I'm not sure where to start, but I'll try to explain my problem as best as I can. I have chronic pain due to two different and seperate problems. I am almost 45 years old, and a female. I have had lower back problems over the course of my life, but they were usually brought about by lifting something wrong, and it would cause severe muscle spasms, but would go away with rest, etc.. I started seeing chiropractors in my early twenties, and would use them, as needed for occasional adjustments. Also, my Father had lower back problems, so I just assumed that maybe it was hereditary?
Approximately 3-4 years ago, I complained to my Family Dr. that my lower back hurt horribly at times, and my left leg would go numb. ( the numbness would start in my left hip/buttocks, and wrap around to the entire leg area above my knee). She used her thumb and felt along my spine, and hit right on a certain spot, and I said, "Oh, right there!, that is where it hurts" and she told me that this was my Sacrailius? Joint. At that time, I would have these episodes of pain/numbness maybe once a week. I asked her if physical therapy would help? She said, yes, we can try that.
Within a few months of this conversation, at the end of November 2005, (day before Thanksgiving) my husband and I were rear-ended. I was driving, had shoulder belt on, and head was turned to the right to say something to my husband, at time of impact. My neck hurt right away, but pain worsened terribly throughout day. Went to see my chiropractor at that time, and he diagnosed me with Whiplash, and determined that I was to need adjustments at least three times per week, with stimulation treatments, heat, etc....
This went on for several weeks, and I was getting no relief. He did x-ray. Determined no fractures. Because my pain was so great, I turned to Family Dr. for pain medication. She prescribed Vicodin. Initially, I would only use it when in severe pain. All the while, continuing to see chiropractor. Muscle between neck and shoulder was always hard as a rock,so I was prescribed Flexoril too.
What started as several weeks, soon turned into months, and this chiropractor just kept saying, "It WILL get better. It will just take TIME" Eventually when my dr. would bring up the idea of an Orthopedic specialist, I would tell my chiropractor this, and he would quickly discourage this, by saying that all an Ortho Specialist would do is give me "injections" and so, what did I know? This went on and on for a year, and then my shoulder started to become "unstable" to where I would need to get an adjustment just so he could put it back in place. At one point I was so sick of the pain and wondering, when the heck this was going to get better, I DID decide to go to an OOrthopedic Surgeon/Specialist. On my FIRST visit, without any warning or understanding of, he came back into the room tto tell me he wanted to give me a steroid injection. That shot hurt so bad, and then he basically left me hanging, not knowing what to do next, but telling me to let that rest, and to not go to the chiro anymore. Trying to fast forward here, my Dr. did not know what to to for me. An MRI showed nothing of real importance, other than some degeneration and arthritis in my neck. But my shoulder and clavicle were always, clicking, popping, anc CLUNKING when my shoulder was out of place, causing the muscle to spasm, etc...Dr. decided pain management was an option, and this was the beginning of my starting to feel depressed and hopeless and scared that I was going to have to live with this pain for the rest of my life. I couldn't work outside of the house, my housework and daily activities suffered greatly. When I started PM, I didn't know what to expect. I had only taken the Vicodin (and 800 Ibuprophine and muscle relaxers) up til this point. So when the PM Dr. asked me if Iwanted to try "Methadone" or "Morphine" I was like, "Whoa! Oh God no! I'm scared of taking such hard drugs like that!"
He wanted me to try the Fentanyl patches. I absolutely hated them. They made me queasy, and dizzy, and gave me horrible nightmares. Then he tried me on maybe Oxycontin? I honestly can't remember how those helped or not. But his goal was to treat me for the continuous pain within a daily basis, so, he basically wanted to try extended type medication. Meanwhile, I aksed to have physical therapy because no one was telling me WHY my shoulder kept popping out, and I was having to go to this stinking chiropractor up to three times a week just to have him put it in place! Then the therapist, I swear she made it worse, by pulling on my arm and my pain was excruciating after that!!! I went back to my Dr. told her, Please help me. Please send me to someone who can tell me what my exact problem is!! She sent me to another Ortho Surgeon, and he ordered an orthogram? Where they inject dye into shoulder to get a better view? Two MRI's did not tell him what he wanted to see, apparently. He tells me, surgery IS necessary, to re-connect tendons? something to do with cartliage, and that he would know more when he went into my shoulder.
I guess I must have been naive, because I actually thought, GREAT! He will do surgery, and then NO MORE PAIN!!! NOT! He did fix the part that was causing it to be unstable, so that it no longer pops out, and he removed 4-5 long sharp bone spurs, etc... BUT, this surgeon also made me feel SO Horrible because I had taken narcotic pain medication for the past almost two years, he would actually almost yell at me, saying, "You need to get OFF this pain medicine!" You're ADDICTED to this Pain medicine!!" I wanted to punch him in his face!!! He told me, " I fixed your shoulder, you shouldn't BE in any more pain!!" Well, I was. But I certainly nounderstanding or sympathy from him. But my Dr. did believe me, and so she recommended to go back to Pain Management. (Where I naively thought I would be done with myself after the surgery) After the shoulder surgery and physical therapy for that, my lower back started to hurt more fequently. It was not continuosly, but when it hurt, it hurt horribly. My shoulder was my main reason for being there, but I told them from the start how my low back hurt so much and my leg going numb. I was prescribed Lidoderm patches for my shoulder, but I started using them on my lower back and got SOME relief. My surgery was in June of 2008. I went to PT by about the end of Aug, beginning of September. While in PT for my shoulder, my back started hurting more and more and every day. My Pain mangement Dr. had asked me if I wanted to try Avinza. I had never heard of it, and he told me it was Morphine, but it was a 24 hour pill that was fairly new, but would work throughout the whole day. He also prescribed Percocet 5/325, one tablet, 3x's per day for breakthrough pain. After the guilt trip and lecture from that surgeon AND my OWN determination to eventually not need any pain medicine, ( I actually thought that I would be in PM just until my shoulder healed and I could strengthen it and that eventually I would not need it. I agreed to try the Avinza. He started me on 30 mg. I complained about the shoulder pain and my back pain all the time to him when I would see him. I was told by the PT, that "It's GOING to hurt" But you have to work through the pain.
The Percocet DID help my shoulder pain, but this Avinza did not seem to help either my shoulder or my back. If anyone can understand, at this point I was becoming so discouraged and more and more depressed, because I was starting to realize that I may have to feel this pain for the rest of my life. For me to pay for this Avinza would have cost me $50.00 per co-pay EVERY month! Same with Lidoderm patches. And alonw with all of my other prescriptions. This financial burden alone was stressful. The PM gave me a card that covered my co-pay, and saved me the $50.00 per month. I was so grateful for that, but inside I was in such a dilema because I KNEW it did NOT help with my pain! And at the same time, I kept telling myself that it will just take time, and you will not even need to be on it anyway, so just take it, and keep working on strengthening your shoulder, etc..
I told that PT at the end of last year, that my lower back was killing me every time I had to lift weights, or when I did my shoulder exercizes at home. He told me to get an order for my back from my DR. and he would instruct me on how to exercise my lower back. HE told me, it was my posture, and maybe because I was overweight, etc, and he said it was my sciatic nerve being pinched, etc.. I was encouraged to think that I could help myself through exercising. Well, my PT ended around November of last year, but I persisted in doing my lower back exercises and shoulder ones too. It felt like it DID strengthen my back but the pain never went ANYWHERE. I finally reached the breaking point in trying to tell my PM and my family Dr. that I cannot take BOTH of these pains!!! I'm getting so depressed. Because I was afraid to tell my PM Dr that the Avinza did nothing for my pain, I made the wrong decision and took more Percocet than the prescription was written for. I did this when my back was so bad I wanted to die! He had JUST ordered me an MRI to see what the problem was in my back, and shortly after that, but before I had my MRI, PM called to tell me I had to do a "pill count" I was terrified! I knew my count would be short. But I took my Avinza in, which I had all that I should for that, but NOT my Percocet. I was subsequently let out of the PM program for failing to do the pill count. I am so embarassed and humiliated and scared and frustrated. I had to tell my family DR. what happened. She BELIEVES I am in pain, but she feels I should be under a PM Dr's care. She referred me to a new one, and in the meantime I had an MRI, and just this past week went to see a Neurosurgeon to tell me what the MRI findings mean. Also, the new PM clinic she referred me to? Even though I was completely honest and straightforward about the Avinza NOT helping me? They ended up treating me like I am a drug abuser/addict, and kept trying to make me think that I should not be in so much pain BECAUSE I have been on this AVINZA, when in fact, it NEVER helped at all anyway!!! And they are basically pressuring me to get these steroid injections.
This is what my MRI says:
Findings: There is chronic disc degeneration identified at L5-S1 with secondary marrow changes.
Impression: Bulging discs are identified at multiple levels.
There are early changes of degenerative stenosis at L4-5 as well as at L5-S1 with central protrusion identified at L5-S1.
This Neurosurgeon said that the kind of surgery he would do is called discectomy with fusion. Because I was crying and emotional, he said I need to see a "psychiatrist" to help me get mentally ready for surgery. He said I needed to get strong mentally and physically before surgery, and that even surgery may not help. He told me he tells all patients to get a second opinion also.
I know I am depressed. I am terrified in so many ways. I don't even want to get out of bed anymore. I am so upset because half the time I am treated like I am addicted to pain killers, but I can't even function without some sort of relief. Because I am not under a pain management doctor I took it upon myself to double my dose of Avinza. The last prescription I recieived was for 45 mg. I'm getting told that I am addicted (but I was told that when I was only on the Vicodin by that surgeon for my shoulder) but I'm so desperate for some relief, I can't think straight. I am so scared that no one will believe me, because I do not think I am addicted, I think the Avinza was not the right medication. Can anyone help me to know what I can do next? I cry several times a day. I don't even want to leave my house. Desperate for advice and understanding.
I'm so sorry this was so long. I appreciate it if you took the time to read. I will answer any and all questions you may have.