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Chronic pain. 5 yrs. I'm GOING CRAZY.....

onwillowbay123oonwillowbay123 Posts: 2
edited 08/19/2015 - 8:31 PM in Chronic Pain
I have had chronic LOwer back pain for over five years. I started out five years ago with a [edit] and my choice was (1) surgery or (2) pain mgmt.. I opted for pain management because I am scared of back surgery. At the [edit], I went through injections, nerve burnings (numerous), numerous medications that kept getting stronger and stronger..... Everything seemed to be a temporary fix. The diagnosis was everything to include sciatica, sacrolilliac, pinched nerves, bulging discs, numer ous problems at L5 S1 and other areas. After 2 years I got tired of just taking pills and feeling like a zombie....
I started seeing my regular doctor and now for 3 years have tried my best to lower my pain meds to one/day (usually night), am on a diet eating healthy food and trying to lose weight (about 20 lbs...already lost 20).... and working out at the gym and swimming. I've had 2 MRI's with the last one being 2 years ago.
Today I had another "First" session with a physical therapist. She wanted me to describe the pain. Hell... i can't describe pain.. It's impossible for me to dictate where it hurts, when it hurts, what I am doing, etc. I can't seem to do anything in one position for longer than 15 minutes without having to move for comfort... i haven't sleep for longer than 3 hrs at a time (3 on/ 3 off/ 3 on/ 3 off) for over 2 years...
The Pain is BELOW my lower back.. it's almost down at the top of my butt. When I work out I wear a TIGHT black thick back brace pulled down almost to my hips where I feel like I'm protecting my back... The "TIGHTNESS" of the brace feels good.....
The therapist had me walk on my toes, and do all this other stuff... I had no problems and no pain doing it. There is NO pain going down my legs... it is all situated in the lower back (really lower back). I will see her once a week for 3 weeks and she's giving me exercises (although nothing i haven't done on my own).
My biggest problem is that I don't know how to describe the pain. BUT the pain is INTENSE and it's CONSTANT...l left the pt office feeling like I'm just an old woman .. so get used to your body changes and take an aspirin (I CAN'T take aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs due to a stroke leaving me with taking plavix on a daily basis).
What the heck do I do... I really expected her to send me somewhere for a "shot" or SOMETHING (ANYTHING) to give me relief... I am at my wit's end and I'm mentally a Very YOUNG 64 year old... but I feel like an old woman...(or a hypchochondriac - sp?)....
What the heck should I do? Who do I see? The doctors seem to be thrown off of my pain issues because the pain doesn't TRAVEL down my legs... It just stays in my back...Any advice? I really really would appreciate all advice even if you tell me It is old age and deal with it...lol
Diane (Onwillowbay123)

Nobody on the forum is medically qualified or permitted to give advice any responses will be based on members personal experiences only

onwillowbay (Diane)


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I know that over the last 17 years I have seen pain specialist, neurologist, orthopedic surgeons, have a pain pump installed which I no longer use due to lack of insurance. I know the pumped helped. I have since learned to live with some of the pain which was constant until about 5 years ago. When it slowly began to get worse when I didn't even think was possible until I went to the ER so me 18 months ago. Now I am awaiting medicare so that I can see a neurologist again.
    Much like you I often feel like an old lady or a hypochodriact even though I know I am not. I use excercise that physically therapy taught me so long ago and I swim both offer some temporary relief. I cannot tell you why only your back hurts except to say that evidently your sciatic nerve is not bothered or injuried. I can only say chronic pain is awful to live with and it helps to know you are not alone. Keep telling us what is wrong how it is going and tell people about the pain as well as any truimphs you have along the way.
    Cindy Slick
    L4-L5 injury
    Left leg numbness
    left foot toes do not curl
    Neuropathy left leg
  • PlumbTuckeredOutPlumbTuckeredOut Philadelphia, PAPosts: 325
    The exercises you mentioned, "walking on my toes" isn't a measure of pain but it is significant in assessing injury. When I can walk on my toes or on my heels it's a good day and usually it's right after surgery. Then another disc flops out of shape and antagonizes some nerves which make it impossible for me to stand on tip toe or walk funny. When I cannot walk on my toes it doesn't hurt but it's like a weakness. My nerves are not sending the signals to my foot to do what I want to do. Nerve damage isn't always painful.

    Physical therapists need to assess your quality of pain. If you have sharp burning pain one day and several weeks later your pain is dull and aching then you pain has changed- not for better or worse. They will also ask the number you assign your pain. A 10 on my pain scale may be a 3 on yours. Our pain is unique to each of us and the PT needs to understand how you rate pain.

    And remember, Physical Therapy isn't always about avoiding pain but learning ways to do things despite pain. It's not a competition. The PT is not supposed to compare you to another person and their level of pain. They are trying to find what helps you and their questions are a way to learn how you communicate your pain.

    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by...... (Robert Frost)
    I still don't know if I should have taken the one that said, "Caution! Dead End" (Me)
  • I have had chronic pain for almost 9 years. At first it came and went but then one day it came and never left. I have had more spine injections then I can even remember. I have tried various NSAIDS, Gabapentin, etc...NONE of which helped and most had caused nasty side effects. I even tried surgery last year and was so hopeful since two huge spurs were removed around my L4L5 nerve. Still, I cannot sit long, cannot stand long, cannot walk more than about 10 minutes before I get severe pain down my legs, in my hips and across my back, sometimes accompanied with numbness (Can anyone explain how it is possible to feel numb and pain at the same time because that is what happens???). Because of leg weakness and loss of balance, I use walking poles if I want to try walking. One day in June I forgot to use them and I fell flat on my face on pavement. So, one of the activities I do, though MUCH less than before because I cannot tolerate the pain but want to stay somewhat active, is swimming. But when I swim, the pain is SO bad on my left side. Sometimes I feel as though I will go insane....kind of like being subjected to really loud awful music and not being able to escape it no matter what you do. I get relief when I lie flat on my back. I am 58 now and about 9 years ago one surgeon told me that there was a reason I felt like I was 90 (which is what I had told him before he reviewed my MRI). He said that I had the back of a 90 year old. I asked another surgeon why some people with issues that appear on MRI have no pain while I have so much. He replied "Oh, but your spine is Far beyond that point. I have NO doubt that you have pain." I have finally broken down and applied for long term disability from both my employer and SSA and am waiting for hearings at both because I was denied in both cases. I have attorneys now and a thick file of medical records along with 2 doctors filling out forms stating very plainly that I cannot work. Also, I am limited to using one eye (I have had 4 eye surgeries one of which caused extensive damage and I am fortunate to be able to see at all now...I only drive locally due to extreme visual fatigue from using only the one eye). Still I must fight...and if I eventually win, I would wish to take any money and buy myself a cure so that I can live life again rather than more or less existing. I miss being able to walk outside....on all the wonderful trails in our town...oh how I miss that. I feel like a big chunk of my life is over. Thanks for letting me sound off.
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