I’ve been living with continuous pain for 22 years, from age 30 to 52.
It started with orofacial pain from a routine dental procedure. I went to the Cedar-Sinai pain clinic, and after many tests, was diagnosed with atypical odontalgia. There is no cure, and most people with this problem respond to tricyclic anti-depressants. That didn’t work, so the pain doctor very reluctantly prescribed Klonopin, for which I have been taking for 22 years. The big problem with Klonopin is that the body develops a tolerance to the drug, so it stops working as good as when I first started taking it. A few years ago, when I couldn’t stand the pain anymore, my neurologist added Cymbalta, which made the pain tolerable again, however, my orofacial pain averages around a 5, which is still too high. I take Klonopin .5 mg t.i.d. and Cymbalta 60 mg q.d.
SI Joint Pain
In my mid-30’s I developed right SI joint pain. The pain travels down the right leg and into the foot. When it gets real bad, I can’t sit or walk, and the pain spreads to my trochanter. I’ve been on temporary disability for the first time, starting in mid – November. X-rays and MRI’s of both my lower spine and hip reveal nothing. Physical exams show point tenderness to the SI joint. Range of motion tests reveal pain in the right trochantor and right hip. Injection of the SI joint did nothing. Physical therapy, including TENS and deep tissue message offers a temporary reduction in pain, sometimes a significant reduction after a physical adjustment, but it never lasts. I am working on stretching and strengthening my core muscles, and just started Yoga.
I am taking Norco (hydrocodone) 10/325, q.i.d. My GP now believes the problem is probably permanent, and prescribed Butrans 20mg for continuous pain, with Norco for breakthrough pain. I am still waiting on my health insurance to approve Butrans.
Question – I’ve been reading about some of the success stories here and elsewhere of people who have benefited from a home TENS unit. During PT, my TENS sessions last for 20 minutes, and the frequency is three times a week, at best. I am very interested in seeing what a more frequent use of a TENS unit can do for my SI joint pain, since I find it relaxing at PT. I am also wondering if it could help with my orofacial pain, which is felt in the jaw, and palate. Is it safe to attach electrodes to the face? Has anyone tried a TENS unit for TMJ? My orofacial pain is pretty much the same as that of someone who suffers from TMJ. For some reason, hydrocodone has never worked for my orofacial pain, even taking 40 mg a day!
Last, my insurance will not pay for the TENS unit that my therapists use, the EMPI Select, which I understand costs $500.00! Will something I find at Amazon for $50.00 even come close to doing the job? If so, any suggestions on brands would be greatly appreciated. Thank You!
This brand, Authentic Ultima 20 Digital TENS Unit! 20 Preset Modes, has gotten 5 star reviews, as an example, and costs $38.00. With what I have shared so far, would a TENS + Muscle Stimulator be even better for my problems?
I am so glad that I found this site. It’s been great, reading the stories of other people, and what they have found that works. It’s encouraging!