So here we go! A quick overview.....I have a large herniation of my L5-S1 disc. The L5-S1 disc is the most fragile part of the spine and the most susceptible to pain because it is the one that carries the most weight or load compared to the other discs. The herniation is impinging the sciatic nerve....the nerve that runs down your leg. This has caused numbness and loss of strength in my left leg and foot. The L4-L5 disc is bulging & has a large tear in it. The L3-L4 disc is bulging and has a smaller tear. This is Multilevel Degenerative Disc Disease. Surgery is possible, but not necessarily recommended. With 3 discs involved, the outcomes are not promising (less than 35%), and in fact could actually make things worse. So I have decided not to pursue that option at this time. Before I go on let me explain at least to some extent why physical therapy and some other options are not being explored by my medical team. Also, why this pain is so severe.
I have had back pain for 10 years now. I have had to quit a job I loved in labor & delivery because my back simply could not handle the physicality of the job any longer. The pain was at times severe, but always resolved with PT, rest, or traditional pain management. For 10 years this worked just fine. But over the past 7 months my pain has become unmanagable at times, and tolerable at best. Finally I was no longer able to work at all. The pain is severe both down my leg and across my entire back. Why do some people experience debilitating pain & others don't? I wondered this too. I did some research & found the following.
Some people have nerve endings that penetrate more deeply into the annulus (outer layer of the disc) than others, making discs more susceptible to becoming a source of pain. The scientific community has the opinion that the healing process involved in the repair of trauma to the outer annulus results in the innervation of the resultant scar tissue, and subsequent pain in the disc, as these nerves become inflamed by nucleus pulposus material. Degenerative disc disease can lead to a chronic debilitating condition and can have a serious negative impact on a person's quality of life. When pain from degenerative disc disease is severe, traditional nonoperative treatment is often ineffective.
Whew! So finally the update. I finally saw the pain management specialist yesterday. Actually, I saw his ARNP. She was wonderful & she immediately fell in love with me when I said the following, "I do not expect to be pain free, just functional. And, I do not want to be on narcotics on a regular basis." She said this was music to her ears! So we went over my meds and changed a couple of things. I am on different muscle relaxants, which apparently you have to build a tolerance to. Right now I am totally wiped out. She said to bear with it for a least 2 weeks and it should get better. So I will not be operating a car until it does. Secondly an additional pain medicine was added, specifically for radicular pain. This is for the pain that radiates down my leg. It too can make you a little loopy at first. So there you have it....about 2 weeks of sitting around being somewhat zoned out! I was frustrated that it was taking so long to get in to see the pain specialist. But once again God was in control. If I had started on these new meds within the 2 weeks prior to my son's KLETC graduation, it would have been a nightmare. Amazing how all things work in His timing!
So end of story. No more boring medical for a long while! God Bless ~Marla