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: 3,774
    edited 07/24/2019 - 1:45 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: 552
    edited 06/26/2017 - 11:53 AM
    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: 849


    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. 
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