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Back op

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by jonowen, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Sorry to harp on about this but I have had chronic back pain for 15 months now, have seen an osteopath, 5 GPs (locums), 2 physios and finally have managed to get a GP to take me seriously. He was astounded that after 4 GPs in 8 months I hadn't had an Xray, had the Xray 14 weeks later, results came 7 weeks after that. I have narrowing of the discs in my lower back, 6 vertabrae instead of 5 so a lot of squashing into a small space. I am on co-codamol(30/500) and celebrex and still in a lot of pain when I move. The meds are working (slightly) as I try to do without from time to time and it's pure agony without them.

    GP now referred me to orthopaedic clinic and I have an appointment in summer hols. I am scared of having to have a back op and feeling very low about it all. Can anyone offer advice or share an experience?

    Joni x
  2. piglet171

    piglet171 New commenter

    I had a lot of pain for a long time due to degenerative changes. I was offered cortisone injections but was put off by stories of them possibly making things worse if the injection wasn't spot on. I have seen 2 osteopaths and a chiropractor. All told me different things/not much. I eventually saw a good physio who gave me very simple stretching exercises and was focussed on training me to manage the situation. I am very careful to sit on a proper height chair in school at all times (no stupid wee infant chairs) and things have improved a lot.
  3. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Thanks Piglet. The first osteopath took a very detailed history of my back problems and traced it back to a very serious car accident I had when I was 16. I had to be cut out of the car (my left leg has permanent nerve damage, I had a brain injury and was in a coma for 5 days) and the osteopath said if my back was still painful in a year's time (i.e. April 2015) surgery would be the only answer.

    I cannot do the physio exercises as it hurts too much. I know meds are not the long term answer but is there anything stronger the GP could prescribe for me? Maybe then I could do some exercises which would help.
  4. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    My sympathies to you jono, living with back pain is utterly miserable.

    I've had two back ops in the last year, the first was cortisone steroid injections into my sacroilliac joints and the second was to pare down a facet joint. It's looking increasingly likely that I'll have another op in the nest year which will be a denervation.

    I was surprised that I was up and moving so soon after the ops and that the pain wasn't as bad as I'd imagined. The physio afterwards has been much more painful but thats because of the awful muscle wastage I've got.

    I tried all sorts of pain relief because co codomol makes me sick but never found anything that worked for me. I rely on heat packs and the physio now.

    My mum had a major back op 5 years ago for similar problems that you have and it transformed her life. She has no regrets.
  5. piglet171

    piglet171 New commenter

    Poor you, Joni. That sounds terrible. One thing that does help me is sleeping with a pillow under my knees, or between them if I am in my side.

    If it's any consolation, after yearss of pain, and offers of ops to chip off bone spurs, my father in law's back pain disappeared completely! Nearly the hols, take care.
  6. sparklepig2002

    sparklepig2002 Star commenter

    Oh Joni-so sorry to hear this. Can you go back to your GP and explain about the pain?

    I expect that there are stronger pain killers that can be prescribed.

    I had an MRI scan a few years ago, for worn back joints and as a result had a cortisone injection.. It was wonderful-instant pain relief and I haven't had to go back for more. I was also fitted with a corset to wear when the pain was bad and to support my back. It might be worth asking if that would be a possibility for you.I was also told to do pilates to strengthen my core muscles, which would then help support my back. You have to be careful though, as some pilates teachers are better than others and some of the excercises made my back worse.

    I would go back to your GP and talk about strategies to get you through the next few weeks until you ahve your specialist appointment.Good luck.
  7. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Thank you all so much for the lovely kind words. I feel this all serves me right as I have never been sympathetic to anyone who complained of back trouble - I have had to learn the hard way I suppose! GP next week and will ask for stronger meds if possible.

    Joni x
  8. emerald52

    emerald52 Star commenter

    Try doing exercise in water or swimming crawl. The water supports your weight so much easier to mobilise your back. You have to get it moving somehow. Very painful and a long haul.
  9. sparklepig2002

    sparklepig2002 Star commenter

    I was told to avoid breast stroke as it bends the back in the wrong direction.
  10. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    That's interesting sparklepig, as I only swim breast stroke and have been swimming several times since a car went into the back of mine last week because I thought it would help, but it doesn't feel as though it is, so maybe that is why.
  11. There are stronger painkillers but the side effects can make normal life impossible - nausea, crushing tiredness, mush brain and of course the risk of addiction. My mother had Fentanyl patches. She found them effective but her short-term memory was shot while she was using them (came back when she stopped). She also tried oxycodone but was too nauseous on it.

    Doctors are very cagey about long-term pain medication but you could ask to be referred to a Pain Clinic.

    I know the idea of a back op is gut-wrenching but my niece recently had her coccyx "shaved" and she said you are knocked out, medicated to the eyeballs and have no clue what's going on. She has been much better since having the op.
  12. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    I was going to suggest a pain clinic too. There is stronger stuff, but can be highly addictive. That said, in the short term, with no pain you can move normally. With pain your abnormal movements make it worse..
  13. emerald52

    emerald52 Star commenter

    Yes you have to be careful with swimming. Front or back crawl is great since your body is straight but breast stroke can aggravate the lower back. Aqua aerobics can help mobilise your spine, with the water supporting your body. Yoga is great too. Find something you can do and keep doing it.

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