Need a pain doctor in Pittsburgh

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/30/2008 7:33 PM (GMT -7)   

I can't eat. I can't sleep. Every few seconds, my legs twitch and jerk. My body feels as if it has been invaded by an army of red ants. I know what is happening. I am going through withdrawal. Except I am not a drug addict.

I am a 65-year old woman, wife and mother, who has been a chronic pain patient for more than 15 years. For most of that time, I have been very, very lucky. Although I was never pain free, I still was able to care for myself, keep the house clean, and even work part-time. Until recently, when break-through pain became a problem. My primary care physician wrote me a prescription for more morphine sulfate IR ("instant release") and sent me on my way. I wasn't worried. From what I had learned after years of reading about chronic pain, I wasn't worried. This was what leading pain specialists usually recommended doing.

But the break-through pain continued. My PCP wrote a prescription for even more morphine sulfate IR. Now, I was worried. This was not what I remembered being told at the pain clinic I attended. When break-through pain became a problem, another tablet of MS Contin ("morphine sulfate continuous action") was prescribed.

I wasn't sure what to do. I always had been leery about taking any pain medications. I had refused them when I had complicated dental procedures done, and I also had refused them when I gave birth to my son. What I didn't realize was that the pain I experienced in the dental chair and the pain I experienced giving birth was "acute" pain. It had a beginning and, more importantly, it had an end. "Chronic" pain may vary somewhat in intensity, but it is with you 24/7/365. It never ends. Never.

When I was told about UPMC's Senior Care Center, I made an appointment immediately. UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) has a reputation for being among the better medical centers in the country. I thought that I would be in good hands. I was wrong.

The doctor I saw initially raised my dosage of both MS Contin and morphine sulfate IR . I don't remember much about the month which followed. I slept through most of it. Every time I took one of the MS Contin tablets, I fell asleep. Sleeping for 6 to 8 hours, I would wake up in pain. Pain bad enough to be forced to take one of the morphine sulfate IR tablets.

At my next appointment, the doctor reduced my dosage and sent me to UPMC's pain clinic. Thus began a nightmare from which I have yet to awake. The doctor I saw there reduced my dosage of MS Contin and discontinued the morphine sulfate IR. A 75% reduction in pain meds without titration. And without medical supervision.

Since then, I have been in severe and unremitting pain. I have called both doctors many times, but they have yet to return my calls. I have been to several emergency rooms, only to be told that my doctor refuses to prescribe any medication.

I don't know what to do now.

Can you help me? mad

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 8/30/2008 9:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Dear Susan,
First, let me welcome you to the HW forum, although as always I'm sorry that you, I or anyone has to be here.

Your story about Pittsburgh is leaving me quite scared, as that's where I was hoping to seek pain management myself. I had my back surgery (failed) at UPMC, and my neurosurgeon has continued to prescribe but I know he's soon going to refer me to long term pain management. I don't live in Pittsburgh, but have a cousin there who I've asked to ask around, but so far I don't have a line on anything. I was thinking I'd probably end up trying UPMC's pain management but somehow had mixed feelings even before reading your story. Maybe that was because of my surgery experience. Have you tried Allegheny General or the West Penn system? I actually keep hearing that they provide better care (not necessarily specific to pain management, just overall), but they don't have the reputation of a big teaching hospital like UPMC.

Can you go back to the initial pain clinic where you said you learned so much? Or a different doctor at the UPMC Senior Care Center? It sounds like the latter place just didn't know how to dose you properly. As we get older (i'm sure you know this) doses can change because of slowly declining kidney function.

Does Allegheny General have a pain management clinic? If so, maybe I'd try there. Or return to your PCP for starters.

Don't know if this helps any, but I'm interested in anything you learn!


Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 639
   Posted 8/31/2008 10:47 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi, Susan. I want to second PaLady's welcome. Like she said, though, we hate to see anyone have to be here because the pain is so awful.

I agree with PaLady that you should try to get back in with your PCP or the initial pain clinic docs who seemed more inclined to help you. It seems so weird that these new docs would just axe all your meds and not offer an alternate treatment plan instead. What did they tell you when they did this? What was their "logic"? Are they just opposed to having you use narcotics? Or did they think the meds were too strong since you'd been sleeping so much? I don't know why they wouldn't taper you or try some meds that were a little less potent instead of just suddenly going to nothing at all!

I wish I had some good advice for you. I hope you can get back to one of the docs who was helping you. Let us know how it goes.

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/13/2014 11:50 PM (GMT -7)   
Dearest SusanSez:

I am also a resident near Pittsburgh and I truly feel your pain. I have had major stomach problems for YEARS with the only diagnosis being chronic gastritis and chronic peptic ulcer flare ups. I have been on EVERY medication you can even imagine and, finally, a kind GI doctor gave me Vicodin 7.5mg (90 a month) for the pain. After seeing him for SIX YEARS, with tons of endoscopies, colonoscopy, tests; you name it, I had it done. Well long story short, I lost access to this doctor a year or so ago (I got pregnant so I could't take anything anyways). I just started looking for a new GI doctor and PCP (my old PCP left the practice) and it has been H E L L trying to find someone to help me with the pain. They all keep telling me to get re-tested, re-do this, re-do that, you have this, you have that; tons of mis-diagnoses that bloodwork proves is incorrect. They just shrug and say they can do nothing for my chronic pain and to "go to the ER" when I have pain flare ups. It's amazing!!! And guess what? It's ALL UPMC doctors. THEY'RE AWFUL!!!!

I know more people who get narcotics every month that DON'T need them than you could possibly imagine. You know what they do with them? Sell them!!! Yep. I could count on two hands the number of people getting Perc 10's, Perc 15's, Vicodin 7.5's, Vicodin 10's, Fentanyl patches, Morphine Sulphate. And all they do is sell the crap. It's amazing and it KILLS ME. Those of us who TRULY need help and cannot find doctors to help's such a shame.

So, I have no answer to your questions. I sit here STILL trying to find someone to help me. If you have found someone, please, let me know!!!!

All my best
In Pain in Pittsburgh

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 6706
   Posted 2/14/2014 2:01 AM (GMT -7)   
Welcome Italian to the CP forum at HW.

You've posted on a thread that's from 2008 and unfortunately the original poster never returned.

If you would please copy and paste your story to a new thread or start a new introduction post you get more responses.

Thank you
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