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So, I went to the Back Doctor today...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Some of you may remember a few weeks ago I posted about hurting my back and having to get a ct scan. It showed I had three bulging discs in my lower back so they made an appointment for me with a back specialist. It's been feeling a little better, but I tweeked it again at work yesterday when I bent over to pick up my purse. I had to leave early because I couldn't stand sitting there for another 4 hours (I originally injured it a few weeks ago simply by unloading the dishwasher).

Anyway, I finally had my appointment today. He had me do all kinds of things that really irritated my back, so now it hurts worse than it did before. And what did he decide? He gave me a pamphlet of back excercises and told me not to bend over! Thats it. Nothing for pain, no physical therapy. Granted, a therapist would probably have me do the same excercises, but I would have liked at least ONE session so at least I knew I was doing them right.

He showed me the CT scan, and you can clearly see the bulge. He said they aren't herniated "yet" but if I start getting a sharp pain down my leg to come see him again because that means they have (I told him I have had sharp pain in the back of my right leg before).

My husband's aunt has the same problem, and she went to a pain management clinic and get shots in her spine every few months and she is basically pain free. I think they're steriod shots but they're really helping her. He didn't even suggest it.

I guess I'm really not satisfied with this, but he is supposed to be a specialist. He didn't even want to write a doctor's note for me for yesterday because he didn't see me that day. I took in FMLA paperwork I got from work because I figured he would prescribe PT and I wanted to be covered. He didn't want to fill that out either but told me to leave it with the receptionist and he would "look" at it. Plus, if this is a cronic condition I would like to have that one file so if I DO have to call in it won't count against me. Someday's my back really doesn't bother me, and other days (like yesterday) I'm practically in tears and sitting for 8 hour in front of a computer is just NOT something I can do.

I have an appointment with my primary care physician this afternoon and he is the one that referred me to the specialist. What do you think. Should I try to get a referral to another doctor or to the pain management clinic, or just let it go and do the excercises myself?

Sorry...didn't mean to be so long winded!
post #2 of 15
Definitely insist on getting into Physiotherapy!! They will do a combination of heat, TENS and probably massage, maybe even some accupuncture to help with the pain and healing.

If your doctor tells you that you don't need physiotherapy, tell him that you feel that you do and that you want a referral. Don't leave until you get one either
post #3 of 15
And insist that massage be added to the order even.

I hope the doc doesn't try to charge you for filling out the FMLA. There's one here, the one who treated me in the ER a few weeks ago, who will charge people... I've heard stories of him charging $100.
post #4 of 15
Ask your family doctor for a referral to physical therapy. After my back injury, I had 3 months of PT. I also got a TENS unit. Both helped quite a bit, but my job as a surgical assistant puts a lot of stress on my lower back. I had a series of facet blocks done in April, which also helped. Unfortunately, I'm still not completely pain free. After a day of holding abdominal wall retractors, I'm in agony. I have spondylolisthesis in my lower back, and the only real solution would be a spinal fusion with instrumentation. I often work with a neurosurgeon on spinal fusions....the surgery looks brutal. I don't relish the idea of having it done, and will do whatever it takes to avoid it! I have found that walking every evening (about 3 or 4 miles) helps my back pain considerably. If I'm on call, or if I don't get a chance to walk, my back pain is much worse the next day.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
And insist that message be added to the order even.

I hope the doc doesn't try to charge you for filling out the FMLA. There's one here, the one who treated me in the ER a few weeks ago, who will charge people... I've heard stories of him charging $100.
The massage sounds really good! And, they do charge to fill out the paperwork but it's only $10.00 so that isn't too bad. I just hope he approves it!
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well, my primary care physician couldn't believe all the specialist did was give me a book of excercises so I now have an order for PT. I have to call tomorrow to make an appointment and it's up to them as to how long I have to go. My doctor told me flat out he didn't want me doing any of the excercises until I meet with a therapist.

I also found out the doctor is indeed a specialist...in back surgery. So, I guess since my back wasn't bad enough for surgery, he didn't want to help me. Gotta love the medical profession these days!

My primary doctor is great though! On top of getting me physical therapy, he also wrote an order for blood work since he hasn't seen me in over a year (not due to see him for another 18 months). He just wants to make sure everything is still ok.
post #7 of 15
Yeah, I wouldn't be happy with that either. I have back problems. I bulging disk and my facet joints are shot. My doc sent me to physical therapy for some core training and I get the shots every few months. BTW, they are cortisone (steroid) injections and are called ESI (Epidural Steroid Injections). I get tremendous relief from them. Another thing I do that makes a huge difference is a once a week pilates class. When I do the pilates regularly, I don't have to have the shots nearly as often. If I were you, I'd go to another orthopedic doctor for a second opinion. It would be totally appropriate for the doctor to send you to physical therapy first and see if that gives you enough relief. And THEN if you don't get enough relief, set you up for injections. They can be risky so they tend to try other things first. But I can't believe he didn't send you for at least a couple visits to PT.

Oh one more thing! Ice helps A LOT!! Try this recipe for a great homemade gel pack.

1 C Alcohol
2 C Water

Put in large ziplock baggie and then in another large ziplock (in case of leakage) and freeze over night. When your back is really inflamed, you can ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. I keep two of these ice packs on hand in my freezer.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mzjazz2u View Post
Oh one more thing! Ice helps A LOT!! Try this recipe for a great homemade gel pack.

1 C Alcohol
2 C Water

Put in large ziplock baggie and then in another large ziplock (in case of leakage) and freeze over night. When your back is really inflamed, you can ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. I keep two of these ice packs on hand in my freezer.
Thanks! I'll definitely make up a few of these!
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by calico2222 View Post
Thanks! I'll definitely make up a few of these!
They are awesome! The alcohol makes it so it doesn't quite freeze all the way but makes it more like a gel. So it conforms to your body and it feels colder too. I love them! My physical therapist gave me that recipe a long time ago.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by calico2222 View Post
Gotta love the medical profession these days!
LOL, no kidding!

Back in 1990 I had ankle surgery to repair a severe break. They put a plate, 6 screws and a pin inside to hold the bones together. The surgeon that did my surgery moved to Minnesota so after I had my cast off another surgeon saw me for my follow up.

The couldn't bend my ankle at all! Not even a little bit, and because of that I had to walk with my leg a bit out to the side which gave me a very bad limp and hurt my back so much. Plus the ankle was very sore. It was hard for me to walk and extremely hard to use the stairs.

After walking around the hospital and construction detours I found my way to the ortho clinic after about 25 minutes of walking. I sat there for almost 2 hours and then was taken into a "room" that was nothing more than a chair sitting surrounded by curtains on all sides.

The doctor and his resident walk in. Here is the conversation:

Doctor to Resident: ORIF fracture of right ankle.
Doctor to me: Stand up!
Me: *stands up*
Doctor to me: Sit down!
Me: *sits down*
Doctor: *leaves*
Me: *wait*.

After 30 minutes I went out to find a nurse and ask when the doctor was coming back. She said "Oh! He isn't. You can go"

I refused to leave. I demanded that I be given a referral to physiotherapy!

I did get a referral and was in physio for 18 months. They gave me a cane to walk with and did some kind of US treatment to help break up scar tissue and used a machine to force my ankle to bend. They managed to get me some degree of movement back in my ankle. It's not full, and never will be, but at least I can walk and do most things.

Surgeons are notorious for not following through unless it's something that they themselves can fix.
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie_ca View Post
.
Surgeons are notorious for not following through unless it's something that they themselves can fix.
Ain't that the truth! Most of the time, they don't even want to see a patient unless it is a surgical candidate. I had a heck of a time at first, trying to get in to see the surgeon who fixed my knee a few weeks ago. They really screen their patients these days. They'd rather you go to just a regular orthopod first (non surgical)
post #12 of 15
Awww...Hope, that specialist sounds like a real jerk. He sure didn't have your best interest in mind and I'm glad your PCP took care of you and got you into PT. They should be able to help your back feel better. I have no hope for my hip, but that's another story.

Just take it easy and I hope it works out for you. I have back pain on and off, but no where near what you probably have. How are you doing otherwise?
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie_ca View Post
LOL, no kidding!
The doctor and his resident walk in. Here is the conversation:
Doctor to Resident: ORIF fracture of right ankle.
Doctor to me: Stand up!
Me: *stands up*
Doctor to me: Sit down!
Me: *sits down*
Doctor: *leaves*
Me: *wait*.
Surgeons are notorious for not following through unless it's something that they themselves can fix.
Exactly! I was so frustrated! He put me in so many positions it's amazing I could walk out of there! I had to walk across the room twice on my toes, then twice on my heels. I had to hop on each foot...I was expecting him to say "Do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around!". Not ONCE did he even touch my back.

My primary care doctor at least felt my back and could feel inflamation. He said that isn't because of the disks, but probably because I was carrying myself differently which probably aggravated the muscles. IMO, that is something the specialist should do.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duchess15 View Post
Awww...Hope, that specialist sounds like a real jerk. He sure didn't have your best interest in mind and I'm glad your PCP took care of you and got you into PT. They should be able to help your back feel better. I have no hope for my hip, but that's another story.

Just take it easy and I hope it works out for you. I have back pain on and off, but no where near what you probably have. How are you doing otherwise?
Otherwise, I'm doing fine sweetie. .
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie_ca View Post
Surgeons are notorious for not following through unless it's something that they themselves can fix.
That's the case with many doctors. They don't like loose ends, it makes them look bad.


I'm glad my spinal specialist is not a surgeon, though I wish he (and other doctors) wouldn't leave almost everything to their PA's. My spine specialist has two PA's, one - the guy is ok. The other, a woman, was wonderful - very out going, helpful, and would answer any question if she could. The doctor himself is friendly, and if you can waylay him with enough questions he will stay around to answer them.

My cardiologist has a couple PA's too, nice women but when I spell out the name of the medication I'm on and repeat myself I expect them to listen. I corrected that mistake today, as the wrong med could be very bad for me. I also found out my doc has more knowledge about my condition then I thought...


I guess my point is try another doctor. Look for yourself and try looking the doctor and/or clinic up for any sort of reviews, ask around. Then see if your GP will be kind enough to refer you if you need it.

Is there anything at all that could be setting your back off so much? Come to find out a lot of mine, and my joint pain, was because I was falling a lot. Once that was under better control my backaches are better (as long as I stay out of hospital "beds"). You also need to be taught proper posture in physical therapy. Don't just settle for a few exercises, be proactive. If you need to add extra hand rails in the bathroom, better bed, or other things to make it easier around the house, consider that to.
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