My husband's back pain got worse after surgery.

by Cindy
(Tampa, Florida)

My husband had surgery 2 years ago for a slipped disc. Now his pain is worse than ever. He can't work and can hardly get out of bed. The pain medicine makes him so constipated that he doesn't always take it. We have applied for disability but they say nothing is wrong and he needs to go back to work. We saw the doctor and he said the x-rays look normal. He doesn't know why my husband has pain.

My husband has not worked for 2 years and the money that I bring home can barely pay for our groceries. We have lost our house and are now living with my husband's family. I don't know what we are going to do. Can you help us?

Hi Cindy,
I am sorry to hear that your husband is still in so much pain after his surgery. You don't mention his age or what kind of surgery he had, but many people have some type of residual pain following surgery. It is called Failed Back Surgery Syndrome.

Has your husband been back to the surgeon? Has he had any type of imaging studies such as xrays or MRI? Has he gotten a second or third opinion? If it has not been done, your husband needs to be evaluated to make sure that everything has healed correctly and there is nothing more that needs to be done.

If several surgeons have told him there is nothing more that can be done surgically to relieve his pain he needs to accept it. He needs to start looking for other ways to manage his pain and get on with his life.

You can be supportive and helpful with finding information and coming up with ideas on where to go from here, but he needs to do it. He needs to be the one leading the way. The decision to move on with his life is a decision that he needs to make, you cannot make it for him.

I know so little about you and your husband, your relationship and your history together that I probably should not even comment. But, you writing a letter about your husband's pain suggests you may be enabling his disability. Why did he not write in? Why isn't he looking for ways to manage his pain? As I said, I may be way off base with that thought, and if so I apologize, but it is something to consider.

I am sure that your husband has tried many things over the last 2 years and it is important to realize and accept that nothing is going to make your husband pain free.

Some things to consider are pain medications and some type of physical therapy. Constipation is a common side effect of narcotic pain medicine and all of the stronger more effective pain medications are narcotics. If the medications are effective and constipation is the only problem, your husband should talk to his doctor about laxatives and dietary changes to help manage the constipation.

There are many types of physical therapy programs that can be helpful for pain after surgery. One that I like is yoga because it includes stretching and strengthening as well as a meditation component that can all work together to improve mobility and relieve pain.

Good luck Cindy. Ask your husband to write in and let us know how he is doing. We would love to hear from him.

Good luck and God bless

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