‘My quality of life started going down.’
Although it’s hard to pin her pain down to a single point in time, Ellen thinks she first noticed back pain after taking a long walk with her adult children. “That walk — my oh my, the pain from that,” she recalled. “I kind of threw it off like it was nothing.”
The pain increased and persisted for several years. Ellen, like many patients, didn’t show others that she was in pain. “I’m one of the types of people that you would never know I’m in pain,” she said. “But my quality of life started going down. General housework was giving me a problem. What would normally take me a day took three days to do. I wasn’t going out and doing things I normally like to do, like go fishing.”
Ellen talked to her primary care doctor about her pain, and her doctor recommended physical therapy and steroid injections. Her friends discouraged her from getting injections — “don’t do it,” they said — so Ellen continued living with pain.
She started taking pain medication, but she became anxious about the prospect of taking narcotics two to three times per day. “I couldn’t sit too long; I couldn’t stand too long. I had to sit in a chair to wash dishes, sit in a chair to cook. After a while, it got really depressing.”
Ellen decided to schedule an appointment at the Heilman Center. She was happy to find that she only had to wait two weeks before meeting a pain specialist in-person and receiving a diagnosis of herniated disc. “I actually had MRIs already done, so I was able to take them to [the doctor]. And of course he explained them to me, whereas the other doctor really didn’t explain to me what was going on.”
‘They made me feel so comfortable that it was a breeze.’
One of Ellen’s first herniated disc pain relief goals was to stop taking opioid medications. “It makes you funky. It makes you lazy. It makes you not really want to move around,” she remembered. “It can make you nauseous because you have to take it every four to six hours for it to actually be working.”
For Ellen, the pain in her back had become constant. “It’s like having a toothache in your back,” she explained. “I couldn’t even bend down and tie my own shoe. Every shoe I had to get, you had to slip your feet in it. Bending to tie your shoe was painful.”
Like her primary care doctor, Ellen’s Heilman Center pain specialist recommended steroid injections for pain relief. Although she was nervous, she decided to follow through with the procedure.
“I was really scared. I’m telling you. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this.’ But they were so nice, and they made me feel so comfortable that it was a breeze.” The first injection didn’t provide the relief she’d hoped for, but her pain specialist had prepared her to expect a series of three injections. She decided to stick with the plan.
‘I trust them. I trust my spine in their hands.’
Constant pain had put a strain on Ellen’s relationships. Like many patients, she struggled from both the psychological and physical effects of chronic pain. “When you’re in pain like that, you’re evil. You can’t function. You’re not mad at the person; it’s just everything going on with you.”
One year after finishing her three injections, she’s back to taking walks and going fishing with her family, but she’s fully aware that her herniated disc could become more serious. If surgery becomes necessary, she’s ready, and she’s confident that Heilman Center pain specialists will know what they’re doing. “I trust them. I trust my spine in their hands.”
Talk to a Pain Specialist
Herniated disc pain relief is a phone call away when you contact the Heilman Center for Pain and Spine Care. We schedule appointments as quickly as possible, and we take time to truly understand your case and offer you the highest standard of patient care.