Trying to Manage Pain Thru Diagnostic Process...
I have a long history of orthopedic problems (multiple fractures surgically repaired after a car/train accident, then eight years later, another car accident with whiplash so bad that I broke my spinal connectors) and was in pain management for a number of years. In 2004, the major source of my pain (daily headaches) was solved and I went off all pain medications until last year.
I started having hip trouble in 2008, which was diagnosed as bursitis. This was a hip that had been opened twice, in 1989 and in 1991, to insert and remove a femoral nail. In 2010, the pain was diagnosed as a slipped disk. Then SI joint inflammation. Then bursitis again. I did PT twice a week for almost a year, due to the different diagnosis. Nothing helped. My GP gave me Vicodin 5/500, as he was worried about my GI tract due to the amount of OTC painkillers I was taking every day (I have two little girls and am a stay-at-home mom). More PT. Switched to Tramadol, which did nothing, and went back to Vicodin. Eventually, my GP sent me for a lower back MRI, which showed.....nothing wrong. For a year, everyone had been treating me for a back problem I didn't have.
I went to my orthopedic surgeon, who gave me cortisone injections in the hip. Eventually, he determined that there was scar tissue wedged between my IT band and my bursa. In February of this year, I had arthroscopic surgery to remove the bursa and "zap" some of the scar tissue. It didn't work. Since February, my pain has been getting worse and worse.
I saw a pain management doctor associated with my ortho's practice in June. He told me it was SI joint inflammation and that he would do nothing but a steroid/anesthetic injection. Oh, and he'd give me Lyrica for nerve pain, which I'd never been diagnosed with. Much to my shame, I allowed the doctor to bully me into having the injection. After two days, the anesthetic wore off and the pain came roaring back. I decided against seeing that pain specialist ever again - there's no need to berate patients for being upset when you tell them that they'll be in pain forever or maybe have to have their SI joint fused, and there's certainly no need to do an expensive and (apparently) totally unnecessary injection after a ten minute exam.
I switched to a new pain management doctor, at the urging of both my GP and my ortho. I'm trying to manage the pain so I can function as the ortho figures out what's wrong with my hip, and my hope is that once they figure out what's going on, I won't need pain management any more. The pointless steroid injection really freaked me out, so I'm very loathe to go for more injections. My current pain doctor is much more personable, but since I don't know that much about pain medications, I get the feeling that I frustrate him. He wanted to put me on the Fentanyl patch or oxycontin, which I felt was a bit of a jump from Vicodin, so we tried Norco for a month. As I suspected, it didn't do anything much. As of today, I'm on Percocet and will go back in three weeks. My hope is that in those three weeks, I'll get in to see my surgeon to discuss the results of the three (!!) MRIs that I had this past Saturday and find out just why my hip is so painful.
I'm in pain pretty much all the time, but very leery of taking too many narcotics - I'm in charge of two small humans and I don't want impaired judgment.