Frequently Asked Questions About: Pain Management
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  • My wife has had three back surgeries and is in the hospital for her fourth. She's had constant pain but the nurses refuse to give her an increase in her pain meds. How can they watch patients suffer like this and not respond?
  • What is the purpose of physical pain in someone who doesn't really seem to have anything wrong with them?
  • Sometimes when a friend or family member is hurt, I actually feel physical pain too. It doesn't last long and it isn't as intense as their pain. Am I just imagining this or is it really possible?
  • My doctor told me not to seek treatment for low back pain unless it lasts more than six weeks. This is very distressing because I want to do something about it now.
  • I hear doctors aren't treating low back pain like they used to. I saw a TV special that said most low back pain is caused by psychosocial issues. Just exactly what does that mean anyway? Do I have back pain because I am a social misfit?
  • I've been going to a special pain clinic to help me get better from my chronic back pain. I took a bunch of tests on paper and answered a lot of questions. The results say I just made the cut off for having the normal amount of fear. They say I'm not avoiding movement out of fear of pain like some people do. How in the world do they decide what the magic cut off number is? Can one number really make the difference between normal and not-so-normal?
  • I come from a Hispanic background. I notice that many of my aunties seem to have an extreme response to everyday aches and pains. Many of them are doctoring for chronic pain that doesn't seem very real to me. Is this an ethnic thing?
  • Good grief. I just came back from taking a very long survey about my chronic pain at a pain clinic. Now my back pain is worse from all that sitting. Was that really necessary? How's it going to help me?
  • I was part of a study giving chronic pain patients a survey to find out about our pain. It seemed like many of the questions were the same, just asked a little differently. Are these trick questions to see if we answer them the same each time?
  • I confess I'm a nervous Nellie kind of person. I hurt my back at work and now I'm really worried about re-injuring myself. What can I do to get over this?
  • What is pain catastrophizing? I saw the term on a poster in a pain clinic.
  • Two years ago I had an operation that has left me in chronic pain. I tend to be a worrier. Now I'm worried that my worrying is what has kept me from getting better. Is this possible?
  • How can I tell if I am worrying too much about my back pain? I've had it for six months and it doesn't seem to be going away. That worries me.
  • My sister has had chronic neck and back pain most of her adult life. As she gets older she seems to get worse -- or maybe her attitude is just worse. The family is having a hard time being patient with her. She's still looking for a magic medical cure. What can we say that will help?
  • Is it true that older people have less pain than younger people?
  • I notice my 80 year old grandparents are so calm about everything. Even when they are in pain from their arthritis they hardly ever complain. Are all older people this calm about pain and suffering?
  • I've heard there's been a breakthrough in scientists' understanding of complex regional pain syndrome. I have this problem, too. Will the new findings bring about a cure?
  • I broke my wrist last fall and ended up with CRPS. Can you explain to me what went wrong? It was a simple fracture of the radius.
  • I have a bad case of complex regional pain syndrome. After six weeks in physical therapy I went on a cruise to Hawaii. The trip had been planned long before my injury. I came back almost 50 percent better. Does this mean that at least half of my symptoms are just in my head?
  • I saw a report that people with chronic neck and back pain also develop kinesiophobia. What is that?
  • I'm 52 and things are starting to fall apart. First I had neck pain that wouldn't go away. I finally got rid of that, and now I have shoulder pain on the other side. Is there any way to tell if this will eventually go away too?
  • I went to my doctor for new symptoms of shoulder pain. She wants to use the wait-and-see approach. She says most shoulder pain goes away by itself. Is this a standard way to treat this problem? I'm a little dubious.
  • My doctor told me there are quite a few theories about what causes CRPS. I didn't want to ask too many questions during the office visit but I'm wondering what are some of these ideas?
  • I have some kind of problem with my arm and hand. One doctor told me I have something called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Another doctor says I have complex regional pain syndrome. How can I find out what I really have? Could I have both problems at the same time?
  • Nerve Loss with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: Consequence or Cause?
  • I've been doing some reading about CRPS. I've just been diagnosed with this problem. I see there are two kinds. How can I tell which kind I have?
  • I'm really suffering from the pain of a problem called CRPS. At this point I'd rather have my arm cut off than continue to live like this. Is this ever done for patients?
  • How is learning relaxation techniques going to help me with my back pain? I'm not stressed out. I'm just in pain.
  • I am an operations manager for a large manufacturing plant. We spend a lot of time and money training our people. If they get injured on the job, we'd like to get them back to work if possible. Are there any known ways to improve the return-to-work numbers?
  • My mother-in-law had a total knee replacement about two months ago. She's still taking Lortab for pain and the druggist called to say she tried to fill her prescription again too soon. The family is worried that she's taking too many of these painkillers. What should we do?
  • My doctor has prescribed Oxycontin for me due to chronic back and leg pain. I've heard so much about drug addiction, I'm afraid to take it. How can I avoid problems with this drug?
  • My doctor tells me to stay active and get back to work despite back pain rated as an eight out of 10 on a scale from zero (no pain) to 10 (worst). How can I really do this when I'm in so much pain?
  • My 17-year-old daughter had a benign tumor removed from inside her skull. She didn't seem to have much pain with this operation. Is this because she's so young? Or are females just tougher when it comes to pain?
  • I've been a chronic pain patient for the last 10 years. My pain is always at least a five on a scale from zero to 10. Sometimes it goes up to an eight. I want to take the GMAT test and try to get into business school. I'm afraid my pain will keep me from getting a good test score because I can't always concentrate. Is this possible?
  • I am a checker at a grocery store. I seem to make more mistakes than other checkers while ringing up items. I do have a problem with chronic headaches and neck pain. Are my mistakes from the pain or a lack of concentration?
  • Two years ago I had a discography and to this day, I remember how painful it was. I was sure I had cancer. The doctor thought it was a disc. It wasn't either one. Why is it the memory of this test still so strong?
  • How can you tell if you're addicted to painkillers? I'm taking a morphine-based drug (OxyContin) and I'm worried about becoming addicted.
  • What's the connection between pain and depression? I have chronic low back pain that seems to respond to antidepressants.
  • Are people in chronic pain more likely to cause a car accident? I have chronic low back pain. Sometimes I think my driving isn't as good as it should be. I get distracted by the pain. Are there any statistics on this? I don't want to be a statistic on the road.
  • My mother-in-law had shoulder surgery yesterday for a torn rotator cuff. They are using a special device that allows her to control her own pain levels. Whenever she has pain, she pushes the button and gets a dose of pain reliever right into the joint. I notice she pushes the button much more often than she's supposed to. Should we say something to the doctor?
  • I've had several bad backaches that laid me up for days. I never know when they are going to come on. I find myself in a state of dread worrying about it. Would hypnosis help this sort of problem?
  • My mother-in-law lives with us. She is in early stages of dementia. Sometimes it's hard to tell if she is in pain. My husband (her son) always assumes she's hurting and seems to make things worse by being overly sympathetic. Are there some reliable signs of pain we can use to know for sure when she's hurting?
  • What are pain behaviors? The doctor's report on my daughter says she showed a moderate number of pain behaviors.
  • I tend to be an overly anxious kind of person. Now I've hurt my back at work. I'm worried that worrying will make my pain worse. I don't want to end up off work on disability with chronic pain like I see other people. How can I avoid this?
  • My mother went to the doctor for "injections" to help her back pain. Just what kind of injections can help the spine?
  • I have a friend who had surgery almost two years ago. She ended up with chronic pain and seems to be her own worst enemy. She makes everything out to be so much worse than it really is. Can anything be done to help her?
  • I have been in pain for the last two years of my life. I've accepted that it's not going to go away. Where do I go from here in reclaiming my life?
  • My doctor has suggested I try a nerve block injection for my chronic back pain. I've heard that acupuncture might be a good idea. Which one works better?
  • I'm scheduled for an L45 steroid injection next week. How soon can I expect results?
  • I've heard that acupuncture might help with my headaches and neck pain. Is it worth the extra money? I would have to pay out-of-pocket.
  • When I was traveling in Germany I had a bad bout of muscle pain. The condition has been diagnosed as myofascial pain syndrome. I was treated with physiotherapy and an injection of something called Dysport. It really helped. Should I go back for a second treatment?
  • I've heard Botox can be used for chronic muscle pain. I have a problem called myofascial pain syndrome. Could this treatment help me?
  • Is it true that children are more likely to get better from a pain problem than adults because children think they can and adults take a more pessimistic view?
  • I find myself at a cross roads. I have had back pain for three years now with no relief. I'm finally ready to try the pain killers my doctor has recommended. With all the possible side effects and worries about addiction, I'm still wondering if I shouldn't just tough it out?
  • At 78 years old, my father has his share of aches and pains. But lately he's been complaining more and more about back pain. X-rays show he has mild spinal stenosis. We think he would do better and have less pain if he would take an antidepressant, not have another surgery. Is it possible that an antidepressant could help?
  • I went to a chronic pain clinic for help with constant headaches and neck pain. One of the treatment options is acupuncture. Are there any side effects from this kind of treatment?
  • Yesterday I had a steroid injection into my buttocks for piriformis syndrome. I feel find today but I'm wondering if there's anything I shouldn't be doing.
  • I've been told I have piriformis syndrome caused by a pinched sciatic nerve. How does the sciatic nerve get pinched?
  • I was recently tested for psychologic problems related to my chronic low back pain. The test showed I am seriously depressed. But who wouldn't be depressed after months and months of back pain everyday?
  • What is functional restoration rehabilitation? My surgeon and my shrink are suggesting I complete the FRR program at their clinic.
  • Is it really true that chronic pain is all in my head? The doctors tell me I'm past the point when the body is healed so the pain isn't coming from the injury. I don't want to be in pain so why doesn't my body get over it?
  • I've noticed that some people are bothered by pain more than others. I seem to have a pretty high tolerance for pain. Is that just personality? A genetic trait or what?
  • My wife is depressed and doesn't sleep well. She lost her job about six months ago because of back pain. Would sleeping pills help improve her sleep and her pain levels?
  • I'm going to be seeing a pain counselor to start cognitive behavioral therapy. My doctor thinks this is a good way to decrease the level of chronic low back pain I experience everyday. How long does this kind of treatment take to get results?
  • My doctor has advised that I try taking an opioid medication to help get control of my chronic low back pain. I'm more than a little nervous about getting addicted. What's the longest time I can take these pills without getting into trouble?
  • I had a steroid injection for chronic sciatica. I got about 50 per cent improvement but it's slowly coming back. Should I have another injection? How many does it take to lick this problem?
  • For years I thought I had fibromyalgia. Now I find out I really have something called myofascial pain syndrome. What's the difference?
  • I saw a physician's assistant to find out what's causing my muscle aches and pains. She said I have trigger points and a problem called myofascial pain syndrome. But except for asking me questions and pushing on my muscles, she didn't do any other tests. Should I make an appointment to see the doctor?
  • I've heard that you can tell by which words people use to describe their pain where the pain is coming from and if it's all emotional. What are the words they use?
  • I have been involved with taking care of my neighbor for the last three years. She gave me permission to talk with her doctor about her painful back condition. The doctor mentioned my neighbor has many pain behaviors. What are these and what is the significance of them?
  • My cousin just came back from the Middle East where he was stationed with the Marines. He seems completely defeated. The family is very concerned. What can we do?
  • My brother suffered a back injury on the job and has been left disabled. He was always such a positive person but now he seems hopeless. Can anything be done to help him snap out of it?
  • How are pain and depression connected?
  • I've been suffering from pain since my car accident a few years ago. My medication doesn't seem to be helping me. Is there anything else I can do?
  • What kinds of things does the doctor look for if he wants to know if I'll be good at handling my own care?
  • Whenever my pain flairs up, I get more anxious, then I feel like the pain is worse. How can I control the anxiety and keep my pain from getting worse?
  • How can being independent make my pain worse?
  • How can I make sure that the acupuncture is safe?
  • My sister told me that she has CRPS Type 1, but I've heard that there is another type. What are the symptoms and what is the difference?
  • If I have CRPS Type-I, what can my doctor do for me?
  • When I was experiencing a lot of back pain, my doctor wanted to put me on antidepressants. I refused because I wasn't depressed, I was in pain. Why would he suggest that I take that kind of medication?
  • I've read about cognitive therapy for people who are having a lot of pain. How does this work?
  • I've been having an ongoing problem with back and leg pain. The surgeon who is treating me says I have both spinal stenosis and lumbar radiculopathy. I've had a couple of steroid injections that helped for a while. Is it safe to keep having these every time the pain comes back?
  • What can you tell me about the drug Oxymorphone? My doctor thinks it might help me with the chronic back pain I'm having. I've tried other narcotics without much success. Why should this work any better?
  • My mother fell last winter on the ice and ended up with a nerve injury in her right shoulder. Despite all treatment so far, nothing has worked. Now she's become a chronic pain patient. I notice the doctor keeps changing her drugs. The dose goes up, then she's switched to another drug. Then she's taking two or three drugs. Does this seem right?
  • Mother was diagnosed with spinal stenosis just about the same time her sister got the same diagnosis. Mother was treated with a corset and antiinflammatory drugs. Her sister got a new drug called neurontin. Her sister got much better pain relief and was up and about faster, too. Is this a coincidence? Her sister is five years younger. Should we ask Mother's doctor for neurontin, too?
  • What are some tests my doctor might do to find out if I have CRPS?
  • What causes CRPS?
  • The pharmacist just called me about my mother's use of a narcotic (Oxycodone). She's been taking it for her back pain the last six months. Evidently she's been taking too many pills on a daily basis. What should we do?
  • My doctor prescribed oxycodone for me about six weeks ago. I have chronic pain from a back condition. The nurse in the office calls me every week to ask me all kinds of questions about using this drug. I'm not a child. I do think I can take the medication as prescribed. How do I get these people off my back?
  • I'm moticing that my live-in adult parent (father) is taking more and more of his oxycodone. How can we tell if he is addicted?
  • How long can I take my prescription of Oxycodone without worrying about getting addicted?
  • My mother has pain medications for her bad back. She has had a lot of pain for the past few years. She won't take them because she's afraid of becoming addicted because she needed to increase her dose once. What is the difference between depending on a drug and being addicted to a drug?
  • Why does my doctor want to prescribe opioids for my chronic pain? I don't want to become addicted.
  • My father suffers from pain in his joints and back. His doctor called it chronic non-cancer pain. Why is it important that his pain be described like that?
  • I have a back problem, a slipped disk that happened at work a few years ago. But that's not what hurts me now. Instead, I have a very sharp pain about a quarter of the way down my buttock and it shoots up into my back or down my leg from time to time. Is that sciatica?
  • I've been seen a massage therapist for chronic neck pain from a whiplash injury. I notice that while he is doing the massage, I feel fine but afterwards my pain is much higher. What causes this to happen?
  • Everytime I go see the doctor or the therapist, I have to fill out a form asking the same questions about my pain and what I can and can't do. Is this really necessary?
  • I had back surgery three years ago and still have daily pain. I've tried getting off drugs but every time I stop taking my pills, I can't function. I've heard about electrical stimulation. Would something like this help me?
  • My doctor sent me to a pain clinic for help with my low back pain. I've had it for six years now -- ever since a car accident when I was 20. One of the recommendations of the pain clinic was to try using electrical stimulation. I've heard from other patients that it doesn't work. Is it really worth trying?
  • I always thought that opioids were the last resort for pain relief. So if I let my dad take the opioids his doctor prescribes, what happens if his pain gets worse?
  • When I was younger, I heard of people taking morphine and other similar drugs after they had surgery or were in a bad accident of some sort. Now my friends with problems like arthritis or back pain are taking these types of drugs. Why are they taking such strong drugs for problems like that?
  • There is a lot of talk about getting addicted to pain medications. I take high doses of medication because I hurt my back a while ago and it hasn't healed. What are the signs of addiction?
  • What are some of the side effects that you can get if you take opioids?
  • My doctor thinks I might have a condition called CRPS. She says diagnosis can be very difficult. Aren't there any tests that can be done to confirm the diagnosis? I'd really like to know what's wrong.
  • Two years ago I fell and broke my wrist. I've never been the same. Pain, swelling, sweating, and even strange hair growth over the back of my hand have developed. No one seems to know what's wrong with me. I've become so depressed my doctor wants to send me to a shrink. Could this all really be psychologic?
  • My doctor prescribed oxycodone for me to help relieve chronic back pain. Most days without the drug, I could rate my pain as a 10 out of 10. With the drug, my pain is around a three out of 10. My sister tried this same medication for her shoulder pain and got no relief at all. Does it just work for back pain? What should she take instead?
  • I heard it's possible now to have a blood test to see if a certain drug will work before taking it. This seems like a good idea before spending so much money on a prescription that doesn't work. What's the name of the test?
  • Ever since my third child was born, I've had constant sacroiliac joint pain. My doctor wants to inject the joint but I'm a little afraid to do this. Is this the right thing to do?
  • I am one of those Baby Boomers who likes to take charge of my own life. I think of myself as a consumer of health care. Most recently, I've started looking into better ways to deal with my chronic low back pain. I've been told by several doctors there's nothing more that can be done. Where can I look for some answers?
  • What is intrathecal pain relief and why can it help severe pain if regular pain killers can't?
  • I'm going to a pain clinic to help me get control of my knee pain. I have really bad osteoarthritis but I don't want surgery just yet. Some people in the clinic are trying Deepwave. How does this device work? Should I ask to try it, too?
  • How can pain be measured since everyone has a different concept of pain?
  • My mother is in a lot of pain ever since she fell last year. She has no injuries that the doctor can find and I think they are just writing her off as an complaining old lady. I believe that she is having pain, but I can't convince the doctors. Is there anything I can do to help?
  • My mother had CRPS and then developed strong spasms and contortions in her hand a few months later. I read that this can happen after CRPS so shouldn't this have been prevented?
  • What types of treatments can we give people with movement disorder that appear after they have had CRPS?
  • My wife was kicked in the back by a horse and has had several surgeries. She has true, chronic back pain. She is not using her pain to get sympathy or attention. The pain clinic where she goes does nothing to help her get rid of the pain. It's all about changing her attitude about the pain. How can we get them to see her in a different way?
  • I've always adopted the philosophy of no pain, no gain. Now I'm in a rehab program for chronic pain patients where they say this attitude has to go. Won't I get better faster if I keep pushing?
  • I had minor surgery to remove a small but malignant tumor from my arm. Within a week I started having pain down my arm. My hand started going to sleep and sweating profusely. Now my fingers are starting to curl into a fist and I can't stop it from happening. I've been told this is a hysterical reaction to the surgery. I'm not really a psycho kind of person. Could something else be causing it?
  • Mother broke her elbow last winter when she slipped and fell on the ice. The fracture took a very long time to heal. Then she had constant pain and other troubling symptoms. The doctor refers to this as CRPS. Now she is starting to have a problem straightening her fingers out. Her hand wants to stay in a fist. Are these things happening to her because she's older (82 years old)?
  • I notice that when my husband smashes his finger with a hammer, he curses and swears and acts like a big baby. When I dropped a heavy box on my foot, it hurt like the dickens but I didn't rant and rave about it. Do you think men are just more sensitive to pain? Or are men more likely to yell and shout and be done with it. I was still complaining a week later and he never mentioned it again.
  • My neighbor is a disagreeable, old cantankerous man. He always seems unpleasant and complains of many aches and pains all the time. Is it possible people with this type of personality feel pain more acutely than the rest of us?
  • Is it true that if you are out of shape and hurt yourself, it takes longer to recover? Do people who are couch potatoes hurt more when they get hurt?
  • Despite having chronic pain for six months now, I'm still working and keeping up. The doctor thinks it might help me to see a physical therapist. But how can they help? I can run 10 miles, pump iron, and keep up with the best of them.
  • Please help me understand what's happening. I broke my arm in a bicycle accident. It had to be pinned in six places. I wore an external device with pins through the skin to hold it in place. While it was immobilized, I developed something called CRPS. Now I'm in rehab. But all of a sudden, my hand is starting to jerk and tremor. What is that and will it go away with exercise?
  • My wife hurt her arm in a car accident and ended up with CRPS and dystonia. At first I thought the twisting of her wrist and hand was just some kind of emotional problem. But I notice it doesn't go away when she's sleeping. What does cause this to happen?
  • My mother was diagnosed with CRPS a few months ago. It seems to be getting worse though. What is the prognosis for CRPS?
  • Is complex regional pain syndrome really untreatable?
  • How can I tell if my pain is real or in my head? I've had bad back pain for years, but sometimes I think it's just that I'm expecting it.
  • My mother takes a lot of pain pills but she still complains. Why aren't the pills helping her?
  • I just came back from the doctor's for a back injury I got at work. I have a prescription for painkillers that is a morphine-derivative. Should I really take this? I thought these drugs were dangerous.
  • I notice in my family that when something hurts, it's always in a big way. Everyone complains of severe aches and pain and in more than one place. Is this some kind of genetic thing? Or are we all just hypochondriacs?
  • It seems like whenever I have a painful problem, more than one part of my acts up. First I had back pain. Then my knee started bothering me. Before I knew it, my neck was hurting too. Am I just more susceptible to pain once it gets started?
  • I notice in the news reports of famous people using and abusing drugs like oxycodone. It sounds like this is a problem for many people, not just the Hollywood types. I've been using this same drug for chronic low back pain. I'm concerned about becoming addicted myself. Can't they come up with a nonaddictive drug that works?
  • I asked my doctor about using a stronger pain killer for my chronic low back pain. She is concerned I might become addicted and wants to stick with my current drug. But it's not really working. I can't help but wonder if narcotic drugs used for pain control are so addictive, how do so many other people seem to get them?
  • My doctor tells me they can now predict which patients with neck pain are likely to get better with physical therapy and who won't improve. Since I was referred to PT, I assume I'm one who is likely to benefit. What is this decision based on?
  • What exactly is the practice of qigong and how can it help someone like me who has pain in the back all the time?
  • I have heard about abuse-deterrant narcotics. What does this mean?
  • I hurt my back but my doctor would not give me a narcotic for my pain. He said that it was the clinic policy. Why would this be?
  • I think my father has gone off the deep end. He's quit taking all his arthritis medicine and says he's going to try naprapathy instead. We've never heard of this treatment. What's involved?
  • What is an opioid medication, why is it so difficult to get, and how does it differ from regular pain medications?
  • What is the difference between becoming addicted to pain medications and becoming used to them?
  • When my mother broke her hip, I noticed that it was hard for the nurses to find out if she was in pain since my mother can't talk. Isn't there some way that nurses can tell if patients are having pain?
  • My father broke his hip and barely complained of pain but I know that it can be very painful. Was he just being stoic for our benefit?
  • Why do some people cope better with pain than others? I read of the term "harm avoidance," but don't we all avoid harm?
  • How can someone who doesn't deal well with chronic pain be helped to cope better?
  • After my knee surgery, the persistent pain that I have has been diagnosed as Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. Is it normal to feel like my leg is larger than it really is? I also have to really concentrate to move it sometimes? Is this normal?
  • My therapist has asked that I do desensitisation of my limb with CRPS. It is painful to rub any object or surface over my limb. How can this help?
  • Is there a safer way to use THC for chronic neuropathic pain than smoking it?
  • If I use a drug that contains THC , do I have to worry about getting high or stoned?
  • My sister has CRPS and her hands are always very cold, as well as painful. What causes this cold feeling?
  • What research is being done for complex regional pain syndrome?
  • Is complex regional pain syndrome something new? I hadn't heard about it until a few years ago when a few people I know had it or knew people who had it.
  • What is the worst that can happen with complex regional pain syndrome?
  • I have read about people with chronic pain going for therapy. Isn't that just reinforcing that it's in your head?
  • I have a lot of back pain but I'm afraid to take the medication my doctor prescribed. It's really strong and I'm afraid of getting addicted.
  • Do some people just not feel pain? I see some people able to push through a painful situation, and others who cannot.
  • Is it possible to push too hard when I have pain?
  • My sister used to have a drug habit that got really bad. She had it for years and had to do rehab a few times before she finally got clean. She's doing really well but she is having a lot of pain in her back. Her doctor says that she can take something for it, but she's afraid. She's also afraid of the surgery he is suggesting because that would mean taking potentially addicting medications. Is there anything she can do?
  • I tried taking methadone for my addiction but was switched to a different drug, buprenorphine. This drug seems to be working for me and I take it every day. The problem is, I wrecked my knee and am supposed to have surgery. How can I convince the hospital staff if I really have pain and they won't think I'm just wanting the drugs?
  • Is there really any benefit to all that relaxation therapy I see advertised in self-help magazines for people with chronic pain? I've had back pain for years now. I notice as I get older I just don't seem to cope as well as I used to. I don't really have any more pain than before, it just bothers me more.
  • I want to go for acupuncture for my back pain. How does acupuncture work?
  • What are the dangers of acupuncture for back pain?
  • I'm having trouble cutting loose from my behavioral therapist. He has helped me overcome a 10-year history of chronic back pain. But I've reached the limits of my insurance coverage. I'm worried I won't make it without him.
  • My partner was in a cognitive behavioral program to help her cope with a chronic pain condition. She did great until the program ended. Now she seems to be slipping back into her old ways of thinking and acting. How can I help encourage her to get back on track?
  • Is there really any benefit to all that relaxation therapy I see advertised in self-help magazines for people with chronic pain? I've had back pain for years now. I notice as I get older I just don't seem to cope as well as I used to. I don't really have any more pain than before, it just bothers me more.
  • We're a little concerned about Grandma. She is now attending some kind of mindful meditation classes. She says they help her deal with her back pain. Is there any way this can really help her?
  • I'm having acupuncture treatments for wrist and hand pain. I've had several people tell me it doesn't really work any better than just poking myself with my fingernail. Is there any truth to such statements?
  • Can you tell me what is laser acupuncture?
  • My father is being treated for cancer with radiation and then chemotherapy. I notice he's lost a lot of function just in his daily activities. I can't tell if this is from pain or from other symptoms. Is there some way to get a better idea of what's affecting him so much?
  • My sister has become a chronic pain patient over the last three years. As a family, we're not sure how to respond to her. Some say to ignore her comments about her health. Others say to draw her out and let her talk about it. What do you suggest?
  • I had carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and was operated on a couple of years ago. One hand was ok but the other one developed into a very painful disorder called CRPS. Why did that happen?
  • I'm a nurse in an Australian pain clinic. We are looking for a reliable way to predict (and modify) who may end up with chronic low back pain after an acute episode. Is there a tool already in use by other groups that could work for us?
  • I hear that while spinal cord stimulators may help with pain, they have batteries that have to be changed every few years. Is this true?
  • Is there such a thing as a rechargeable spinal cord stimulator?
  • Why do some people have chronic back pain and others do not?
  • Is chronic pain a problem in other countries?
  • What are some of the problems associated with the use of an intrathecal pump? My doctor thinks I should consider one.
  • What are the medications that can be delivered with an intrathecal pump?
  • Is it possible that some medications are not being approved because some people are non-responders versus the drug not being beneficial?
  • What does the term illness behavior mean?
  • How can phantom pain be managed?
  • How does an epidural injection help relieve the pain from a back injury?
  • If pain is so individual, how can doctors tell if something is seriously wrong or not?
  • I noticed that there are several different types of questionnaires that doctors can use to try to assess a patient's pain. Which is the best one?
  • I have been reading studies about how people react when they see others in pain. Why are these types of studies important?
  • How can pain be affected by how we think if it's real pain? It's not like we're imagining it.
  • Where do you go to get TENS for pain relief? And are there any disadvantages to it?
  • I have chronic muscle pain and what feels like muscle spasms that might be related to fibromyalgia. It's not clear just what's causing my symptoms. Can you explain to me in layman's terms what's going on?
  • The physical therapist I'm working with thinks some of my chronic hip pain is referred pain. It may be coming from my low back area. How does this work?
  • I'm working as an insurance adjuster for a self-insured company. We are trying to determine a coverage policy for patients with chronic pain. So far, after reviewing dozens of cases, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the way people are treated. Is there a standard protocol for this problem?
  • I've been thinking about the latest computer technology. Is it possible to use virtual reality programs to help overcome chronic pain? My son is doing a special science project at school. This might be a good one to pursue.
  • What is the difference between chronic pain and acute pain?
  • Why is it so hard to get people to believe you if you have chronic pain?
  • Why do some people have chronic pain and others with similar injuries or disability do not?
  • My doctor wants me to see a psychologist. Does that mean he thinks it is all in my head?
  • My dad has back pain and has had it for many years. He goes to a doctor or pain clinic, the pain improves a lot, but then within months, he's back to square one again. What can he do? He's getting really depressed and discouraged.
  • Isn't the talk of counseling and stuff for chronic pain just reinforcing that the pain is all in my head?
  • What is neuropathic pain and why is it hard to treat?
  • What are the symptoms of nerve pain?
  • I'm taking a prescription drug for pain that says it can cause drug dependence and addiction. What's the difference between these two things and how can I tell if I'm one or the other?
  • I'm taking a drug called oxycodone. The doctor and pharmacist have warned me about becoming addicted to this medication. How can I tell if I'm at risk for this type of drug dependence?
  • Is it really enough to take Tylenol or Ibuprofen for back pain? I'm in a lot more pain than that, but that's what both my doctor and PA have told me. Should I go see someone else for more treatment than that?
  • I've been taking Darvocet for chronic pain after back surgery. It doesn't seem to help at all. Should I just double the dose for a few days and see if that would work better?
  • We are trying to help our father navigate the health care system after a bad car accident. He's in so much pain from fractured ribs and a bad back now made worse. The doctor has put him on an opioid-based medication. What other treatment is there? We'd like to get him off this drug before he gets addicted.
  • My brother has had a significant drinking problem. Now he's on prescription narcotics for back pain. Isn't this a no-no?
  • Is there any way to tell if someone is misusing their prescription pain meds? I'm concerned that my mother might be addicted to her prescription (narcotic) pain reliever.
  • I'm surprised at how quickly and easily it was to get strong narcotic drugs for my mother when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I thought these were strongly regulated.
  • I am a nurse in an outpatient clinic. I notice that more and more patients are being given narcotics for pain control. I thought this was a big no-no because of the potential for abuse and addiction. What's the current thinking on this?
  • Whenever I go see the osteopath, she always asks me to color in on a diagram where my pain is located. I have trouble with this because it feels like it's in more than one place. I can't really put my finger on an exact spot. Am I so unusual from the average patient? Can everyone else color in these charts?
  • I went to see the nurse practitioner at our local clinic about my neck pain. She didn't really ask me about anything else. Should I have mentioned my shoulder, back, and elbow pain, too? I thought about it afterwards and wondered.
  • Does CRPS ever go away? My mother has it and I can't believe how much pain she has.
  • What are the different treatments available for complex regional pain syndrome?
  • Why do women complain so much about pain compared with men?
  • I have an aunt who is practically talking herself into a nursing home placement. She is very negative about everything. She can't seem to stop talking about her back pain. Is there some way to help her break out of this mindset where she seems stuck?
  • My neighbor has this spicy cream she puts on her back when it hurts. Does this stuff really do anything for pain? I'm thinking about trying it on my bad knee.
  • I keep hearing about alternative therapies for chronic pain. I have neuropathies in both my hands and feet from diabetes. Would this kind of treatment help me? Where do I go to get it?
  • I seem to be able to sense when other people are in pain. Some of my friends say that I'm psychic. Is that possible?
  • My niece was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome after she sprained her ankle a few years ago. She is in a tremendous amount of pain. Why can't doctors help her?
  • Does complex regional pain syndrome have anything to do with any other illnesses? Can some illnesses make you at higher risk of developing it?
  • With all this research on how we feel affecting how we feel pain, why have doctors not yet found out how to treat the pain?
  • It's a chicken and egg question. Does depression, difficulty sleeping, and bad memory come before fibromyalgia - and possibly cause it? Or does fibromyalgia cause depression, difficulty sleeping, and bad memory?
  • I'm an adult woman with children. I have an illness that causes pain much of the time. Some days are good, others are not so good. My husband just doesn't understand when I'm hurting and he says that I just need to go on as if I don't have it. I've met others who also don't seem to understand. Yet, there are people who do. Why do some people believe me and not others?
  • My mother has a lot of pain from her arthritis and her lower back problems. The problem for me is, I think she tends to play it up for sympathy, to keep me from going home, for example. How can I tell if she's really in pain or if she's just trying to get attention?
  • Why is it that studies often seem to contradict each other?
  • My mother started taking an antidepressant for her pain. Regular pain killers didn't work. This one's not working either. What if the doctor gave both?
  • I read of a girl that doesn't feel pain and it seemed like they (her parents) weren't happy about it. Wouldn't life be so much easier if we didn't feel pain?
  • Why do we have pain?
  • I can't seem to get any help for a nagging case of low back pain. Most of the people I have seen didn't seem to even care that I'm in pain. No one even asks me how I feel anymore. I don't know what to do. Should I say something?
  • I have a friend who is still complaining about her pain and various other symptoms after a surgery that took place four years ago. In fact, today is the four-year "anniversary" date. I think it's weird to have a surgery anniversary date. But to stay focused on these symptoms day in and day out especially seems out of line? Am I right or wrong?
  • I work as a nurse in a day-surgery clinic. People come in for all kinds of procedures that don't require an overnight stay. I don't ever see them afterwards. But I wonder about some of them and how they do in their recovery process. Is there any data that shows whether the patients who are so fearful recover more slowly than the easy-going patients?
  • Our son was hospitalized over the weekend for a drug overdose. We almost lost him. We knew he was taking pain killers for a back injury. We just didn't know how much pain he was in, or that he was taking too many pills. Isn't there some way for doctors to monitor this a little more closely? Everything he was taking was by prescription.
  • My next door neighbor seems to have a problem with alcohol and now she's been given narcotics for her back pain. This doesn't seem like a good idea to us. Whatever could her doctor be thinking?
  • Is it a good idea to participate in a study if you have a problem like chronic pain?
  • What's the difference between a nerve block and nerve degeneration? I have chronic sacroiliac joint pain, and I see on the Internet that both of these methods can work to stop the pain. But I can't tell by reading the reports what's the difference?
  • I heard there's a new way to get at chronic sacroiliac joint pain with new radiofrequency technology. What is this? How does it work? And where can I get it?
  • My doctor has prescribed narcotic medications for me to help control pain from a chronic back problem I've had for 10 years. Nothing I've tried has helped. I am willing to try this, but I am worried about becoming addicted. What can I do to avoid drug addiction while still getting the benefit of the medication?
  • My orthopedic surgeon has suggested trying using a radiofrequency probe to stop pain messages from the nerve to the brain at my L34 spinal joint. She says it will reduce the pain considerably. Is that all it does, really? I can live with the back pain if I just keep moving.
  • I went to a pain clinic for an evaluation of my chronic low back pain. It has progressed to the point that I can no longer work and I love my job. I'm a museum curator and I have to stand on my feet all day. I just can't take it anymore. They mentioned doing some kind of radiofrequency treatment to my nerves to cut the pain. How does this work?
  • What's the difference between getting used to a drug and becoming addicted to it?
  • My mother is in agony after many years of severe back pain but the doctors just won't give her strong enough medications. They're afraid she'll become addicted, she says. Why is it so hard to get proper pain medications?
  • My husband banged his thumb in the car door and ended up with a terrible condition called CRPS. We can't figure out why this has happened. It wasn't nearly as bad as some of the past injuries he's had. Can you shed any light?
  • I have been treated for severe pain from complex regional pain syndrome with a special pump that delivers a drug called baclofen to the spinal cord. Everything was going really well, and then all of a sudden, I stopped getting the good results I had hoped for. Now my pain is starting to come back. I can't do even the simple things I was doing like pick up a pot of coffee and pour. Have I reached some kind of plateau? Will I continue to get better with a little more time?
  • I developed a problem in my arm after shoulder surgery called complex regional pain syndrome. I vaguely remember my mother having something like this after a heart attack years and years ago. Is it an inherited trait of some kind in our family? I do have two daughters I'm concerned about.
  • Do you know of anyone who has ever been cured from complex regional pain syndrome? I noticed when I went on vacation to Hawaii my symptoms were much much better. Maybe a condo in Honolulu is really all the cure I need. But seriously, what can you tell me about the cure rate?
  • Is it true that more women than men get complex regional pain syndrome after an injury? That's what my doctor told me. I don't know why but I don't really want to believe it. It makes me feel somehow kind of inferior as a woman. There's got to be more to it than that.
  • I need a spinal stimulator for pain control. Would it be cheaper to go to Canada and get it? I've heard the cost of health care there is much less than in the U.S.
  • My doctor gave me a series of questions to answer to help her identify the source of my pain. The questionnaire was called the McGill Pain Questionnaire. Afterwards, she sat down with me and explained how some of my pain is worse than it seems because of certain emotions like fear and anger. I tend to agree with her but how does a simple set of questions like this give that kind of information? I don't remember any questions about how I feel.
  • What is nonneuropathic pain? That's what the doctor says I have. Even though it's been explained to me, I just can't remember what it is and I don't want to have to ask again. It would be the third time I've forgotten and asked. Maybe if I see it in writing, it will stick with me.
  • I took an on-line survey that was supposed to help a well-known pain clinic understand my pain and help design a special pain management program just for me. The test took all of 90 seconds. How can they possibly have enough information to know what I need?
  • How do doctors decide if a pain is real or imaginary if there's no proof, like a broken bone, or something?
  • I have chronic pain in my back that no-one has been able to diagnose. I know some doctors say it's in my head, particularly because it hurts more when I'm stressed. What can I do?
  • When I get stressed, I get very nauseated and may throw up. My doctor says it's in my head, but it seems very real to me. I don't do it on purpose. Is it really all in my head?
  • I've heard about somatic pain, which is pain that is really in your head but you feel it in your body. How do you deal with that?
  • Here's an odd one for you. My mom had shingles and has lots of pain still. Her doctor prescribed Neurontin. I have fibromyalgia and muscle pain that can make it impossible to move. My doctor also prescribed Neurontin. But we have two different kinds of pain. Then, I read that it's really a drug for epilepsy. What is going on?
  • My cousin has something called CRPS and she says that it affects more women than men. Is this true and if so, why?
  • When my sister was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, her doctor called it something else - reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome. Does it have two names and what are its symptoms?
  • My brother has had chronic back pain ever since a garage door fell on his head at a construction site. After trying everything, he has given up and seems deeply depressed. The doctor says he qualifies for disability and that his pain is a disease. What makes pain a disease? What does that mean?
  • I am a chronic back pain sufferer as a result of a simple surgery I had done four years ago. I keep watching the news for any miracle cures. So far: nothing. But I did hear a news report that they have shown there is altered brain function in people like me and maybe this will be a breakthrough in research. What sort of help would that bring me?
  • I have five sisters ranging in ages from 35 to 50. Three of us have developed a problem called complex regional pain syndrome. Is this a common problem among family members?
  • What can you tell me about complex regional pain syndrome? Who gets it? How come? Is it connected with age at all?
  • I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. Ever since my car accident, I've had back pain that won't quit. I'm taking narcotics like candy and they don't help -- they just make me sick. Somebody mentioned a pain pump. Would something like that be worth trying?
  • My sister was diagnosed with CRPS not too long ago. I don't see anything wrong with her arm but she says it's a horrible burning pain. When I tried to look it up on the Internet, I saw that it was called something else and that everyone seems to have it differently. Is there really such a disease?
  • I have CRPS and have had it now for about a month. It began after I broke my wrist. My doctor says he can't tell me what caused it. He can't tell me how long it will last. He can't tell me what can help it go away. In fact, he can't tell me anything. Why not?
  • My doctor gave me a prescription for Vicodin for pain control for my chronic back pain. I found that taking one pill just didn't cut the pain, so I upped the dose to two pills. That worked great but it meant I ran out of the drug in half the time. Now the pharmacist won't refill the prescription. What can I do?
  • I had ACL surgery and my surgeon gave me a prescription for Percocet for the pain. It worked great but when I had the prescription refilled, I got Vicodin instead. The pharmacist assured me it would work the same. It didn't. When I went back and exchanged the Vicodin for Percocet, I got the pain relief I expected. The pharmacist gave me a funny look like she didn't believe me. Did I just make this up in my head?
  • Whenever I go see the osteopath, he has me fill out a form with a body drawing. I write on the picture where I'm having pain or other symptoms. He never asks me about what I've written. How does this information help in my treatment?
  • Mom is 87-years-old and comes back from the Senior Citizens Center with something new everyday. This time it's some kind of cream for her arthritis that burns like crazy. is this product really safe to use? It's called Capsaicin.
  • I have to admit I grew up in a family where we were expected to buck up and deal with any pain or injuries that came our way. We rarely even took an aspirin. Now I'm in my 70s and experiencing quite a bit of pain from arthritis and old back injuries. I admit I think a lot about taking some kind of medication but I don't know even where to start. What do you suggest?
  • I've been doing little experiments with my arm all day and now I have some questions. First, I have complex regional pain syndrome of the left arm. Next, when I reach my right arm (the bad one) forward, it goes slightly to the right every time. I tried this on the other (normal) side and the same thing happened. What is going on?
  • Have you ever heard of someone with complex regional pain syndrome who can't find the affected arm? I've tried to describe this to several people in the health care profession and they don't seem to know what I'm talking about.
  • Is there any kind of standard recipe for medications used to treat back pain? A support group of people with chronic back pain (myself included) were having dinner and comparing notes. We discovered there was a different drug or amount of drug taken for pain relief by every single one of us. How is this all figured out?
  • What does my doctor mean when she says that the drug I'm supposed to take for back pain has tolerable side effects?
  • I've been taking a mild narcotic drug for pain control for the last five years. It's expected I'll be on something like this for years (possibly for the rest of my life). As I get older, I notice more and more trouble with my memory. Everyone else around me is complaining about this, too so I'm not thinking it's really a side effect of the drug, but maybe it is. What do you think?
  • Is it safe to take narcotics for months (up to years)? I'm at 12 months going on the start of my second year and concerned. It's for chronic back pain that isn't likely to go away.
  • I have been finally diagnosed (after months of pain) with complex regional pain syndrome. No one really knows what caused it, but I guess maybe a small car accident (just a fender bender) I had this past summer might be it. The doctor is recommending a more powerful antiinflammatory. I've been taking ibuprofen forever. How is something else going to work any better?
  • I have a painful condition called complex regional pain syndrome. I live in the U.S. but I'm wondering how this condition is treated in other countries. Are there any breakthroughs we don't know about?
  • I'll be honest and say I think I may be slightly neurotic and that's why I have so much trouble recovering after even the slightest injury. Are other people like this? What can I do to change the way my mind operates?
  • I have a problem called complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS. I'd kinda like to know how my symptoms compare to others. Is there a way to figure that out?
  • The pain center where I go for treatment and follow-up for complex regional pain syndrome of the foot wants me to be in a study that measures severity of the problem. I'm not sure I want to join in the fun. What good will it do?
  • I had my sacroiliac joint injected with a steroid and got good pain relief for about six months. Now my surgeon wants to use radio waves instead of the steroid. What's the difference?
  • The pain clinic I'm going to for my low back pain has finally figured out it's coming from my sacroiliac joint. They have suggested doing radiofrequency ablation on the nerves that are causing the pain. How well does this treatment work?
  • Do you think people with fibromyalgia are hypochondriacs? I have two friends and two family members with this diagnosis and they never stop complaining about it. I can't help but wonder if all that yammering just keeps them focused on the problem and not the solution.
  • I have a friend who is constantly complaining about her back pain. Yet she's out there running marathons and never seems to stop driving herself. It just seems like there's a disconnect between what she says and what she does. Can you help me understand this? I find I'm losing patience with her whining given the fact that she can do things I can't do and I don't have any pain.
  • I am the manager of a large civilian rehab center. Without a VA center in our area, we are starting to see a large number of returning soldiers for chronic pain problems. What can be done to prevent this painful suffering or at least manage it for our returning soldiers?
  • Can you tell me the difference between regular acupuncture and electronic acupuncture? I see our local healing center offers both. I'm just wondering if either of these might help me with my chronic low back pain. After all these months of pain, pain, and more pain, I'm desperate enough to try just about anything.
  • My mother-in-law has had a couple of operations and always seems to struggle with intense nausea afterwards. Now she's scheduled for a total knee replacement and scared silly about the nausea and throwing up afterwards. I saw a TV special that talked about using acupuncture to avoid these complications. Does this really work?
  • I am new to the area of chronic pain but just got a job in a clinic where we help patients complete questionnaires about their pain. I'd like to learn a bit more about how these tests help and maybe how to view them a little bit more critically. We are using the painDETECT, ID-Pain, and Neuropathic Pain Scale.
  • I work in a pain clinic and we use the Neuropathic Pain Scale (NPS) as part of the intake testing. We are specifically looking for any evidence that the patients' pain is coming from the nervous system. What do other groups use? Is the NPS the best choice?
  • I tried hypnosis for a few months to help with my terrible neck, shoulder, and back pain. Didn't seem to do the trick. Someone else suggested mindfulness meditation. What the heck is that?
  • I suffer from chronic low back pain. I notice that I've started saying things to myself like, "I can't do that because my back won't let me" instead of ignoring it like I used to. I think I'm losing ground and I don't know why. How can I get back to a more positive frame-of-mind?
  • My brother was in a motorcycle accident that left him with severe damage to his left leg. It's been two years now since it happened and he still seems to be emotional numb. Depression was a major problem before and has only gotten worse after the accident. Is there any way to shake him out of his misery?
  • My father was involved in a major car wreck that has left him despondent and almost non-functioning. Even though it appears to us that he could do more, he doesn't. How can we help him get back into the swing of things?
  • My 28-year-old daughter had her gallbladder removed three years ago. She's had terrible pain in her side ever since. No one seems to know how to help her. What do you suggest?
  • I'm at a cross-roads when it comes to helping myself get out of a downward spiral of pain, pain, and more pain. My doctor considers me a chronic pain patient and probably a crock. But my pain is real. I'm not making this up. And I'm not trying to get out of anything. Unfortunately, I've exceeded what my insurance company will allow for treatment of this problem. Is there any hope that the system will change to help people like me?
  • I'm concerned about my wife. She has chronic low back and leg pain that she takes several pain pills (narcotics) for. She's also got high blood pressure and high cholesterol. So she takes pills for that, too. Then there's a pill for her low thyroid and another that's a blood thinner. How can she get any pain relief with all that crap in her system?
  • My sister was just hospitalized with something they are calling opioid toxicity. I always thought she was taking too many pain killers. What happens now?
  • After seeing countless doctors and going through tons of diagnostic tests for my back pain over the past five years I have been sent to a psychiatrist. I am not crazy. I know that I am not making up my pain. Why does everyone think I need to see a psychiatrist?
  • I have chronic low back pain that does not seem to respond to opioids, despite me being on a heavy dose. I donít like the way they make me feel or the dependence on the drugs itself. Is there a better option for managing my pain?