I was in more pain than usual, due to having to stop the anti-inflammatory meds a few days prior. I would rate the pain about a 7/10. The procedure was performed at 1pm in Columbia, MO. Dr. Oliver came in first and extracted some stem cells from my right hip. There was a little pain with that, but nothing too dramatic. I laid on the table as we waited for the centrifuge to do its job. Then, Dr. Meyer came in to perform the injections into my spine. He injected both the disk and the facet joints, because as he said, I had problems with both and he couldn't be sure where the pain was coming from, so we might as well treat both. The injections to the facet joints were similar in discomfort to the steroid ones I have had in the past. The injection to the disk, however, was quite a bit more painful. I almost came up off of the table and the muscles in my low back went into a horrible cramp. This cramp lasted about 30 minutes causing 9/10 pain. The Toradol they gave me finally stated working though. My pain came down to a 5/10 after a vicodin. The hour and a half car ride home was uncomfortable for sure. That evening, I keep feeling a sense of "fullness" in my lower back, due to the fluid injected. By bedtime, my normal passion meds, plus the additional prescribed to me, had calmed the pain down to a 1/10. I slept all the way though the night.
I woke up in a fair amount of pain, but that is not horribly unusual for me. I got up, took my morning meds and sat on my heating pad as is my usual routine for a Saturday. After a while, the pain was under control, although I can tell it wouldn't take much to set it back off. The "fullness" feeling is almost gone and has been replaced by a "tightness" feeling in my lower back.
I woke up in a fair amount of pain, but took my meds and got on with my day. Went out and put up trail cameras to watch the deer, so that involved riding an ATV. I paid for it that evening, but was able to get my pain under control before bedtime.
I returned to work. It was raining, so this normally would be a bad day. There was quite a bit of pain, but I attribute it to sitting in the office chair all day and the rain.
Overall, I would say that things are going pretty well. The pain is no better overall, although I do notice that I can do some things without any pain that caused me pain before. I would say that at this point, it is just about equal from the increased pain in the mornings to the lessened pain some days doing other things.
This week has been about average overall. The spring rains have caused some pain in my back, due to the arthritis, but I suspect that will take several weeks to heal (I am guessing that by the 16 week mark things will be better). I have noticed, however, that bending over causes me no more pain. I guess when the Dr. Injected that disk in my lumbar area that was so damaged, he essentially "filled it back up" so it was not like a deflated balloon anymore. My wife and daughter have both commented on how I have been bending over to pick things up or put the dogs on the leash, whereas I would not before.
This week I would say has been about average. The spring storms are causing me more pain in the arthritic areas of my back, but I have noticed that there is 0 pain when bending all the way over and touching the floor now. I am still not taking any anti inflammatory medications, but I have a suspicion that if I were, my pain medication use would be noticeably lower than in the past. We will see in the weeks coming up, but I can start to notice some positive changes.
End of week 5
I think it is safe to say that what I am feeling us an immediate relief from the injection to the disk, as mine was badly degraded. I think what I am still experiencing is there arthritic pain caused by the facet joints. During the initial exam the PA said that this would take several weeks to get better and might need a second treatment. Overall though, I would say that I am impressed with how much the disk injection has helped so far. If we could only get the arthritic pain under wraps, I would be a totally new man. I this this week I will start back on my anti inflammatory meds.
End of week 6
So, I decided to start to try to wean myself off of some of my tramadol this week. Well, let's just say that has been fun. Let me tell you, anyone who thinks "I'm not addicted to this medication", let me tell you, if you have been on it for a while and a person could get addicted to it, then you probably are. I spend every single evening in a funk, not really knowing what to do with myself. I suppose it is depression. I also have this craving for something... but I doubt know what. (Actually, I do know what it is... it is the pills) Since I am weaning myself off of this slowly it looks like I get to enjoy this fun little twist for several weeks. Maybe by mid summer I will be done with it. (It probably doesn't help my mood that everyone in the world has been stuck in their homes for over a month right now either)
End of week 7
So, stepping down off of the Tramadol has been harder than I thought. It is causing a severe depression that is affecting my life significantly. My work is suffering as well as my home life. I am not a person that is prone to depression either, so this really sucks. I am used to going to bed and everything will be OK in the morning. This time, getting off of these meds, everything is most certainly not ok.
End of week 8
There has not been much change since last week. I am considering going to my primary care physician to see what she can do to help with the depression due to cutting back the tramadol. For now, I had to go back on it. My mind was too messed up to work without it. Pain wise, I found that I was i pain without it, but not severe, debilitating pain. On average, with my pain meds, I used to be a 2 or 3 out of 10. Now, with the pain meds, I am a 1 or a 0. I guess that means the procedure helped. I spoke with my wife and she had to bring me back down to earth the other day by telling me that no matter what anyone did, I would probably need pain pills for the rest of my life. I guess she is right, but a 1 or a 0 with pain pills is a lot better than a 2 or a 3 with pain pills.
End of week 12
Not much has changed in the past few weeks. I am still having a fair amount of pain due to the arthritis in my back, but none due to the disc that was badly damaged. It is hard to explain the lack of pain and how quickly you can forget it and only focus on the remaining pain. I am glad that I have been keeping track of my pain levels on a somewhat objective level (1-10), because if you would have asked me a subjective question like "has it helped?" You would have gotten a different answer. Yes, there is still some pain. Does it keep me from doing the things I want to do anymore? No, not really.
1 year after procedure:
It is hard to believe it's has been a year since I had the procedure done on my back. What an odd year 2020 was. No need to go into details, we all lived through it. Another thing that was odd for me was my back. I spent most of the winter months in pain, as usual. What was different this year though was that I didn't need to use a walker or a cane in order to get around. I am 43 by the way, so I should not have to be using a walker or cane. I think overall the pain levels were lower. I don't really recall anytime this winter that pain absolutely prevented me from doing something and this was different than in years past.
So to sum up, did this procedure fix me 100%? No.
Did this procedure help me? Yes.
Would I have this procedure again? Yes