3 slipped discs and told to live with it!!!

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Nearly 2 years ago I fell down some stairs. I landed flat on my back and slide down the remainder of the stairs. I knew within a couple hours that I had done something serious to my back.

I went and saw my GP that night, I told him what I had done and was expecting heavy bruising and to be in pain but this was something else. I was told to take over the counter painkillers and to come back if it was still hurting in 2 weeks. I went backwards and forwards like this for nearly 3 month until the GP sent me for a MRI scan. (I think just to shut me up) It turned out that I had slipped 3 discs!!! L3-L4-L5.

I have had over 6 months for physio, with each physio treating me as if I hadn't been doing the exercises and things will get better in 4-6 weeks. I jumped through all their hoops and got nowhere. The only thing that took the edge off the pain was acupuncture.

In the meanwhile under a 'specialist' I had an injection into my spine which put me in more pain than I was already in. Not only did it increase my pain but it also made walking up and down the slightest of slopes extremely painful.

I have been on co-codamol 30/500 for well over a year, with Ibrofen 600mg then Naproxen 500mg. It got to the point I was needing them every 2-3 hours( if i had my way ) just to function with normal day to day stuff. I have just been put on Tramadol 50mg x 2 every 6 hours.

In the meantime I have been for a bone scan and another MRI scan to see if things have got any better. The good news is that I don't have any signs of arthritis and my facet joints aren't causing the pain. My discs on the other haven't improved at all. MRI were done just over a year apart.

To my amazement the 'specialist' has discharged me to the pain clinic!!! and told no would operate to fix the problem and told to manage the pain!!! I'm 32 years old and been in an amazing amount of pain since the accident and to be told to live with it is unbelievable!!!

What can I do next?

Is that me like this for the rest of my days?

Am I now classed as disabled?

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    Sorry Aeongus but I thought 3 slipped discs that haven't returned to there natural place with Physio and injections and over a year was extremely terrible, or have i got that wrong?
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  • Posted

    Hi afooa,

    I have deleted the other replies by aeongus as we do not allow posts advertising private services.

    Regards,

    Emis Moderator

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  • Posted

    Hi Afooa,

    My husband can relate totally to you. He damaged the L4, L5 discs. He has been through scans, MRIs, 3 epidurals, surgery and pain management and I'm so sorry to say but after all that he's no better today. All this is going on with 5yrs. I know the pain and frustration you are going through as I have witnessed it myself. I know your life has changed, you cannot do the things you used to do so easily before your accident. I'm sorry I cant offer you a cure.

    I hope one day that some scientist will invent a gel pocket that surgeons can fit where the damaged disc sits.

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  • Posted

    Hello sunshine53, sorry but your name was enough to make me smile, and the fact I got a response that wasnt an advert for some crack pot out to scam money out of the sick or injured.

    Sorry to hear things haven't got any better. The best bit is that scientists have invented a replacement disc but nearly impossible to get on the NHS. The reports of the quailty of life after the operation was near normal. I have also read reports of soldiers getting replacement discs in German which had them fighting fit in 3-4 months after the operation! It just seems that the NHS is happy to drug us up and tell us to get on with it rather than sort the problem.

    My biggest problem is my age, 32, and the fact I have multiple disc failures. They wont even consider spinal fussion as I will lose far to much movement. There must be other treatments availible?

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  • Posted

    Hi, I have just found this forum, and read through afooa's message. I am 46yrs old, and in a very similar situation with 3slipped discs, I am on morphine and co-codamol and find I am in bed most of the day. I have seen a specialist, a pain management clinic and a physiotherapist, and I have hit a brick wall as far as treatment is concerned. There doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. So, totally understand.
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  • Posted

    Hi afooa,

    I can totally empathise with you.

    I am now 50 and injured my back when I was 32, like you I have 3 prolapsed discs (the same ones) I have been told the same as you. I had a young son, I was very active due to my job and very fit, until my back went I found not being able to play football, run or even cycle with him very difficult to accept. It has been a hard road to continue along, as many NHS professionals treat you as if you are pulling a fast one... totally ignorant (or dismissive) of the continual pain your in, friends may feel the same after a while however as time goes by and other friends have incidents with their backs they then realise what you have been going through for years! (this is my experience)

    This may not be what you want to hear, however IT is best to be aware, I recommend that you do your homework locally, and find a good chiropractic practice and then a good Bowens therapist. Dont sit at home feeling sorry for yourself (I am not insinuating that you do but there will be time when that may happen) rather go for a short walk somewhere level and even, just to get fresh air and seen daylight when poss. I found this message on another site: you may relate to it?

    "I lie in bed at night and will myself to move because it hurts so much to actually do it. In addition, when I "wake up" in the morning, if I actually managed to get some sleep, I feel like I haven't even been in bed. It's such an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. legs feel like lead - and there is a sense of failure - even though you know this is not the case."

    You can imagine how I felt when I read this, not that long ago, SO just remember you are not alone, and noticeboards/forums can be of great help in many ways but you do need to be selective... I wish you well!

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  • Posted

    Hi ... I am a recently diagnosed patient of three slipped discs. It's been over a year since your post. Did anything help you in the meanwhile. I am so scared. Am I going to be an invalid all my life? Would I be able to live a normal life ? Please answer ...
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    • Posted

      The best thing for me was not to stop. It sounds weird but when I do I hurt more.

      acupuncture helped Dail the pain down from 8/9 to 6/7.

      Physio helped a little but it helps you to keep moving.

      The thing that helped the most was the pain clinic. Getting injections straight into my back where if hurt, rather than at the bottom and hoping it would spread. I needed to go every few months but each time they took longer to wear off and the pain hasn't got as bad as it was at the beginning.

      I have come off the tramadol and naproxen and on to ibrofen and Co codamol. Touch wood I haven't had to go back on them yet.

      I do still have bad days but I have found it hurts what ever I do so my as well do what I want.

      The biggest break through I had was a set of injections into my fasset joints at my affected levels. After recovering from the injections I could final lie on my front which is hope I used to sleep before the accident.

      I haven't had any injections now for over a year and have much longer periods between my tablets rather than clock watching. But if I ever need them again I won't hesitate.

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  • Posted

    I sympathise, having been in a similar situation. If it is any consolation the pain should reduce over time, but it really does take a long time! I had a whole year where I couldn't bend, which meant I couldn't get dressed properly, it really is awful. I am not a Dr. just a fellow sypathiser but I think a lot depends on whether the discs herniate towards the spinal cord or away? If they touch the spinal cord it is worse and symptoms would show this (such as very bad sciatica), when this is the case, i think they do consider surgery. If nerves are trapped they can also consider surgery and if this hasn't been offered it maybe that you have neither of these things, or, if you think you have, maybe you should seek a second opinion? The pain clinic can be excellent. It is not just about teaching you to manage pain (nothing is more annoying than someone who is not in pain telling you to stay mobile and get on with your life)....they can carry out injections into / around the spine to reduce the pain so that you can stay mobile. I just wanted to to stay in bed as it was the only place I was comfortable, but this causes muscles to weaken, which in the long term, puts more pressure on the spine. If you are unhappy with the treatment you receive, you could save up and see a back specialist (privately), that way you can see who you want. I would not dismiss the pain clinic though, they are run by Consultant anaesthetists who are experts in pain relief. 
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  • Posted

    Hi Afooa,

    This is a difficult situation to manage.  I really feel for you mate.  I slipped my L5-S1 about 7 years ago.  I was on 30/500 co-codamol and all other manner of POM; diazepam and gabapentin originally.  I went through consultations for surgery, but like yourself was told that at the age of 26 the risk of further damage and repeat surgery outweighed the benefits, so was advised not to undergo operations.

    Those epiderals didn't agree with me either.  Minor relief, if any, and massive discomfort.  I had just one before deciding I would have no more, so maybe seeing the full course through would be more beneficial, but I decided to never know.  

    The physio I found useful, if only to drag me out of my slump and get me to realise that exercise will help, but now involves a little discomfort/pain.  Realising the difference between pain and discomfort became very important.  Normally, pain makes you stop what your doing, and it's hard to retrain your body to ignore the chronic pain for benefits, while still paying attention to the pain which is debilitating.  

    Chirapracting helped, but I found it inconvenient for my lifestyle, as it would knacker me out for the rest of the day, and was more than I could afford.  It didn't help long term I found either, not a lot I have personally found does for me.  Its all ongoing pain -managment.  

    I was refered to a pain rehabilitation clinic, which did help.  Some 'congitive rehabilitation therapy' I believe it was called.  Just getting together with others in a similar situation helped me realise how to deal with it.  There were some hard truths, and I'm not ashamed to admit I walked out of the first session when the instructor said "your pain will not get better or go away, this is a fact, but here you will learn to manage it so it doesn't affect you so much".  I just felt total despair and wanted to escape and be alone, no other health professional had said this to me yet and it was news to my ears.  I felt I'd been lied to.  The best thing I did was listen to my wife and go back.  I learnt how to live with the pain; not standing for too long, not sitting for too long, and realising that when work demands make the pain flair up, then that is possibly the worst it will be for the day, until I can get some ice on it, lie down, maybe use my back massage chair, take some ibupfrofen and 8/500 co-codamol, and maybe have a beer.  

    I sleep on my side, with a pillow inbetween my knees to avoid it getting any worse during the night.  It's not a gauranteed good nights sleep for me, I still sometimes wake early in pain and cannot sleep again, but its better that not doing it.  I'm down to 8/500 co-codamol, with 400 ibuprofen and some deep heat ocassionally, but I have two ice packs in the freezer to help with reducing the inflammation after a hard day.  When I travel, they come with me,  Hard days will ocassionally wipe out my evening, but they always come to an end, and I try to focus on that.  I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but it's the best I've found, and I've been scouring the net for solution for over 6 years.  

    I've learnt to read my pain so I don't push it past the point where it wipes out my day.  Some activities are unavoidable, like getting dressed and putting on shoes, but I do them in a way that limits the pain, such as sitting down, not twisting and using both hands.  I also avoid altogether certain movements if they cause a throbbing sensation in my back, which I can push through, but I know will cause trouble later.  I avoid using my hands to lift me out of a chair, as it will only make it more neccessary next time.  It's hard, everytime, but correct posture is very important to maintain good pain managment, so I'm told.  

    Today I had an unavoidable situation at work, where I had to bend over some equipment for just a few minutes at an inconveinient angle, which set my pain levels up and it lasted for the day.  Burning, tired, numb legs, and a stinking attitude which made me feel even worse when I came home to my wife and daughter and was snappy to them.  I had trouble putting my daughter in her cot and had a very down day.  I felt terrible, so spent my evening alone, with ice, ibuprofen, back massager, deep heat, co-codamol a beer or two, and came across your thread here.  My wife is understanding to the point of unbelievable.  Occassionally an evening is ruined, but then, it will always get better.  

    What can I do next?  Get an few ice packs, a tube of deep heat and consider the pain management route.  I highly recommend it.  If it is anything like mine was, it will be very emotional, challenging and fun, but you will see the average age of participants is much higher than your own, and it is encouraging to see that everyone is making the best of the hand they have been dealt.  You'll all be in it together and its good to talk to strangers who understand.  

    Is that me like this for the rest of my days?  Unfortunately, probably so.  But that doesn't mean it has to seem as bad as it is right now.  I found the initial stages most depressing, with the least support.  Doctor will realise they can't cure you and cut you loose.  They are not to blame, they know no better.  Your next option is the pain clinic.  You should do this.  

    Am I now classed as disabled?  No, I looked into this when I slipped mine initially, and so long as you can walk a certain distance, we cannot qualify for a disabled badge or allowances sad 

    I hope you find a manageable solution to your situation.  smile

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    • Posted

      Hi I am looking for any advice you can give, my husband recently had a slipped disc went thru surgery and now the same disc and another one have slipped. He lives in constant pain everyday so much so that he has pushed me away and we are on the brink of separation. He is at the point where he realizes he is not going to get any better and feels inadequate now. Im trying to be there for him I just dont know how especially if he keeps running away to be in soliutude outside of the house and our kids.
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    • Posted

      I slip my disc at least twice a year usually the same one ,sometimes it is worse than others .This particular time I passed out with the pain wakeing up on the living room floor at 2:30 am as I tried to get to the kitchen for my tramodol.Back pain is different than other pains, it wears you down physically and emotionally a little like intense toothache,that lasts for months.It effects everything you do in your daily life and you cant seem to think about anything else even your partner and loved ones arn't really in your thoughts because you are so caught up in just trying to ease your symptoms.Your husband isn't pushing you away he just can't cope with anything else at this time .He will feel guilty about the burden he puts on you as we are the man of the house and we don't like to feel vulnerable and show weekness he knows you to are effected ,you may think sometimes he is selfish abrupt and rude but he doesn't mean it .The drugs don't help either ,they may ease the pain but they make you drowsy and irratable.You must be patient, he's pushing you away but he needs you more than ever .He must be persistant in getting treatment doctors think that it's just one of them things and we have to live with it and manage the pain.This is not the case there are options but you have to be pushy and try different avenues even if it means going private .It sounds like he needs more surgery.I have met and spoke to many people with back problems and everyone has the same struggle getting the surgery they need .At the moment there are 3 or four options, discectomy ie shaving the disc which sounds like your husband as had .fusion, which removes the disc but this can reduce your movement and cause other issues or there is laser treatment which I believe is hit and miss at the moment because it is relatively new.they are also using implants but they all seem to be a last resort when you have exhausted everything else .I've found from speaking to others that if you pay for private consultation they are more likely to take you serious and push for a more constructive solution.

      Anyway your husband is back to square one again and just needs his medication till he can start to walk .when he is back on his feet he must keep going, keep walking, drink lots and lots of water,no lifting twisting or bending he needs to stay off the cigs if he smokes,this effects the discs too and the beer dehydrates them use hot water bottle or ice which ever he prefers maybe alternate on and off for about 20 mins at a time .plenty of gentle massage helps get the blood flowing which I believe helps break down the foreign substance your body recognises shouldn't be there.

      If he's over weight get him dieting extra weight is not good.Hell you have heard it all before but be consistant with everything and dont ever get complaicent.if after all this he feels like it's not pushing on the nerve anymore he then needs to get some core strengh back I did yoga it really worked until I stopped going three weeks later I was played up again.Hang in there, be patient both of you and keep putting his socks on. good luck! .

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  • Posted

    Change your GP ,make sure you are doing everything possible to help your situation, if your job is too demanding or your over weight you need to start here first,weight is a real issue when it comes to back pain.you are young so time is on your side there are lots of options open to you so keep positive surgery is always an option and unless you have any other issues someone will fix it for you.
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  • Posted

    I have just come out of hospital after a particularly bad flare up , they did MRI scan which again showed the''slipped discs'' . They say it is severe sciatica . Physios have arranged for me to have  a rollater- a walking thing with wheels on, sent someone out to raise the toilet seat 2 inches, and a bed rail to help me pull myself out of bed.

    I am so sick of pain killers . I cannot take Ibuprofen or any similar as I cannot tolerate Aspirin.TENS machine did nothing for me .I am on gabapentin, co codamol has been replaced with  tramadol, but they won't prescibe any more Oramorph when this week's runs out.

     My fall was 18 years ago !  I have attended the pain clinic but that was some years ago so I would be interested in trying it again to see if they have come up with anything new. 

    My husband is an absolute saint for putting up with me especially on these really bad days. I think you are doing marvelously and I completely understand how angry you get when being told that you are being referred back to your GP for pain relief as there is nothing can be done. 

    I have missed out on my boys growing up and now I am 60 yrs of age am treated as an ' old person ' 

    I do hope you can get some better treatment , thank goodness you don't have arthritis !  Push for whatever help you can get . I really do wish you luck

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