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Wondering what's Normal, Looking for Hope

Hello, I am posting on behalf of my Girlfriend who is 37.
Over the past few months we have been going to your forum and others like it trying to figure out what is normal and how to combat pain.  There have been many helpful tidbits here and I thought it was time to introduce ourselves.
My Girlfriend got Tendinitis in her right arm years ago from which she has never fully recovered.  
A couple of years ago she got Interstitial Cystitis.
Last Summer her leg started to hurt and she spent the Summer limping around.  We work together at a small Health Food store and she continued to do her job which consisted of ordering and stocking things as well as operating a cash register.  For a while she operated the register from a stool and we did inventory that year with me pushing her around in a  wheeled office chair.  The writing, entering things into a computer, and the repeated bending and light lifting she had to do for her job she just endured.
She got better in time but the following Winter the back of her leg started hurting whenever she sat down.  We tried the ol' tennis ball above the knee and other such tricks but nothing worked.  Eventually we decided that I should do the driving (a frightening proposition, but one we've kept to).
That Summer was my Brother's wedding.  It was a 3 hour drive with the back of her leg bothering her the whole way.  It was an amazing time when we got there though- she drank which she hardly ever does anymore as her IC makes her unable to consume most alcoholic beverages.  And we danced like maniacs, both drunk, probably not entirely aware of what we were doing with our bodies.  She used to dance all the time, even for a while in a belly dance troupe.  It had been a while though.  We endured the drive back and soon after that she got hip bursitis.
She worked through it for a little while but then I persuaded her to take the week off.  And then the next week.  She came back to work after that and optimistically announced her permanent return but after that day has been unable to return for over 4 months.  We went through the business of having someone else do her job temporarily which involved at one point her typing some things when we were in a hurry.  She did so while kind of laying down as at the time she could not sit in pain.  Typing on her laptop in this position caused her to re-injure her right arm.
She eventually went to a physical therapist who instructed her to do a calf stretch which caused her to be unable to lay on her back without a pillow behind her leg.  Later she did hamstring stretches that strained both her hamstrings.  Around the same time the backs of of her heels also started hurting.  She also got painful swollen spots in her lower back.  This was all 3 months ago.
Most recently the Doctor said she has Sacroiliac Pain.  
What we know is that she is  in constant pain whether she sits (incidentally she can no longer sit cross-legged at all), stands, limps, or lays down.  She gets relief late in the day, after being awake for a few hours.  Soon afterwards it's time for bed.  She lays down and sleeps poorly, frequently being woken up by her pain until finally at around 8 she is forced to get up and take a hot shower to try and relieve some of the pain. 
She has had multiple visits with the Doctor (mostly they prescribe pain pills), the Acupuncturist (seems to abate the inflammation for a few hours), the Masseuse (helps for relaxation), the Physical Therapist (caused one of her injuries, she's trying a new one in a few weeks).
Tramadol seems to be the only thing that calms the back pain for a little while and she is afraid of becoming addicted to it.
Right now she's wondering whether it is normal have back pain no matter what she is doing that seems to get worse when she lays down (which she pretty much has to); she is also concerned about her Chiropractor's prescription of walking when it means she has to do it with a limp.  And more than anything we are both looking for some hope and sound advice.
Thank you for being here.


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,709
    edited 08/22/2016 - 1:26 AM
    hello tara

    please click on the link for useful information
    welcome to spine-health

    getting an accurate back pain diagnosis


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 448
    that's a lot to deal with and each issue is probably making all the others seem worse!  Have you had any diagnostic tests done, like MRI or CT scan?  I would be asking for a referral to a specialist of some kind, or several different specialists, as the case may be.  I understand the nervousness about becoming addicted to pain prescriptions.  But when it is just too much for the body to take, you're not doing yourself any favors by trying to stay tough indefinitely - a body needs rest to recover properly.  Before I had surgery, I was taking several addictive prescriptions and just able to 'take the edge off'.  After surgery, I recovered to a point where I no longer needed them and worked at getting off of them.  Withdrawal was not easy, but I made it through.  It was a necessary evil to be on those meds for the time that I was.  Stay within the dosages and work with a pain management specialist to work out a plan that suits your needs.  I wish you all the best!
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  • dilauroddilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,669
    Its always a long haul.
    What exactly has your girlfriend been formally diagnosed with?
  • Thank you all for your responses and I apologize for taking so long to get back to this!
    I feel like she is partway through the diagnostic steps described by the link in Liz's post.  Her Doctor has just prescribed an MRI.
    smartens162, it seems like you triumphed after a huge ordeal.  Tara is very comforted by hearing that you got through all that without becoming irretrievably addicted to the meds!  She is also concerned about taking pain killers long term causing her to form an ulcer or etc and has also read that many believe that taking too many pain killers can worsen Interstitial Cystitis!  Hopefully your advice holds and she can just stick to the dosage?

    dilauro said:

    Its always a long haul.
    What exactly has your girlfriend been formally diagnosed with?

    So far her Doctor has said that she had Sacroiliac Pain that her Chiropractor believes could be Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction.  In addition the Chiropractor has diagnosed her with Pelvic Misalignment- which he says she has actually had for years.  Soon, with the MRI, we hope to know more.

    Thank you all again for your advice!
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