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Chronic Pain Question

Hello, I am a new member to these or any set of forums. I have suffered with lower back pain for over 25 years following an injury that happened at work. I have been to just about every doctor, had just about every test, and taken just about every medicine including Methadone which I am currently on. They claim I have advanced Degenerative Disk Disease throughout my spine with most pronounced at the L3, L4, L5. I have started going to a pain clinic as my regular doctor did not want to deal with the meds. My question to all of you is do you ever wonder whether or not the problem is in your head. I hear people tell me that DDD should not be painful. I hear people tell me that to get SI joint injections will fix my problem. All I know is I hurt. I hurt in my back, I hurt in my heart, and I hurt in my spirit. Why do people who have been with me for most of the time not believe me. Is it in my head? I need advice please. I filed for disability as I cannot do much, although after a finishing a course of prednisone I feel like a million bucks. What gives?


  • LovetrotravelLLovetrotravel Posts: 296
    edited 09/08/2012 - 1:27 PM
    Sorry to hear of your pain issues...

    It's always hard for others to know exactly how we feel. And because back/neck pain is so prevalent in our society....everyone thinks, "yea....I have back pain too". And they very well might as actual Degenerative Disc Disease is not really a disease per say, but just part of the natural aging process. Pretty much everyone starting at ages 25-30 start seeing changes in their spine. If you took 100 random people off the street and did a MRI on them, they would show things from disc herniations to bone spurs. Some people have a lot going on and absolutely no pain or symptoms....others have minor changes but excruciating pain. It all depends on what is affected and if nerves are involved.

    And because pain is all relative...it's really best to not talk about it much with all your friends or distant family, etc. I only have a few close people who truly know what I go through and the rest I just leave it alone.

    Now...you say you have had a bunch of things done for treatment but it seems you haven't done an SI Joint Injection?

    And the great news is that if you are feeling really good after steroid treatment...then that means a lot of your pain is due to inflammation.

    Since this has been going on so long...when was your last MRI? What type of Dr. is treating you now....just a Pain Management Dr. or also a Board Certified Neurosurgeon or BC Orthopedic surgeon?

    If you have been on pain medications/opiates for many years, there are some DRs. that believe in starting to taper down slowly to really get a sense for what the pain levels are now. Or, they will rotate medications so that you do not become so tolerant to one and have to keep tirating up.

    May I ask what else you do to help lower your pain levels each day/week/month?

    Are you on any type of nerve pain like Lyrica, Neurontin or Cymbalta?

    How about a muscle relaxer like Flexeril, Robaxin, Skelaxin or Baclofen? The reason I ask is most people with chronic spine issues are not just on an opiate as they are not as effective for other types of pain like nerve or muscle pain.

    Another way to treat inflammation is with Flector patches....these are the medication diclofenac epolamine....an anti-inflammatory.

    There is also what is called a TENS unit which provides electrical stimulation to help with the effected nerves.

    Has any Dr. recommeded any type of procedure or surgery to you? Even a microdisectomy?

    Only you can know and work with your Dr. on finding out where your true pain levels are and see if you need to be on the amount of medication that you are on. Because I use so many other modalities like the medication I mentioned and the TENS unit, as well as daily exercise, physical therapy, aqua therapy, acupuncture, massage, ice, heat, biofeedback, counseling, etc...I have only had to raise my actual opiate dosage once in the last 3 years. I live with a 5-7 on the pain scale with all of these treatments which is decent for chronic pain.

    I have had 3, two-level, cervical fusions and stil have active, severe herniations in the lumbar region as well as lower cervical/upper thoracic.

    I just applied for disability this past June. I will say that it may be very hard for you to get disability if you haven't had any type of surgery to try and fix the issue as they look at whether you have tried every means to help the situation. Even people with numerous failed surgeries and other health issues have a tough time getting approved.

    Anyway...sorry for the ramble...I like to ask a few questions...LOL...and share my thoughts/suggestions since you are new to the boards...

    I'm sure others will come along to welcome you to the boards...

  • I have DDD and it says only mild on the MRI yet I have horrible pain and unable to work now for 4-1/2 years. I'm now on the Fentanyl 75 patch and hoping for Radio Frequency ablation (nerve burn) as I also have prominent facets which may be causing some of the pain. It helps having a good Family Dr. that believes me that I'm having pain and filling out a very detailed application for disability. Advanced DDD is not normal wear and tear on your back due to aging. It's a major injury and is accepted on disability. I hope you get accepted with no problem. I know it's hard though as I was middle class working and had a house but had to give all that up when I got my back injury. It's a lot of changes in your life but it helps when you have disability income coming in so you can concentrate on getting treatment for you back pain.

    So don't listen to people who think it's all in your head and concentrate on finding a good Dr. who believes your pain and helps deal with it. We get it. I hope you get some relief soon. Take care. 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
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