I posted this in August 2014 - Please read below to 2017 after you have read this.
I am a new user to this forum, reading other members posts has been very useful and somewhat comforting that I am not alone with my chronic pain, I sympathize immensly with all. I have degenerative disc disease, my lower three lumbar discs are affected and I am always in some degree of pain. I have had my symptoms now since January 2012, so just over 2.5 years. During this time I have had nerve block injections, disc block injections, an epidural and have tried loads of pills - codeine (over the counter), valium, tramodol, high strength anti-inflammatories and other forms of sleeping pills to try and "knock" me out at night and get a decent sleep.
My neursurgeon (2 different one's, both concur) and pain specialist have advised that surgery is not an option, there is no evidence it will actually help and could infact make it worse, so that option is off the table. My pain specialist has also now said that continual disc block injections are not an option so I am not able to go back for more.
Strong anti-inflammatories were of some use, however my stomach is no longer coping very well with them. I was recently prescribed another drug which would allow my stomach to handle the anti-inflammatory and they really knocked me for six - stomach problems, panic attacks, anxiety, so I have now given up on them also. I have also tried the suppository anti-inflammatory without success.
I am 40 years old and quite fit, I excercise daily (mostly) unless I am too busy to fit it in. I have found though that recently the concoction of pain meds and sleeping pills are really making my whole wellbeing feel worse. Whilst the pain meds do reduce the pain, it never goes away, the sleeping pills help me sleep, but make getting up in the morning and facing a new day incredibly hard sometimes. I suppose I am definately feeling depressed at the moment to, I don't need a diagnosis for that, as I come to the realisation that this is it, it's will not get better......
So, how to live with this long term is the question. 4 days ago I stopped all the pain meds and sleeping pills completely. I don't know if I will last but I will give it a go for as long as I can. My mind already feels so much better and with that I feel like I can cope a little better with the pain. The most recent drug that I took caused panic attacks and anxiety - I really feel like the back pain was a lot better than that, at least I know what I am dealing with when my mind is healthy, drug induced panic and anxiety is terrifying. I also found that the pain meds were starting to cause depression and bout's of overwhelming hopelessness - given that the back pain was still there whilst on the meds, just slightly relieved then I don't think these cures are really offering any help at all because overall I am feeling much worse on a whole.
My surgeon told me that his scan's actually look worse than mine and yet he is not in any pain. The pain is actually caused by the inflammation so I am going to try anything natural I can to try and reduce the inflammation without the drugs. I have gone to sleep the past two nights with ice on my back, it has helped. I have also found that without the sleeping pills at night I don't need 5 coffee's in the morning to get me going. I was finding that I was sticking to coffee as my go to drink to try and energise and counteract the sleeping pills and completley lacked adequate water during the day, so I am sure that replacing the dehydrating coffee with water will help the discs somewhat.
So I am starting an anti-inflammatory diet this week. I will monitor how the pain levels are and see if life without the meds is actually liveable and better or liveable and worse.
Good luck to all.
I have not been on this site for a very long time, but wanted to come back and hopefully share something that may be useful to some people. I suffered in pain for almost 3 years, so I know exactly where some of you are at and how miserable it makes life when you are in constant pain.
I was just having a discussion with a colleague which prompted me to jump online and tell write about my experiences with back pain and pain medication. The discussion we were having was about the over prescription of pain medication by doctors and how more people are dying of prescription medication overdoses than by heroin and other illicit drugs, that's a fact, a terrible one, but true.
I have been pain free now for the past 18 months. I exercise everyday and I don't take any medication. This includes running 5km to 10kms at time - with no back pain, I know for some of you just the thought of that would make you wince.
I know this won't work for everyone, I know everyone is different, have different degrees of pain etc, but for some people I am sure it will work and improve your lives.
After almost 3 years of back pain and the constant pain medication that goes with it, I decided that I had had enough. I was still exercising with my back pain, but not specifically for my lower back because it was too painful. One day, I thought, stuff it, I am in pain all the time anyway so I will grin and bare it and see how it goes.
The exercise is so simple. Just bending and going into a squat position at the same time and lifting a medicine ball, I lift the ball right above my head to a straight arm position and then squat back down and put it on the floor, stand up and then repeat. I swear this one simple exercise has given me my life back. I started with a 3kg ball, I now use a 9kg ball.
I am convinced now also that the pain medication handed out by Doctors is in a lot of cases (not all) counterproductive.
When you take the pain medication it relaxes all of the muscles that support a bad back. Also, exercise is generally the last thing you feel like doing when you are dosed up. The above exercise will help strengthen the lower back, glutes and quads - all of which will help you back.
Not sure about everyone else, but as per my original post back in 2014, I was living on pain medication, caffeine and sugar to keep my going. Caffeine and Sugar both cause inflammation, but I was having lots of both after nights of pain meds to keep me up during the day.
What amazes me though is that I was never, ever, referred to physio by my doctor or my specialist, just given pain medication. In fact, my doctor told me not to exercise as it may make the condition worse. Well, you may want to check with your doctor first, but let me say, when you have a bad back for 3 years, it is a living hell and you will try just about anything.
So I really fear that the cycle for a lot of chronic pain sufferers may be the same as the one that I was on, and thank God was able to get off. I know some people will be addicted to medication and struggle to do the same, but for others, you may want to give it a go -
Pain Meds = Muscle Relaxation = Less Support for Spine = More Pain (as well as many other negative side effects from long term pain med use)
Exercise = Strengthen Muscles = More Support for Spine = Less Pain.
That's just my take on this. As I said above, I know we are all different, and this won't work for everyone, but please try and not get too use to pain medication, it's a band aid only with side effects that may be counterproductive.