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Any new ideas for coping with the pain (emotionaly)?

KristyBretteKKristyBrette Posts: 44
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi all,

I just joined this forum as I am curently waiting for my op to remove bulged and damaged disc L4&5 and have it fused using spacer blocks, bone form my hip and rods and screws.

I struggle with my pain levels alot (though do have a good meds) and am always looking for new ideas and excercises (mental not phisical as I am unable to do hardly anything physical even walking is limited :( ) to help with the mental health side of it all. Unfortunatly I have struggled with depression since my teens (poss earlier around 13 was diagnosed with depression then 2yrs ago told I had distemia). For my depression I have been doing CBT - cognative behavioural therapy, but am interested in any coping exercises specially for pain.

Web links, ideas thought would be greatly appreciated, and incase the question comes up -what meds do I take, I have cytalopram for the distemia, Oxycontin slow release 40's morn and night and oxynorm (instant release oxycodone) 4hrly.

Thanks in advance fro ideas and advice :-)



  • Are you taking any anti-depressant like a SSRI? Some of them are prescribed for pain management so you could kill two birds with one stone...so to speak.

    There are a lot of resources available on CDs that help one learn to cope with chronic pain...guided imagery, for example. I bought several tapes prior to my fusion surgery that deal specifically with preparing for surgery...it included relaxation techniques, among other things. Take a look at an online book seller and you will see there is a whole variety of titles. Something may appeal to you.

    You could try acupuncture. Some people have luck with that treatment mode.

    Hopefully others will chime in with things that have worked for them.

    When is your surgery?

  • Kristy,

    I'm no expert on the topic of depression, but I had been treated for depression long before surgery (L5-S1 fusion plus two failed discectomies the year before). I recently learned (again before surgery) that I had an issue with anxiety that was misdiagnosed as depression. The feelings of hopelessness actually stemmed from my anxiety. Once I was properly treated for anxiety, my symptoms of depression seemed to disappear.

    I also have a teenage daughter with RSD (an excruciatingly painful neurological disease) and I have learned alot from her case over the past few years about anxiety and pain.

    My opinion: In terms of coping with pain, if you can control the anxiety, you can greatly diminish the affect of the pain. Personally, I am in constant pain, but when I work, it accumulates as I sit. As the day goes on, the pain gets worse and worse, my anxiety builds up, and I swear that it makes the pain seem much much worse.

    I take medicine to help control the anxiety, and I firmly believe that it helps me reduce the amount of pain medication that I need, and it allows me to function pretty well at work.

    I realize that your question was about exercises, not medicine. I'm sorry that I don't know of any special techniques, but I wanted to at least comment on the issue of depression. I hope this was of some value.

    Best Wishes!
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  • Thank you so much for that and you actually got me thinking when you talked about the anxiety because I do have problems with in the disteamia that comes through as anxiety. In the past I have had pannic atacks etc, but I do take cytalopram for that and it does help, but I think you might have something there with looking at ways to keep the anxiety at bay and that might help with the rest of it.
    The hard part is keeping my mind going at this point and because my body is failing having been such an active involved kind of person, this lack of mobility and pain 24/7 just leaves me thinking there must be things still we can all do to make it easier to get through it.

    If I find anything that may help us all I will post it so that everyone can have a crack at finding better ways to get through this. It is so awesome to know Im not alone in this! Thankyou so much again and I hope you find some way through your pain too. Take care, Kristy :-)
  • Hi Gwennie,

    Thanks for those ideas, I am going looking online in the morning, books and cd's are things I can still do with out needing a functioning body LOL. And yes I am taking cytalopram which if Im not mistaken is a tricyclic antidepresent, nut it also seems to help alot with my anxiety. I have in the past been on fluoxetene (Prozac) and nortryptiline (sorry my spellings probably a bit off) but I found with those two I had really bad side effects and needed other things to counteract problems from them etc, which is why I was changed onto the cytalopram which is the best Ive ever used, and thankfull got me through my back probs to here at least.

    when it comes to acupuncture where we live there is no one who does it and because I have trouble going in the care traveling to the nearest place that could do it doesnt really appeal.

    Today I had a visit from my OT (occupational therapist) who came to assess what help I needed and what things I could have to make my life easier and she came up with lots of neat things that she is getting together to help me and also she is getting things like a frame for the toilet for now but mostly for when Im post op. At this point I am still waiting for the ok from the NZ ACC who should pay for it, but if they come back saying they will not then I go to my private insurance and last option is to go on the public health waiting list unless it becomes unbarable and then they'd do it as an emergency. I tell you though there are so many people in New Zealand waiting just like me!
    But as soon as I have the ok for the payment I will only have to wait aprox 2-3 weeks for a time slot for surgery! I never thought Id be so excited about the idea of a massive surgery but I am.

    Anyway thanks so much for your ideas I will let you know how I get on! :-)
  • Huh, I am not sure. I am also a sufferer of anxiety and depression since long before the accident, made worse since, and added hypertension (joy, it's not minor either). But I've always had a high pain tolerance and I think I've felt like I've been managing better than I have been, if that makes any sense.

    I found Lyrica really helpful for the stress related to the pain and general anxiety related to being partially disabled (I've finally accepted that term, although maybe it's not quite accurate I have had to use it a few times recently). Unfortunately it was not helpful for my body as I gained 22 lbs in 6 months.

    Mentally, I swear I am addicted to hot baths. And of course my horses, although I am not suggesting everyone else go out and get one (OK, maybe go volunteer at a local rescue grooming or walking!).

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  • i have only recently begun managing the "emotional" side of chronic pain, but these are a few of the exercises i have found to be helpful:

    relaxation response: are you familiar with this? if not, there is a ton of info on the web about it so if you google it you can find a good basic intro. it's basically a meditation technique developed by a doctor that has been proven to be good for people with chronic pain, hypertension, and other chronic disorders. it's designed for westerners, so it's not nearly as esoteric as a lot of the meditation stuff out there. there are simple instructions and more info about it at: https://www.relaxationresponse.org/. it can be helpful during pain flares.

    it is also good because it helps you connect with your body and the pain, and can take some of the judgment out of it. i struggle with this because i tend to want to disconnect from the pain, but i have found that using the relaxation response and really being present in the moment with how i physically feel is teaching me that while unpleasant, pain is just pain. i think we naturally attach all types of negative emotions to pain like anxiety, depression, etc. and when you get down to just the physical nature of the pain itself it seems to help peel back some of the emotional layers that add to the discomfort (i hope that makes sense??).

    i'm also a big fan of journaling exercises. one that i found particularly helpful was writing down all the negative emotions that are triggered with pain. this is particularly good if you keep a pain diary for your doctor because you can begin to track both the physical sensation as well as the emotional response. once you identify the emotions you can then begin to challenge them (sounds cheesy, but it is helpful). so, for example, say that my pain triggers feelings of depression. i then ask myself what is the thought that comes when i'm depressed and it may be something like "i feel hopeless that the pain will ever end." then, i come up with something that i can either physically do, or mentally tell myself to challenge that thought. for this one it could be something like "i am on a *slow* journey for pain relief, and each day is one step closer to finding ways to manage the pain and regain some quality of life." another example could be if you feel "isolated" then your challenge could be something like "today i will go to church" or something you can actually go do rather than just a thought to challenge the feeling.

    a book i really like is called "yoga for pain relief" by kelly mcgonigal. it has very gentle breathing exercises as well as a ton of coping exercises that are very helpful with handling the emotions that come with pain. the yoga is very gentle (i am guessing you could probably do some of the gentle stretches because they are designed for people with limited mobility and serious pain), but even if you can't do any of the stretches i think just the breathing exercises and coping exercises would be beneficial.
  • Lala, Thank you for sharing this. I keep hoping that my pain is going to magically disappear someday soon, but with evey week that goes by without resolution, I come that much closer to facing the potential realization that it is here to stay. Strategies for managing my mental, emotional, and even physical response seem like my next logical step. Thanks again!
  • I find I am lately having a lot of negative emotions connected with the medications as well. Because some of them have cognitive side effects I'm constantly feeling like I'm acting ditsier than usual- honestly, I've always been blond and never self conscious about it, why now?

    Not sure why I felt the need to throw that in there ;)

    So much that goes along with this.

    Lala, thank you for the recommendations! I think I do need to connect more with how the pain is affecting me, if I am going to get the blood pressure under control.
  • It's rough you have to wait so long to get surgery. I have learned to breathe through the anxiety and have much success with Positive Affirmations Live strong. Great website.

    Blood Pressure-Last year I had high blood pressure and was put on Diovan and got a blood pressure machine from the Diovan company. My blood pressure slowly went down for 5 weeks taking this medication. I would do deep breathing and think"Relax" and my blood pressure returned to normal. I haven't taken any B/P pills since over 6 months ago and my b/p is normal. I remain following up with my Dr. and check my B/P. Don't know if the pills caused it to go down permanent or the deep breathing exercises. I think the meds can cause some temporary forgetfulness and unusual feelings that hopefully will be reversed when we stop taking them? Not a Dr. so don't really know. But I believe it would be great to bring meditation and possibly prayer whatever your belief.

    Take care and hope you get your surgery soon Kristy. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thank you so much that was exactly the kind of things I was hoping for and having someone who has been there too makes me feel a little less alone! They all sound great and Im going to give them a go, after I have a little google around and have a look at the relaxation response, it seems alot like something I learned while doing the cognative behavioural therapy but more for pain instead of just for the depression and anxiety.

    I will let you know how it goes, and if anyone is interested I could maybe put up any other ideas that I find that help.

    I have been keeping a journal for a few weeks now and that works great, I seem to write in it when something bad happens, pain feeling low etc, and sometimes really good stuff or just where Im at. It seems to just get it out when I dont want to or have no one to talk to etc.

    Anyway thanks heaps again!;-)
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