A quarter of my young adult life has been stolen from me by back pain

Hi everyone,

Its been a long time since I logged on to here, but I have once again come seeking refuge and encouragement, and hopefully some more helpful suggestions.

My names Delaney, I am a 25 year old female from Auckland, New Zealand. My story, my battle and my fight for a normal pain free life, is a long one, so I hope my fingers can type fast enough to keep with my brain, and your eyes can stay open long enough to read all of this. I have come to a point where I am feeling very low (and sorry for myself if I am honest).

So my trouble began 4 maybe 5 years ago, as the result of an extremely minor accident, I slipped two discs in my lower back (L4-L5/L5-S1) and had a 2 year battle with NZ's medical system during which, I lost multiple jobs due to being in so much pain and unable to work, missed out on over $70,000 of earnings, not to mention the constant stress and anxiety about not knowing if I would be stuck like this for the rest of my life. (another story for another time) I finally got approval for a 2 level micro discectomy, and was full of hope I was about to get my life back. 

The sugary appeared to go well, I was up and walking that day after surgery, feeling pretty dopey but not too bad considering. About 2 days after my surgery, I started getting debilitating headaches when standing, excruciating nerve pain while trying to stand or sit... I knew something wasn't right. I went back to my surgeon and got an MRI - showing a large tear in my spinal cord, and was rushed in for emergency surgery to get that repaired. After recovering from these two surgeries, I was feeling pretty good, and for about a year, I felt normal, and like I had my life back. I was working full-time, loving my job, I was socialising, I had energy again, I was so happy.

Then I slipped while walking down a gravel driveway (never will I step foot on gravel again!) And slipped one disc again (L4-L5) and was back in hospital getting another micro discectomy. this surgery, thank goodness, did not result in a dural tear, and didn't require a follow up surgery again. But after this surgery, I didn't feel any reduction of pain, infact - If anything the pain was worse. I am now 4 months post surgery, and the pain has come back full throttle and worse than ever. I have done everything the Drs, surgeons, physios have said, to a T.

I have just started a new job, and now face losing that because of the amount of pain I am in. I have never been one to let the pain rule me or my life, but it has gotten so severe that it has to right now. I am in agony, almost constantly, on so many medications, I now have a heart disorder that can be brought on by major surgery or trauma, I feel like my life is spiralling because of this pain.

The only thing I really have left that I know of is a fusion, the surgeons are reluctant due to my age and the fact my discs haven't re slipped as much as last time. According to them the pain may be caused by the amount of scar tissue I now have surrounding my nerves, and they feel another surgery may make this worse.

Has anyone experienced this? what have you found that may not be that common that has helped? Should I be pushing for the fusion? at this point it seems inevitable and part of me would rather get it over and done with.

If you get this far, thanks for reading my probably medically prescribed and feeling sorry for myself ramblings.

I am slowly running out of energy, hope and strength and would really love some help, suggestions and kind words.



  • @itsmedelaneyb my heart goes out to you! Going through this at such a young age! I was 35 when I had my fusion done, and I ended up with nerve damage. I have never been the same since. Are you sure your pain is even coming from the disc? I would ask your doctor for a Discogram to confirm this before you go through with a fusion. If your pain is coming from scar tissue, then a fusion won't even help with this pain. Trust me, you do not want hardware in your body if you don't need it! Have they said anything about pain management? I would think this route would help you now....please keep us updated on your progress! I wish you luck! 

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,557
    edited 07/24/2019 - 2:45 PM

    I started pain management 3 years ago and it's the best thing that happened for me. My PM doctor even went so far as to send me to a psychologist to help me deal with the anxiety and depression because of the pain.
    Never run out of hope. Keep pushing for answers, you know your body.
    Please keep us posted and take care.

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  • HeavenlyraeHHeavenlyrae Posts: 549
    edited 06/26/2017 - 12:53 PM
    Delaney dont get so down! i started having back and leg issues when i was 23 i had a micro d on l5/s1 and until augest i had no problems now i am doing injections i wonder if the pain will go away i take 900 mg of gabapentin a day and its been helping but i dont want to be on such a high dose my doctor and pschycritist talked about my mansgement care my first injection is friday part of me is saying the l4/l5 disc is more then just a protusion after a couple falls we will see friday and im debating having an MRI for my peace of mind dont give up hope definatly see a PM  and exaust all your options before fusion!

    get better soon!
  • Delaney,

    I'm so, so sorry you're experiencing such a difficult and painful time. I haven't had surgery yet, just had injections a few days ago, but I know how difficult it is to navigate this crap, mentally and emotionally. I've been out of work for four months now, and am not sure when I will be able to return. I totally understand the feeling of "wanting to get it over with" if it's going to be inevitable. The other commenters raise some good questions-- have you tried pain mgmt? Have you had a discogram or EMG? If your doctors rush you, DONT LET THEM! I know that's hard when you already feel horrible and the fight's gone out of you. You can do it!! Keep us updated!
  • Thank you all for your kind comments, it's horrible that so many are effected by this but nice to know I am not alone! I am waiting on my referral to see a pain management team so hopefully that comes through soon, I have heard a lot of good things so I am desperately hoping that this helps! I think the most difficult thing for me is not being able to work so I definitely sympathise with you Kayla! I love working and being stuck at home is driving me slightly mad! Rae, gosh I know how you feel, I am on 1800mg of gabbapentin a day which I absolutely hate but thankfully it does give me some relief. Thank you all so much, I will definitely keep you updated with my progress with the pain team! Have my fingers crossed for you all too!

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  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 818


    i agree that you need to find out where the problem is coming from before jumping into a fusion.  if it's around the nerve, or scar tissue no fusion in the world is going to help, and will likely just set you back again even further.  there's a lot of things they can look at-discograms for the discs; MRI for nerve impingements and inflammation, CT for inflammation, bone spurs, facet arthritis; targetted steroid injections, nerve blockers to pinpoint pain etc etc. if it were me i would go back to the surgeon that did the surgery and have a candid talk about pain management and actively going after figuring out what exactly hurts.....  hang in there, and make sure you talk with your surgeon about everything and especially about pain management.  

  • I am here with you.I am 34 year old ,  4 years ago my lower back pain started and then mid back,upper back, neck pain and right arm feeling discomfort and mild pain on my chest. Seen 2 pain management doctor and they injected my back,neck more than 20 times but nothing helped. I scheduled tomorrow for medial branch block on my neck with 3rd PM doctor, i don't have any hope with this.

    Here i am not trying to discourage you telling my unsuccessful story,but trying to get help from other who got advantage from pain management.

  • I feel your pain! I've had so many injections and had no relief from them apart from the anesthetic I had that lasted for a few hours (most amazing few hours, wish I could have that permanently, I would take the dead leg over the pain any day!) one even landed me in hospital after all the liquid they injected balled up around my nerve. I have started hydrotherapy and seeing a psychologist through a pain management team so I'm hoping this will help, I will keep you updated. Haven't had any luck so far but it's still early days. ananda620, sounds like you have had a horrible time! How did your appointment go? 

  • i have one injection the PM nurse assistnt said we could do a injection in my hip but i opted for sn EMG/NCS for [pssobly nerve damage  and go from there one think i do not understnad is how can a simply physical exam my pressing your foot against their hand or letting them pull your leg and stuff like that dertimes there us neulogical problems

  • Hi Delaney, so sorry you've suffered so much with back pain. After my fusion, I was told about the scar tissue on the nerve roots and that additional surgery would be detrimental. I can't tell you if having a fusion is the answer, only that it could possibly make the problem worse. I needed to have it for spinal instability as well. I also agree that seeing a pain management specialist would be beneficial for you. How accessible are they in New Zealand? I recommend looking up "The Blend" of medications here on SH that deal with the different aspects of back pain. Gabapentin is given for nerve pain, but you might be helped with other adjunct meds like muscle relaxers, anti inflammatories, short and long acting opioids, etc. 
  • @Heavenlyrae I know right! I have always sort of wondered why every single doctor seems to do the same tests like getting you to push their hand down with your foot etc, I get its showing them if theres any weakness etc but doesn't actually do anything in the way of showing cause of pain I wouldn't think. @Meydey Yeah I know, deep down I know that any additional surgery will probably make the pain so much worse but I think I sort of just see it as 'well its gonna happen one day anyway', which is absolutely the wrong attitude to have. in saying that the last couple months the pain keeps getting significantly worse, some days I am unable to move at all, definitely worse than its ever been, which is pushing me to think I need to get another MRI. I've been working with a pain management team for the last few weeks or so - seeing a physiotherapist, seeing a psychologist, and waiting for my appointment with a Musculoskeletal Medicine Specialist, it hasn't helped as of yet, but Im hopeful. In regards to medication, I'm already on all of those :( haha so fingers crossed the medicine specialist has some helpful ideas and changes!

  • @itsmedelaneyb hey just dropping in i saw the pain management nurses assistant and she is sending me back to my surgon and told me two things 1. i may need fusion surgery or a disctectomy 2. a spinal cord stimulator due to my family members having one and saying he had one and it dosent work and it hurts more and its somethinf i want to dicuss the the benefits of all options with my parents and my doctor she orderd xrays i had friday i find out the results tomorrow hen get a mri set up then to see my surgon it seems odd that the pain clinic calls me hours after i have the xrays im told they are faxing the resuts to the clinic and they will tell me tomorrow the result i sense a urgency ill know tomorrow ive been having a hard time since last night ad its disheartning i had a good two weeks then back to pain i just dont know anymore

  • Hi there,

    I'm a kiwi from Hamilton, nice to see another fellow kiwi! I just had my first micro two weeks ago at 21 years old. I just wanted to let you know that I totally understand what you are going through. Being so young and having these problems is borderline terrifying. Will we endure this pain for the rest of our lives?? I was told I will need a fusion regardless of the micro surgery but like you, they think I'm too young, so it's just a waiting game until I'm dehibilitated by pain again. I think the only thing we can really do is make sure we have a good relationship with our health profiessionals/surgeon and trust that they have our best interests at heart. Good luck xx

  • @Heavenlyrae sorry! Delayed response! How did you get on? Are you doing ok? Any news? 

    @paigeamber heyyyy! Kiwiiii! ❤️ How's your recovery going? It's frustrating hey being so young and surgeons being so hesitant. In my opinion I would rather have 10+ good years while I'm young and then deal with the consequences later. 

    But good news is my surgeon has finally agreed a fusion is the right step for me. He had two disco blocks done, where they inject anaesthetic into problematic discs to see if it helps and it reduced my pain enough to warrant surgery, finally feel like I'm not crazy!

  • @itsmedelaneyb heya i have my mri and my xrays saw my surgon and was told i just have a bad back and also got  the radiologist review there is DDD and doc sent me to pt to see if it works and back to pain management so it is frustrating that i have to go back ad forth its so exuasting  to go from doc to doc with no solution with DDD im told theres nothing that can be done 

  • @Heavenlyrae I’m so so sorry that’s awful, I know that feeling so well, it feels like you just start to move forward and constantly get knocked back. Don’t quit though, and be strong and persistent with every doctor you see, I went through that for so long and my surgeon has only just agreed to a fusion. You’ll get through it!

  • sorry for the vary late reply i saw my pain manaement nurse she orders a steroid pack worked for a few days now its back but im not letting it kill my spirits i dont think they will do surgery for awhile my 'NS said no but its just irratating that i have to live wwith it i guess i just need to accept it and bare with it but it seems im declineing not taking the long hot showers i love for quick ones so i can get off my feet and being a real couch potato laying on the couch for the past 3 days even sitting here hurts even with pillows pt wasnt helping im just down on my luck

  • @Heavenlyrae I know exactly how you feel, I have been there myself on and off for 5years,but don't give up fighting for what you think is right for your body! I didn't and I'm now 3 days post fusion and feeling pretty good :) don't let the medical professionals bully you into doing something you don't feel is what you need, I almost got scammed out by a govt dept for the surgery, they tried to decline me on something that was totally fabricated and if I didn't fight it I wouldn't have got it. Stay strong!

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  • hi @itsmedelaneyb how are you? i saw my pain management a couple weeks ago and had facet joint injections now i have spondylisis in my spine along with DDD so im at a loss

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