Log in
Pain Concern
24,091 members8,135 posts

Feeling helpless

Hi, after another nights restless sleep suffering from L4 L5 herniated disc. I must apologise if I sound like I'm just complaing about nothing, it's hard to convey the feeling of hopelessness & despair.

In 2011 I had mild' surgery on my right hand side for herniated L4 L5 disc damage after months & months of pain. At my worst I was off work for 13 weeks, agonising pain, hardly mobile & on what I thought was serious medication which looking back now could have been dangerous. At my worst my wife said my pulse was roughly 8 beats per minute almost unconscious on Morphine. 6 years later I am now sitting here wondering why this is happening again to me but on my left side, I don't consider myself to have a low pain threshold & indeed can normally 'push through' any pains & just get on, this has stopped me in my tracks & despair, feeling lone is on my mind once more. On pain relief that would knock an elephant out the pain just breaks through, had an MRI scan a few months ago which showed the damage even though I was working normally, now things are worse than ever. I am trying to keep mobile as before but the pain goes through the roof doing something as simple as going downstairs to make a drink, feels like permanent 'cramp' in my left calf like it's on fire. Can someone explain the technique to 'move' the pain from calf back to the lumber area. I am not after any sympathy without sounding ungrateful it's just having gone through this once before I feel really helpless & have a lot of things that depend on me, I really feel trapped & as if I am being 'punished' for working all my life supporting my family etc wondering why me ?

Sorry if I sound like me me me but I know others feel exactly the same & hope they can give advice previously I had missed.



5 Replies

Welcome aboard.

No one here will judge you just help where we can.

Two things jumped out at me. Pain meds and doing things.

A lot of research has been done over recent years into pain meds and in particular the 'heavy' boys It is now agreed that after a certain time, and strength, they do nothing for the pain. My David has recently come down to almost completely stopping and pain is no worse. His meds have increased ever skywards over 30 years.

It is just scary to come off meds as you think the pain levels will increase. They don't. In fact with other therapies as well you can feel beter and clear headed.

As you know the meds only mask the pain and lull you into feeling you are able to function.

That come to the other point. Pacing yourself. You have a serious back trauma which will restrict movements. You have to learn to find alternative ways of doing something. You can't get downstairs for a drink. You take a flask upstairs with you. Or whatever you need.

IF you are feeling fairly OK and want to do something OK but...stop before yu start hurting. Don't wait until the pain is so bad you have to stop.

You can't push yourself to any limits.

The hardest of all is acceptance. Some people never get there. Accept you can't do what you used to do. It is in the past and there it stays. And believe me you will always find another way to do something you used to do but in a completely unusual way!



Agreed that meds do I need make things 'seem' better but all they are doing is hiding the pain so your body can function as 'normal', at one point I had a pulse of 8 bpm & was almost unconscious on the floor. Took myself to A & E & they gave me an injection (if I remember correctly) in my thigh of a clear liquid which I'm sure I was told was a Cortisone injection, that 'fixed' me within hours & allowed me to move a lot more which I believe helped the healing process. Too much rest is a negative but doing something intentionally that causes your body pain is something I would expect the human brain would struggle with & you end up 'resting' too much. I just wish I could have the same injection again as I'm sure it would work again.


It might well have been Pethadine. That is a muscle relaxant and as you know it is the tightening muscles which causes pain. Rarely given and certainly not regularly.

No one said to rest. Pacing yourself isn't necessarily resting. But as I said you have to forget what you used to be able to do. That is gone.

If you keep looking back it will depress you even more.


1 like

Pethadine is sometimes offered when giving birth so pretty powerful drug


Two things struck me here. First of all, not everyone metabolises drugs in the same way, especially the opioids. It could be that your body doesn't work with the drugs to give you relief. Just giving more of the same doesn't work, you have to take something else. And for some it is dangerous to take even a little bit as they overreact. It might be worth mentioning this idea to your GP to see if there are other things going on.

You also said, "Can someone explain the technique to 'move' the pain from calf back to the lumber area."

I don't know if I have understood your right, but I think you are referring to referred pain? That is where the source of the pain is in the lower back but you feel it in your leg? There is a good article here about that sort of pain:


Pain is actually felt in the brain, not in the body part. So if there is a stimulus to a nerve in the body, the signal is sent to the brain, where the brain interprets the signal and decides what it is and what to do about it. Then signals are sent back down to the spine. The 'gate theory' says that in the spine the neurons can actually block the signal from coming back up to the brain.

What I do if I have pain in my foot (after surgery for instance) I 'invoke the power of the decending pain pathway' in the same tone of voice as if calling for the power of GreySkull. (old kids cartoon) and will my defending pain pathway to work, and stop that pain signal from coming back up again. I tell the brain that we know there is no cause of the pain there, so she (my brain is female of course!) can bloody well stop pretending there is!

Then I try to distract myself. It usually works but it can take some practice.

If I have misunderstood what you mean, then I apologise.


You may also like...