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does chronic pain shorten life?

terror8396tterror8396 Posts: 1,832
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:55 AM in Chronic Pain
i was just watching a program on howard hughes and because of all the crashes he had, he had major chronic pain problems. one wreck caused him to break all of his ribs, and crush 3 neck vertebra among other problems. apparently he took copious amounts of codine and valium. the program went on to say that chronic pain is a disease in itself and he was surprised that hughes lived to be 70 since chronic pain can shorten your life due to the physical and emotional stress. this guy was a doctor which doesn't mean he knows what he is talking about. i don't know if there have been studies of chronic pain and life expectency but i would not be surprised if our lives are shortened because of it. surprisingly it did not blame his drug usage. anyone hear of research or from their doctors if it does shorten one's life. i think, in my own opinion, if we lead somewhat of a normal life, work, go places, go for walks, keep active, that it would help us. i can't walk for more than 100 yards before pain is so bad i have to sit, but i try to get some exercise, and work, and go places.
I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.


  • I agree with your theory that keeping active, working (if you're able), and staying busy in some capacity can contribute to staying healthy. If course, the residual effects of chronic pain can contribute to our demise as well. Things such as: use of too much acetaminophen, depression and more.
    One thing that happened to me......shortly before a lumbar fusion a couple years ago, I made a big mistake by not eating enough fiber and drinking enough fluids and using softeners. I was so constipated I almost perforated my colon. Talk about painful.....I could have died and might have if I had waited much longer before seeing a doctor. Everyone, do yourself a big favor......take care of your digestive system. Don't make the same mistake I did, that could have been a disaster.

  • Jon,

    From what all I have been able to read, the short answer is "Yes." Chronic pain in itself induces stress = stress is bad for our systems overall when *it* is chronic. Our pain medications, PT, therapies, mental exercises etc., they are there not only to kick the pain down, but too, to knock (hopefully) stress levels down as well.

    Some stress is good, continued stress is bad. I think that might be why they didn't blame the medications for his death. Think of this Jon, there are a lot of cases of people who work in high pressure jobs (on the floor of the stock market comes to mind) dying on the job at 50 due to a heart attack! Then take and look at folks who work low stress jobs, and they live till 90 - granted the ages are just listed [by me] for an example, but look at the heart attack rates for the 'normals' in high stress careers.... With us, we are 'high stress chronic' types.

    I don't stress over whether this crap will shorten my life, I just try to enjoy what *I* do have by the way. ;)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • It can shorten our life when someone gets tierd of listening to us complaining how much we hurt and put us down like a horse with a broken leg .

    The dailey stress sure can have an affect on the heart being in severe pain all the time. Many get digestive track complications from years of medications which also dont help over all health. But for the most part i think most deaths hapen with overdose of medications cuting chronic pain patients life short many times. When pain gets so out of control many lose track what medications they took and i know many that died in such way.

    Some people will say it was suicide who dont understand how much medication that person was taking dailey just to overcome there pain. And when person cant sleep and pain affect there beter judgement its very easy for this to hapen. Of course there are also suicide with medications overdose in some cases when they coukd no longer cope.

    This is what makes chronic pain so sad because many of us are mentaly wore down from the pain and we know its very easy for any one of us to lose our sanity as we know it. We find strength here with others who are also living this nightmare with us.

    I never belonged to any sort of suport group in my life and never much believed in them. I see it a litle diferent now i guess. When things in life are this serious where i guess it can even be a mater of life and death. Some can at least reach out to someone they made friends with here if needed and posibly help them overcome this nightmare of chronic pain and help them realise yes we still have a reason to live.

    Besides if we all died who would be here to piss off Ron?
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Thanks again for another laugh today, Alex! I love that comment about Ron.

    There are many days that I pray my life will be shortened because of the pain. I have a little more hope now because my SCS trial is going well, but I know that I will still have chronic pain and need meds. I am glad that I don't believe in suicide as I can see how someone could be driven to that point. I hope everyone realizes there is always another answer. That is why this website is so wonderful. It does help to talk with people that do actually understand.

  • The co-morbidities that can occur from chronic pain can cause shorten life span, such as hypertension. Another reason to keep the pain in check.

    We always hear the all of the negative effects of taking opiods, but one positive effect is moderating the pain, which can decrease the incidence of coronary disease.

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  • Sleepgirl brings up a very valid issue too Jon. Most of my life, I had issues with low blood pressure, but in the last 4 or 5 years, it has gone the other way. Each year too, my medications for it have been increased - of late I feel it needs an adjustment again!

    One of the ways 2 of my doctors can tell if you are indeed in pain is they have a cup on you, and see what your BP is doing as you start saying "my pain is increasing" etc. If someone comes in screaming in pain, but their BP is like 120 over 70 - tilt!

    I've had to measure my BP at home between a relaxed (not too bad pain day) me vs when a spike hits. Wow! 110 over 65 and then I shoot to 140 over 90 or worse! Internally you can feel the changes too! And that is while ON Beta blockers! Chronic pain does for sure change your blood pressure!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • with all the problems i have had with back and chronic pain i also have had weird diseases and problems, gall stone surgery, begin tumor in my nose and sinus, but the good news is that due to my active life before back problems, i have a very healthy heart. i have ekg every year with my yearly appointments with dr to check me out. i also have problems with urinary tract infections, but heart is very healthy. ekg is normal and good for a 64 year old guy. used to run 10 miles a day and play tennis 4-5 times a week for years. also was on track team in high school. for perventative maintenance, i take blood pressure and cholesterol meds daily along with a baby aspirin. i try to stay on top of medical issues all the time. worse problem now is urinary track infections which come back every 2 years. i have kidney stones which can cause infections, but even though i have a lot of weird problems overall with major body parts, i am healthy. thank god for all the exercise i had in my past. the last 10 years have been problem since my back keeps me from running or playing tennis. my dr is amazed at my overall health. make sure you have dr check you out once a year with blood tests and ekg tests. try to stay on top of all medical issues. it also can help one to live longer.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I, too, am glad that I was in excellent physical shape before all of this started, I do believe that having strong muscles, heart and lungs helps us in the end. I've often wondered about how ending up in the ICU and almost dying of sceptic shock had a part in the deterioration of my discs. The infection that caused it was actually Strep A that got into my bloodstream, which is the strand that causes Necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating disease). It all started with having a sore throat before getting my wisdom teeth extracted. Actually, it was only 4 months after being so sick that I ended up right back in the ER for an emergency appendectomy and I'm convinced the infection had a part in that. Thankfully I went in on time, had I waited any longer my appendix would have burst.

    Jon, you mention urinary tract infections and kidney problems. I used to suffer from UTIs and kidney infections, thankfully I haven't had either in a few years. I drink quite a bit of cranberry juice and try to eat yogurt, but being lactose intolerant that last one goes to the wayside. I've always read about the benefits of both, not too sure how effective they are, it could be coincidence, but like I said, I haven't had a problem in a long time.

    Anyways, to get back to your original subject, I do believe that chronic pain does have an effect on us, as others have mentioned, the stress and hypertension it causes can be very detrimental, especially over a long period of time. Depression, fatigue can compromise our immune systems making us susceptible to other illnesses and weakening in our bodies and organs. Also, living a sedentary lifestyle can cause weight gain, which we all know can cause high blood pressure and weakens the heart. The best thing we can do is get out and get some exercise, even just walking 20 minutes a day, eating healthy and keeping hydrated. I do struggle with those things, but I do try to keep it up.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • i asked my family doctor this question and he said that .yes by about 7 years on average .because many back pain sufferers are taking strong pain killers or anti inflammatories or both /sleeping pills /muscle relaxants and other medication .also many lead a sedentary life and therefor are over weight and out of shape ..many smoke and don't sleep too well and then theres the stress all the time .,so even if you were fit long term illness will shorten your life .another cross we have to bear
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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