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All in my head??

BigochaloopaBBigochaloopa Posts: 41
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Chronic Pain
Hey everyone.... I know they used to say Chronic Pain is all in your head. Especially when they couldn't find any physical reason for the pain.
I know that nowadays most Doctors know better than that.......but when that Dr. looks at all your MRI's and Xrays/reports and looks at you and says " There's really nothing here that we can see is wrong".....part of me feels like she's telling me it's all in my head.

I'm just so confused.....when I sit down for any length of time...my sciatic nerve is just SCREAMING at me to get off it. I can't drive...watch a movie...read a book.. Hell I'm losing my job in the military because of this. And they can't see any thing to tell me why I'm hurting.

I think that's the worst kind of chronic pain....the type with no explanation :(

I've been reading about Dr. John Sarno, and his mind-body approach to back pain, and the idea that chronic pain syndrome is based on emotional stuff instead of physical reasons. Has anyone here tried this method?

THanks for letting me vent.



  • We went through similar things with my son's back/spine injury. They just kept looking through his x-rays, mri's, bone scans, etc., etc., etc., and kept saying that they can't find anything that would explain the level of pain he was feeling. Finally, the last doctor we went to says he thinks he has internal disc disruption/annular tears. Unfortunately thoset don't show up on mris, etc. Also, just as unfortunately, they are extremely painful. So...just because it can't be seen, doesn't mean it's not there. Keep looking until you find a doctor who will figure it out!!! Good luck!!!
  • Chronic pain is a disease of it's own. Some of the leading edge research suggests that it's more like the brain over-responding to a message from your body.

    I do know what sciatica is and deal with a variety of nerve related pain. There's no doubt that it's real even if a doctor can see it or find it.

    There is a lot of new research going on and I'd find a good doctor that is keeping up to date and may have some new ideas of how to treat it. I too have learned that most doctors don't know much about it and really don't know what to do. Don't give up on find one that can really help you and get that nerve calmed down a bit.
  • Hi,
    I want to share some most essential things to choose a best chiropractor for treatment of chronic pain. A chiropractor should respect your time, good speed of service, do some inquiries of your own, get a referral from your own medical doctor, who can give you a specific time frame for treatment.

  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    There is nothing worse than having debilitating pain and not knowing what is generating it.
    Over the years I had a pain like that. Hurt like hell while standing or sitting. But not if I was flat on my back.
    I saw an advertisement in a magazine for doctors. About the "Fonar" stand up MRI. And got to thinking all of my mri's were done with me being flat on my back. And that's what the ad said.
    So I found a radiologist that had one. And had one done with dye. Straight up, and with flex and extension.
    And Wa La, there it was!
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I also have sciatic like pain. Found out it's my SI joints, so that could be an avenue you could also be looking at. I also have protrusions, annular tears and mild to mod DDD from L4-S1, but nothing overly serious (the annular tears were picked up on MRI). Don't give up in searching for answers, and if your doc isn't doing anything for you, it might be time to have a discussion with her and find one that will. Just a question, what kind of doc is it that's telling you they can't see anything on the results? Is it a specialist, or your military doc? I would be asking for a referral to an actual specialist, a neuro/ns or spine specialized ortho. If your MOs are anything like ours up here, they are nowhere near qualified to be making decisions by looking at imaging.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • I sure can empathize, because I was in the same boat years ago. EMGs showed L5-S1 radiculopathy (a.k.a. pinched nerve), but Xrays and CT scan were normal, so the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. They finally sent me to a spine orthopedist, who performed a diagnostic imaging test, which pointed to the need for decompressive laminectomy. The operation relieved my pain for seven years (now my back is a mess according to the radiologists' reports). I'm not saying you should go under the knife, but I'm wondering if you've had any other tests.

    It's so hard to be patient when you have unrelenting pain. I know I could hardly wait for my doctors to find something so they could give me my life back. Hang in there, and keep us posted. Love 'n > :D<, Ess
  • Thanks for all your replies everyone....... I am waiting to see a neurosurgeon, however, since my mri's aren't picking up anything urgent...I'm at the bottom of the pile :(

    @numbskull.. the lab techs are the ones sending the reports to my military doc. My doc doesn't even look at the image, I'm pretty sure. PS---CDN forces here too ;)...

    Standing MRI...hmm, interesting..

    This sciatica is killing me. I meet so many people who say they used to suffer from sciatica. When I ask how long they suffered, they usually say anywhere from 3 weeks to a couple of months!!! When I tell them it's been over a year for me, they are shocked...

    Anyhow, just trying to live life like a normal person...without trying to let my kids see me suffering too much....went for an hour long family drive yesterday, and it was like torture. Had to pop dilaudid like it was candy, just to endure it. Can't wait until this ends...

  • Oh! Well, hey, if you need any advice at all about dealing with the system, I just went through it myself, actually just 3b'd a couple of weeks ago, so if you have any questions, I'm here! I can also answer any questions you may have about VAC as well. Send me a pm, I'll hook you up ;).
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Thanks Kelly....PM inbound.
  • Thanks for serving in the CDN military. Can you see a Physiatrist(sports rehab Dr.) about your sciatica. I recently started seeing one and she's helping with finding out the cause and doing a lot of tests.

    Also I take Cymbalta for the pain as well as a narcotic pain med which doesn't help nerve pain a lot. Do you take a nerve pain medication like Neurontin or Amitriptyline or Lyrica or Cymbalta for nerve pain? Take care from a fellow Canadian. Charry
    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 there Charry...... I've taken all those medications you spoke of...and none of them did anything for me except give me bad side effects.. :(

    And yes, I've seen the sports rehab doc. I've been through everything I can think of, and I'm getting a lot of " oh well, looks like you may have to learn to live like this and embrace " my pain" ".....

    But I'm not ready to give up yet! I'm only in my early 30's and I can't imagine living like this...and I suppose even worse as I get older.
  • I know how you feel about the Dr's making you feel as if it is all in your head. I have been hurting real bad for almost a year now, I have been unable to work since July due to the pain, I will lose my job in January after my FMLA runs out. The Nurse Practitioner at work wrote me out for a month then told me I had to return to work because all of my tests did not show anything wrong with me. He also put me through a very painful physical exam, which included jumping jacks and other physical activities. After this exam I was in tears because I hurt so bad. For the next week I could barely walk. He also told me I needed to see a Psychiatrist because he felt it was not a physical problem. Then I went to see a Neurologist the next week and he told me that I had a upper motor neuron problem and that I should not have been forced to go back to work and should remain on disability. I wanted to go see the FNP at work and just tell him off for putting me through all that just because in his opinion it was all in my head. I wish Dr's like that could spend one day in my shoes just so they can see how it feels. I am very sorry that you are going through this, keep your chin up and I hope you get answers soon!
  • Thanks custompaintdave..... I too feel for you in your situation.
    It is so hard to explain constant HURT to someone who's never suffered chronic pain. Its on and on and on....never relenting.
    Our bodies are constantly under stress...... I know for me, I've gotten really GREY over the last 2 years. I know this constant stress is aging me fast.
    It's like I'm watching time go by....and feel like I'm wasting my life sometimes.
  • I know exactly what you mean. I went from working 40 -50 hrs a week plus going to school full time studying auto body repair, to now barely being able to get out of bed. I was 3 classes away from graduating before I got so bad that I had to drop out. I had a dream of opening my own custom paint and restoration shop but that now seems impossible. Most day's I feel useless because I can't do anything. I have recently (This week) started working on making custom painted signs and my 10 and 12 year old boys are going to help me with prep work and such that I am unable to do anymore. I have had a lot of good comments on signs I made in school and requests to make some so I am going to try that. Having served in the Marine Corps I am a huge military buff who supports our troops in every way possible and make signs that honor them too.

    I say all of this to you to give you hope to find something that you enjoy doing and just work a little each day on whatever this is. It helps to get your mind off of everything if only for a short time. I really do hope that you can get some answers and are able to get some relief from your pain. I don't know if you are religious or not but I just wanted to let you know that I will be praying that you can get some answers and relief.
  • custompaintdave said:

    I say all of this to you to give you hope to find something that you enjoy doing and just work a little each day on whatever this is. It helps to get your mind off of everything if only for a short time. I really do hope that you can get some answers and are able to get some relief from your pain. I don't know if you are religious or not but I just wanted to let you know that I will be praying that you can get some answers and relief.
    Thank you Dave.... I did buy a motorcycle this past summer, as a hobby. And while I really love it , and the freedom it gives me..... It is extremely painful after about Half an hour of riding.
    So unfortunately, I can only go on short trips around the neighbourhood. :(
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    ...When docs don't know what is wrong.
    Even if pain and treatment remain the same, it's nice to have a name to it.

    My doc became more of a believer when he did my EMG.
    It gave him new insight and new game plan.

    I too want to thank you for serving! It is an awesome thing you do...caring enough to protect country like it was your family!

    Take care and I hope there is an answer soon!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • I've had back pain and problems for years but sciatic pain was one thing I thankfully didn't have. A couple of years ago I started having that type of pain especially when I was sitting. After some questions, feeling around and stuff my doctor said it sounded like pitiformis problems (sorry I don't remember the actual term). He sent me to PT and while I haven't gotten a lot of relief from pt in the past, the stuff they had me doing really helped with that sciatic-like pain. I don't think it shows up on X-ray or MRI, but maybe you could ask about it?

    This was in addition to all my other junk, but the relief from the bridge position and other specific things they did, helped that particular pain. I hope you can get some relief soon.
  • Thanks guys. Yes, piriformis syndrome..that's what they were sure I had for almost 8 months. I did physio......IMS(intra muscular stimulation---AKA bigass needles!!) I did chiro...and more..
    They did an MRI of my hip--butt area and ruled it out.

    I was seriously wishing it was piriformis, because I actually know a guy who had his piriformis muscle removed back in the 80's and has been good ever since.

    Just dying to put a name to this pain. I've had a lot of people give me the " acceptance" talk...saying I should embrace the pain, and learn to live with it as part of me................

    I'm just not ready to do that yet! Can't imagine living like this for the next 40-ish years or so.
  • Have they done an MRI of your SI joints? I, too, suffer from sciatica with no disc problems in my lumbar spine. I was recently diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, AS for short, and they sent me for an MRI of my SI joints to check for inflammation, which is apparently a common finding in those with AS. Sure enough, mine showed mild inflammation consistent with early sacroiliitis, which would explain the sciatica-like pain I get down my legs, particularly my left leg. It feels similar to sciatica, but is not actually sciatica in the true sense.
  • Lesley1000LLesley1000 Posts: 1
    edited 05/21/2014 - 8:19 AM
    Please, please, please, don't ever let anyone tell you that your pain is 'all in your head'. The only way this is right, is the fact that we all feel pain in our head. I really am sick of doctors trying to convince people with pain, that it is all psychosomatic. Yes stress can make you feel worse. It is an excuse because they cannot find the physical reason. That doesn't mean there isn't one, but most don't like to admit they can't find the reason. MRI scans usually eliminate reasons, rather than give you a reason for the pain. One person could have a scan without a days pain in their life and they may have horrific findings in the scan, prolapsed discs, arthritis etc. I have long times without pain and times with pain. My scans showed nothing, but I know the difference when I can't walk, or bend down. Depression can make you feel the pain more, but usually the pain has made you depressed. I was told by one doctor that I couldn't possibly be in as much pain as I was saying!! They don't know what to say. I am really sorry you are suffering and totally know what it is like, especially when someone says they have suffered for a few weeks and yours goes on for a longtime. They try to say the original injury has gone and the pain continues for 'no reason'. Sorry, but I don't believe them. Back pain isn't always to do with an injury and to have it for a long period is usually mechanical, so it won't 'heal' as they say. Really sorry I can't just take it away from you as I know you would give or pay anything. Just that you are not alone and it is not all in your head. If you are at the bottom of the pile, they will forget about you unless you kick up a fuss. Keep going back to your GP and tell them you cant live with it and see if they can do anything quicker. If you live in the UK, go to A&E. You have to keep on plugging away at them, hard I know when you are in pain. They will just forget about you and think it isn't urgent so keep going back to them until they listen. All this embracing the pain **** is easy for others to say as they cant feel what you can!
  • i have a couple of items here first of all your doctor said they could not find anything wrong on your mris. there are other tests they can do also like a diseconomy and a nerve conduction test but if the dr does not see anything, what are they supposed to do? from what i gathered the doctor did not say it was in your mind. you surmised that she did. why is that? it sounds like she could do all she could do and if i were you i would go back and ask for more tests. i am not sure about your insurance but she probably did not order other tests because she felt there was no reason to. the problem here is that we always get one side of the story, from the patient and never from the doctor. so it always seems the doctor is the problem when in fact there are reasons why she did nothing more. i think there are other issues that are here that make you think she says it is in your mind. i have had 4 fusions all due to sciatic pain where the disc presses against the sciatic nerve. people say i have sciatica when in fact there are not tests to prove it. it has become a catch all phrase used a lot on this site. so go back and ask for more tests if you feel there is something wrong and you always have the right to see a new doctor. by the way for my sciatic diagnosis i had an mir, disography, nerve conduction test, a test for arthritis and a cat scan and an x-ray. all of this to show i had sciatica due to the disc herniating and pressing against my sciatic nerve.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
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