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Thread: Please help - my disabled 80 year old mother has had her spinal injections stopped.

  1. #1

    Please help - my disabled 80 year old mother has had her spinal injections stopped.

    Hello everyone, and thank you for reading this post.

    My mother is eighty years old, disabled, and lives alone in South Staffordshire.

    She had been attending as an outpatient a severe pain clinic at Gobowen hospital in Shropshire, (the neighbouring county, as there was no similar service closer to home) for a number of years. She had very strong injections there, initially every three months, but that rose to four months as a doctor left, and no replacement was made. She felt a great benefit to her pain for a month or so, and as the injection wore off, so her pain became stronger. That extra months wait made a huge difference to her health, so that by the time she was seen again she was constantly in tears with the pain and felt it impossible to find any comfortable position to lie or sit.

    No other treatment provided relief. Her lower discs have completely crumbled, giving her lumbar region little or no support (i have seen the MRI scans and been with her when speaking to specialists about potential surgery).

    She also has spinal arthritis, and osteoporosis. Her condition started in her twenties after an accident, and has been a constant throughout her life. She has had every type of treatment - physiotherapy, osteopathy etc.. all to no avail. My father died fairly young, and with raising a family with no extended family support, and a lifetime working, surgery was not an option. As she aged surgery also wasn't an option due to her age, and the diabetes and blood pressure problems that came later. With these problems and the condition of her back, any surgery would be complicated, and large - most likely a huge fusion going up from her lumbar (lower) into the thoracic (upper) back, the success rate would be deemed at best 50%. In short, these injections - as little as they were, were all she had.

    A fortnight ago, she was informed that the clinic is to close, and her injections would cease as the Government would allocate money elsewhere.

    To say she was devastated is an understatement. My mom has always been a stoical, stiff upper lip 'crack on with it' person, but now she looks like a shell of that person, as she realises what lies ahead. Namely, incessant pain, being housebound, curled up in a ball, no life, with only a daily worsening of her situation, until the end of her days. She has openly talked (pragmatically, not emotionally) about taking her own life.

    My mother is a good, proud person who always worked - even through chronic pain, volunteered to help others, and comes from a family where public service was paramount, from the armed forces to the emergency services, to make a better country better for all. This truly pains her, as she realises that that duty of care/reciprocal unwritten honour, to look after one another has been so disdainfully discarded.

    My question to you all (and PLEASE respond if you can) is - Is there not a way this can be overturned?. Is there not a legal definition of patient/citizen duty of care at all?- an actual paragraph somewhere that can be used for her defence.

    My sister and i are due to see her MP in a fortnight. Ideally, i would love some information prior to going into that meeting, so again please reply if you can.

    I promise that i will return at a later date, with any information gathered, that could help others on this or a similar matter.

    Many thanks in advance, and good luck to all of you with you and your families health and concerns.

    Very kind regards.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Well Mark, I'm sorry to hear about your mum's condition and how it is bringing her dow.

    Your mother's symptoms sound similar to mine. I have osteopenie, acute back pain etc and have had to deal with it forever 40 years.

    I've tried all sots of medical treatments which can give short term relief.

    I also had epidural injections into my spine. These eased the pain.

    One thing that does help is swimming.

    The other thing I've done is take to an electric wheelchair. That would allow her to get out under her own steam and be independent.

    I'm quite lucky as I'm quite a positive person who looks on the bright side of life.

    Remember that pain is all in the mind.The more you think 'pain' the worse you feel.

    I also found being put on the rack at the physios helped out.

    When your backbone is tested and deteriorating it puts lots of strain on your back muscles as one half of them will be in spasm. Massage and heat pads can help too plus vitamin D tablets.

  3. #3
    Thank you Lighttouch for your early response, and your advice.

    As someone who himself has had four lots of spinal surgery, i believe that whilst there may be similarities, but no two backs are the same, as i am sure you will agree.

    She has had epidurals, these provided pain relief for about three weeks. She doesn't swim, but good advice, it helps me - but be very careful doing breaststroke as the kick can be very violent, even going slowly with repeated action this can cause more damage (all my surgeons agree). In short, do front crawl or backstroke instead if you can.

    An electric wheelchair isn't practical due to the configuration of her house/area.

    I agree positive thinking helps, but with repeated setbacks it can be hard to 'gee yourself up' at times.

    She has had traction previously, that made it worse.

    The pads and massage can help to a degree, i agree about building up the muscle around, that is my number one recommendation, ideally though before your back goes completely.

    She takes vitamin D and calcium tablets already. A good point to others though.

    With respect, i disagree wholeheartedly with the 'pain is all in the mind' comment. I know it is a trendy 'pyschosomatic' term - it is also a major get out clause for poor healthcare providers to say 'There is nothing wrong with you, it is all in your head'. I am aware of TENS machines and there uses and benefits too. However i myself was rushed to A+E by paramedics as my one L5/S1 prolapse was so great (the largest the surgeon had ever seen in his 32 years in theatre), and the pain so ridiculous, that my blood pressure and other vitals went to such levels that (in their words) i was at an immediate risk of heart attack/stroke, indeed the emergency surgery had to wait until these went down to a relatively safe level.

    I absolutely take on board the wider view that most pain can be overcome such as when training very hard in sports and the military. I also acknowledge the brain and central nervous system - especially used in chiropractic, but i can't agree with the statement.

    I do appreciate your comments though, and your kindness in responding. I wish you all the very best.

    Kind regards.


  4. #4
    Senior Member Lighttouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    With respect 'I do think a lot of pain is in the mind. But that is a good thing because there are tricks to lessen pain.

    For instance, when I visit the dentist - if I need a small filling I don't need any pain killer to numb the pain. I simply push my index fingernail into my thumb and say how much my thumb hurts. I'll still feel slight pain but because I think all the pain into my thumb I don't notice what's happening in my mouth.

    I should take morphine to kill my pain or Gabapentin - I take neither so avoid any side affects. Gentle exercise and stretching is best. Introduce your mum to Yoga - she could try it out from a seated position.

    Remember that the mind can release chemicals to reduce pain - endorphins - these are many times more powerful than morphine.

    After 40 years of having pain 24/7 - there is no quick fix to pain that lasts. People assume that there is a cure - there isn't - there's just limited relief. The secret is in your attitude to pain. Think pain and you'll feel intense pain and become bitter, depressed, sad. Keep your brain occupied and active to take your mind off pain0.

    If you become a pill taker you'll never know about the power of the mind. The Pharmacy industry would suffer a fit if everyone took this path!

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