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Pain Medications and Younger Chronic Pain Patients

avaccaroaavaccaro Posts: 76
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Pain Medications
My journey with chronic pain started when I was around 14, probably earlier, but that’s when it really started affecting me. I saw a few doctors who passed it off as pulled muscles, mild scolosis, etc, but no one ever did more than a standard X-ray. As I got older, I kept complaining to my PCP, but he was convinced it was growing pains or muscle pains and kept suggesting exercise and Aleve. I think finally he got sick of me complaining and sent me to a physical therapist/chiropractor. Well, what a lot of good that did. I ended up in more pain and was still ignored by my doctor because I was 16.

I sucked it up and suffered with the pain until I was 18, which was nothing compared to what I experience now, but back then it was rough. When I moved down to Florida, I found a doctor who finally took me serious about my back pain. Unfortunately, I had health insurance issues and had to put off diagnosis/treatment. When I finally got back on insurance, I was so bad that I could barely walk. I was waiting for my boyfriend to get out of an upper endoscopy, and couldn’t even walk to the recovery room. I ended up dragging myself to the ER and checking in. I think because of my age, and because it was “back pain,” they trying giving my shots of non-opiate medications that didn’t do anything. They didn’t believe me until I was crying in pain that nothing was working. Finally, I got a shot of Dilaudid which helped a bit. I had an MRI, yada, yada, yada…

I had a hard time getting anything stronger than prescription ibuprofen for a long time. I would go to one specialist, and he would tell me “I’m too young for pain killers and shouldn’t need them.” Another would tell me the same thing, but then cave and give me a few Darvocets. I fought for awhile to finally get doctors to understand that I was in genuine pain and just because I was/am young doesn’t mean that I’m not suffering as much as someone 30 years older than me.

Even my surgeon, who knew I was on 5/325 Percocets as needed prior to surgery, made them stop giving me IV morphine in hospital only 12 hours after surgery, even though I was in a lot of pain. He had them giving me oral 5/325 Percocets every 6 hours, which took forever to kick in and barely touched the pain. Luckily, I had brought some with me to take as well. Before discharging me he wrote a script for 25 5/325 Percocets and then almost ripped it up because he said at my age, it would be too strong for me! I had just finished having a pretty big surgery and he thought Aleve would be more than enough. Ha!

Sorry for the long rambling…I’m in a writing mood tonight. But, I know I have heard numerous stories of younger people on Spine-Health who are not properly medicated because their doctors seem to think they are too young to be in genuine pain. Even at 21, I experience this and have experienced this for years, and I’m wondering who else has? I know this may be a hot button issue, but I think it is an important cause to take up. Why should anyone be forced to suffer because of age? If you have legitimate, diagnosed issues, you should be properly taken care of. The pain is there no matter what, regardless of how old you are.

Please share your experiences, comments, what have you…
I want to see how widespread of an issue this is and possibly brainstorm what can be done about it!

Thanks for your time!



  • My son is 12. I understand that yes, there are issues that can be attributed to the growing pains. He had hurt the quad muscle in his right leg about a month ago. Generally, he feels ok. But he plays baseball and when he starts off running on that leg, he experiences pain after a few steps. I keep telling him to wrap it before practice/games, and sometimes he does. I would like for him to be checked; my husband says if it's the quad muscle, it will just take time to mend. I feel like, what if he tore something? Why is it still hurting after all this time?
    Men and their "suck it up" attitude... Well, my husband's attitude, anyway.

    I had problems with bilateral knee pain as a preteen. I kept complaining. Mom kept saying "it's growing pains". I didn't think growing up should be as painful as it was. Finally, after the school demanded a doctor's excuse for my absenteeism due to the knee pain, my mother had our FP check my knees. Turns out, my knee caps were crooked - each one points to the outside, rather than being aligned nice and straight.

    At the age of 13, I had knee surgery. We - okay I - decided I would only do one knee at a time and see how well that worked out before deciding on doing the other. THe orthopedist cut through all the ligaments and tendons and straightened my knee cap, then stapled the ligaments/tendons to my shin (the top portion). The staple looked just like a little table. It was about 1" on the "top" and the "legs" were about 1-1/2" long. It was metal. That place stayed sensitive to the softest touch. And, clumsy as I was/am, I was always hitting it with chairs, tables, bats, whatever was within 2' of it. So after a year or 2 I had the same doctor remove it. That was done outpatient.

    So, I do wonder about my son. Should I press the issue? Our oldest (18) played baseball all his life (T-ball, coach's pitch, parish ball, tournament baseball and finally high school baseball). He complained with his shoulder hurting. Turns out, he tore some muscles in the scapular area. He's had to sit out his senior year - when the scouts are out scouting. He's always wanted to play college and professional baseball. Even to the point of practicing how he'd sign his autograph! He should have listened when I told him he needed a plan B.

    Pain knows no boundaries and there are no age limits. Sure wish the "professionals" would realize this!

    Interesting topic, Amanda. OH, and I love the black kitty in your signature line!
  • Thanks Jeaux!

    I think I would push the issue with your son's leg, just to be sure. As long as your health insurance will cover the diagnostic tests, it doesn't hurt just to check things out.

    Hope all is well!

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    Over the years dealing with chronic pain, talking with others and just seeing what my daughter had to go through, there is no question that many doctors do not take younger people serious. Some of them, just feel that when you are young, you shouldnt be having problems and if you did, because of your age, you can handle it.
    To compound that, which is even sadder is that many doctors do not take women as serious as the do with men.
    I remember when my daughter starting having back problems, the same doctor who was seeing me, tried to pooh-pooh her problems and just say , she will outgrow it!
    Move outside the spinal arena for a second....

    A man goes into the ER complaining of chest pains, he will be rushed into the rooms, hooked up to monitors to figure out what are the next steps.

    Now, a woman goes into the ER complaining of the same thing.
    Too often she will not be taken serious enough. Doctors may brush it off as being just emotional issues.

    So being your and being a woman can give you double trouble.
    How to combat this?
    I wish I had an answer. I do know, that in my daughters situation, I asked my daughter to leave the office because I wanted to talk to the doctor some more. Talk, I just about tore him apart. He did not like my approach and even suggested that I should be looking for another doctor.
    Well, we both did.
    So, Amanda, if you are not getting the respect you should be, I would look for another doctor that will take your situation serious and is not going to make any judgements because you are young or a woman
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • hi! :H i know exactly what you are talking about. i ruptured two discs in my back when i was 16 and was refused treatment because "i was too young for a thing to happen!" :''( i was given plenty of pain medications, but even a milogram ( no MRI's then) was not given to me. by the time i recieved surgery at 24 i was in a wheelchair. i was told many things including "this was all in my head!" perhaps, if i had ecieved treatment sooner i would not suffer from such severe sciatica as i do now.. i am sorry you went through much the same thing. :D Jenny :)
  • I'm sorry you're having pain. Could you get your Dr from Florida to send up a note to your Drs?
    I haven't had back issues myself until now as of last year at the age of 47. I remember vague problems with back pain in my 20's - 30's for minor scoliosis. I hope you find the best Dr to help. Take care. Charry >:D<
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Hi Ron,

    I definitely notice differences in how doctors treat women compared to men also. It's very disturbing actually.

    Right now I am able to get pain medications without much of a problem from my primary care doctor. I showed him what I was taking down in Florida and I guess because he read my MRI reports, he believed me. Unfortunately, this was the same doctor that 3 years ago, refused to believe that I had any problems and brushed it off as muscle pain that chiropractic care mixed with electro-therapy would fix.

    I am soon planning to switch PCP's when I go to my neurosurgeon appointment and figure out whether or not I need to have surgery on my reherniated L5-S1, and depending on whether or not my brain/cervical MRI's show lesions or demyelinization that would be contributed to MS.

    I guess I should have been a little clearer in my original post about treatment I'm receiving now. I just found it a very common thing while talking to the younger members of Spine-Health and I know from experience that it is not something that should be tolerated. I just wanted to see how many others-men and women alike-have had this issues.

    Thanks Ron!
  • Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for your response. I'm sorry you weren't taken seriously either. It's really a shame that our health is jeopardized because some doctor thinks someone is "too young" or "too emotional" for these kinds of problems.

    I'm glad you got taken care of, but wish that it would have been sooner.

  • Hi Charry,

    Thanks for your response. I actually probably should have made myself a little clearer. I am getting proper treatment now, I just haven't always gotten it in the past. Doctors seem to think that younger patients as over-exaggerating, or that they do not know what they are talking about. It's a problem that, unfortunately, will always be there, but I wish there was something we could do to open their eyes a bit. They same goes for women's problems, and chronic pain problems in general. I'm sure almost everyone on Spine-Health has experienced one doctor who blamed their pain on something else, or told them they shouldn't be experiencing it to that degree.

  • is this practiced among doctors, but as i recently found out, for social security! Although I have enough medical evidince to prove that i have a painful enough condition to which there would be no jobs available to me if i had to call in more than twice a month due to pain, I was denied, because ONE doctor thought i exagerated my pain response.
    (i had my third laminectomy a month later!)-people, including doctors, only see what they want to see. unfortunately, some people prefer to wear blinders!
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