for my third and final epidural. It took 2 hours for the doctor to find a way to get through the discs since he said they were so close together. Also, he ended up spilling spinal fluid and did a blood patch to seal it. Without the blood patch, he said I could get spinal headaches. Has anyone ever had leaking spinal fluid? Can it return even with a blood patch?

I'm now on complete bed rest for a few days because of this.

I will make an appointment with a neurosurgeon but I haven't been in enough pain recently to want surgery.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Now that you've had your second epidural are you having any relief from the pain? I had two epidurals, the first one just gave me one pain free day, the second one did absolutely nothing for me. The doctor said he wouldn't bother with a 3rd since it wasn't doing anything for me. He did test me for nerve block but I got no relief from that either. Now they are talking about lumbar fusion but I'm not sure if I'm ready for that either. I only have 4 lower lumbar vertebrae and if they do the fusion then I'd only have 3 and that would give me limited mobility. This doctor doesn't think that way. Also I have asteoarthritis in my back. So how much pain is from the arthristis and how much is from the disc problem? Would I get enough relief to make it worth having surgery for? I'm still skeptical and want to know how others have come out of surgery. Did it help, make things worse or what? Also would want to know how many successful surgeries this doctor has done? I hurt my back 13 years ago and its getting worse but the pain is still controlable with mild meds most of the time and also limiting what I do and for how long. There's times I over do and then I have a lot of pain but still not sure if I'm ready to chance the surgery or not. I also use heat and ice and that helps a lot. I just went back to work 2 weeks ago after being off for 6 months. Did pretty well the last half of the time once I got the pain and inflamation under control. Now that I'm back to work I'm having a hard time limiting what I do for how long and that doesn't help, also can't put heat or ice on my lower back at work so that doesn't help much either.

Keep us posted on what you decide to do and definitely check out the site spine-health.com, a lot of good information on there. Hope you get to feeling better.

Pam


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Pam, I'm so sorry for your health problems. Could you please explain what lumbar fusion is. According to the anasthesiologist in the hospital, I have no space between my discs. Is that your condition as well?

About 3 days after the epidural and blood patch, I started having constant chronic headaches. I'm just hoping this doesn't mean that the blood patch didn't work. But I don't know any symptoms besides headaches when up and about. I called the doctor on Friday and the nurse just said that I knew the risks and just live with it for at least another week before they will consider seeing me. I love the doctor whenever I see her face-to-face but her office staff leaves something to be desired.

They did, however, arrange an appointment for me with a neurosurgeon in about 1 1/2 weeks. Hopefully, he will not sound as alarming as the anesthesiologist's description of my back.

I, too, have had arthritis in my lower back for many years. I am not in terrible pain but I wasn't either before I started these treatments. I just felt certain twinges starting again and started taking medication regularly to ward off any attacks. I was hoping that the injections would give me a few more years of normal living. Perhaps the reason I'm not in worse back or knee pain is because I've been taking anti-inflammatories every day.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Marie,
I think they have confused you a little. You have disc between your vertebrae. Some times the disc get damaged, slip out of place, or get warn leaving a narrow space between the vertebrae. When they do fusion the remove the bad disc and fuse the two vertebrae together, sometimes using some of your own bone or a synthetic substance. If the fusion goes well they become one. I'm trying to find out how many have had a successful fusion and if they still have pain afterwards. Back surgery, or any surgery for that matter is always a risk, so I want to know if its worth going through or if I'm still going to have the pain. Like you I take anti-inflamatory and mild pain meds. I have stronger pain meds I can take at home and at night but try not to take them unless I really need to. Keep us posted on how you do and definitely check out the website www.health-spine.com. It explains alot and also has some good pictures showing you what they are talking about.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Thank you, Pam, for the link and the information. Which anti-inflammatory do you take?


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

gemfire, I have had five vertabrae in my back and three in my neck fused. There is no longer any pain from the disc bearing down or irritating the nerve bundles any longer as there are no longer any discs. There may be pain from other sources in the same area, such as from arthritis, but that's something different.

If you need anti-inflamitory medications, you should take them regularly instead of waiting until you really need them. Then, it takes a lower dose to ease the pain as you catch it early.

Even with that many fusions, I do not have problems with mobility. I can't bend my head backwards much to look up at the sky, but other than that, it's normal. With my back, I can't arch it to compensate for carrying a heavy weight in front, so I have to carry heavy things like groceries to the side. Bending forward is OK. No one can tell that I have had the fusions.

Back surgery can be rough, but sometimes, it just has to be done. The Success rate depends a lot on the surgeons skill and the patient's following instruction during the healing period. It takes abotu six months until the spine is considered "solid"


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

I was taking naproxen and Ibupropen 800 mg, but my doctor said they were both for antinflamatory and pain so now I just take the Ibupropen. I also took Relefen for a short time but didn't seem to do much. Agnes do you do much gardening? I do a lot of gardening and also like to do hypertufa. Right now I'm not having that much pain so I will wait on the surgery. As long as I change positions frequently and don't over do it I'm ok. But can't sit or stand to long and I don't do much lifting anymore. I don't see how you can have much movement with that much fusion. Did you have this all done at once or a little at a time? Hopefully you are done with the surgeries. Thanks for sharing with us.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Gem, most of your forward bending takes place by bending from the hip joints, not from bending your back. We have been told for years to pick up things by bending our knees and keeping our backs straight. I can bend over and touch the ground. The back doesn't have to bend. Try it. Keep your back straight and bend from the hips. The next time you need something from a lower cabinet, bend your knees a little instead of bending your back a lot.

It's the same when working in your garden, keep that back straight as much as possible. Sit down on a stool to weed.

I found that Naproxen is much more effective for that type of pain than Ibuprofen. It seems to be easier on the stomach too. Take it will a glass of water at mealtime.

Yes, I do garden a little. It's never been one of my favorite pastimes. It's been over 13 years since my surgery. The problems that I have now are age related. And yes, the back was done all at once. I had a couple of herniated discs, but the main problem was scoliosis. I had become so crooked that any movement was painful. I was very fortunate in that my bones were very strong and I had no problem with the fusions knitting as they should. The bone grafts were taken from my pelvis. The grafts for my neck were cadaver bone. I also have two long titanium rods reinforcing the fusions. Lots of nuts, bolts, brackets and screws. Weird looking things on Xrays, but no one sees any unnatural movement in me.

If you ever do decide to have the surgery, keep in mind that the successful outcome is going to depend a lot on your doing what you are supposed to while you heal. Don't rush things. If you do, you will pay for it!!!!

I'm not advising you to have the surgery unless you need it. Sometimes just changing what you do is enough to avoid it. It's rough and there are always surgical risks. But when pain gets to a point where it interfers with a normal life, then it's time to think seriously about it.

Excuse me for being so wordy. I just wanted you to know that back surgery is not always a terrible thing. It can be a blessing. Just be sure that your surgeon has done many. If he's good, he won't mind your talking to previous patients about the outcome.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Marie,
My mother is 83 and is the healthiest person I've ever known. She has no aches or pains. Still works full time as a Hostess for Captain D's Restaurant. She's a big believer in herbs and suggests that I try some. I've started taking fish oil capsules for my arthritis and in just the short time I've been taking them I can tell the difference. I've been doing a little research on herbs for pain and found this site. You might want to check it out
but ask your doctor or research the different things mentioned before taking.

http://www.herbs2000.com/disorders/back_pain.htm


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Just saw an article on the news, a new procedure for back pain is being tested. It's a gel which is injected between discs during a 30 min outpatient procedure and hardens to a rubbery consistency. There is no recovery time, like with back surgery, and it looks very promising. The news doc said if testing goes well, it should be widely available within 3 years, and she also said she is advising her patients, who would be candidates for this procedure, to hold off an back surgery if at all possible. I was happy to hear that, I have constant back problems and was worried I might need surgery when I am older.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Thank you so much for posting this, petra, especially since I'm seeing a neurosurgeon this coming week. I will definitely ask him about this.

Right now, though, besides more back, leg and knee pains since my last epidural and blood patch, I have been having constant headaches and an ear ache in my leaf ear. I went to my GP and she did a CDC and thyroid blood tests. Everything came back perfectly normal. Her answer is that the cause of the headaches is either stress or sinus. Obviously, that's no help as I sit here with a continuous headache. BTW, she also had me do some movement tests checking for menangitis. She said I didn't show any symptoms so she ruled this out. I keep thinking it's all related to the blood patch but she said she didn't think so. She didn't even look at my back, though. Hopefully, the x-ray I need to take prior to the neurosurgeon's visit will show him if this is the case.


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

Marie, here's a link re. the gel procedure, maybe you can print this out and take it to your appointment.

Here is a link that might be useful: New Procedure


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RE: Is my herniated disc back?

I saw the neurosurgeon yesterday. He said that he believes in a cnservative approach and does not recommend surgery at this time and that I should continue with taking the medications when I feel a need to ward off an attack.

The reason he gave for no surgery is because even if he were able to properly fix the problem discs, in a few years, that surgery could (would?) cause the discs below them to have more pressure and the same pain would occur in a new place perhaps causing another surgery.

He said I should get another epidural because the 3rd one I had was at the 4-5 disc instead of where it should have been. I will get this done in another facility with state-of-the-art equipment. He also suggested physical therapy.


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