No Luck with Many Doctors

Hi there. I am a 36 year old (for one more week) female. About 3.5 years ago I woke up one day with excruciating sciatic pain. It was terrible - I could barely walk it hurt so much. I didn't know what to do about it. I have never been really good about going to the doctor, and pretty much only go when there is something going on that I can't handle anymore. I didn't have a regular doctor at the time.

It hurt me enough to get me into the Urgent care center. The doctor just prescribed me some vicodin, gave me a shot of Toriadol, and sent me on my way. The vicodin didn't help, and the Toridaol only gave me a huge bruise. I was still in terrible pain. So I went to a massage therapist. She made it hurt a little more, though she didn't mean to.

I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but this was really killing me. I couldn't sleep at night at all, there is no position that relieves the pain. Not to mention sitting at my desk all day at work was killing me! The pain originates in my tail bone area, and shoots down my right leg, through my calf, and on into my toes. It alternates between extreme pain and complete numbness, and sometimes is both.

I went to a different Urgent care center a few days later. This is where I was finally diagnosed with sciatica, and was referred to a physical therapist. I was unable at this point to walk on my tip-toes, my right leg is so weak. The PT instructed me on how to sit properly, and would have me get on that table that bends you backwards over and over. After 3x a week, for 3 weeks I was feeling better. The PT gave me some home exercises I could do if it ever flared up again.

The pain never went completely away, but it was low enough at this point that it wasn't interfering with my sleep and most activities. Leg and foot were not getting numb anymore, I was feeling OK.

About a year later, I thought I did something bad to my back, and was having the worst muscle spasms ever in my mid-back area. I was DYING. I couldn't straighten my back out. I walked hunched over for 4 days. Over the weekend, I took a few flexeril, they did nothing. Because I was walking around hunched over from pain, my sciatica flared up again. I got down on the ground immediately and began doing my exercises - nothing! It actually made the pain worse, I think.

I went back to Urgent care (still no PCP) and was advised that I had passed a kidney stone! Those weren't muscle spasms I was having, the pain was from my ureters that had just passed a stone. The pain continued for about 2 weeks, masking my sciatic pain for the most part because it was so very painful. Once my ureters healed, my sciatic nerve began hurting again. Went back to the UC, decided that this doctor might as well become my PCP. He was very skeptical about my back problems, and did not want to send me to PT. I begged him - it's the only thing that helped me before. So he sent me back over there.

Went to a couple of visits with the backward-bending table. It felt like it was getting worse this time, and there was sharp/stabbing pain in my tailbone area. I decided that maybe PT wasn't what I needed at this point. I've had no x-rays or real exams to find out what's causing this - what if the PT is making it worse unknowingly?? I stopped going.

My boyfriend talked me into seeing his chiropractor and getting a full exam. I made a couple of appointments, cancelled them... then finally got myself in there for the exam. He did a full exam, took a full set of x-rays. Sat me down, and showed me (per the x-rays) where my L5 disc is half-way degenerated - the inside half of my vertebrae are bone-on-bone. He showed me where this is squishing my sciatic nerve, which comes out right there at my L5.

I had a ton of visits - 4 times a week for 2 weeks, then 3 times a week for 2 weeks, then 2 times a week for 2 weeks... I'd get a slight adjustment, he would check my reflexes and numbness. The entire time I had no reflex in my right knee or my right ankle and numbness along the outside of my leg.

I go back to the doctor I decided to make my PCP and tell him everything the chiropractor told me. He takes his own set of x-rays on the oldest x-ray machine in existence, and shows me the blurriest x-rays ever. He tells me, while pointing to the area, that there is no evidence of anything, I don't need surgery or anything, and that chiropractors are not real doctors. That was my last visit with him. The chiropractor is the only one who has really helped me!!! But he is limited with what he can do.

I got to a point where I was feeling OK. I was so tired of having appointments all the time!!! All I wanted to do after work was go home and relax (without pain). So, I stopped going. I am now in the midst of my 3rd flare-up, 7 months after quitting the chiropractor.

About 4 months ago, I found my family a new family doctor. I go in, and go through my whole story about what I've been through with my back and stuff... tell him it's starting to bother me again and I am tired of slapping bandaids on it, I want it fixed!

He asks me if I've ever had x-rays done, I say - yeah, the chiro took some. He says "No, I mean MEDICAL x-rays" What?? So now him, too. No one thinks chiropractors are real doctors. He sends me off to get more done, tells me his office will call and set me up with physical therapy. They never called. I could have bothered them about it, but I really don't want to go back to PT. It didn't help me last time, why would it help me this time?

I go back after getting my x-rays done, to see what the doc says. He confirms the DDD diagnosis, and also diagnoses me with arthritis in my back. Tells me I really need to get into PT. I tell him - they never called. He says - they will do it this time.

4 weeks has passed since then. No call. I am due to go see him again in 2 weeks. I have decided to find a new doctor, and have already made an appointment. The thing that sucks, is that now it will be another like 4 weeks of pain before we can get started with anything. You always have that first visit to "establish" yourself before they will do anything to help you. The pain has gotten much worse, and has morphed a little since that first time. I am having a lot of pain in my hamstring, it actually seizes up on me sometimes and is very painful. My leg also goes completely numb while I am walking, and I have to kinda drag it along. Then I will get a lot of heat shooting down my leg, and a few minutes later will have icy cold shooting down my leg. Then the pins and needles.

The pain in my tailbone has gotten much worse, also. It feels like there is some bone sticking out of place, and stabbing me. It's making my hip and pelvis hurt a lot while I am walking. I can only walk for about 15 minutes before it starts hurting me. I try to make sure I do not sit for more than an hour at a time here at work. Hard to do, since my job is sitting in front of a computer all day!

It's the most painful when I wake up in the morning. I have to roll out of bed, then use the window sill to pull myself up and then I just kinda stand there till it dies down a little. It's horribly painful to pee in the morning when I wake up!! We did splurge and purchased a $4000 Tempurpedic bed, and it does help a little. Last night I cried myself to sleep because of the pain, and I am not typically a crier.

I don't know what to do. Now I read this about psychogenic pain... am I imagining all of this? In reality, though, I have not been able to get anyone to take me seriously about this. I have only had x-rays done, and nothing else. I don't understand why no one has sent me to a spine specialist, or a neurologist, or to get an MRI. My doctor had the nerve (pun intended) to tell me there is no evidence of my nerve being compressed! What also sucks about this, is that when I finally get in to the doctor, it's not hurting me or something. It doesn't hurt every second of every day, there are lulls in the pain and numbness. And of course I'm having one when I get to the doctor. grr I swear I am not making this up! I do feel better writing this all down. I am hopeful that this new doctor, who is younger, will help me get my back together. I don't want to be crippled with pain at 36! I am still young! Thank you for letting me get this all out :) - Libby



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