Friday, May 17, 2013

Back Pain and Cushing’s

Sorry for not posting something for a while, but I’ve been kind of busy.  My wife, Debra, and I took a trip to see some friends in Texas.  While there this picture of us together was taken:

This is probably one of the better pictures taken lately which showcase my truncal obesity really well.  And that is part of the why on today’s subject.  One of the effects that Cushing’s has is that it causes back deterioration and consequent pain.  There are several mechanisms to the end.  One obvious one is the stress the weight places on the spine.  The other two are that Cushing’s leads to general bone deterioration often causing osteoporosis and deterioration of discs in the spine on top of that.

I do have spinal deterioration and a ruptured disc to add to the mix.  Although I started having back pain as far back as the early 2000s, it was in 2009 that I really had the extent of the problem brought home to me when I was struck by back pain so severe that I was bed ridden for a month and spent several more in a wheelchair.  It wasn’t until I managed to bring my weight down enough to fit into an MRI that the ruptured disc was discovered.  It presses onto the sciatic nerve.

At the time of the 2009 attack I was refused hospitalization on the grounds that I was not a candidate for surgery, though how they came to that conclusion without a proper evaluation is beyond me unless they were basing that opinion on my having a large Abdominal hernia from a previous surgery.  So on that occasion I was crammed screaming in agony from the pain into our small car and sent home, after my doctor had sent me to the ER for admission in the first place.  And, yes, I’m harping.

A couple of days ago I woke up in serious pain and gutted it through the first day hoping it would go away.  But the next day I went to see a doctor and have been taking a painkiller and a muscle relaxer which both make me kind of sleepy.  That’s one of the things which can be done.

There is also what are called TENS units, which use a small amount of electricity to neutralize the pain impulses sent up the nerves.  There is also surgery of course, which I think the doctor I saw thinks may be necessary since he’s asked me to follow up with my orthopedic surgeon.

Sadly, the options are growing fewer.  One of the research boards tasked with recommending standards of care under the new healthcare act in the United states recommended a few months back that TENS units should no longer be used in the treatment of back pain.  That’s sad because they are a relatively inexpensive mode of treatment. And it is being recommended that access to narcotics for those in chronic pain be even further restricted.

For a Cushie back pain can pretty well be counted on at some point if one’s condition remains untreated for any real length of time.  Just the strain from the added weight will cause it if nothing else.  Your doctor will determine if you need to be referred to a specialist, more often than not an orthopedic surgeon who will evaluate your condition and decide if surgery is an option or not.

We’ll see how it goes for me this time around.

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