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Back problems

My wife has had the chronic back pain since 1995. She had to stop work since 1997 and is now retired and on Medicare and Anthem Blue Cross Insurance.

In May 1996 she had L5-S1 discectomy to remove a small bulge and between 1997- 2010 up to nine injections (nerve blocks, epidural, facet blocks) all without significant relief.

In 2002 she began an odd pattern of having hurting pain one day and tightness (spasms?) the next day. The tightness runs from the anus area through the spine all the way to the neck and seems more harmful than the original pain. This changed only one time since, when she had two "good" days following an emergency room visit (break-through pain the meds didn't touch) where a very strong pain killer gave her two pain-free days without the tightness.

Beginning 2008 she began having flushed face, tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing and rapid heartbeat. In the last 6-8 months it seems the tightness is bothering her worse than the pain. She was being evaluated for a spinal cord stimulator, but that was delayed until she could get her anxiety under control. After all this time and without hope of extended relief she developed depression and anxiety . . . fearing the meds would stop working and leave her bedridden. Last year she was diagnosed with apnea and is now sleeping better with the CPAP machine.
She has also tried acupuncture, physical therapy, two different pain clinics (nerve blocks, meditation), anxiety treatment, TENS, various pain medications and muscle relaxers.

Has anyone in this forum experienced this type pain/ tightness type chronic back problem? If so, any tips to relieve the tightness? Her muscle relaxers and/or anxiety drugs are showing limited success. Thank you.
Weird Pain


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I can only speak for myself, I know that I get back tightness and spasms from my bed. I used to have a spring mattress and would get horrible spasms. No meds would touch those, only walking and moving would get them to loosen up. I have gotten a new mattress and have the spasms much less. Does she get them after laying down or in the morning?

    I too am awaiting the spinal cord stimulator also, I have an implantation day of May 2nd.

    Good Luck!
  • Sorry, but have been away and didn't check for days. No, she gets the spasms worse as the day goes by and must take muscle relaxers and lie down before 3PM every day. We bought the adjustable pressure bed and it helped some.

    Thanks for your input and GOOD LUCK to you on the spinal cord stimulator. A friend got tremendous improvement and reduced his heavy meds a lot. Hope you have the same great experience too!
    Weird Pain
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