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Doctor says pain is in my mind?

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Old 09-15-2011, 05:23 PM   #1
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Doctor says pain is in my mind?

Severely broke my heel 5 months ago. I was told it was heeled and that I should start walking. Putting full weight down is extremely painful and I have alot of pin and needles sensations. I told the doctor and asked if this was normal? She told me I was just anxious and it was all in my mind. Now my family and friends expect me to just start walking and smirk when I say it hurts very much. I am trying though but putting full weight down is unbearable. Is the doctor right?

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Old 09-15-2011, 08:57 PM   #2
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Re: Doctor says pain is in my mind?

I say she is probably wrong. Your mental state and attitude can make the pain feel more or less severe, but only in rare cases (from what I've read) would it cause you to imagine pain that is not real. For example some amputees get phantom pains, but it's likely the pain comes from real nerves still in their body (ones that used to connect to the missing extremity). Or there is a recent theory that fibromyalgia patients have brains that are more sensitive to pain than others.

Anyway, it's possible your broken bone has healed completely as your doctor said but you're still getting real pain from damaged nerves or ligaments stiff from non-use. There are likely two options: A) take it easy for longer to let the nerves and ligaments heal more; or B) "walk through" the pain with aggressive PT and FWB to desensitize whatever is hurting. Or maybe C) start with light PT and PWB and work up to more PT and FWB?

I suggest you seek a second doctor's opinion. You could also ask your PT what his/her experience has been with people recovering from heelbone fractures. If the answer is you need to "work through it" then having a positive attitude and/or watching funny TV shows (or listening to comedy on your MP3 player or phone) can make the pain feel less severe, though it won't make the pain go away.

Last edited by LivesNearStore; 09-15-2011 at 08:59 PM.

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wendy52 (09-16-2011)
Old 09-16-2011, 07:42 AM   #3
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Re: Doctor says pain is in my mind?

I agree with LivesNearStore. I don't think you are imagining the pain, though you might be more sensitive to it. Do you feel anxiety about the pain? I know, from experience, that anxiety often heightens awareness of pain. I have an amazingly high pain tolerance, but if I let myself get worked up about how much it is going to hurt... I kinda panic at the first hint of pain.

I suggest getting a second opinion - pins and needles suggest nerve involvement to me. I don't know a thing about the kind of surgery you had, but any time a doc disregards your concerns, it is time to find another one.

Good luck and quick healing!

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wendy52 (09-16-2011)
Old 09-16-2011, 10:52 AM   #4
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Re: Doctor says pain is in my mind?

I agree with what the other two have said. Certainly, it is scary to "push through" some of the pain associated with healing, but pain is real. Get a second opinion, and maybe some physio advice on how to continue your recovery.

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wendy52 (09-16-2011)
Old 09-17-2011, 04:41 AM   #5
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Re: Doctor says pain is in my mind?

I have fibomyalgia and, yes, I'm more sensitive to pain. I feel so much pain it feels like I'm on overload and the smallest things become incredibly painful.

As far as the heel pain goes, my Dr.'s orders after a calcaneal osteotomy were to ditch the crutches/walker 1 week after the cast comes off and that you may have to go back on painkillers to do it. They said the pain may be so bad you think something is wrong, but to try to walk as normally as possible and push through it. I found it INCREDIBLY painful to FWB at first, but the more I pushed to do it, but better it got. When my physical therapist started doing things to get my swelling down, movement got SO much easier. What is your swelling like? Do you have physical therapy as an opion? Many folks on here have said it will be a year or more before you are out of pain from foot surgery, so it takes a very long time. I am coming up on 6 months post-op and still have a lot of pain and still have a limp despite it all.

Hang in there. The pain is NOT in your head. (One of my pet peaves when they say that!!)
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