New appointment for pain management

I had L5/S1 spinal fusion in March 2015. All of last year did not seem too bad, either that or I kept telling myself to give my back time to heal and that it would get better. This year I'm not so sure. I have been having sharp jabs in lower back that at times almost brings me to my knees, mostly resulting from sitting to standing position. (Or after cleaning myself after bathroom break - you know hip twisting). There is also the major pulling strain in my hips making walking sometime miserable. Also the chronic "tailbone" pain when sitting, that I was told I had to deal with forever. Here's the thing - some days are better or worse than others. All resulting from too much work or exercise, not enough, or sleeping too hard and not moving much during the night. How warm or cold the weather is, etc. See, I have a pain management appointment scheduled for next week my primary doctor wanted me to go to. Here is my question, am I "jumping the gun" going? As of this week, my pain was totally tolerable and I feel foolish going. However I'm not sure how next week may turn out. The back doctor kind-of 'wrote me off' unless I want to go to his office for more back injections like I had twice already that lasted no more than 4 weeks at a time. Is a pain management specialist only for 24/7 type chronic pain?

I apologize for the length of my post but any input that may help my decision or put me at ease, would be appreciated.

7 Replies

  • Chronic pain is something that you have for more than 3 months. So welcome to the world of chronic pain! I had a fusion at L4/5 and L5/S1. It took some time for me to feel better. About 3 yrs. I had the back problem for 10 yrs before that. Pain management should help you and you should go. Try another surgeon as you may have problems above your fusion. Learn to do things the right way for your back. Dont force things. My fusion was 17 yrs ago and I still have had good and bad times. I am now having more problems from discs above fusion levels. Keep moving I found stretches for my hamstrings made a really good difference. Just be gentle with yourself. Cheers Dawn

  • Thank you Rockette62 for your response. Has having the two fusions instead of one limited your mobility any? Regardless of how worse any other areas above my fused one gets, I swore I wouldn't have any more back surgeries. Although I was told how adjacent discs get bad and also I was already told my L2/L3 is bad. FYI, I cancelled my app. I did not know the names of this 'new in town' doctor claiming to be pain mgt specialists. After receiving packet in mail to fill out prior to appointment and finally learning their names, I decided to cancel. The doctor did not have (per internet research) good reviews, and the assistant he acquired whom I assumed would be the doctor I would be seeing, has only been practicing for 6 years and is specified as an anesthesiologist. There are so many doctors around here who are always transitioning from one field to another or trying to combine different specialties, whether they are qualified in that field or not. What has really been bothering me about this pain, is how it has affected my activity. Through these latter years I depended on exercise to keep my weight down instead of drastically cutting my eating. So frustrating!!

  • I understand the frustration. I had a very wide multilevel laminectomy a few months before the fusion. I had young children at home too. You will be limited physically and will have to learn how to do things differently. I have a problem with the disc just under my ribs as the spine doesn't bend in the same place. The bending point gets higher up. We can often have disc bulges but if you take care for awhile and really work hard on keeping your posture right they do improve. My first scan 3 yrs ago told me the upper discs which were not good but the last one a week ago said they are back to normal. I had had a back problem for 10 yrs before surgery. It took a couple of years for me to feel the benefit of the surgery. Most pain specialists are anesthesiologists. They specialise in the medications that control your pain levels. The one I saw recently was and I had good benefit. Its a long journey and the best thing you can do for yourself is to accept you can do somethings some days and not on other days that you will have less mobility for a while. Listen to your body and do what it needs. You will get better more quickly. I wish you the best forbthe future.

  • Most appreciative of your getting back with me. I realized after my last post the mistake in mentioning the anesthesiologists not being pain specialist. (Kind of dumb on my part). I realize they are. Through the years I just picture that type of specialist as "operating room" defined, not in everyday life of oral meds and exercise, etc. I had a major fall at age 11, and handled mild aches until after birthing my children. After a couple of major 'bed confined' unable to walk or sit episodes, managed the pain for 48 years. I figured it was time for something to be done when I started 'tripping on air'. (Left foot would not lift properly when walking). L5/S1 had 3mm space and they had to pick disk pieces out before the spine "jacking", cage and screws placed. When I feel up to going Doctor again for my pain, I might just go back to my past surgeon's P.A. At least I know them. Thanks again for listening to me and I hope you keep improving yourself as well. I sounds like you have such a positive attitude! That is what I need :).

  • Wow! Your story is similar to mine. I couldnt walk for a while too! I really hope you can get help. I had a thought that you may have some nerve damage. Anti epilepsy drugs can block the pain. I had bad sciatica down both legs and was put on Epilim and after a week or so it went. I was then able to start moving again. Anyway I am here and ready to listen anytime. Best wishes and hugs for you.

  • Before Christmas I went to my regular family physician, (routine checkup). Mentioned my back problem and asked if he could fill my pain meds. He told me he could write one script and possibly 1 refill, but told me about the ties he has to deal with (by FDA), and referred me to a new pain specialist that was setting up in town. I had my second visit today with that pain doctor where I had a nerve blocking procedure done. (This is only an anesthesia shot put in my back to find the bothersome nerves, and see how beneficial a more permanent (sort of) procedure would be for me. The anesthesia shot only worked for about 30 minutes. In two weeks I go for round 2 of this type of thing, then the third procedure will be a nerve "burning", which is supposed to last from 6 months to a year, until the nerve grows back. The weird thing that I felt after today's procedure was, my right foot felt numb and my hips felt as though I had no control over them and felt like they wanted to sway from side to side involuntarily. I kept on holding to something when walking it felt so unstable. Another thing I noticed, once the feeling returned, the pain in my hip joints returned with a vengeance, whereas it is usually my back where I feel all of the pain in usually. Is there anyone who is familiar with any of this stuff?

  • the definitions of chronic pain vary between either 3 months, 6 months, or pain which should have gone after healing of the injury.