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At what point to doctors investigate back pain?

(26 Posts)
chickensaladagain Tue 20-Aug-13 21:01:13

I have lower back pain and sciatica, I also get muscle spasms down my leg which will literally make me cry out

The first time my back 'went' I was 19, I'm now 35

I've been told I have a prolapsed disc, had nhs physio 6 sessions

I rarely go a month now without taking pain killers but I generally self medicate as the gp generally tells me painkillers and exercise is all that can be done

Do doctors not investigate causes?

Surely 16 years of being in pain is enough -I can't even stand up to wash up without my leg feeling like its on fire

grimbletart Tue 20-Aug-13 21:24:33

It took 17 years for my doctor(s) to agree to surgery for prolapsed discs. So, another year?

Sorry OP - I know that's not funny.

Mine finally agreed when a final attempt at physio ended with the physic ringing the doctor while I was on her bench (3rd of a course of 6) and saying in my presence that this patient is wasting her time and money faffing around with physic and why on earth had she not had surgery years ago?

I had the surgery. It cured me.

Not saying it is right for you, but 16 years of pain and faffing around is not right either.

Go back to doctor and kick up buggery. Good luck!

grimbletart Tue 20-Aug-13 21:25:43

No physic - physiotherapy obviously - stupid spell check.

pinkbear82 Tue 20-Aug-13 21:30:16

It may be worth seeing a private Physio. They can refer you (to nhs consultants) to be seen. It may require a letter to your gp but it adds weight to you going and asking as well.
Private physio's aren't as restricted as nhs, and more often then not can use different skills to help. Even just an assessment might help.

Failing that keep pestering your gp, enough times of asking and they'll have to refer you.

emmelinelucas Tue 20-Aug-13 21:37:30

Ye Gods, OP that is along time. I spent a year in abject agony and then went for a scan that my GP arranged. 2 prolapsed discs.
I then went for a painkilling injection, but couldnt have it done as I kept fainting with pain as I was put on my tummy and the pressure on my leg was too much to bear. I had mixed opinions on their efficacy anyway.
3 years on I am giving up work, but had claim for ESA refused.
Agony doesnt count for anything, apparently. So DH will have to support me.
You really must create an almighty fuss, even change GP. Some are more "into" back pain than others.
I changed mine on recommendation from the Doc at Occupational health and am now waiting for surgery.
I really do feel for you.
More must be done for you !

chickensaladagain Tue 20-Aug-13 21:54:10

I'm more comfortable on my front

Getting in and out of the car is hard and generally involves grabbing onto the roof to heave myself in

My leg pain is more of a bother than my back but I know my back is the cause

emmelinelucas Tue 20-Aug-13 22:05:29

Yes - that sciatica for you. I never had back pain exactly, it is all in my leg. Constantly feels like its been scalded.
So, are you going back to your GP ? <holds hand>
16 years..sheesh..shock

chickensaladagain Tue 20-Aug-13 22:21:05

Yes I'll go back


I think because it seems to get better each time I've never really pushed for anything beyond physio

But I'm so sick of always being aware of it, how I move, days out etc I need to know I can sit down somewhere

emmelinelucas Tue 20-Aug-13 22:27:25

Good !
Even if you are having a good day, present as though you are at your worst wink
Thats what I had to do.
Acupuncture helped me - warmed my frozen/on fire/scalded leg nicely for an hours blessed relief.

EagleRiderDirk Tue 20-Aug-13 22:32:00

Dammit grimble I was just about to go book a psychic as I'd tried everything else wink

emmelinelucas Tue 20-Aug-13 22:32:40

Rightio, am hobbling off to bed. Taken my gabapentin and co-codomol.
Last week of work.
Good luck, OP.Please let us know how you get on.

Matildathecat Wed 21-Aug-13 13:43:50

Emelinelucas, if you are stopping work for ill health you should be entitled to contribution based EMA. I got it for a year, though its just about to call to check, I got it really easily.

I, too am a spinal cripple. Surgery failed and has made me much worse. Injections help a tiny bit but not much. Drugs keep me sedated enough to not care quite so much.

Sorry, having a super bad day. Sympathy in buckets to all fellow sufferers.

OP ask your GP to arrange an MRI and a referral to a neurosurgeon for a proper diagnosis and plan of care. The way we get treated makes me utterly sick. Oh, unless your mane is David Cameron. Then it's great.

emmelinelucas Thu 22-Aug-13 18:11:15

Matilda - I will try, I was on it last year (I meant to say EMA), but I was told that rules had changed and that I had no chance, or something.
I just know that I cant work, unable to stand/sit/walk for any decent length of time.
I am worried about surgery making it worse. I have seen this happen, however it could, so will submit.
Does anyone find the warmer weather helps a bit ?

chickensaladagain Thu 22-Aug-13 18:17:11

Booked a doctors appointment for Tuesday and I'm going prepared to argue

bishboschone Thu 22-Aug-13 18:21:28

I have found doctors uninterested in back pain. I have spent thousands trying to fix mine privately . It's still painful. I just live with pain hmm

emmelinelucas Thu 22-Aug-13 19:08:47

Good luck, chicken.
Change GP if he/she won't help. Like bish says, some are not interested.
Karma'll get em..

Montybojangles Thu 22-Aug-13 23:20:54

Have you ever actually been referred to a neurosurgeon, had a scan etc? If not you need to make one massive fuss. Most back pain does resolve by itself within 12 months. You have had it years, you need to be seen.

chickensaladagain Thu 22-Aug-13 23:27:13

I've had no investigation other than by the gp and her asking me to perform various movements to see if I scream!

emmelinelucas Thu 22-Aug-13 23:33:39

Make a massive fuss, chicken.

Montybojangles Thu 22-Aug-13 23:43:22

Wow, your gp must be awesome if she can diagnose the cause of your back pain without the need for imaging. She could save the NHS millions.

Don't leave that clinic without a referral. If she's being awkward ask her who you see for a second opinion. Good luck.

somanyfake Fri 23-Aug-13 05:43:51

I had back pain for long time
It was off and on for while
My gp never bothered to reffer me anywhere so I was just on pain killers for quiet long time

It also went extemely worst after complicated labour of my baby
Ive been send to physio but she just told me to do some execises
Which did not work

Finally I went to chiropracticioner and exelent doctor first time checked my spine x-ray told me what is wrong with me and ordered to do some exercises
It was long time to get better but at the moment its hurts just sometimes
When before I wasnt even able to open a very heavy door to my flat
So maybe its worth trying
Anyway I hope you would feel better soon

LongTimeLurking Fri 23-Aug-13 08:01:06

Have you had an MRI scan to confirm the cause or is the Dr just guessing at prolapsed disc based on the symptoms?

Low back pain is so common that unless you have all the classic 'red flag' symptoms the doctors generally aren't that interested. - I think partly because it is quite difficult to treat, surgery in extreme cases might work but then again often it doesn't and can even make things worse.

Options are pretty much limited to pain killers, drugs to block the nerve pain, exercises and lifestyle changes. You could ask to be seen at a pain management clinic, they can be more willing to prescribe stronger pain relief and sometimes offer injections to block the nerve pain.

DowntonTrout Fri 23-Aug-13 08:10:14

You need a referral to a neurosurgeon.

First of all your GP should send you for an MRI so the neuro has the imaging to look at.

I have 2 prolapsed discs. I was referred for the MRI after physio didn't work ( 3 months) saw the neuro after 6 months and was offered surgery straight away.

I put off the surgery for various reasons and am pain free at the moment, but if it recurs I am still on my consultants list and can go back at anytime. 16 years? Your GP is rubbish. Be firm.

emmelinelucas Wed 28-Aug-13 20:31:58

How did you get on today, chicken ?
I hope you made some progress at the Docs.

chickensaladagain Wed 28-Aug-13 22:14:32

Saw a different gp within the same practise and after a 5 minute appointment and a quick look through my notes....

I've been referred for an MRI


Doc thinks 6-8 week wait

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