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Adjusting to chronic pain

Karen58KKaren58 Posts: 6
edited 11/03/2014 - 5:03 AM in Chronic Pain
I am new to this group, although I've been lurking for a while.
My orthopedist has recommended spinal fusion for severe lumbar spinal stenosis. I've decided against it, for several reasons. I also cannot take pain killers because I started abusing them. And I cannot take NSAIDs because of another medication I'm taking for a different condition. So I've returned to physical therapy.
I'm feeling down because I realize now that I will likely never be pain-free. When I started this "journey," becoming pain-free was my goal. I'm in the process of modifying my lifestyle to help reduce pain, which means giving up some things that I've always enjoyed (long walks, going to the movies, gardening, etc). I hope I don't sound like I'm whining, because I'm well aware that things could be much, much worse.
I'd like to hear others' experiences of adjusting to chronic pain, and I'm also like to hear about what works and what doesn't work. I'm also wondering if getting occupational therapy would help.
Thanks for listening!


  • Karen58KKaren58 Posts: 6
    edited 11/04/2014 - 7:14 AM
    Sandi, I did not know that! I will ask today where the stenosis is (canal vs foramina).
    I have it at L4-L6.
    Thanks so much for responding.
  • Hello Sandi, I am so confused about your comments to Karen. After review "Spinal Stenosis - A definitive guide" I can see clearly that having surgery is just a "lifestyle option" for this type of condition, and on the other hand you are talking about severe risks and possible permanent damage that can not be undone a later date. Would you please clarify this point ? Because I am under the impression that your statement is exactly against the page statement. I also have spinal stenosis and your point would be very important for us. Thank you !
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  • Sandi,
    My ortho said that I have both and that he doubts if PT will be of any help. He painted a very bleak picture if I don't have the surgery, although he says there aren't risks, per se, in not having it; just that the condition will continue to worsen and become increasingly painful. He said the surgery will provide the most relief, but only for 3 or 4 years.
    I had to do some walking yesterday. It was very little, the length of two city blocks maybe, and today I'm in great pain.
    Feeling frustrated and discouraged...
  • Thanks, Sandi, I feel somewhat encouraged by your comments.
    Am I understanding correctly that you have had the surgery?
    I'm going to at least get a second opinion before I make a final decision.
    I'm new here, as you know, and I have a question. Please let me know if I should've posted it somewhere else. Here goes: Don't I qualify for a disability parking placard? My ortho says no.
  • I am very sorry but I still find your statement absolutely contradictory with the web site statement at "Lumbar Spinal-Stenosis - A definitive guide" pls see below:
    Surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis should only be considered if a patient's ability to participate in everyday activities is unacceptably reduced and a concerted effort to relieve symptoms through non operative means has been unproductive.

    For most patients, lumbar spinal stenosis surgery is mainly a lifestyle choice. For example:

    If patients have had to give up a lot of activities, they may want to consider lumbar spinal stenosis surgery or
    If patients are still functioning reasonably well, there is no need to take the risk of surgery
    Also, for the most part, there is no window of opportunity that a patient will miss if they wait on the lumbar spinal stenosis surgery. Generally, undergoing stenosis surgery later will work as well as having more immediate surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis."

    As far as I know the only one absolute indication for surgery is if develops a "Cauda Equina Syndrom".

    Thank you and apologize for this comment.
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  • So many of the basic terms related to spine damage are very confusing. Doing searches on these often leads to the "it's not necessarily painful & can be treated with conservative....". That's why you read the advise You should have a consultation with a board certified spine surgeon' so often on these forums.
    Degenerative Disc Disease by definition is a natural part of aging & most people over a certain age (20-30) have it. It doesn't necessarily cause pain. Osteoarthritis is simply wear & tear & requires exercise & on occasion OTC pain meds like ibuprofen. Stenosis in itself isn't really serious or necessarily painful. Same sort of thing is said of many spinal conditions. I have those conditions & I live with unrelenting pain. My specialists are amazed by my level of functioning, which is severely limited compared to a 'normal' person. My diagnosis include DDD, osteoarthritis & stenosis. It's not those conditions that are crippling me. It's the severity of them. The nerve impingement, bone spurs, inflammation, spasms etc etc etc that they cause. My spine is severely degenerated but if you took my diagnosis & searched each one you would think I'm fine, maybe take a few Tylenol & ibuprofen when I over do it but generally live a regular active lifestyle. That's far, far from the truth.

    Spines are complicated & confusing. Even with specialists I believe in second & third opinions.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • I agree, but regarding 2nd and 3rd opinions .... mmm I have found that you can get as many different (and VERY different) opinions as neurosurgeons you visit (very qualified all of them), so it is very hard to make a decission, because of where one says It is for surgery, the other one says Not at all. Where one says laminectomy the other one says nahh just an spacer. I have visited 5 or 6 qualified neuro and ortho surgeons since my problem starts in 2012, and I am more confused now than ever ...
  • Although I believe your above advice/comments were meant for Bernie, I wanted to let you know that I found them extremely helpful. Thanks!
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