Pain Concern
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Asking on behalf of Dad - 75 years old, bad pain in neck due to 'wear & tear' - doc says nothing more can be done

Hi everyone, I'd love some advice if anyone can give me some pointers. I'm so worried about my Dad. He's 75 years old, heart problems, and bad circulation due to being a heavy smoker (yes, tried to get him to give up-no success!)

He has chronic bad pain in his neck, due, the doc says, to wear and tear, and apart from doing some stretching exercises, and taking painkillers, apparently there's nothing more that can be done.

He had an anneurism in 1986, and, with the operation, he lost his sense of smell. Since then, he seems to slowly have lost interest in life....not wanting to really go anywhere, or do anything - if it wasn't for my Mum keeping him going, I think he'd come to a full stop and sit watching tele all day.

I've often thought he's depressed, but he'll have none of it. Obviously, though, this chronic pain is just making things worse. It's slightly better with him using a neckcare pillow, but he's still in a lot of pain. It makes him look ill and drawn too. I refuse to believe that there's nothing more that can be done, but the trouble is that he'll believe the doc without question - he wouldn't press for more effective pain meds, or for better treatment.

I've heard that some anti-depressants can also be used for pain relief, but I'm not sure which ones they are, or whether they would be suitable for an elderly person such as my Dad.

Has anyone got any advice please? I want to see my Dad live out his life happier, and free from pain

Thank you for any remarks or advice


11 Replies

hiya sue, sorry your Dad's having such a rough time. [and I have no sense of smell either]

he could well be depressed - the pain and lack of decent sleep and the doctor's attitude don't help.

there are pain patches that slow release all day,

there is hydrotherapy,

there are aids for everyday life from OT dept at hospital, or social services, can access these - or ask about self/family referral.

Can I suggest you see a different gp?

the red cross can also help and can lend you a wheelchair while you wait for an OT one.

In my area we have advocates who will access and work with the different agencies to get whatever help is available - Age Uk can also advise.

many supermarkets and shopping centres provide or hire out scooters -there's a lot of fun to be had as well as assistance in getting around [maybe Mum too!]

does he have any interests?

there are silver surfer computer groups where he could maybe look up family trees service pals and more;

watercolours, oils or acrylic painting;

woodwork and more. I know he's in pain, but sometimes it's just being out and having someone to natter with that makes the difference.

I get Arnica gel and Arnica bath soak from and it is wonderful at releiving pain - it costs about £20 a bottle but is highly concentrated [2 pumps of soak in the bath] [a 10p size of gel gently patted, not rubbed, over an area] if you get it ask me for more uses. there are cheaper ones but they are diluted and often have additives.

I'm tired now [02.40am] please ask if you need to.



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Sorry too hear about your dads problems, I dont know if you have bath or shower, You can get a baylis hydro unit that will give you a hydro bath, also a shower head is available that can give you a intense hydro spray localized to a certain area on the body. On problem that can be sorting problems, is the bed Many old people have kept the bed mattress for years something may be usefull there to replace. Also the pilliow may need to be looked at as well.

With you dad been in his 70s years young a pysio will be able to give exersises that will possibly help, exersize need not be chasing round the clinic. Also social sevices, Age concern,

may help with your father. they also have day centres.So there are many things that can be done it is the problem of facilitating you to get these things

Nerve damage is quite separate and can be suppressed with amitryptalene, Pain can also be suppressed by mixing different types of pain killer, yourdoctor will possibly help you regarding this. Tens machines can be purchased they on occasions can be used and they will suppress pain Your father will possibly need a bit of training to get full benefit. Syou are not alone here it is just being able to get different problems. The older generation always get this sort of problem your father isnot alone on this So good luck on your jouney I hope that you get some help that your father diserves


I'm so sorry to hear of your father's problems. I'd certainly recommend asking for a second opinion and referral to a specialist pain clinic, where - even for 'wear and tear' problems, specialised injections may help.

Fortunately, two of the medications used in controlling chronic nerve pain are also antidepressants - amitriptyline and duloxetine. It certainly sounds as if he could well be depressed - and pain is depressing. He could benefit from some short-term counselling specifically to discuss his feelings about pain and how to cope with it. I found this very helpful.

I am a great advocate of TENS, but it can take a while to find the best electrode placement and programs to use, so a physiotherapist or pain clinic may be of additional help. Both heat and short-term cold treatments can also help.

It is important when doing neck exercises not to tilt the head backwards - e.g. to turn to the right, rotate to the left, and similarly with the head tilted forwards, but not to do a full circle. It's also good to bring the right ear to the right shoulder and similarly on the left.

I hope this is of some help.


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Can,t give you much advice on the pain side of things. My husband is very depressed at the moment and would just say, give your Mom a big hug, it is very hard to deal with. I am sure you will get it sorted. Cheers


I sympathize! I've had acute neck pain for nearly a year and have tried many things to heal and get relief from the pain:

Medical realm offers pain meds, muscle relaxers, steroids, nsaid patches, amitryptiline, or nortriptyline, or cymbalta type stuff. I've had best pain relief from hydromorphine and the least nausea. Soma -- a muscle relaxer -- has lately been very helpful. If your dad can't sleep, he needs meds for this as the body fights inflammation during sleep.

Supplements: anti-inflammatory combinations, including turmeric for example. Fish oil. Magnesium is very important and I recently heard its best absorbed from a topical spray to the skin. You can find it doing a google search.

Also, baths with Epsom salts are very good.

I used a lot of ice packs, per physical therapists, throughout the day. I recently switched to heat and it's helping a lot more. I've been researching far infrared heating pads and they are pricey but many people swear by them.

Physical therapy - caused reinjury or a waste of time except for the encouragement and contact. However, they gave me TENS -- offered pain relief and you can have your dad's doctor arrange for a unit at home.

Acupuncture - may be worth trying if he's open and interested.

Be careful of too much stretching. Must be very gentle. Under-do. Walking unless the force of the ground reverberates and hurts his neck can be really good -- even ten minutes. Posture is important; mainly focus on lifting the chest higher as the source of alignment.

Working at a desk doing any activity looking down or at a computer increased my pain -- I'm sure your dad has been learning what aggravates his. That's the focus for a while -- not to aggravate it so it doesn't keep getting re-injured, so nerves calm down, or something like that!

I use a topical product called Natural Relief 1222 -- found it online -- not a miracle but helpful.

They can do radio frequency neurotomies ...something to research... I have opted to continue with other approaches. Feldenkrais has been helpful for past month and is not aggravating the neck like PT did.

Alas! I think I've exhausted my list -- and hopefully haven't exhausted you!

I'm sorry your dad is suffering. It's also hard for him to concentrate, I imagine, also a drag.

My short list: sleep, soma, good pain meds as needed, learning about his body and what makes the pain worse, Feldenkrais, heat heat heat.

Best wishes to your family!


I'd recommend he see a different GP and you go with him. Despite his age he needs treatment not being fobbed off. There is something called degenerative disc disease that can cause problems over time in neck and bone discs.

I'd ask for a neck x-ray (at the least), ideally an MRI and ask for his full blood count to be done including: Vitamin D (an natural anti-inflammatory that can cause joint pain and bone problems if very low), iron, folate, thyroid function test and B12 (useful to test levels for muscle / joint/ nerves to be working well. If you get a good GP they may also consider doing blood tests for inflammatory markers for Rheumatoid arthritis etc.

If it's a muscular problem alternate heat/ cold packs can help as can anti-spasmodic meds. If it's a bone / disc problem he may need other treatment and short term pain meds, physio etc. The key is find out what is causing the pain. Any pain will make him feel down and loathe to move or go out and men often suffer in silence. Often people of an older generation believe everything the doctor says - I know many of my relatives do. But experience has taught me you have to stand up for yourself and push for results.

You could also push for a fast track assessment by a muscular skeletal expert as many GPs refer to them for diagnosis or ask for a Rheumatologist referral.

Here's some useful links:


There is a condition called cervical spondylitis which is arthritis in the top part of the spine,

i was diagnosed with this condition several years ago. When given diagnosis i was told to get used to it nothing can be done, took his word for it. As the pain got worse and i developed other conditions including Depresion, i whent back to the surgery saw a different doctor who sent me to a specialist and have since been given a steroid injection which did help to relieve some pain for a few months, i am now waiting to go for a second course of injections. After reading up on it from this site and there are a few possible treatments. As Sillyyak says get him an x-ray that was how mine was discovered.


I have already made a reply regarding the use of ridged and soft neck collars as used for 10 years by my late wife with having cervical spondylitis. The specialist was considering an op but said the risk was considerable in her case and suggested she stick to the collars. The ridged one took some accepting but as she said " i'm in such pain much of the time it's well worth sticking to" . She did get used to it and would use it when working, walking and standing for any length of time. The soft one was ideal for sitting and sleeping in. These collars need to be kept fairly tight to the neck for getting relief. I have seen them worn so loose that it surely can't be doing any good. One woman I noticed could get her chin inside which of course was doing no good whatsoever. I've had a similar need lately and only use a soft collar which gives me relief as and when I need it. It is a great help in bed.


hi Sue

I find a wheatie heat pack that you warm in the microwave eases the pain in my neck, although you have to keep warming it up. Or you can buy those stick-on heat pads from pharmacies or supermarkets and they last for several hours. Just make sure your dad doesn't burn himself.

I was told there was nothing more that could be done a while ago, but that wasn't true - a different doctor brought more positive results. Part of the problem with chronic pain is being able to cope better with it, and it's not easy being able to get to that point when you are suffering.

Your dad is lucky to have you fighting his corner.


has he being to pain clinic they can give you injections into neck you can feel them as they numb you first they phone you after a couple of weeks to see if it help you if yes you can get them 3 times ayear as your doctor to refair to pain clinic he should get some joy


My late wife had neck pain which was relieved by using a ridged adjustable collar in the day when up and about doing jobs or walking. When relaxing, sitting and in bed she had a softer type seen quite often worn out and about by others. This combination gave her complete relief for 10 years. The ridged collar took some accepting but if in much pain, as she was, it was well worth accepting the initial discomfort until becoming used to it. More recently I have had a similar problem but found I could manage with just the softer collar to get relief from neck pain, as and when needed. It is particularly helpful in bed. If your Dad has not tried these collars I suggest he gives one or both a try. It seems he has other problems but at least he could give the collars A try. If the ridged one is too much for him the softer one may be acceptable and of some help >best of luck.


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