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When it comes to back pain, I'm right there with you

disk extrusion.jpgIf you've read my book, Maximizing Your Injury Claim (and you should), or if you've followed my blog, you know that I injured my low back in a 2002 rear-end car accident. I received all kinds of treatment, including chiropractic and massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, and epidural steroid injections. I even had a surgeon who offered to perform surgery on my lower back. I considered the surgery, but eventually, the pain subsided and I was able to resume my fairly active lifestyle.

In the last 10 years I've been able to run, hike, climb, camp and play. I've been to the remote wilderness of Alaska and wandered the streets of Rome. I've hiked parts of the Pacific Crest Trail, and I've been on safari in Southern Africa. Throughout that time, I've suffered from periodic flare-ups of low back pain, but never enough to make me think of surgery, and never enough to prevent me from living my life or from keeping up with my young son.

Until now.

For most of the past year I've had a continuous pain down my left hip and leg. When it gets really bad it goes all the way to my two little toes. I went to one spine specialist who told me that unless there was numbness or weakness I should just deal with it until it passes. I tried that advice, but after several more months of more or less constant pain, I found myself less inclined to play with my son and more likely to be irritable with my wife. I finally decided to seek help from another doctor.

Last month I visited Dr. Benjamin Snyder of Seattle Spine & Sports Medicine. Dr. Snyder is a physiatrist focusing on musculoskeletal medicine, including spine care, sports medicine, and pain management. Dr. Snyder took a detailed history and we tried some trigger point injections and dry needling. It helped for a while, but the pain came back. He ordered an MRI of my low back, which definitively explained the cause of my pain.

Turns out I have a pea-sized bit of disk material that has been extruded from my lowest disk and is sitting against the left nerve root. We're gonna try the trigger point injections again, and if that doesn't work, the next step will be an epidural steroid injection. The last option is to return to the surgeon for another consult. I've been told that the kind of surgery I would need, a microdiscectomy, is the least invasive and most successful kind of spine surgery, but I am still holding it back as a last resort.

Ultimately, I refuse to let my injuries limit my quality of life, and I urge you to do the same. Nobody knows your body or what you are experiencing better than you do. If you don't agree with one doctor's recommendations, find another one. You deserve to feel better, and by taking charge of your healthcare, you can make sure you will feel better as soon as possible.

If you have questions about motor vehicle accidents, spinal injuries, or anything else related to the personal injury claims process, check out my website, or shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you.

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