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Jude's avatar

I have a sister who suffers from chronic (on a scale from 1-10 ..an 11) back, neck, and leg pain due to a car accident. It hurts for me to see her suffering. I feel helpless and sad. What can I do to help her?

Asked by Jude (32134points) March 7th, 2010

She messed up a few of her discs pretty bad. She’s in her late 40’s and the doctors feel that she is too young to be operated on. She takes heavy meds and is getting worse. I caught her crawling up the stairs the other day because of pain (she thought that no one was looking). Her husband and her got into the other day and he pushed her against a wall, told her to “take another pill”. She drove to a parking lot on her own and started sobbing—crying out to my Mom for help. Her husband doesn’t understand how bad it is for her because she hides it from him. She is trying to be strong mentally and physically and she does it all. Her main priority is her 7 year old daughter.

My sister used to be so outgoing, was an RN (worked in the OR) for 25 years before the accident. She had tons of friend, and loved life. Now, she struggles to get by and does her best to put a smile on her face and keep on truckin’. I want her to live and not merely survive, you know?

It breaks my heart.

What can I do?

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21 Answers

partyparty's avatar

First and foremost your sister needs to see her doctor, and explain how much pain she is in.

Then, she needs to sit down and talk in great depth to her husband, and explain exactly how she is feeling.

No point ‘brushing it under the carpet’, she needs to open up to him. Perhaps then he will understand better how she is feeling, and just how much pain she is in.

Cruiser's avatar

I blew out a disc and all the Chiros and Drs and pills didn’t do shit for me….in fact made it worse. I started doing Pilates to strengthen my core and yoga to relieve the tightness in the injured muscles. I found rapid improvement. Find her a certified yoga therapist stat!

gailcalled's avatar

She should get to a Pain-Management clinic soonest. They will have a variety of experts to sort through her issues and set up a suitable treatment.

I am delighted that Pilates worked for Cruiser, but as for back pain, one size does not fit all.

I and two of my friends have seen the same physical therapist for lower back pain. She treated us all differently and had us doing different kinds of homework.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

40 is too young to be operated on? That sounds, well… retarded.
Is it the insurance plan saying this or the doctors?
If it’s the doctor, get her to another doctor.

tinyfaery's avatar

Has she tried acupuncture?

Jude's avatar

They’re battling it out with the insurance company right now. Mediation will happen in a few months (after 3 years of going through all of this). She is going to look into a pain clinic, afterward. Right now, she’s doing physio. Also, she tried botox injections i(n her neck). That didn’t work.

After everything is settled with the insurance company, she’ll be able to focus on herself and hopefully, get proper help for the pain. I think that the stress of dealing with the lawyers (3 year battle—appointment after appointment and all of the B.S. that they make you go through), and trying to keep her marriage intact is making the pain worse.

Jude's avatar

@tinyfaery she tried it, but, it didn’t help.

tinyfaery's avatar

Massage.
Heat therapy.
Cold therapy.

Damn, girl. She needs to see a pain management specialist.

wilma's avatar

40 is not too young for spinal surgery, I had my first one at age 37.
Sounds like she needs another opinion.
I hope she gets some relief soon, bless you for being there for her.

prolificus's avatar

@partyparty – I totally agree.

Keeping pain private and sucking it up does not solve anything.

Having space to share helps a lot!  It means a lot to me when I can say to my significant others that I am having a bad back day and feel like crap. I know there is nothing they can do for me, except offer body work, a listening ear, and iburpophen.

Severe back pain is a real disability. It does require a major shift in a person’s way of life. It does affect relationships.

It is extremely important for all involved to discuss reality, plan for the future in light of the disability by not ignoring it, by not having unreal expectations or lack of hope, and for all to navigate in a mutually-supportive environment.  Caregivers and significant others need support too!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Acupuncture, see a few practitioners because they all have a different “touch” similar to masseurs.

Massage, it may not reduce the pain so much but human touch on all the body by a pro is priceless.

Her husband is probably frustrated and has taken it out on her and probably feels like crap for acting that way. It doesn’t excuse him but having been on both ends of a similar situation, I know what it’s like to think every day “there’s something else wrong, nothing is ever right or good” and the feeling of being helpless to ease another person’s pain can turn into taking it personally, like you’ve failed somehow. Your sister and her husband need outside emotional support to take back who they are from the control of her pain. I’m also a weirdo in believing pain meds actually begin to induce more and more pain once your brain and body are hooked in order to get stronger meds. I never tried it but have read about biofeedback programs that others claim work to break the addiction to pain.

lfino's avatar

My daughter was 18 when she had back surgery. She has a problem with deteriorating discs and thinks another one is going. She’s 22 now. She’d had a ruptured disc and was misdiagnosed for a little over a year. Her doctor definitely didn’t want to jump into surgery and had her try steroid injections into her spine first at a pain management clinic. I’ve talked to some people where this worked, but unfortunately it didn’t work for her. They tried them twice and when it didn’t work the second time, they discontinued them. The doctor told her that surgery still may not work, but she was willing to take a chance. She hurt so bad that she walked bent over like an old woman. The surgery itself did work, but then about six months after surgery, she fell down our basement steps when her tennis shoes were wet from rain, had scar tissue from that and now has pain from nerve damage. It’s always something. She takes Lyrica (another insurance fight) for that and it’s been the best thing in the world for her. She has also done physical therapy and it was a great addition, but it wouldnl’t have cut the pain by itself. I would try ANY of solutions that have been suggested by others because as someone else said here, there’s not one thing that works for everyone. Hopefully her insurance company will step up and help out with some of this.

john65pennington's avatar

In her 40s and too young to be operated on? what does this mean? i am 66 and have two neck surgeries and four lower back surgeries. is there some special reason her doctor made this statement? i have been there and done that, just like her. it hurts like hell and i know it. you constantly attempt to carry on a normal life, but the pain always drags you down. some people can never understand this, until they have suffered this pain themselves. her husband should be more understanding. this is a challenge for all the people that surround her. taking the pain pills is always a concern of addiction. sometimes, when you hurt so bad, you really just do not care. i feel for her. would seeing another doctor make a difference for her? if surgery can ease her pain, then surgery it should be. i feel for her and i will say a prayer that something will happen to help restore her life back to normal. john

PandoraBoxx's avatar

She needs to see another doctor. She’s too young to be dependent on medication for pain, not too young to be operated on. Perhaps her doctor told her she needed surgery, and she feels no one else can care for her daughter while she’s recuperating. Make her get a second opinion.

Val123's avatar

Get another doctor. Keep looking till you find one who will help you. It sounds like hell…I’m so sorry for her….

Zuma's avatar

It sounds to me as though she has another big problem: if she feels she has to hide her pain from her husband, especially if her husband is pushing her against a wall and telling her to “take another pill.” Chronic pain like this can severely strain a relationship, and if he is acting this way now, I shudder to think what he will be like if and when he finds out that this could go on indefinitely. An operation may or may not do the trick, and could actually make things worse. I know from my own experience with chronic pain that you can’t always just “pop a pill” to get relief.

She needs to establish a relationship with a health professional who can support her psychologically—someone who has an overview of her medical condition, her ability to cope, work and address her family issues—someone who can help her make decisions if she should become overwhelmed or depressed by her pain, confused by her meds, or thrown into crisis if he suddenly becomes unsupportive, or decides to bolt.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

her husband sounds like an ass.

john65pennington's avatar

zuma, great answer, john

lfino's avatar

@jjmah, is her medical insurance from her job or her husband’s? Do you think that he may take off if this is too much for him? What were the circumstances of her accident? Was it caused by someone else or by your sister or someone in the car she was in? How long ago did it happen? Does she still have any contacts from her old job as an RN? Maybe they can suggest someone? Don’t stop looking for help for your sister. I understand what’s it’s like to have someone close to you to be constant pain. It’s awful. My daughter called me at work one day and said, “Mom, I can’t keep doing this”. I can’t describe the pain, although a different kind, I felt knowing I couldn’t help her. It’s a mom’s (or dad’s) job to fix her kids and I couldn’t. We didn’t stop searching. Please don’t give up. Don’t let anyone convince her that she’s beyond help and there’s nothing that can be done. Be her cheerleader because she really needs someone to believe in her right now.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Being in a nearly identical situation, I really understand what she is going through.
We would need to discuss her specifics privately (i.e by Personal Messaging) in order to discuss what has already been tried and what has worked (to an extent) for me.

Please contact me to discuss this further.

rottenit's avatar

I would recommend a multi-diciplinary pain rehab center, Mayo has one and I went through the program, it saved me from popping oxy for the rest of my life.

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