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My relationship is falling apart because of chronic back pain, please help

sbrownk29ssbrownk29 Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Matters of the Heart
My boyfriend and I are both 29 years old, been dating for 10 years and he has had chronic lower back pain for about 14 years. This past year has been the worst year in regards to our relationship and his back pain and I don't know what to do. He is a wonderful guy and my best friend but he has changed, for the worse, and I'm thinking about leaving the relationship.

A while back, he was prescribed pain medication from his previous doctor, he never abused it, he took it how it was prescribed. Even though he followed the doctor's orders, his personality changed and we would fight a lot.
We recently moved, he didn't get along with his new doctor plus he acknowledge how the medication was changing him so he stop all medication and has also given up on finding a new doctor.

He is currently not working because of his back pain and doesn't help around the house (he states that its hurts too much.) So I must work and also maintain the household which sometimes can be a lot for me. Most of his days are spent watching tv and on the internet. He does not get out and socialize, when I first met him he was very sociable.
I have tried to get him to go back to the doctor, have him help me out with simple things around the house, go see a psychologist for his obvious signs of depression and other mental damage his chronic pain is causing him. I've tried motivating him to loose weight by suggesting we go to the gym and ride the stationary bike, pool, and eat healthier together. I've suggested Physical Therapy, Vocation Rehabilitation job services, go on walks and the list goes on. He isn't making an effort in anything and it's making me miserable.

At this point I really want to throw in the towel but I love him so much. I am the only support he has and if I leave I would feel guilty if he only gets worse not better. But at the same time I feel like I am enabling him not to change.

Myself and other people without chronic pain, can never understand how debilitating chronic pain can be and that is why I am asking this forum for advice.

Thank You



  • Well what is his back condition? Have dr,s offered surgery for him or what have they recomended?

    If he has not had surgery or surgery was not offered for his condition and he is not doing anything about it then he should be at least trying to work through it,

    Most times after surgery has failed and nothing can be done further then he would not have much more options other then pain management,

    But without knowing what and how severe his back condition is its hard to say whats best and if he is doing whats best,

    Was he offered surgery?
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • and it its very hard for someone without constant pain to fully understand just how bad chronic pain is ..one reason is YOU can't see it ..{nor can anyone else} if he has a broken leg in plaster maybe you would be a but more sympathetic.believe me i too was very sociable when i did not have pain but its cost me my first marriage /lost me my job .and after 3 operation and many painful procedures and at least ten years of sleep deprivation [one hour a night] .it would change anyone disposition.i believe your boyfriend about everything you have said about him .and operations are not always the answer because many back pain sufferers have many operations but the pain continues or even gets worse.drugs too help but after a few months you need more and more .its a horrible illness back pain and one of the biggest cause of male suicide.it takes a lot from a partner to understand and be able to live with someone with back pain .you must make a decision .live with him and iv with his illness or leave .but do it soon whilst your both young enough to restart your lives ..its going to be horrible what ever you do .but take it from an old hand .back pain is hell when he says he is in pain and can't do anything or doesn't feel like doing stuff he is telling the truth good luck
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Thank you for your comments and advise.
    I am not very knowledgeable about the back and spine so I hope I explain this correctly...
    He has pain around his L3, L4,and L5 area. He has arthritic facet joints, disc bulging at the L3-L4 and L4-L5 plus fluid leakage in those area. He has done steroid shots, burning of there nerves, and prescription medication. The doctor suggested surgery but he decided he didn't want to go down that route, as it may cause more harm than good.
  • be optimistic when telling potential candidates for surgery .but the real truth is once you start with back operation is all down hill and more often than not the person that's had an operation will ..at some time need more surgery .its very hard to live with .i am finding it very hard work myself ..i watch my wife go to work all day i am left alone for hours then at night we spend a small amount of time together then its bed time but while she sleeps i am up in pain..again ..alone for hours ..trust me it take a will of iron to survive true back pain .if anyone says anything different there pain is no where near as bad as mine .some can sleep for 8 hours a night i have not managed that for over 15 years .some can even hold down a job ..i wish !! ..i know some can cope better than others but trust me constant pain is ..........there is not even a work to correctly describe it ..its that bad
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • As any caregiver will tell you, your own needs must be addressed. You are not being selfish. Ride the bike, eat good food, have some fun. Go to the gym, do what you need to be healthy. Do some research on your friends particular issues. Although you won't understand his pain, it will make him feel that you care when you can "speak his language". Afterall. that's why we all are on this site, because we understand each other.If possible, talk to people that have had the same surgery suggested for your friend,surgery can and does provide significant improvement for many people.
    I would bet your friend is depressed, awfully young to be having the kinds of issues he's having. We tend to wrap our whole lives up in one big ball of pain....in a sense we paralyze ourselves...and to get out of that, we need some help. For me,antidepressants are a big help. Many antidepressants are also prescribed for pain.
    Try to get him involved in a "project" of some kind, you know, one that requires brainpower...work on it together...it may help you two stay connected.
    And.. talk to him, tell him what you think about the situation...( not so much how you FEEL, some guys react better to how you think). And keep reading the experiences on here.
    I feel for you, and your boyfriend. I hope you can find the knowledge and strength to make things work out. Keep us posted on things, and have a good week!

  • Leak you are refering to is posibly disc tear and disc leaking? If disc is leaking and i have to assume thats what you are refering to then if that dont heal and if its been 14 years it dont sound as it will then surgery might be his only option,

    Nobody wants to have surgery but it comes down to what quality of life there is for the person and when there is none then often its time to chit or get off the pot,

    If he cant work and is not able to do anything around the house then anything they have to offer to fix the problem has to be considered, You being his partner you might have to help and assure him you will be there for him no mater how surgery goes and help him decide that it might be his only option,

    Nobody should have the thought of going in to surgery that if i come out of this surgery worse then i am now then i will be left alone and criple even more then i am now,

    Even if you are not married relationship is for beter and for worse we stick together in good and in bad,

    Things like this usualy will test the relationship of how true and strong the relationship is,

    Anyone with chronic pain usualy does beter with someone beside them for suport and help in there decision making and helping them in there recovery,

    You have to ask yourself! What would your partner do if if it was the other way around,
    If you got hit by a car and was cripled for life in a wheelchair would he stick by you?

    If you know he would be there for you then you know what is the right thing to do,
    If he would not then you need to do whats is right for you,

    These days too often relarionships are just for the beter part of life when things are simple and soon as a serious task is faced many jump ship,

    So i guess it simply comes down to how true love is and each person has to do there part in there relationship, That also includes having surgery if needed if thats the only option given to get beter,

    Best of luck and hope this helps!
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • I think I see things a bit differently then others here.

    I too have been in his shoes or at least a pair like them ;)

    The difference is I never stopped fighting. Ok yes I did but them I joined this site and the members held my hand and walked me back to sanity by baby steps.

    BUT my point is even at my worst I wanted to try, I just was not able to until I was "forced" into getting help.

    I do of course agree that to leave him would turn life very badly for him. However at the same time if he is not trying to do anything - seeing Drs, doing therapy etc., to improve I too would be beyond frustrated. Especially with both of you being so young.

    Have you asked him how he plans to live the rest of his life like this?

    Please keep me updated how you & him are doing :)

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Sage is right from the caregivers perspective particularly. It is so very important that you take care of yourself or you won't have the physical or mental capacity to help your boyfriend.

    I also agree that there is a big difference in seeing them in pain and their experience of being in such pain. I can pretty well maintain without anyone noticing how bad I hurt prior to this injury. But there are times that I wouldn't have cared a bit about who walked in our tried to call or how they saw me. I had 3 verticle c-sections with my children's births and I didn't ever take anything more than extra strength tylenol and was up and walking as much and as soon as I could. But this kind of pain is undescribable.

    It is going to have to come down to your decision though.
  • Thank you all for your advice, I decided to give the relationship another try. I thought a lot about what if the roles were reversed and I know he would stay with me no matter what. I'm trying to be supportive and told him he needs to tell me when he is hurting so I can give him his space. I guess we need to just take it one day at a time.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    that are not just physical in nature. After a while in dealing with chronic pain, it is easy to understand the emotional turmoil that just sitting there waiting for ......

    For many, its an eruption of anger which can taken out on everyone near the patient.

    For some, its giving up, realizing that your efforts are not making any difference.

    The one thing I will say before anything else is for you NOT to stay in the relationship because you feel guilty. If you do want to end the relationship, it has to be for other reasons.

    Seeking professional counseling is something that many couples need to consider when there are strains on their relations.

    I still believe that having strong open and honest two way conversations can help in any situation.

    Love is great, you want to be able to give your love and get it in return.
    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
  • It sounds like you're in incredibly strong and caring woman, so massive kudos to you! Thank you for what you're doing for him, you're an angel. You obviously care a great deal about him to go so far as to seek out a site like this and lay it all out to total strangers. Fortunately, you've definitely come to the right place.

    I have what sounds like very much the same problem he does. I have facet joint arthritis from L2/3 down to my SI (sacroiliac) joint. I have some bulging discs as well, and some foraminal narrowing, annular tear, etc (see my signature). So I really am talking literal when I say "I feel his pain". However, each of us deals with that pain differently. It sounds like he has gone for much of the physical treatment that he needs. I've had the steroid injections (didn't help), the meds (definitely help, but have to be closely managed), as well as the "burning" (it's called RFA, for Radio Frequency nerve Ablation). I get about 9 months of pain relief from the RFA.

    It does not, however, sound like he has received the psychological treatment that he needs. That's just as important. He has to learn to accept that he may never been 100% pain free. He needs to get as close to that as he can, then learn to effectively deal with the rest. He needs to focus on what he can do, not what he can't do. He needs to be more social, just sitting and watching TV and being on the internet all day will lead to anti-social behavior, which is a spiral down to nothing.

    If he will not go and deal with the mental health issues in addition to the physical health issues, then there is nothing you can do for him. He'll drag you down with him. If you want to save the relationship and truly love him, get him the help he needs. Do everything you can do, then do a little more, but that's it. At some point you'll have to say "I did all I can, you have to save yourself", and leave him. Hopefully, he'll respond before it comes to that.

    good luck
  • GerriDetweilerGGerriDetweiler Posts: 2
    edited 06/08/2013 - 10:51 AM
    Last year I broke up with my girlfriend due to many misunderstandings and I remember very well how hard I had been fighting to get her back. She changed her number, changed her job so that I don’t visit her office and none of her friends would give me any information about her. The only thing I could do was to go find help from anywhere, so i looked for a way to get her back then a friend recommended me to contact edit that he will help me and as my friend said, dr.(EDIT to remove the doctors name ) helped me to bring back my girlfriend just in 3 days, I now have her back and this is the biggest joy of my life
    Gerri Detweiler

    Post edited to remove specific doctor's name. Please read the Forum rules
  • I'm kind of with the.... "you got to take care of you" group. Normally I'd applaud you for trying to make things work and being understanding (and I actually do, it sounds like you have been very encouraging and supportive) If you were saying this all started happening a couple of months ago and you were ready to quit, then I'd beg you not too, I'd beg you to hang on because chronic pain truly is a "beast" as Ron puts it.... But this isn't the case. What concerns me is that he isn't helping around the house. True, yard work, vacuuming, scrubbing showers might not be somethings he can do, obviously, and you expecting him too would be unreasonable (and it sounds like you understand that). But he can dust (perhaps not the bottoms of the furniture but certainly the tops)... even if it takes him all day to dust your home where it would take you only 30 minutes, so what? It proves that he is trying to help you and doesn't want you to have to do it all. He can clear the dinner table, he can wash dishes. Perhaps he can't wash them all at once on his bad days... but he could work 5 minutes, sit down an hour, wash another 5 minutes. If he isn't willing to do these things then the relationship is truly unhealthy and you deserve someone else and he deserves to love someone enough that he'd do ANYTHING to help them... including spending the day washing dishes. I'd have a real heart to heart about how you feel you are doing everything, even the small things he can do. Make sure you don't blame him or his pain. Repeat over and over "I feel.... I feel... I feel... And since he's able to be on the internet, I'd make it priority that he enroll on an online class, student loans if necessary and start education for a "back friendly" degree. Sure, this could take 6 years, but at least he's trying to plan a life for you both. I also agree with everyone that suggests counseling.

    It sounds like you have truly been supportive and done all the right things, its time for him to get on board and if he refuses to, its time to let go.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • i will only add a small bit. You can give until you cry, but if you cry because your giving it is when "enough" has been said. You can damage yourself by sacrficing who and what you are to a noble but doomed cause. By all means pursure this relationship, it is the very marrow and "stuff" of life! but in the final say you still have to look yourself in the mirror.

    That said, how long has he been hurt?
    has he dealt with pain, like this? before?

    it is a traumatic experience for some, emotionally and mentally, and for the caregiver/loved one/provider... its often a big hit.
    your a brave and fomidable ally! in his fight. he most likely is tryingto come to terms with all "this" and feels overwhelmed. i bet he was active and helpful befor no?

    good luck and watch your caring heart!
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • What a beautiful and wonderful testimony,sometime things you don't believe can just happen,my name is vera clifford, i am from finland,i am 28 years old,i got married at the age of 26, I have a kid and we where all living happy ,After two years of my marriage,my husband behavior just change suddenly and i don't really understand what was going on, he drove me out of his house and he said he hate me,that he don't want me again,and he went on and bring another lady to his house,because i love him so much,I always think of him,I never dream's of losing him, i try my
    possible best to make sure that my husband get back to me but all to no avail,i cry and i cry seeking for help,I discussed it with my best friend and
    she promise to help me,she told me of a man called Dr. Latifat, he is a very great man and a real man that can be trusted and there is nothing concerning love issues he cannot do, that is why they call him Dr. Latifat,I contacted his email address,And i told
    him everything that happen,he told me that i should not worry that all my problems will be solved
    immediately,He told me what to do to get my husband back and i followed as he instructed, he said after two days my husband will come back to me and start begging,that I should believe and have faith, it
    really happen,i was very surprise,after two days my husband to where I was staying begging me for forgive,that he didn't no what came over him,he promise not to hurt me again,he said he will be forever loyal to me and i am very happy now,our relationship is very tight and we both live happily again,So my advice for you now is to contact this same email address: latifathealingtemple@gmail.com, if you are in any kind of situation concerning love issues and any other things that give you problems,He can
    use his spell to help you,thank you dr. Latifat once again,I will be forever be grateful to your good work.
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