I went to the orthopedist today. He took x-rays of my back. The short version: my spine is about 20 years older than the rest of me. Bone spurs. Narrowing of discs. One slightly bulging disc. Arthritis. And curvature of the spine probably caused by the excruciating pain I was in during the x-rays.
As the doctor said, clearly Plan A failed. Plan B is an MRI (next Monday) and a referral to a physiatrist, a pain management and rehab specialist. She will be giving me a cortisone epidural in my lumbar spine. My appointment is for a week from Monday. (This allows time for insurance company hassles and other administrative whatnot.)
I actually had a reasonably comfortable morning. I have been putting ice on my lower back and hip and it does reduce my pain somewhat. I went for a very windy 25-mile ride without any significant pain. After getting home I did a tiny bit of PT, took a shower, and ate lunch without pain. Just as I was wondering whether I’d be going to the doctor with no symptoms, I walked upstairs and the pain came rushing back.
Despite all this nerve pain, the doctor noted that I still have plenty of leg strength. He called a physiatrist and they chatted about my case. I can get an epidural before the MRI but it likely be more successful using the MRI for targeting the injection.
My doctor says I can have up to three epidurals. He says that for many patients, epidurals do the trick. Fortunately, I can still ride my bike which is as important for my mental well being.
If the epidurals don’t work, I’ll be moving on to Plan C. C in this instance stands for cutting.