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Scary back pain, vague answer from Dr.

musiclover's picture
musiclover
Posts: 242
Joined: Oct 2005

Mark has been experiencing some ferocious back pain lately. He has a bad back, has for years, so this episode may actually be caused by his back going out.

I emailed his doctor nevertheless and he informed me to take Mark to the emergency room if he had 1) weak and/or numbness in legs 2) incontinence and/or 3) worsening pain. I didn't want to alarm Mark by implying the cancer may be causing the pain (he's got liver and lung mets already). More than anything, he fears the emergency room. County hospital ER is crowded, dirty, cold and takes forever. I've been asking several times a day about the back pain which has gone up and down. He finally agreed to take extra strength Tylenol which does make a difference. I was becoming very concerned because his legs ARE weak and the pain did get worse today (before the Tylenol.

The Dr. didn't explain what these symptoms mean. I don't think it is anything good. Any ideas out there? I'll be seeing the doctor Tuesday. I think he's been holding back information just so Mark doesn't freak out. I don't entirely disagree with this - Mark needs hope. On the other hand, he has the right to know so he can make decisions accordingly regarding his treatment.

Would love your thoughts...

vinny3's picture
vinny3
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

The doctor probably gave you those guidelines as people with back pain sometimes get what is called Cauda Equina Syndrome. That is usually from a large herniated intervertebral disc that is pushing against the lower spinal cord and causes loss of bowel/and or bladder control and can cause numbness in both legs instead of in one like we often see with herniated discs. The only way to really tell what is causing the pain would be with a scan- usually an MRI. It is a good sign that the tylenol gives him some relief.

Dick

musiclover's picture
musiclover
Posts: 242
Joined: Oct 2005

Thanks Dick. You just gave me more of an education that the doctor was willing to offer. I guess he doesn't want to alarm Mark but not knowing that those symptoms could lead to a disaster, Mark decided not to go to the emergency room. As it turns out he didn't need to thankfully because his last visit took 14 hours. That is with constant complaining and prodding on my part to expedite the process. The nurses told me it can take 24 to 48 hours to be seen sometimes!!

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