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Severe Chronic neck and head pain

edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello everyone,
What a blessing to have found this website. I hope that someone can help me. I have had this horrific neck,shoulder and head and scalp oain since 2006. 3 MRI's, x-rays, physical therapy, chiropractics, message therapy. I have done them all. I am 61 and I am still working, or at least trying to. I am in constant terrible pain 24/7. I am beginning to have to lose time at work due to this pain. I have been on numerous meds. Right now methadone 10 mg twice a day. I stll cry. What can I do? What is there out there? I am going to Shands which is our local teaching hospital. April 4. I can not hardly wait. Can anyone understand? Any ideas? I started a new Pain Management Dr last week, but of course he could not give me an injection or ANYTHING until next week, which really sucks. All of the druggies make it so difficult for us. Sorry to have gone on and on. I needed someone to listen. I have degenerative disc disease c-1,2,3,4 and L5-6. and bone on bone at the tailbone.
thanks everyone
With Gentle Hugs,


  • To spine health.
    There are so many of us here suffering from all sorts of spine issues, so you are definitely not alone.
    You mentioned your pm doc is not able to give you a shot, are you referring to an epidural, steroid, trigger point or something else?

    It sounds like you are suffering and I'm sorry to hear that but perhaps on the right path with your up coming appointment at the hospital.

    I know it sounds simple and it is, moist heat and or ice. My cervical issues are new and secondary to lumbar issues. I've recently had mri of c spine & sad to say, I got some issues. While I wait to see my ns I am taking my meds and using heat & ice for inflammation & spasams.

    Wish I had more to offer.

    Good luck to you!
  • =(( Thank you for your reply. Today is Saturday and I have not even gotten dressed. It is now 6pm. My head and neck hurt so much, I am only comfortable in bed. Methadone causes bad headaches, it is not strong emough either. I do use cold and sometimes ice, and sometimes heat but it does no good either.
    I am at the end of my road. I just hate this life. Why in the hell do they make it so hard for us that really need pain meds??? Does anyone have a combo that works?? Percoset helps for a short time, but they wont give that anymore. I will visit my new PM dr. next wed, and if I do not get any help there, I guess I will have to keep looking for one that will. I am so frustrated. In total agony 24 hours a day. If I miss work I get written up. Great huh?
    Thanks everyone for yoyur support.
    With Gentle Hugs,
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  • I am sorry you are going through so much suffering. You last post was wrenching to read. You seem very depressed and I can understand why. I have had chronic pain for about 2 years, and it is very depressing. I can't imagine what another 3 years of this would be like. I admire your perseverance. The only suggestions I have are these.

    1. If some of your pain is from muscle tension/knots (also known as trigger points), a muscle relaxer might give you more pain relief than an actual pain medication. Also massage from a massage therapist can help relieve tight muscles. Be careful though because I once had an inexperienced massage therapist mash down really hard on one of my muscle knots and then I had even more pain. They should start gently to see what you can tolerate.

    2. I've taken both Neurontin and Lyrica. For me they were very effective at reducing nerve pain. If you have not tried those ask your doctor. There is a generic of Neurontin (gabapentin), but not Lyrica.

    3. Have you tried neck traction? I used to do it at home right before going to bed. Having at least temporary relief helped me go to sleep. Talk to your doctor first of course. It can be done as part of PT or you can do it at home. I will PM you with the name of the device I used. I liked it a lot. In my opinion it is better than the water bag type.

    4. Wearing a neck brace to stabilize my neck helped me avoid some pain. When I was working I had a desk job. I sometimes wore the brace while working at my computer. My employer already knew about my neck problem and I had a secure job (at the time) so I did not worry about wearing it in my office. If you don't want your employer to know about your medical problem wearing a neck brace to work might be a very bad idea. From what you wrote about getting written up when you miss work it sounds like your employer might not be so understanding. I also slept in the brace to prevent my head and neck from bending while I was sleeping. I tried several different soft foam type braces but they did not help me because they did not provide enough support. I used a hard plastic Miami J design collar instead.

    5. There is an antidepressant called Cymbalta that also helps relieve pain. Two doctors I saw wanted me to try it. I declined because I was already taking Wellbutrin and I did not want to switch.
  • Your new pain Dr might be testing you. If you don't go back to him he will feel that you were only there to get pain medication, and not there to really work on all of the issues that are causing you pain. It's a good idea to at least stick with him long enough to see if he has a real interest in treating you. It's very possible that he (or she) just wanted this time to go through your chart in more detail, so that he might get a better idea of what can be done to help you, rather than only going on what you discussed in the office.

    I really believe that we sometimes get our expectations too high whenever we go see a new Dr or specialist. It's as though..we have been waiting and looking forward to this appt.,and we (of course) want this Dr to know, understand, and help everything right away, but realistically we know that is not possible and then we feel dissappointment. Hang in there for your next appt.,when he will have had time to look over your chart(s) and will feel more comfortable with starting a treatment plan.
    I hope your pain is less.
  • Hope you are felling a little better today.
    You are NOT alone. Both CM & Robin offered additional advice, hopefully it helps. I have been wearing a soft neck collar and it helps a little, I'll take all the help I can. I agree with CM your second post broke my heart.
    I have been dealing with on & off back pain for 6+ years and just the past year & half it's become chronic & debilitating. I haven't worked in over 6 months. I live in beautiful sunny Florida and haven't left my house in days. I did take a nice long hot shower and did my hair (girly thing) and it made me feel good.
    I see a counselor weekly to help me manage my chronic pain and the impact it's had on my life and my family's.
    Do you have someone to talk to?
    I take oxy, soma & valium for pain & spasams. I was on nuerontin but it gave me bad headaches I get enough of those so I dc'd, shame as it did help with leg nerve pain, was a love hate relationship and currently we're separated, haha.
    I'm trying all sorts of herbal remedies and Vitamins for nerve pain.

    K its always darkest before dawn. Hang in there & give your pm a chance to know you & your pain.

    Oh I forgot lidoderm patches, I love them! Takes edge off targeted areas.

    Let us know how you are.
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  • I too, have dealt with chronic headaches for a number of years. Here are some things I suggest. Google 'occipital neuritis' and see if these symptoms fit you. If so, ask your PM (Pain management doc) to give you occipital blocks - this will help your headaches - not completely, but will absolutely help.

    Secondly, there are meds specifically targetted at headaches. Let's start with nerve pain meds. I'm on two of them that help: Neurontin, 1800 mg (600mg 3 x dy); Topamax (specifically for headaches), 150 mg, (50 mg 3 x dy); Fiorinol (pain med specifically for headaches - I take two at once with Soma - muscle relaxant - works best in conjunction together to target the headache from different angles); Soma (muscle relaxant); Amerge (longest acting triptan on the market, like Imitrex, for bad migraines).

    Hope this helps. These meds will be helpful for headaches. I take MS Contin 3 x day (like your Methadone - but this is just a pain med, not a headache med). These other meds will specifically be good for headaches. Talk to your PM about these and see what he/she thinks. I have all of these in my arsenal. I only take the Neurontin, Topamax, MS Contin and amitriptiline (didn't tell you about this, 100mg at night to help me sleep and slightly lower chronic pain) every day. I then take the others as needed, which I have to admit, is frequently: 40 Fiorinol per mo, 30 Soma, 18 Amerge.

    Wishing you the best. Clearly you can see there are much better meds out there to actually target your headaches.

  • Hi there my dear. I have severe degenerative disk disease in my neck at every level. I'm in terrible agonizing pain that is there 24 hours a day. No let up ever with anything. Therapy, tens machine, heat, nothing helps. I have not started this amitriptyline yet. The docs say it help with the nerves in the neck for pain. It is an antidepressant but apparently it is good for pain. I also have been given tramadol. I have not tried this one either. I really don't know what to take. I am waiting to go to the pain clinic, 6 month wait.. Maybe they will suggest nerve block injections?? Are they safe? Thanks Darlene
  • I take both Wellbutrin and Cymbalta. You don't have to quit Wellbutrin to take Cymbalta for nerve pain. They are not the same line of anti-depressant and will not cause any interactions. I was concerned also but my Dr. looked it up and there's no contraindication to taking both but maybe your Dr. said different? 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
  • Hello , yes, here I am 2 years later..many things have happened, but I am still in severe chronic...
    With Gentle Hugs,
  • After several bad falls last Spring, I suffered two TBIs and an unspecified neck injury. I have had Degenerative Disc Disease since I was in my 30s. I have excruciating pain in my neck and terrible headaches 24/7. The pain is worse in the morning, and at night. I am 63 years old now! And am extremely active. I have been swimming competitively since I was six years old, and I am now a marathon swimmer. I WILL not stop swimming. It is the only time I feel strong and human. The endorphins help with the pain while I am working out...but the pain starts again shortly after I swim. They tried facet injections, but they failed. They could not fit the needle between the tiny spaces between C3-C6. My primary care doc is unsympathetic. She treats me as if I am drug-seeking. I can't take NSAIDS, as I tend to get ulcers. This is horrible. It is very difficult for me to function. I feel helpless at times, but, I refuse to let this pain defeat me. In the summer of 2015, I plan to swim the Mackinac Straits in Michigan. Pain be damned. I just wish my doctor had enough faith in me to prescribe pain meds that would at least help me sleep at night.
    Julie A. Woods
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