Ever get pain so bad you panic?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2012
Total Posts : 21
   Posted 3/13/2012 11:01 PM (GMT -6)   
This happened to me today.
I was feeling a sharp stinging pain in my left hip/trochanter region and it felt like needles were stinging me.
Because I have L5-S1 left herniation (that I had a discectomy to repair) I still have the radicular symptoms associated with it. So every time something happens I'm convinced that my back will severely herniate and I'll end up in the ER again.
After thinking about it, I realized its probably just a hip bursitis.
Saw the neurosurgery PA last week and he said "the best hope we have now is that there is still something surgical to repair and it's not just nerve damage". He said I have the back of a 70 year old and I'm 38. He showed me the MRI and to be fair, it really looks crappy. Modic changes. And the herniation that was repaired in May 2011 was "a total disaster". It was in the axilla of the nerve root, which is a mess, because the entire nerve was displaced from the herniation and disc fragments had started to migrate down the sciatic nerve. I guess that's bad.
It's so depressing to still have these symptoms after having surgery. The leg pain. The back pain. The butt pain. Sitting is the worse, which I have to do all day. The pain is always there. At night I just feel this pulsating pain in that nerve distribution.
I think the thing that scares me the most is what if there really is nothing to fix? Then what? Because I'll do another surgery. I'll do injections. I will do whatever to help this resolve, but I think this will always be with me.
      Full disclosure: I'm a physician assistant. I wrote my 55 page thesis in grad school on chronic low back pain in primary care AND I didn't even have back pain then. My ex-boyfriend did and it was sort of a love letter to him. The crux of the argument: don't have back surgery.

For what it's worth, and I hear this from patients all day long, many people like to see PA's because we spend more time with patients. I know some of you have not had good experiences with my colleagues but if you ever saw me as a patient I might change your mind.
I have ultimate respect for doctors. My dad is a doc, my ex-fiancé is a doc. I know how hard they train and would never try to claim I'm the same. I always correct people if tey call me "doctor".
Sorry for the ramble. Thanks for listening.
     Please take some time and read our forum rules. There is also a section for professional health providers. Thanks! wink

Post Edited By Moderator (Screaming Eagle) : 3/14/2012 6:52:52 AM (GMT-6)

Retired Mom
Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 3/14/2012 3:52 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Baileysmom and welcome to Healing Well!

It's so nice to have you here!

Yes, I can understand exactly how you feel and I think many others will come along who understand too. I don't mean to speak out of turn, but you may have to "dumb down" the medical terms for some of us...like me...to fully understand. None of us here are Dr's and few have had medical training. Most are just simply chronic pain patients and a great number are back pain sufferers. L5-S1 was my first back problem too and where my surgery was done...now I look like a zipper that went bad, but I do not intend to have additional surgery if there is any way possible to avoid it.

I found that surgery did stop the majority of nerve pain going down my legs and into my feet, but caused so many other problems that I am worse off now in many ways than I was before. Of course, I wasn't given a choice in the matter of the surgery because the damage was so severe and it was done on an emergency basis. It was a TLIF about 4 years ago. Now everything else is going wrong and the back seems to be the starting point for it all.

I know you mentioned in one of my threads that you don't recommend xanax for patients, but I also noticed you have GAD...which is no doubt not making things better for you right now with the pain and the worry about what to do when nothing else works. Noone can prepare for that. I know I never expected to stop working at 40 years old, but I did have to and I am blessed that I had worked for so long before that (so I could medically retire and receive SSD). Not everyone is so lucky.

Do you have RFA's or trigger point injections? Almost everyone here has a different response to them, but they help me a great deal. I am not allowed to "play" with my med dosage by reducing it when I don't need as much because of the instructions of my PM, but I think I could have taken my dose down at least by a pill or two a day with no problem after the injections had time to "kick in". Strangely, the trigger point injections (with marcain (sp) only) didn't seem to do much for the first few days, but kind of "kicked in" about a week later and helped release my muscles. They helped almost as much as the RFA (which also works great for me most of the time). Many here do not get any relief from either procedure. I use them, but meds are essential in my quality of life and I would be lost without them.

I hope you will stay with us here and can find the support you need. People often forget that Drs (and PA's) are human too and need support as much as other patients. We won't!

Again, welcome!
Failed TLIF L5-S1, Miltiple Bulges/Herniations, Scoliosis, Pituatary Disorder, Fibro, Failed Bladder Surgery, Failed Nissen, GERD, OCPD, GAD, MDD, CFS, TMJ, Migraines, HBP, Idiopatic Reactive Hypoglycemia w/Diabetic reaction to HGH, Bi-lateral CTS (now trigger finger), Edema, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, Peripheral Neuropathy, Plantar Fascitis, Tibular Tendonitis, Adult Onset Flat Feet, & Vision Issues

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 215
   Posted 3/15/2012 12:28 AM (GMT -6)   
On rare occasion, I've had what seemed to be a breakthrough dosing of my pain medication (150mgs of nucynta instead of my normal 75 as allowed by my PMD for spikes) cause a panic attack. The NRI effects are one possible reason but also that feeling of losing touch with reality (I have a phobia of losing touch with reality). Now there's few side effects and very few cognitive effects at 75mgs but at 150, its as if the side effects increase by a multiplier.

Your post makes me think there might be a third added reasoning though. What if the pain itself is directly adding to those incidents? I have noticied that when my pain spikes and remains uncontrolled, my rate of breathing increases with shorter breathes.

Thankfully, its rare to require a breakthrough dosing but part of my decision making process as to whether to take a breakthrough dose is the panic attack feeling. This feeling usually lasts for about 30 to 45 minutes and once its passed, I actually get excellent pain relief for the next few hours. It makes me wonder if the pain itself being reduced is what deminishes the panic feeling.

My pain has was bad enough once it made me pass out. Its certainly possible it could cause a panic attack then.
MRI revealed disc bulge and test injections revealed RA. Radio Freq procedures helped for months, but pain is up and im having the procedure done again. Currently on 75 mgs of Nucynta (tapentadol - A MOR + NRI) 2 to 3 time per day and Soma 350 as needed.

Monty's Mom
Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 664
   Posted 3/15/2012 6:35 PM (GMT -6)   
My pain has been bad enough to cause fainting frequently. I have had panic attacks along with anxiety for years, and suffered from severe agoraphobia a few years back.

One PM doctor explained my fainting as vasovagal nerve syncope caused by visceral pain. I have endometriosis, severe pelvic adhesions, IBS, depression, RA, ovarian remnant syndrome, fibromyalgia. Sometimes I think most of us can't get much more than we already have, diagnosis wise.

I have found too that my panic attacks that are related to increased pain levels tend to last longer.

Sadly, addressing the issue of finally hitting the point where there is nothing more that can be done to help my conditions is something I am not doing well with yet. I am well past the point where surgical help is worthwhile, but still with conditions whose treatment is usually limited to surgeries. There is nothing more that can be done to fix me. I am permanently broken, and finding a way to live with that at the age of 31 is not easy. I have good days and bad days. It would be better if I was able to work, but every position I have tried so far is not successful. Much of my anxiety issues stem from knowing that being broken beyond help means that at some point in my life when medication tolerance is reached, there will be little to do for pain relief, and palliative care for chronic pain sufferers doesn't seem to be something United States Medicine is putting much money into researching.

I do the injections and treasure the few days with lessened pain they provide. I will be getting on xanax again for panic attacks to try to keep agoraphobia from reoccurring. I hope that you find this forum helpful. Its great to have you here, but not great that pain brought you.

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. George Bernard Shaw
Pelvic adhesive disease, IBS, SI dysfunction, arthritis, fibromyalgia, depression and anxiety, 11 pelvic surgeries for pain, adhesions, endometriosis, adenomyosis, ovarian cysts, and ovarian remnant syndrome.

spinal soldier
Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 687
   Posted 3/15/2012 9:06 PM (GMT -6)   
panic every day. thank God for lorazepam or clonazepam. Soma helps some and so does Vistaril when i use it with pain pills. Magnesium can help. 5-HTP or L-tryptophan helps for pain,sleep, and nerves. L-Theanine and Taurine are very soothing.
L4,L5,S1 bilateral Laminectomies, Foraminotomies 2002
L4-S1 PLIF with instumentation 2008,

current Rx: MScontin 100mg q8hrs. , dilaudid 8mg q6hrs. prn, oxymorphone IR 10mg q6 ,vistaril 50mg prn nausea, Lyrica 150mg 2x,Adderall 20mgs 1x A.M. 10mg PM prn, Soma 350 mg 3X, Elavil 25 HS, diazepam 10mg bid prn, Supplements: CO-Q10 100mg, Vitamin D 1000IU, Fish-Oil1000mg EFA, B-Complex50 3x/day, ALA

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 310
   Posted 3/20/2012 8:56 PM (GMT -6)   
Yes, I get really scared when my migraines are off the chart. It feels like my head is going to explode and I'm afraid I might have a stroke the pain gets so bad. I have suffered with migraines for many years now, but as time goes by the worse they are getting. I had brain surgery back in 2002 for a seizure disorder. I am thankful to say I am seizure free now! if only I can get rid of these migraines I will be doing great! :) I have tried just about everything for my chronic migraines. DHE protocol at UVA in Charlottesville Va, Botox injections, Nerve blocks, topamax, imitrex, zonegran, zomig, maxalt, relapax, toradol, zanaflex, klonopin, fioricet, amtriplyline, hydrocodone, lamictal, Co-Q10, Vitamin D, Magnesium, butter bur, fever few, migrnal, phenegran...my list goes on and on. Desperate for answers!

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