Severe crushing back pain, numbness in legs and arms and hands after three spinal surgeries

Severe crushing back pain, numbness in legs and arms and hands after three spinal surgeries; does chiropractic have a role to play?

I have had 3 surgeries on my back to date. I suffer now from what I can only describe as crushing back pain that is in my lower thoracic to upper lumbar regions.

This pain extends up into my neck and shoulders radiating down my arms causing headaches, neck stiffness, and numbness in my hands and fingers.

My pain also radiates downward with the continued crushing sensation into both hips and across my pelvic region. This pain radiates into my groin on both sides and down both legs with searing, burning pain, and scattered numbness in both legs and feet.

I am in constant pain that causes me to limp on ambulation and keeps me awake at night. Pain medication is not helping at this point and there are many times when the pain is so severe it causes nausea and vomiting. Along with the crushing pain I also have sharp stabbing pain that comes and goes in pretty regular intervals of about 5 times per hour lasting for anywhere from 5-10 minutes. I am exhausted in every sense of the word and I just want the pain to become tolerable.

I am also suffering from depression as a result of this chronic pain that has just been getting steadily worse since 2004. My first surgery was a spinal fusion of L5-S1 with titanium cages in 2004. My second surgery was a discectomy, laminectomy, foramenotomy, and hemictomy of L1-L5 in 2013.

My third surgery was a foramenotomy and hemiectomy of L1-L5 in 2015. What can be the underlying cause of all of this as I am fairly young, 39 now, to have so many back problems? What can I do to help ease the pain so that I can at least sleep at night and sit at my desk for work without crying because of the pain? Any help and suggestions are greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance for your time and consideration on these issues!

Gosh David, this is simply awful, and especially at 39. What is the surgeon's response?

You make no mention of doing any exercises, and here I think you need professional advice from someone on the ground. At chiropractic help, in the navigation bar you'll find some lumbar exercises, but really you need someone to supervise them for you, check that they are appropriate and that you're doing them correctly. Do them every morning before getting out of bed, and then as often as you can. They only take a couple minutes, literally.

Then I would consider swimming every day, initially just backstroke. Because it's not weightbearing, it's a good option, though boring I must concede, but that should not be an issue for you in such dire straights.

Then I would consider inversion traction, but again you need someone to supervise it, especially in the early stages; until you've got the settings correct, that's important, as you can get stuck upside down. And it might aggravate rather than help. But worth the risk trying, in my opinion. See if you can find a gym with a pool and inversion traction. Someone else must fit the clamps around your ankles; don't do it yourself.

If you were coming to me I'd start with gentle McManis traction for a few weeks to see what could be achieved.

Start doing some homework; ask friends, family, colleagues and your doctor for the name of an experienced chiropractor who is willing to take on such a tough case. Go for an initial consultation, examination and report of findings with no treatment; what's your gut feel?

I really don't know whether chiropractic has anything to offer, but you're obviously fed up with medicine; I think it's worth a try if you can find the right person.

A gentle massage with you lying on your side, or on a large cushion but not flat on your abdomen is worth a thought; several times a week.

It's time for you to help yourself, and this enquiry is the start; keep up the momentum and I wish you every strength and encouragement. Sitting alas is often the greatest enemy of the lower back.

Ask about Maigne's syndrome; it's an upper lumbar facet syndrome that radiates to the buttock and groin. Sacroiliac and hip joint conditions also cause groin pain.

Let me know how you get on; I hope this contributes.

Dr B

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Jan 03, 2016
by: Kyra Frank

Thank you so much for your speedy response!! I am a Registered Nurse working two jobs at the present time so aside from all the walking I do at work at my second job I honestly don't do much other exercise. I am trying to do better but between pain and fatigue I usually talk myself out of it.

I honestly am at a loss!! They have been trying to get me to just see a pain management doctor but I have been resisting for years. Sadly I feel like I am going to cave and result to pain management as I can't stand continuing to live like I am. I have tried massage but there are so many areas that are tender just to the touch that it ends up hurting more than helping. I will keep you posted though on my journey. Thank you again for your response and suggestions I will attempt to follow them!!

Pure and simple, Kyra, you're pushing yourself over the top and the cracks are appearing; why on earth two jobs? Accept a lower standard of living, and live! Uncle Sam just loves it when folk work as hard as you do.

Make time for yourself, or fall apart; that's the choice you're facing, and it's at the door. You of all people know what the side effects of pain management are.

Oh, and my back exercises take less than two minutes; could you manage that twice a day?

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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