I have been battling with severe on and off lower back pain for about a year and a half now. It would be a very sudden onset, and feel like I was being stabbed and it spread throughout my lower back. My back would lock up and I would not be able to move, at all, for days. Sometimes the pain would last for a few weeks. There were no precursors to the pain; I could be doing anything, even something as simple as reaching for my toothbrush, and then BAM, pain and I’m out of commission for a week or two.
Last August, an x-ray was done and one doctor thought he saw an old fracture but the specialist did not agree. They told me to lose weight, and take Vicoden for pain and Flexerol for a muscle relaxer as needed. I was out of work for 2 weeks. Since August, I have had repeat pain about every 2-3 months now. I couldn’t take it anymore so I went to my doctor 2 weeks ago, after a week of being in extreme pain, all locked up. I finally convinced her that the meds were not working and asked for an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
According to Wikipedia:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI), or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) is amedical imaging technique used in radiology to visualize detailed internal structures. MRI makes use of the property of Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to image nuclei of atoms inside the body.
An MRI machine uses a powerful magnetic field to align the magnetization of some atoms in the body, and radio frequency fields to systematically alter the alignment of this magnetization. This causes the nuclei to produce a rotating magnetic field detectable by the scanner—and this information is recorded to construct an image of the scanned area of the body.:36 Strong magnetic field gradients cause nuclei at different locations to rotate at different speeds. 3-D spatial information can be obtained by providing gradients in each direction.
MRI provides good contrast between the different soft tissues of the body, which make it especially useful in imaging the brain, muscles, theheart, and cancers compared with other medical imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT) or X-rays. Unlike CT scans or traditional X-rays, MRI uses no ionizing radiation.
Well, I had the MRI done last week. It took about an hour and 20 minutes. They did several pictures first without the dye, and then they injected me with the contrast dye and did a few more. The chamber is really small, and I am a slightly claustrophobic person, so I was getting really antsy and at one point they had to pull me out for a few minutes because I got really nauseous.
Today I went to my doctor for the results. I knew it wasn’t great when she came in with visual aids of the spine. She informed me that the good news was the fracture was gone. But the bad news was that I have bulging discs on my L4 and L5, which is the lower lumbar region of the spine. These bulging discs were pressing on my nerves, causing them to pinch, which is why I was having the pain.
example of bulging disc
I was relieved to finally know what was causing my pain, and finally felt like my doctor could understand my pain. She has changed my medications to Neurontin, which is a neurological medication that addresses pain in the nerves. I need to take it daily now, not just when there is pain. I still have the Flexerol and Ibruprophen for when needed. My doctor is also wanting me to of course lose weight, to see if that helps the pain, and even gave me the info for her trainer. She also wants me to go for physical therapy and to see an orthopedic specialist for any additional recommendations. I am glad surgery is not being considered at this time.
Hopefully, now with an actual diagnosis, and better pain management medications, I will be feeling better and can start on my new weight loss goal. Wish me luck!