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Continue to deal with it or get re-evaluated?

M1neralMM1neral Posts: 5
edited 01/08/2015 - 4:06 AM in Lower Back Pain
I started having lower back problems in 2009. The bouts of my back "going out" became progressively worse and more frequent and in August 2012 I had an MRI. It showed desiccated L4-5 and L5-S1 discs, contained bulge at L2-L3, left posterior paracentric protrusion at L4-L5 and small annular tear and protrusion at L5-S1. All protrusions were impressing on nerves and causing me radiating hip and leg pain. The doctor had sent me to PT for about 3 sessions prior to the MRI, but the PT sent me back to him and told him I needed the MRI so she knew exactly what the issues were. After the MRI, the doctor offered me a Medrol pack. By that time, my pain had decreased so I opted to hold off on further PT and meds unless/until the pain worsened.

Since that time, I have continued to have the same problems. There are times when my back pain is tolerable and doesn't interfere with my daily activities enough to prompt me to seek treatment. And then there are times when the discs slip again and really cause me issues. Twice I've called to go back into the doctor, he's unavailable for like 4-6 weeks, and by the time my appointment rolls around the pain has subsided so I cancel the appointment. Well I'm in the midst of another bout of pain and I'm torn about whether or not to bother going back to the doctor, or whether to just accept that this is a chronic condition that I'm going to just have to deal with.

I don't want steroids to mask the pain. Only in the event that my condition becomes very severe would I consider steroids or surgery. I prefer natural alternatives at this stage. I've contemplated whether or not I would get any benefit by returning to PT. And I also wonder if I should return to get another MRI to see how things are progressing. I don't want to do further damage if I can help it, but I don't want to waste money on doctor's visits or PT if there's little that can be done.

Any thoughts?
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Comments

  • LizLiz Posts: 9,709
    edited 01/08/2015 - 4:06 AM

    Liz, 

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,988
    • 1. What changes did the doctor see from your last MRI as compared to the one in 2012?2. Based on the MRI findings, did the doctor mention surgery?3. Were any other conservative treatments discussed?4. What medications have been prescribed for you besides the medrol pack?
    Reading your post, the thing that stood out was the fact that some of your nerves are being impinged. Bulging/Slipped/Herniated discs many times can be corrected without aggressive treatment. But when nerves are involved, thats something that you will read that doctors want to address sooner than later.

    The medrol pack is designed to help reduce the inflammation, which in turn will help reduce some of the pain level. Its not to disguise or cover up your pain. For many those medrol packs are very helpful. I know you said you would like to
    use natural help for now. Have you looked into some of eastern ways of medicine? For example, Acupuncture, Aroma Therapy, Relaxation and Meditation.

    I would not cancel any appointment you have with the doctor. Even though at the time of the appointment you are feeling a little better, you need to discuss this with the doctor/ Why is it feeling better now? Was it something I did? etc

    You and your doctor need to come up with an action plan on how to address your situation.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • dilauro said:
    • 1. What changes did the doctor see from your last MRI as compared to the one in 2012?2. Based on the MRI findings, did the doctor mention surgery?3. Were any other conservative treatments discussed?4. What medications have been prescribed for you besides the medrol pack?
    Reading your post, the thing that stood out was the fact that some of your nerves are being impinged. Bulging/Slipped/Herniated discs many times can be corrected without aggressive treatment. But when nerves are involved, thats something that you will read that doctors want to address sooner than later.The medrol pack is designed to help reduce the inflammation, which in turn will help reduce some of the pain level. Its not to disguise or cover up your pain. For many those medrol packs are very helpful. I know you said you would like touse natural help for now. Have you looked into some of eastern ways of medicine? For example, Acupuncture, Aroma Therapy, Relaxation and Meditation.I would not cancel any appointment you have with the doctor. Even though at the time of the appointment you are feeling a little better, you need to discuss this with the doctor/ Why is it feeling better now? Was it something I did? etcYou and your doctor need to come up with an action plan on how to address your situation.
    Thanks for your reply. At the moment I don't have an appointment scheduled with the doctor. Just sitting here debating about it. And I've only had 1 MRI (the one from 2012) so nothing to compare at this point. I'm not sure how often it's advisable to get one. When I saw the doctor in 2012, he was reluctant to send me for an MRI initially (not sure why - perhaps thought if my symptoms could be addressed without one we could avoid the cost?) and it was the PT who told him I needed it. So I don't know if he would give me another if I went back in.

    As for the medrol pack, I know you're right regarding the inflammation. If he felt it was prudent after evaluating me again I might consider it. But although sometimes the pain is bad, the most frustrating thing for me is not being able to sit or sleep because of the nerve impingement. I have to kneel at my desk until my knees are killing me, then I have to stand up, then I have to put my computer on the floor and stretch out on my stomach and try to be productive from that position until even that starts hurting. It's ridiculous. I'm sitting here on my big stability ball with my left leg awkwardly stretched out to the back to try to take pressure off that nerve (and it's not working!)...I'm a sight!

    So, yes, reducing inflammation would help and I thought the PT *may* help me try to stabilize the disc but I'm not sure. Haven't tried acupuncture yet. Meditation is an issue because I can't get in a comfortable position to meditate in LOL. Try to focus on my core strength and take daily walks, but nothing seems to really getting those discs to stabilize.
  • Also, I forgot to reply that surgery was not ever mentioned in my previous appointments. And the only treatment options offered were Medrol pack and PT.
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