acceptance, attitude, back pain, car accident, chronic pain, doctors, health, nerve pain, pain, pain management
Comments 12

Piss Off, Pain Management Clinics

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of I Forgot How To Feel Better (7)

“You have exhausted all of your options.”

That is what I was told yesterday when I was denied as a new patient at Massachusetts General Hospital. Western medicine has officially given me the heave-ho.

Sad face.

Sad face.

Because I have a “long-standing relationship with another pain management clinic,” unless I am being referred for a specific procedure that my current doctors do not have, I am not allowed to become a patient elsewhere.

It’s so strange to reach the end of the road. It’s one thing to be told that the doctors are running out of ideas; it’s another thing entirely to have someone tell you that there is literally no other procedure in existence. All the treatments they are willing to try have been attempted. Science and research have not caught up yet. This is as good as it’s going to get.

End of the road, meat wad!

Dead end, dirt bag!

What they’re willing to try. That’s the operative phrase here. Despite my decade of experience in the medical system, despite never exhibiting pill-seeking behavior, my pain management doctors refused to prescribe any kind of opioid safety net. If the pain gets really bad? “Go to the ER.”

Really? That’s the best you can offer? “Go to the ER”?

Oh yes, this seems like the perfect environment for ongoing pain management!

Oh yes, this seems like the perfect environment for ongoing pain management!

“I don’t think you understand,” I told my doctor. “I’ll have to quit my job. I can’t function like this.”


That’s the thing about pain management clinics. They do not cure. Most of the time they do not even have the power to manage. They try to dull the pain, to numb it, just long enough to get you out of their office. The problem is that pain is subjective. A finger slammed in a door can hurt worse than a fracture, and everyone thinks their pain is intolerable.

“I HURT SO BAD, COACH!” *Swoons dramatically*

So if you keep coming back and complaining, then the problem must be in your head. Even though I told my pain doctor that I am already seeing a pain psychologist, she insisted that I meet with one in-house in order to come to terms with the “new” me. Like I’m not letting some kid sit at the lunch table with me. Play nice, you two!

We're BFFs!

We’re BFFs! We love sparkles and sunshine!

I actually told her that when she said “you have to learn how to live with the ‘new you,'” not only did she make me want to murder everyone in my immediate vicinity, but she was also entirely patronizing. I’m sure I got some black mark in my medical file for that comment (“aggressive,” “argumentative,” “abusive,” etc.), but don’t tell me how to react to my issues when you have no experience dealing with them. I hope to God she never says those words to another patient.

Pain management doctors do not work well with patients who need more than the usual series of steroid injections. I’ve had the steroid injections, the ablations, the Botox in my muscles, the pills, the trigger point injections, the surgery, the infusion. There are no other procedures. “We’ve done everything. So why are you still hurting? It must be in your head.

Of course it’s in my head. That’s where pain is processed: IN YOUR BRAIN. My brain has learned these pain pathways, and my nervous system is constantly hyper-stimulated. It doesn’t take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure that one out.

“She has chronic pain. My fee is four thousand dollars. Per hour.”

“Give her antidepressants. Give her nerve meds. Just don’t give her opioids.” That’s the reasoning my pain doctor kept parroting: “It’s been clinically proven that opioid medication doesn’t help chronic pain.” I know that it doesn’t — not in the long run. Not if you take it every day, multiple times a day. All I need is a safety net for the really bad days. I was prescribed 14 Vicodin in March. Guess what? Still one left. Whole bottle of Tramadol? Untouched. I take them when I need them.

Doctors are more interested in protecting their own medical licenses than handing out medication to those who need it — which I can understand. If it were between my law license and some person I only see once a month, I’d go for the law license. For years, however, doctors over-prescribed until the government cracked down; now they under-prescribe and hope that none of their patients will notice. The pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that it’s only a matter of time before something breaks.

Pain management doctors must be frustrated with patients like me. It’s not like they’re huddled in a conference room, rubbing their hands together and muttering under their collective breath the names of patients they’re going to disappoint. I hate when I fail at my job. I’m sure they feel the same. But they are the gatekeepers, and they are in my way.

“So it’s agreed, then? We all hate Jen? Perfect. Course of action: Deny her any and all pain medications and insinuate that she’s crazy-pants.”

Everything that has helped recently has been found by my father, by my husband, and by me. I exercise as much as I can when the pain allows. I use a BodyBlade in order to strengthen my core muscles. I practice mindfulness and meditation. I stretch and do yoga on a daily basis. I walk at lunch. I get pain relief massages. I go to the chiropractor. I found the Quell device, which I am going to review in more detail in my next post. These are alternative forms of care, and they have been all found — wait for it — by people other than my pain management team.

We chronic pain patients truly have to be our own advocates. It is our responsibility to find the interventions that will help us. These treatments might seem strange or like some sort of hippie nonsense, but I am done being told by doctors that the pain is all in my head and that they can do nothing to help me. I will help myself. This is not the best it is going to be.


  1. “It’s been clinically proven that opioid medication doesn’t help chronic pain.”

    Actually, that’s not true. It hasn’t been clinically “proven” because the research hasn’t been done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely not to a standard that would satisfy me, anyway. The whole thing is bullshit. I just put it down to governmental and state regulations that are making them want to protect themselves rather than help patients. The whole thing just infuriates me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Piss Off, Pain Management Clinics | All Things Chronic

  3. penniewoodfall says

    I ran from the docs
    I helped myself…..
    It took a home Ritmscenar device with wires attached to my back…
    Within a day the nerves stopped firing
    after that, a long and painful ride…
    back to maintaining a healthy back….
    Disc protusions are a bugger for some…:(
    ‘We chronic pain patients truly have to be our own advocates’

    Liked by 2 people

    • Googling Ritmscenar now… Is it basically a TENS? Do you really like it? And yeah, disc protrusions are a huge bugger. I hope that you are feeling better!


      • penniewoodfall says

        Thank you, I am a lot better. Problem is when I make a wrong movement my back can go into spasm.
        I also use Acuball Therapy, designed by a Canadian Chiropractor and Acupuncturist . I have exercised, pretty much all my life and dare I say , over done it. Ritmscenar is more than a tens…so they say. I am pretty addicted to mine. It cut out the nerves firing. For me it worked. Nerves do not fire any more. I use pain relief pads attached to the scenar. Disc so far has healed, as much as it can, though muscle/spasm memory can be a problem. It is a complex ‘brain’ area to investigate. The scenar reduces pain. I would not be without it. 🙂


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  5. Pingback: Welcome to the Chronic Pain Club | Wear, Tear, & Care

  6. Speakeasy Great Danes says

    This is a very timely post for me… which I suppose is a rather crappy thing! I was just rejected from a local-to-both-of-us pain clinic because (a presumably small sample of) former patients with my (somewhat rare) primary diagnosis have discharged unhappily. What’s that? Well, I didn’t want to be your friend, either. Pffffft.

    I would love to pick your brain about your rheumatology and pain clinic experiences if you’re willing to share:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, absolutely. I have many fibro friends who use it, and the vast majority seems to get a lot of relief. I know Quell has a very good trial period (60 days, I think?), so if it doesn’t work out, you can return it. I had relief in my first session, so it definitely doesn’t take 60 days to figure it out. Please let me know if you end up deciding to try it!


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