hello. I am permanently disabled from a 45 mph rear end collision while sitting still in traffic on an expressway. I have been diagnosed with 8 herniated discs, a spinal stenosis around L4-L5 and herniations in the C-spine, the L-spine the the S-spine areas. I have numerous impinged nerves and narrowed nerve canals. I have a back pain and leg pain and swelling so badly that I do the "leaning on the shopping cart thing". I have had virtually no treatment other than an occassional numbing injections that cost a whopping 1300.00 and only make it worse. The doctors I have not only do not care, but they don't treat my pain. I live with it. I have been dependent on opiods before, but they never gave me enough to relieve the pain so I still had the pain but then also developed a dependency. Today by my choice I take only Klonopin for right side tremors and not specified seizures, Lyrica, and Soma. They are taking my soma away because they decided it was dangerous to be on. NO other muscle relaxer stops the spasms when they start. Last night I was on all 4's on the floor vomiting because of the pain of the spasms. I had to go to the streets for a few somas so I could ease the pain. It did relieve it enough so that I could rest, but I sleep on the couch, have been for 4 years and have no life to speak of. My doctors will not do surgery, as they feel I am not a candiate because the damage is from the top to the bottom and the recovery is so difficult. (I think they are overly concerned about opiod dependency again too). What are my options medically? I just got Medicare and have decent insurance now so I need to know what the new technologies are besides drugs. I didn't walk for the first 3 years, at all. I am walking now, but that was my own will power. As was getting off the opiods. They also tried using Suboxone for pain management. What a joke. Not only did it NOT help my pain, but it was every bit as hard to get off as Oxycontin. I'm very interested in what the new technologies are and where in SE Michigan I can go for the right kind of help. I just want to sleep through the night once. And if I hear "just exercise" one more time i think I'll puke. Thank you for any advice you can give me.
Judging by your picture you are a young, vivacious woman who wants to have her life back. Seems like you are most interested in surgery, non-opioid medications, and maybe other alternative treatments. Here are the possible solutions:
Non-opioid medications Worth a Trial: Baclofen is a very good muscle relaxant which has the ability to lower pain in other ways, besides just relaxing muscle responses. Lidoderm patches work for some people. Prescription topicals like Voltaren. Or non-prescription topicals like Biofreeze.
Alternative Therapies: Accupunture is worth at least a try and actually has good science supporting its use. Hypnosis, visualization or other psychotherapies can help you access the power of the brain. Movement therapies like Alexander Technique can be helpful.
Surgical Options: A less traditional surgical approach for multi-level involvement includes laser spinal surgery. Some people have had great success with this minimally invasive approach. But, Medicare will be limiting you to more traditional surgeries (proven scientifically to be effective). In your region, the Mayo Clinic is not to far away. I have met the spine specialists there and they seem very competent. A spinal cord stimulator implant may also work well for you.
Ergonomic Assistance: If the shopping chart feels good, a walker will feel good and help you get around with less pain. If that "w" word scares you, then try trekking sticks. I am also a huge advocate for zero gravity chairs like the Perfect Chair by HumanTouch (they also make great massage chairs).
Overall, it sounds like you need a doctor who can explore all the options with you. Nobody has a magic wand, but creative solutions can be magical. Please keep checking with our new back page for articles about various solutions.
Dr. Christina Lasich, MD