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Chronic back/leg pain with tinnitus
chronic1008 posted:
I lost my hearing in my right ear during a lumbar fusion surgery in 2006. The loss of hearing has been replaced with tinnitus. The tinnitus is 24/7 and with 3 children under 10 yrs old can get pretty intense. The louder my environment around me, the louder my tinnitus gets. Recently my PD lowered my med's at the same time I tried working for the first time in almost 7 years. I have been off since Dec 2005 with a work related fall. I struggled and neurosurgeon placed me on restricted ours from 40 per week to 20 per week. I never did work more than 26 hours in one week. I was a field superintendent for a small gen contractor. Even with the lowered hours I struggled. I spent most of my time at home on ice packs. Every weekend i could not do much because i had to rest up for the work day on Monday. Every month I asked my PD to change my pain med. every month she would say " I really like this med due to it is easier on your body". When I explained to her that my tinnitus would get so bad in the later afternoon and night due to the increased pain levels that it would make me extremely irritable. My children didn't want to be around me because the slightest things could set me off into a rage. Never physically violent but I had a very hard time controlling my temper. Tinnitus is extremely difficult for people to understand and I get that. When I explained this to my PD she said "I don't see the relationship between pain and tinnitus". I responded by telling her "that is the problem". Unless you have tinnitus, you have no idea the negative effects it could have. The slightest stress and anxiety increases the tinnitus. The best way I have to explain it is, imagine being in a forest filled with secatas. Now take the millions of secatas and place them in a jar and put your head in the jar. I came up with this analogy because we had the secatas out in spring of 2007, only months after getting tinnitus. There is no escaping it. I have tried many treatments for my tinnitus but nothing has worked to any great degree. My PD finally switched me from Nucynta to Dilauded. This has worked much better and now that my employment has been terminated, I have been able to manage my pain and my tinnitus much better. My temper has been more manageable, my pain is much more manageable and I don't spend most of my free time laying on ice packs. I can function around the house much better. Now I don't miss my kids sporting events, before I couldn't make them.

If anyone out there has pain and tinnitus, please share with me how you manage the 2.

To everyone with chronic pain or tinnitus or both- i wish you all relief!
Peter Abaci, MD responded:
It sounds like your tinnitus has had a very significant impact on your life, including your home life, work, and sense of well-being. Fortunately, it sounds like things have started to improve. I don't really have much clinical expertise in treating tinnitus in my own pain management practice, but I was able to read some scientific information about your situation that has been published.

First of all, researchers who have studied this seem to think that a chronic tinnitus problem can be similar to a chronic pain problem, especially one that affects the central nervous system. Events or injuries that can trigger chronic can also potentially trigger chronic tinnitus. As you have experienced and shared with us, this can be associated with quite a bit of distress. You found yourself getting very irritable, and researchers have noted the presence of things like anxiety, depression, and insomnia in cases of bad tinnitus.

Treatments may vary depending on some of the causes of the problem. Consulting with an audiologist and possibly a neurologist may provide added information about your particular situation that could help guide therapy. It also seems that specialists recommend a multi-modal approach, meaning working with different types of treatments as opposed to just one. For example, one paper published recommended treating the mood changes with psychological counseling, and found that by improving things like depression that the tinnitus actually improved, as well.

I think it could be worth looking into what ways you can expand your approach to managing this significant problem by talking to some other specialists to see how they can help you improve your overall situation.
darlyn05 responded:
Hey Chronic1008!
I was just going to ask you what you've found to reduce the tinnitus. Then I saw where you reduced stress and anxiety. I have chronic lumbar pain and my tinnitus has increased mostly since I have started using Lyrica for the chronic pain. Lyrica can have the tinnitus side effect. If you search 'Tinnitus' in the above WebMd search box, there are some helpful ideas, I have not tried them yet.

Good luck! Let us know if you have found something that works for you.
chronic1008 replied to darlyn05's response:
Hey Darlyn05, I know it's been a long time (2yrs) but if you're still on here, I have recently had some additional back problems. From my 8 back surgeries I now have overgrown bone from the fusions hitting some nerve root. I have noticed that the increase in pain directly effects the level of tinnitus. I try to occupy my sedentary time with social media and reading. After all, when you can't stand or walk long your options are limited. My wife and I are thinking about buying a ranch home to remove stairs and possibly get a scooter. Being a collegiate wrestler my pride is getting in my way. I keep thinking it will improve. After over 8 yrs, I think it's time to face facts.

Hope your managing.
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Peter Abaci, MD , is certified in anesthesia and pain management by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Abaci received his undergraduate educat...More

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