In Need of Advice: Should I See a New Doctor?
emwilber posted:

I'm hoping this community will have some advice or guidance for me. I feel like I'm running out of resources and not sure what I should do. I'm unsure if my doctor is taking me seriously or if I should find a new one. Let me give you some background on my situation. I'm currently 29, a healthy weight, work a desk job and enjoy being active when possible.

Three years ago I was diagnosed with two herniated discs (L4 & L5) and sciatica from an orthopedic surgeron. He put me into PT for a few months, which helped and I was able to get back to my hobbies of sailing and snowboarding. A year went by and my pain came back. I started seeing a pain specialist as the original doctor I saw had a 2 month wait. The pain specialist had an MRI ordered and diagnosed me with having degenerative disc disorder. Since I had already been through PT, he suggested epidural steroid injections. The first three injections I had that year helped and I was able to get back to exercising, however I was still in pain when the shots wore off. I spoke with my pain specialist. He put me on Neurotin (gabupentin) and I had terrible side effects with it. He referred me to a spine surgeon who basically told me there was no need for surgery (yay!) and to manage pain in other ways. I told the pain specialist this, he told me to continue to have shots and put me on Tramadol as needed (up to 300mgs/day) This continued for a year and a half. The pain in my low back/leg subsided enough this summer past summer I was able to return to sailing and exercising.

In October 2012 the pain returned, worse than it has ever been. The pain has spread up my back and makes it unbearable to sit for longer than 20mins. Because of this, I'm falling behind at work.

My pain specialist recommended more injections, which were not helpful this time. At my appointment with him two weeks ago, I explained to him how much the pain was affecting my life, showed him my pain journal, explained all the lifestyle changes I've made (loosing weight, eating better, exercising, yoga, massages...), a list of the medications I'm currently on (Cymbalta for depression, low dose of xanax as needed and birth control) and what I've tried to help control the pain (NAIDS, Neurotin, ice packs, heating pads, walking, etc...). I expressed concern that I wasn't sure how much the Tramadol was helping anymore, since I'd been on it for over a year. He recommended more PT and put me on Gralise (extended release gaubopentin) and told me to call him if it didn't work.

I took the Gralise for a week and had terrible side effects again and it did not help with the pain. This past friday, I called his office and he was out. I explained the situation to his staff the side effects and asked what I should do. They returned my call after speaking with him, told me to quit taking the Gralise and that there was nothing else he could do to help.

His response upset me - I'm not sure what I should do. My concern is he thinks I'm drug seeking as I'm young and I'm being treated for depression and anxiety. I understand pain management is more than medication. I've made lifestyle changes to help control my pain and have tried several therapies to help. I do public relations for a hospital and the last thing I want is to be 'doped up' at work.

I'm starting PT again tomorrow, I have faith it will help, I'm willing to do the work. I'm just not sure if I should call the pain specialist back or schedule another appt with him or if I should see another doctor? Does anyone have any thoughts? Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank you!
davedsel57 responded:

I am sorry to read of your pain and fully understand.

It never hurts to get an opinion from another doctor. You should make sure you are seeing a spinal specialist such as a spinal orthopedic surgeon or spinal neurosurgeon. Seeing the same pain management specialist may be of some value, but be honest and explain that you are still in pain. The best type of pain management specialist to see is called a physiatrist that does multiple types of pain management treatments and is not quick to prescribe prescription medication solely.

It is also a matter of accepting things that can not change or improve. I have been managing moderate to severe chronic pain from multiple spinal problems for over 30 years. You can see details if you read my profile. The pain is hard to deal with but not impossible.

Keep doing your research. There are many websites that offer good information regarding spinal problems and treatments such as, and the WebMD Back Pain Health Center.

Keep moving as much as possible. It may be hard, but some activity actually reduces pain.

Keep a positive attitude. Probably the most challenging this to do, but focus on your blessings and the fact that there is always hope and help.

I pray you find ways to manage and accept your spinal conditions soon.
Click on my user name or avatar picture to read my story.


ctbeth responded:
I think that you need to consult with another MD.

If your MRI and/ or other studies have nit been done since your pain has exacerbated, new studies should be done.

If your pain management MD refuses to treat your pain, why stay with this MD?

Can you get a referral to a neuro surgeon?

Your treatment for anxiety and depression should have no influence on your degenerative disc disease. This is infuriating!

Good luck, and let us know what's going on, ok?
emwilber replied to davedsel57's response:
Thank you so much for your response. My family has been very supportive, but has never been through something like this, so it is hard for them to relate. It's nice to know people are out there, willing to share their experience and help guide.

I started physical therapy again last night, I'm hopeful it will help. The PT used a TENS unit on me, has anyone else tried? It brought some much welcome relief!

I also have an appt today with my primary doctor to see what she suggests where to go.

Thank you all again, I'll keep you posted.

smann68 replied to emwilber's response:

As for your question if anyone else has used a tens unit. I have. It does not help me at all, but I have very diffirent problems from yours. I think that can be a very useful tool for some types of pain. I hope it helps you! Good luck!
annette030 responded:
Being on Xanax for anxiety may be preventing him from prescribing opiate for you. There was a recent study that I read that showed an increase in abuse of drugs when benzos were taken along with opiates. This re-enforced other things I had been taught about benzos and opiates.

Seeing another doctor for a second opinion is a good idea, but I would try again talking with the doctor you have. Ask him again what he would suggest you try and why.

By the way, calling the office on a Friday is not generally a good way to contact the doctor, I would suggest calling earlier in the week.

Take care, Annette