I am a new user to this forum, reading other members posts has been very useful and somewhat comforting that I am not alone with my chronic pain, I sympathize immensly with all. I have degenerative disc disease, my lower three lumbar discs are affected and I am always in some degree of pain. I have had my symptoms now since January 2012, so just over 2.5 years. During this time I have had nerve block injections, disc block injections, an epidural and have tried loads of pills - codeine (over the counter), valium, tramodol, high strength anti-inflammatories and other forms of sleeping pills to try and "knock" me out at night and get a decent sleep.
My neursurgeon (2 different one's, both concur) and pain specialist have advised that surgery is not an option, there is no evidence it will actually help and could infact make it worse, so that option is off the table. My pain specialist has also now said that continual disc block injections are not an option so I am not able to go back for more.
Strong anti-inflammatories were of some use, however my stomach is no longer coping very well with them. I was recently prescribed another drug which would allow my stomach to handle the anti-inflammatory and they really knocked me for six - stomach problems, panic attacks, anxiety, so I have now given up on them also. I have also tried the suppository anti-inflammatory without success.
I am 40 years old and quite fit, I excercise daily (mostly) unless I am too busy to fit it in. I have found though that recently the concoction of pain meds and sleeping pills are really making my whole wellbeing feel worse. Whilst the pain meds do reduce the pain, it never goes away, the sleeping pills help me sleep, but make getting up in the morning and facing a new day incredibly hard sometimes. I suppose I am definately feeling depressed at the moment to, I don't need a diagnosis for that, as I come to the realisation that this is it, it's will not get better......
So, how to live with this long term is the question. 4 days ago I stopped all the pain meds and sleeping pills completely. I don't know if I will last but I will give it a go for as long as I can. My mind already feels so much better and with that I feel like I can cope a little better with the pain. The most recent drug that I took caused panic attacks and anxiety - I really feel like the back pain was a lot better than that, at least I know what I am dealing with when my mind is healthy, drug induced panic and anxiety is terrifying. I also found that the pain meds were starting to cause depression and bout's of overwhelming hopelessness - given that the back pain was still there whilst on the meds, just slightly relieved then I don't think these cures are really offering any help at all because overall I am feeling much worse on a whole.
My surgeon told me that his scan's actually look worse than mine and yet he is not in any pain. The pain is actually caused by the inflammation so I am going to try anything natural I can to try and reduce the inflammation without the drugs. I have gone to sleep the past two nights with ice on my back, it has helped. I have also found that without the sleeping pills at night I don't need 5 coffee's in the morning to get me going. I was finding that I was sticking to coffee as my go to drink to try and energise and counteract the sleeping pills and completley lacked adequate water during the day, so I am sure that replacing the dehydrating coffee with water will help the discs somewhat.
So I am starting an anti-inflammatory diet this week. I will monitor how the pain levels are and see if life without the meds is actually liveable and better or liveable and worse.
Good luck to all.