For nearly four years, I've had a series of problems that started with a lower back injury. I've seen two orthopedists who have not been very helpful, and now my primary doctor has given me a referral to see an orthopedist. Can anyone recommend a good orthopedist - one who will listen and consider more than the obvious diagnoses (or at least spend more than five minutes with me) - in the Washington, DC area? Or recommend a way I can go about finding one?
More about my condition: Nearly four years ago, at age 26, I had lower back trauma that occurred while moving a box. My first symptoms were tingling in my right leg and lower back pain. Aleve helped, but then my upper back started hurting, too. A lumbar MRI showed a herniated disc at L4-L5. A few months later, I also started having tingling in my left hand and the lower left quadrant of my face. A neck/brain MRI showed no abnormalities. Lumbar and neck X-rays showed no abnormalities, either.
The first orthopedist I saw suggested lumbar steroid injections, which didn't help. Posture improvements did help. The third physical therapist I saw diagnosed hip misalignment (right hip lower than left hip) due to lumbar inflammation. He gave corrective exercises for that plus abdominal strengthening exercises, which have helped a great deal but not corrected the problem. When my previous primary doctor expressed concern about the effects of extended daily NSAID use, I saw another orthopedist who said I needed to exercise more. I increased my aerobic activity, but was unable to do weightlifting as advised because it aggravated wrist and elbow pain that I've had on and off for 7 - 8 years. I also saw an neurologist who recommended an EMG, which came back normal.
I have been taking NSAIDs and muscle relaxers (Flexeril) and doing my PT exercises, plus water aerobics and brisk walking, and been careful about not sitting for too long, having proper workstation setup, getting up and walking every 20 -30 minutes while at work, etc. This, plus monthly massages and PT appointments, help me manage my condition. I have not been able to correct it, though, and I have started to get increased tingling in my feet and left hand/face, plus occasional tingling in my right hand. I've also been having more and more trouble sleeping, because lying on my side often causes pain and irritation that shoots down my leg and foot (problems are mostly in left side; they're worse when I lie on my right side but sometimes occur when I'm on my right side, too).
Other health issues that might or might not be related: severe year-round allergies, which I manage with nasal steriods, loratadine, decongestant, and nighttime air purifier; wrist and elbow pain (diagnosed as tendonitis) that responds to ergonomic improvements and NSAIDS but keeps recurring; low-normal B12 levels (I now take a B12 supplement, but haven't gotten re-tested).
If anyone has any advice - doctor recommendations, referrals, etc. - I would appreciate it.