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Thoroughly frustrated and at my wits end

angoralexaangoralex Posts: 2
edited 01/14/2016 - 10:05 PM in Chronic Pain
This will probably be somewhat long as I have a lot of background info to add and I'm not even sure which forum to post this under as I have several different spinal issues as well as autoimmune disease so here goes...

I'm 43 year old female, single living with 10 yr old son
Height of 5'8" and weight of 150 currently

Lumbar Laminectomy in 1996
Lumbar Discectomy in 2000
Cervical fusion in 2010 at C5-C6
Meds: Neurontin 1800 mg, Baclofen 10 mg, Amitriptylene 150 mg, Topiramate 50 mg, Otezla, Omeprazole 10 mg, Ibuprofen 800mg, Tramadol 50mg

Recently diagnosed with chronic migraine by neurologist, I get headaches everyday that can range from mild to the hug-the-porcelain half the day type with vision disturbance. They occur at the base of the head and spread throughout the back of my head and most of the time feel like a throbbing type with lots and lots of pressure! I've also been told I have occipital neuralgia by pain management dr. The meds the Neuro put me in do seem to help (amitriptylene and topiramate)

Diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2010 but I actually had the arthritis occur first and didn't develop psoriasis until 2 years after the arthritis (they originally thought I had RA). Seems my spinal issues have worsened since this diagnosis. We've had a heck of a time keeping the autoimmune disease under control. 4 knee surgeries and I'm trying to hold off on knee replacement as long as I can now but my left knee and all the limping sometimes likes to irritate my lower back

Things that have shown on MRIs are as follows:
Multilevel osteophyte disc complexes and bilateral facet arthropathy, bilateral foraminal narrowing with stenosis, multilevel spondylosis as well as multilevel bulging discs (no focal protrusions)

I've been going to pain management for probably about 10 years now. I've literally had dozens and dozens of procedures including epidurals, blocks, and ablations. My patient file at the surgery center is ridiculously thick. I quit going to pain management about 8 months ago for several reasons but mainly I lost my job and with that my insurance. I've been having to pay cash for Drs and meds and this has not been helpful at all. Something else that bothered me greatly is that it seems to me I always ended up with an appointment for some kind of spinal procedure. At first these seemed to help but after several years I'm no longer feeling relief of any significance and the pain of these procedures is becoming almost intolerable!

The main issues I am dealing with are chronic neck pain of multiple types (stabbing, aching, throbbing, burning) to varying degrees; pain/numbness/tingling in the right shoulder blade and into the arm as well as the hand; the miserable headaches; rear rib cage/upper back pain (mostly burning and horrible stiffness with deep ache) that feels like it is coming from the spine and radiating outwards; spinal bone pain especially right where the bra strap sits which of course makes we want to go bra less at home; lots and lots of muscle spasming. The last year or so I've been having trouble even sleeping for more than a couple hours at a time due to all of these issues. The Neuro put me on sleeping pills and those didn't even help, the pain still wakes me so I don't take them any more.

Here is what I'm looking for help with: this rib cage pain! The last week or so I've had difficulty with taking deep breaths, almost as if my lungs cannot expand fully or completely fill up. Coincidentally the tingling in my arm and hand has amped up. I'm in the process of getting medical insurance again, just waiting on the invoice so I can make my payment then get things rolling. Is this the foraminal narrowing that is causing all this rib cage/breathing issues? As far as the pain goes, I've been bringing this up to pain management for at least the last 5 years. I've also brought it up to the Neuro. They both seem as though they have no idea what could be causing it or as if it's insignificant. It started off as an infrequent nagging issue and has now progressed to something that affects me daily to varying levels. I'm tired of this, frustrated and even angry now. This is very uncomfortable not feeling as if I'm able to take deep breaths now on top of everything else. I'm considering going to a different pain management specialist to see what my options are for the rest of the issues. Send me to PT or a surgeon, I don't care but I'm tired of spinal injections that don't work and make me leave the surgery center crying. I swore I would never have another spinal surgery but now I'm at the point where I want anything to help. I'm also wondering if this could be related to thoracic issues as I believe I have foraminal narrowing in the upper vertebrae there as well but it's been some time since I've had a thoracic MRI. When my insurance finally comes thru I plan on seeing someone about this but as of now I feel like I'm just stuck dealing with it. Ugh!!!

Thank you for thoughts, ideas, help of any kind.



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

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Only you can judge if your breathing impaired enough to visit ER.

    But since you said you have mentioned to your doctors already, I have similar issues.
    My shortness of breathing not as consistent or as bothersome as yours.

    My pain management Doctor explained mine to be due to my thoracic areas of my spine effected.
    It was more definitely revealed from EMG.

    Initially lower spine and rib cage burning were major over riding symptoms. It was intolerable.
    Fortunately my PM didn't stay focused with lower area but checked entire spine.

    Pain also proceeded to breast bone and under arm pain. I just couldn't figure that one out.
    But again, my PM doc said it was from effected thoracic area.

    I sometimes, not as diagnosis, but as explanation, refer to dermatome map that explained which part of the spine and nerves works on ..effects...which part of the body.

    It helped me to understand at least a little better.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • angoralexaangoralex Posts: 2
    edited 01/15/2016 - 8:59 AM
    Ok I appreciate your input. I should definitely look at the dermatome map. Still trying to figure some things out on this site and there is so much info which is wonderful! The burning in the rib cage area has bothered me for years now but this deep breathing issue just recently reared its ugly head. Prob over the last week where it's become really aggravating. I've noticed that if I'm laying down flat on my back it isn't as bad as when I'm sitting up or driving. It almost feels like I have a rubber band around my torso that isn't allowing my lungs to fully expand. I just don't want to make a trip to the ER that I can't pay for only to be sent home feeling exactly the same way and with no concrete answers. If it gets worse I'm definitely going in but I'm almost certain this is going to be related to my spine. Ugh!!! I just don't understand why the doctors that I've mentioned the rib cage burning to don't seem to recognize this as a symptom of anything when it seems to be pretty common with the thoracic region, at least from reading the posts. It's my belief also that it's related to the foraminal narrowing, or at least now it is my belief.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Re this site, the search, upper right on page, may be useful to you in looking up your concerns and or interests.

    You will find the map, and also may find related current or past posts, articles and or videos.
    The videos I find very informative and I like the visual for my learning style.

    I, too, am most comfortable, laying on my back..sometimes on side with painful rib cage, as if I'm trying to splint it.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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