Observations of Back Issues

I’ll be seeing a neurologist on May 20.

I’m writing these thoughts to compare with what the neurologist tells me.

First the back ground:

Injury occurred on Dec 25, 2013 as I was mounting the bale fork on the loader of my tractor.

Pain gradually decreased but continued at a lesser level after 3 months (the time I had calculated it should have taken to resolve itself).

Chiropractic treatment failed to bring relief, in fact made the pain worse.

X-ray revealed compression fracture (T12, L1 and L4), arthritic spurs (L2-L3, L3-L4 and to a lesser extent L4-L5) and compressed disk.

MRI confirmed x-ray results and revealed bulging disk.

Physical Therapy failed to bring relief, even temporarily.

My observations:

  1. After 4+ months I believe any pain associated with the compression fractures should have dissipated.
  2. The pain shooting down my legs definitely indicates interference with nerves.
  3. If the bone spurs were the source of the pain there should be a position that relieves that pain.  There is not.  Pain is always there, although it will vary with position and pressure.  (Lying on right side minimizes pain.  Standing, walking, coughing or putting pressure on my diaphragm increases the pain.)
  4. Normally sitting reduces the pain, but if I stand or walk too long sitting may increase the pain.  Sometimes that pain will last for hours.
  5. I can stand for short periods of time (maybe up to 15 minutes) without increasing discomfort when I sit, even though the pain in my legs will increase over that period of time.   (Using a stool to rest on allows me to extend this time up to a couple of hours without sitting discomfort when I stop.)

Based on these observations, I believe the issue is primarily due to one or more bulging disks.

The irritation of the nerve is increased with standing or walking and my muscles tighten to protect the nerve.  The longer I stand or walk, the more the muscles tighten.  These tightened muscles then cause the irritation when I sit down.  After sitting for a while the muscles slowly relax and the irritation is reduced to a tolerable level.

I’m still puzzled by the fact that when I first get out of bed the pain in my legs is worse.  After sitting up for a while the pain becomes tolerable again.

I would think that the muscles would relax while sleeping and I should have minimal pain upon first awakening, but that is not the case.

It will be interesting to hear what the neurologist has to say.

Both my doctor and the therapist have suggest that a steroid injection may be helpful.  I’m puzzled by that suggestion.  If I’m right and the primary issue is a bulging disk, I don’t see how steroids can help.  (I believe steroids would have an effect if the issue is that the muscle refuses to relax and thus causes the pressure on the nerve.)

In researching the use of steroids it appears that this is a temporary treatment with very mixed results and potential side effects.

My hope is that a surgical solution will be offered.  I’ve gone through the normal steps to resolve, i.e. extended rest and therapy.  Then I’ll have weigh the risks.  I can live and care for Marguerite as I am.  I cannot enjoy normal activities that require standing or walking.  Where standing or walking is required, I only do what I must and don’t do anything else.  It’s not a life I look forward to, but it is one that I can endure.


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1 Comment on “Observations of Back Issues

  1. Jac: Sorry to hear about your back. I pinched a nerve in my back last summer and was in the most incredible pain for a day. Fortunately, the pain was gone the next day, but it took 6 weeks before my right leg began to feel normal again. The fellow who just purchased our house has similar back issues. Ironically, we kept meeting at the local orthopedic clinic where he was getting shots in his back while I was getting knee surgery (torn meniscus). This getting old business isn’t much fun. Fortunately, the medical field has improved markedly in the last 50 years. Frank

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