Sunday, January 22, 2006

My Chronic Pain

According to the doctor, I have sacroiliitis. Sacroiliitis is inflammation of the sacroiliac joint in the pelvis (see picture). It causes chronic pain in my lower back. I have had this pain almost constantly for about 6 years now. It started at age 20 when I would exercise but eventually turned into a chronic problem.

I have seen several doctors about it and although they can tell me what it is, I have yet to be told what caused or is causing it. I have treated the pain in a variety of ways including over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs as well as stretching, PT and steroid injections.

On Thursday I underwent my latest round of injections to help the pain. Everything went pretty well and the pain has subsided quite a lot. The doctor recommends no more than 3 rounds of injections evey 12 months, and would actually prefer to limit it to 1 or 2 per 12 months.

Basically, what the doctor does is guides a long needle into the SI joint (see picture) on either side of my pelvis, and injects a steroid into the joint to eliminate or at least decrease the inflammation there. On my left site, the doc had a hard time getting the needle down far enough into the joint to inject the steroid. He spent a good 15 minutes moving the needle around and adjusting its depth and angle to get to the right place. In the end, he had to actually insert another needle at a different angle to get to the right spot. Needless, to say they were a very uncomfortable 15 minutes for me. The injection on the other side went very fast,however, maybe 5 minutes total.

After the procedure I asked the doc why the first side took so long to do, and he said that that side was much more arthritic and the joint was extremely tight and closed up and, therefore, it was difficult to get into with the needle. So, at the ripe old age of 26, I am already showing arthritic wear in at least one of my SI joints. GREAT!!

My back pain has been a constant problem for me for the last 6 years. For those of you who do not suffer from chronic pain, it is hard to understand what a big part pain can play in your life. If you let it, it can dictate how you live your life and what kind of person you are. It affects your mood, your personality, your level of fitness and your overall health. After a certain amount of time, the pain becames a part of you. It is difficult to live with and impossible to ignore. So those of you who are healthy and do not suffer from daily pain, count yourselves lucky.

Sorry the post is kind of depressing today. I just wanted to talk a little bit about my experiences with pain and what was happening with me regarding its treatment.

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