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Pain Concern
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Lack of concentration

Hi I'm a 43 year old female who has chronic back pain following discectomy and collapsed facet joints as well as loss of sensation in left foot with neuropathy.

Does anyone have any good tips on how to keep your concentration when your mind keeps wandering due to A pain, B medication and C bad sleep?

18 Replies

It wont relieve everything, but seeing a therapist who does CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) will help you get your head around whats going on and give you strategies for living more comfortably with your body; seeing a pain clinic for alternatives to pain meds might help you reduce your pain meds a little; learning relaxation or meditation can often drop your pain a bit, even if it is only dropping one point on the pain scale that can be enough to make a difference; getting advice on how to reeducate your body into a better sleep pattern may help a little; appropriate physical exercise can stimulate natural endorphins that can also act as pain killers and antidepressants; alternative techniques like acupuncture, reiki, massage, might be worth trying. None of those things is going to make a big difference on its own if you have a chronic pain condition, but combine several and it may make enough of a difference to be noticeable. I know when my pain levels were 7, pushing 8 most days, being able to use self help techniques to reduce pain to a 6 (which most folk would still find too much) meant that I could actually function.


Thank you for your reply, some of your suggestions I'm trying just now but good to hear there are others which I haven't tried yet but I will.


Hi there I have concentration issues to and sometimes it really gets to me but I have now turned it around and smiles lots and laugh even more !

Don't give up its definatly the pain meds.


Hi thank you for your great advice, laughings something I've not done much over the last 2 years but I'll give it a go they do say laughter is the best medicine. Glad to hear it's working for you


I hear what you are saying, and agree there's no single answer. I find the 'zombie' effect as bad as the disability, but have a few suggestions;

Find something that will take ^ 60%+ of your concentration and save it for the bad times. Anything, no matter how time wasting, as long as it needs you to focus - intense movies (mine is horror - there's always something worse :) or computer games. Warn anyone that might interupt that they are doing harm - it gives you a point of escape even from the well meaning around you (it's not their fault, they can't really help, but they can do with the break too !) You'll know when it's time to move on, but if you fall asleep, allow yourself to do so without feeling guilty. This presupposes that you have no major committments such as children , work etc. Getting around these can be an awesome juggling move, and if you are already doing these things then you are a superwoman regardless of how you are feeling :)

Try to time medications around (not only food) but times when you have sleep space. When I was still working, the last dose ( to get me up to bed) was at 9pm, but I'd take the next dose at 2 am'ish to help me start the day at 6 with more - but get up asap. Once moving, it is possible to zombie stroll through the semblance of normality. If possible try to re assess your own meds, Personally I find a peculiar balance between some pain and less meds during daytime tolerable, but moderate the movement. I'm not left with much, so my mental activity is very important (have written 2 books so far).

As I'm sure others will add here, different meds = different side effects. I find codeine lethal for being doped up and depressive. Are you on gabapentin or Preg for neuropathic pain? , I believe these are less sophorific.

As if the whole ABC is not bad enough, might I suggest D? Sheer bl**dy mindedness. It is easy to lose focus and sometimes a list or target can help one make a decision or start being 'active'. It can even be as simple as "8 am wash, 9am dressed 10 am coffee....etc) Include something 'fun' each day, but only when the basics are done. e.g Reward at number 5 on the list

If anyone, except people here, suggested these things, we might feel aggrieved but please remember that there has to be a change and we do get there under our own steam, only as/when we can. HTH.


Thank you for your reply. I've recently changed meds from pregabalin and gabapentin as I was a walking zombie and found myself disorientated and dozy at work which was horrendous. I've now changed meds but still feel my concentration at work is horrendous but I will give everyone's suggestions a try, it's nice to know your not the only person going through these things which is difficult to explain to those who aren't as you don't look physically unwell.


I did try borrowing a friends watch (vibrated silently on wrist) and set it to go every fifteen mins and used it to snap back to focus on task in hand. First few days horrible but it's very pavlovian and eventually just keeps re setting one's attention naturally in same environment.


That's a fab idea, I'll definitely try that one, thanks so much


That is such a great idea,something pretty simple but makes sense. My worse problem at the moment is going off in a tangent when talking then forgetting what it was I was origionally saying.

I also forget people's names at the time I need to use the name and when it is a relatives or good friends name it's got to be one of the worst things I do,I sound so rude when making attempts,I would take it personally. Am I just mad!



I am with you 100% it's nice to know I'm not losing my marbles and others are going through the same things


You have hit the nail on the head,just because you have no walking aid or obvious physical disabilitily,I have always thought that if you try to explain complications you have the ignorant or less educated people than you or I think we are making conversation or just moaning.

At the very begining of my problems I had nothing that could be seen but when I started walking with a walking stick and carry a catheter bag around( I am unable to secure it else where,as unlike a stoma bag that is designed to be attached to the body without loads and loads of tubing)

I attracted so much bad attention. It's awful people look at my face,look at my stick and then discuss with whoever is with them about what my bag and tubing could be,then look at my face again,if I make eye contact I either get how awful or it's a shame look. You can't win,whilst all this is happening I feel worse inside my head than that they think I look physically. Also I take Gabapenin at 400mg three or four times a day ( prescribed) I also take at least twenty other pills so it's hard to pick out what side effect goes with what drug. I built the dose up slowly directed by my Pain management Consultant ( l am lucky to have an understanding Consultant as there are ones out there that are not)

and my side effects i already had from other drugs all stayed the same.

I am interested in the drugs that people are talking about opposed to gabapentin.

Can anyone tell me if it's an alternative or just an extra drug to the gabapentin?

Please. Michelle74


I am interested that you have tried pregabalin, what dose did you start on and did you give a good three months? The reason I ask is that I take pregabalin and have done for about six months, but started on the lowest dose and slowly moved up. I had no bad side effects at first but now get a bit of brain fog, forgetfulness. I found that since my pain is now controlled I can bear this, but for the first week or so I am quite sleepy. This does pass though, so I was wondering if you had tried the lowest dose and then "tweaked" the dose to suit you? I now just laugh the forgetfulness off as I feel that having minimal pain is preferable to being as quick as I was mentally but in agony which disabled me.


Hi yes a started on a low dose and it was gradually increased and it was starting to help but I had to stop taking them after about 8 months as the side effects were horrendous especially the weight gain which felt like I was just ballooning with each tablet. I've now been off them for 3 months and the change is dramatic the weight has fallen off, the haze has lifted and I'm not as spaced out but I'm presently trying Cymbatal which is similar and once you get over the initial nausea after each increase they seem ok apart from drowsiness. Hope this helps


Ah thank you, that does help. I'm quite plumptious anyway, ;-) so weight gain for me hasn't been noticed yet. But I became quite tolerant to the effects of the dose I was on really quickly so I am just checking out what other people are using instead of the Lyrica in case the same thing happens again and I reach the highest dose.


Sorry I am not much use as far as an answer goes all I can say is you have my complete sympathy.

I find during a conversation there has only got to be a slight disruption and I've lost my side of the conversation completely.

Unless it's a relative or someone I know really well it is completely embarrassing.

I tend to just repeat the last sentence i remember saying slowly and use that time trying to think what it was. Nine out of ten times I will be prompted by who I am speaking to or just have to say sorry with a stupid comment on my memory that day.

It happens to me when I am texting ,it's not so bad as the pressure is not on but if I forget how to spell one word I have jolly well forgotten how to spell everyone,my name sometimes.

It's definitely lack of concentration for me and also doubting myself.

Medication plays a great part and I have been told that my talking is more fluid and makes more sense when I am asleep.

All I can say is I am in there with you.


Thank you for your advice it's nice to know your not alone


I found pregabalin horrible for side effects. I realised I couldn't find words to speak so I was dazed and confused all the time. I felt like I had dementia! But then it didn't help the pain so it was easy to stop taking. If it helps the pain then it's a harder decision. I have found cymbalta better for pain and whilst I don't like the side effects it is more difficult to decide to stay with it. Everything is a balancing act! Hope you work out yours. Best wishes


Hiya, and yes to all !

I frequently get lost in the middle of a .....you know, wordy thing....sentence ;) and today kept asking husband for plums "not not the purple ones, those.. (she said pointing at the pears!!!) Recently had to increase gaba and put 7 Kgs on in 6 weeks, now just allowed to play around with dosage as needs must. Luckily GP very trusting. So trying to balance the burning foot syndrome and sciatica against diet denial and stupidity.

I have an expression that seems to make people smile and I get away with the mental hiccups; I just excuse myself with "Oops, sorry, - I blame the drugs" It seems to work.


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