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24 and desperately wanting surgery



  • DNice said:
    Hi and sorry you are having such pain at a young age. But as I'm sure you figured out, back issues do not discriminate with age. I think many folks here know your pain...

    First, are you in the US or in another country? I ask b/c not sure how this referral thing is an issue if in the US. You were in the ER for a back issue and therefore need to go see a specialist. The ER should refer you to a specialist since they are not equipped to determine if you are young enough or 'given your situation'.

    I ended up in the ER and was sent to a Spine Pain Management doctor the next day so a specialist could look at my MR results. That specialist sent me to a neurosurgeon (but an orthopedic spine surgeon would have been ok too). That surgeon is the one that reviews your history, your records, and can offer suggestions. You are then entitled to a 2nd opinion.

    IF the ER will not refer you, you need to ask for the MRI/CAT scan records (you may have to pay but you need those for your records and you should probably get the ones from years ago) and find a good General practitioner. If it is the records show you have herniations, a GP will have to send you to at least PT. A good PT will try only a few things and if you show signs of declining they are obligated to stop treating you and send you back to the GP to go to a specialist.

    Bottom line...approach your new doctor politely and ask her what next. If she says PT, I would ask her if it would make sense for a specialist (neurosurgeon or orthopedic spine surgeon) to review your case first. By asking for this, it doesn't mean you are asking for surgery. It means you are asking for a specialist's opinion. Keep in mind the specialist might also tell you hold on surgery but they will offer alternate treatment to try to improve your situation - Physical Therapy or Physio (Physiatrist) who will work with you holistically to try to alleviate your issues.

    On a side note, they have done studies that show patients with what appears to be herniated discs bad enough on film to 'warrant' surgery. And others with smaller herniations that would indicate not much pain. When they brought those random patients review their results, they learned that many of the 'patients' with bad herniations had no pain. Moral? The medical test (CAT scan, MRI, etc.) is only part of the diagnosis. They really look at records, your history, your pain, and possible options to try to remediate the pain.

    Unfortunately, lower back surgery is a slippery slope and not by any means a cure-all (or cure anything as some folks here can attest to). It isn't saying that it isn't an option but often it is considered 'last option' because it is so risky and comes with no guarantees. It is not like getting a knee replacement or tonsils out. But it can help depending on your situation.

    if you struggle getting sent to a specialist, there are on line e-opinions that some of the back specialty hospitals may offer (I'm thinking cleveland clinic, hospital for special surgery, etc.) - but they require you to be under the care of a doctor since they are remote opinions.

    I hope some of this helps.
    For now, I'd say see the doctor as follow up.
    If they say no surgery, ask if it is worth establishing a medical relationship with a back doctor like the one I mentioned.
    If they say no. I'd say, "okay but based on my history, it would put my mind at ease to have a consult with a specialist".
    most of the time this will get you the referral.
    If they still say no, do you have a family member that can help be your advocate back home?

    Good luck. I should be a normal college kid and not have such pain issues.
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