Needles and Pins08 Jan 2007
When I first talked about my back pain last month, I had just seen our family doctor and was going to wait a week to see whether the prescription would make things better. The pain improved somewhat, so I didn't go to the orthopedist right away. But it didn't go away either. The pain in my left leg was less intense, but was more persistent. I skipped the pain pills some days, and they didn't seem to make much difference. Over Christmas it was clear to me that more help was needed, and I went to the orthopedist last Thursday, the same doctor who got MamaMaus up and running so quickly after her accident in July.
He bent my legs a couple of times, took some x-rays, and was fairly certain I had a herniated disc. He put me on his standard 5-point program:
- a lumbotrain bandage to support my lower back
- buffered heels to be installed in my shoes
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) pain treatment
- lumbar and cervical traction
- an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), with a possible ct-guided periradicular injection (PRT)
The MRI and possible PRT were scheduled for today. I wasn't too keen on having a needle inserted in to my spine, and I approached the appointment with no small amount of anxiety and lost sleep. I haven't been in the hospital since having my tonsils removed at age 8. My most serious medical problem since then was a broken thumb.
I went to a radiology clinic in Hamburg for the MRI. I spent 10 minutes in a tight tube with flashing lights and loud pounding (rather like a techno show), and within minutes the radiologist showed me a 3 mm extrusion from my L5-S1 vertebrae (very much like the picture here (Fig. 2)). We proceeded immediately to the PRT (my orthopedist is conveniently at the radiologist on Monday afternoons). My fear of the injection was totally unfounded. An initial scan to mark the point, an initial injection, an additional scan to confirm the position, and the injection was finished. I felt almost nothing, and the doctor said his aim was perfect. Within 20 minutes 90% of my pain was gone.
My traction and TENS treatments begin tomorrow, and I'll have my shoes by the end of the week. It's vital that I lose weight, and I'll have to watch out for my back for the rest of my life. But for this evening I'm looking forward to the best night's sleep I've had in weeks. If anyone is looking for an orthopedist (sports specialist and chiropractor) located south of Hamburg, we both can highly recommend Dr. Al-Hassani in Jesteburg.