Open Thread

First, the earworm I have been dealing with for the last 48 hours:

Next- How do you all deal with chronic pain? Thing are just getting worse and worse for me. I’ve broken all my fingers twice, or in some cases, three times, and they basically throb and hurt all day every day. My left knee used to lock up, and my knee would lock my leg in place at a 90 degree angle until I twisted my foot back and forth, and I would hear something pop and then I could extend my leg again. It really sucked when I was swimming. My left shoulder aches every day because I broke that collarbone twice (once in a car wreck, once in the army) and I dislocated my shoulder at least a half dozen times playing lacrosse. My right shoulder, well, longtime readers know all about that. Walking dear Lily I completely shattered that shoulder, detached my bicep, broke the shoulder in 8 place, broke the collarbone, and completely destroyed the joint, shattering it in multiple places, etc., and had reconstructive surgery that included 6 hours of surgery and a half dozen arthroscopic procedures.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. I fell 3 stories (I was 18 and tequila was involved) and landed on concrete and had to go to the e-room to deal with the ankle and heel situation (nothing broke and none of the doctors believed I fell that far), I have been through two windshields in car accidents and had multiple concussions and bit a molar in half (which was actually the worst pain I have ever been in), and so forth.

And I won’t go in to the broken ribs and the smashed toes. Long story short, I am in pain almost every day, and as I get older, it gets worse, and I just don’t know what to do about it. It was easier to deal with ten years ago, but now that I am 42, it is much less easier to ignore. I mean, for fuck’s sake, my fingers hurt. Every part of me hurts except my back and my ass and my thighs.

I just can’t keep eating advil, I refuse to take narcotics because they just have such an adverse effect on me (histamine, confusion, etc.) and while my wine therapy always works, that isn’t really healthy.

So what can I do to try to make myself not be in pain every day? And again, as I age, the pain is getting worse. I just ignored it or dealt with it before, but it is getting to the point that it is distracting. Do you guys have any ideas?

Also, too- Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be John Cole.

211 replies
  1. 1
    Silver says:

    You’re a compulsive worrier, so read any book by John Sarno and see if you recognize yourself. If that doesn’t work, you’re out the price of a paperback. Then blaze up.

  2. 2

    Move to a state where it’s legal to smoke the wacky tobaccy.

  3. 3
    Tonybrown74 says:


    My mother swore by it before she finally had her knee surgery. A couple of sessions, and she would be pain free for a couple of months, sometimes longer. She managed to delay her surgery for 4-5 years.

    The only reason she ended up having surgery when she finally did, was due to her Mass Health paying for it (not yet 60 and unemployed. Living in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts made that possible).

  4. 4
    eemom says:

    Having ruled out drugs and alcohol, we are beyond the realm of my personal expertise.

    However, a doctor I know and respect recommends acupuncture.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    kwAwk says:

    I’m thinking that hopefully you’ve learned to use seat belts. Not just in the car but when you’re drinking on the 3rd floor.

  7. 7
    TheOtherWA says:

    Ask your doc for Naproxen. It’s prescription strength Aleve, and non-narcotic. Best of all it’s generic, so a giant bottle costs about $5. You don’t even need a co-pay. I love those kinds of prescriptions.

    If that’s not enough, consider moving to Washington or Colorado. :)

  8. 8
    jnfr says:

    Colorado, dude. Grow your own.

  9. 9
    Inyake says:

    While the results have not been dramatic, yoga has been helpful at reducing some of my chronic pain issues. I have a better range of motion and less pain in my shoulder, lower back, and knee that have bothered me for years. I am in the same Ballpark age wise and also a big fat guy, but YMMV.

  10. 10
    suzanne says:

    Damn. I have no answer for how to deal with that sort if pain. I tend to be a “better living through chemistry!” person, but I have found that sleeping in a position with my spine aligned has relieved many pains without drinking. That requires a good mattress and many pillows. Stretching daily is also helpful. But you sound like a wreck.

  11. 11
    Raycharles90 says:

    I have post herpatic neuralgia and nothing really works. I too have tried to stop eating ibuprofen. But a hell of a lot better than anything else if we are also going with the wine therapy. I have found that lidocaine patches do work wonders. They do not remove that pain but, help you to ignore it. They are great if you cut them into smaller squares and place them all over your body like a science project. They are worth a shot.

  12. 12
    baldheadeddork says:

    Another vote to try acupuncture. Also, maybe consider looking into a spinal cord stimulator implant. My niece is a nurse/rep for Boston Scientific for these products and they help in a lot of cases.

  13. 13
    The Dangerman says:

    Used to have a really bad back (still do, occasionally; comes with being tall … and overweight, dunking a basketball was many pounds, and years, ago). Anyway, nothing worked…

    …until I tried acupuncture. It works, give it a try.

    There are a variety of difference Eastern things to try; find a book on Ayurveda. I’ve enjoyed this book:

    “Creating happiness through meditation, yoga, and ayurveda”

    Generally speaking, I’ve found Eastern medicine much better at treating the pain as opposed to just the Western model of popping pills. Even something as simple as Thai massage is really good to try.

    Then again, blazing a bowl has it’s positives, too.

    ETA: I’m ate to the party on acupuncture and yoga; I’d think of it this way … acupuncture for a major tuneup, yoga for maintenance

  14. 14
    Capt. Seaweed says:

    I take Aleve for some arthritis I have in my lower back and neck. I take Meloxicam for the headaches the neck probs give me. I eat oatmeal every morning with blueberries, cherries, strawberries, and any other foods as I can find with anti-inflammatory properties. That’s really made a difference.

    I don’t drink alcohol (27 years sober) and smoke weed occasionally, which doesn’t really help all that much. Some folks find it eases some of their pain. Not me: it makes my knees pop.

  15. 15
    Jay says:

    Go see a psychologist. Seriously. There are ones who specialize in pain management. They won’t make the pain go away but they can help you minimize and cope with it.

  16. 16
    Darkrose says:

    We don’t go as often as we should, but my wife and I have memberships at Massage Envy, and both of us have found that it can help with the chronic pain issues from migraines and backs.

  17. 17
    leeleeFL says:

    John, it sounds crazy, but a had really bad pain in my wrist for several months this year and tried everything but pissing on a sparkplug. It may only be coincidence, but I started eating crystalized Ginger. I now have much less to no pain. Maybe it was just time healing but I would say try it. Good luck. I literally feel your pain!

  18. 18
    Gretchen says:

    I second the yoga. It won’t help fingers and toes, but it helps with joint pain, and I’m a lot older than you are. I have hip pain from having been a runner when I was young, and being almost 60, and it helps with that. Also, I broke my shoulder a couple of years ago — not as badly as you – and the muscles on that side of my upper back get all clenched now. I used to consider massage a frill, and took forever to try it even when I had gift certificates – but now I consider it a medical treatment to keep that shoulder loose.

  19. 19
    Capt. Seaweed says:

    Right, then. Forgot the link:

  20. 20
    Mnemosyne says:

    I will second the yoga suggestion, and give you one that may sound kinda crazy: you may want to try and go gluten-free for a few weeks and see if that helps. There seems to be a link between arthritis and gluten intolerance, so it’s probably worth a try.

  21. 21
    aangus says:

    “First, the earworm I have been dealing with for the last 48 hours”


  22. 22
    TheOtherWA says:

    @Darkrose: How could I forget massage? So important with chronic pain because the pain makes you use your muscles in slightly different ways than usual, so that just makes things worse. Massage reduces that secondary pain (that’s what I call it anyway) that comes from long term issues.

  23. 23
    The Dangerman says:


    It may only be coincidence, but I started eating crystalized Ginger.

    I had not heard this one; will research. If memory serves, turmeric is also highly anti-inflammatory.

    One thing I’ve tried recently is Oil of Oregano; here’s a page with the cautions at the top. This is strong stuff and I only use it topically now:


  24. 24
    BonnyAnne says:


    also, FYWP

    ETA: where did my other comments go? Is this what moderation looks like? I feel kinda excited; I’ve never been in moderation before. Like a 12 year old having her first scotch.

  25. 25
    Violet says:

    Yoga, massage, medication, acupuncture. It’s all good stuff. You’re at the point of needing to maintain. They will help you do that and possibly help ease the pain as well.

    Look into eating low inflammation foods. Inflammatory foods, like sugar or wheat can inflame your whole body and contribute to the pain. They’re probably not the cause of all your problems but they don’t help it. Consider giving up some foods for awhile as a test. Alcohol and caffeine should be on that list if you are really giving the low-inflammation diet a try.

  26. 26
    Raycharles90 says:

    I also have a TENS unit that will take the mind of the pain for a bit. I would love to try acupuncture but, my insurance doesn’t cover it and I can’t swing that cost right now. Of course my pain (nerve) is a different animal than muscle pain but, most of my pain is the secondary pain from carrying myself differently. Swimming is a good exercise as well.

  27. 27
    CA Doc says:

    High dose fish oil seems to help for arthritis pain and some people have good luck with gabapentin or low dose tricyclic antidepressants, especially if pain disrupts sleep (because bad sleep creates its own pain) Advil/naproxen and other antiinflammatories mixed with alcohol is dangerous for your stomach lining, and too much tylenol mixed with alcohol is dangerous for your liver. Acupuncture, TENS unit, Thermacare patches, yoga and meditation all worth a try. Count your lucky stars that you don’t tolerate narcotics many people get caught up in addiction, and still have pain.

  28. 28
    Jasmine Bleach says:

    Acupuncture works for some people in some situations. I tried it once for bad back pain with no luck, but it didn’t do anything bad. Probably worth a try.

    Stretching seems to be the best. Had what seemed like carpal tunnel or repetitive stress injury in my arm and wrist, but found out my rotator cuff was half torn (not sure why or how) and that was causing the pain. Did physical therapy for a few months, and by far the stretching was what pulled me out of the pain.

    Yoga is essentially breathing and stretching, so that’d be one option.

    A good chiropractor can possibly help, but there are soooo many bad ones out there! After doing physical therapy, sports doctors, acupuncture, super amounts of ibuprofen, etc., a short stint with a good chiropractor finally got my back to be good again. But I’ve seen folks that go to chiropractors regularly and I’m suspicious that the constant “resetting” of things just eventually puts things out of whack permanently. If you have serious spinal pain, and the first thing a chiropractor wants to do is take an X-ray to see first hand what’s going on, you’re probably in good hands.

    Losing weight always helps. I mean that seriously (and with some personal experience)–carrying a lot of heft around constantly is a big strain on the body, and it only increases with age (and muscles start to wear out). Even losing 10 or 20 pounds can sometimes work wonders for people.

  29. 29
    Bhaal says:

    Fentanyl patches ( and 4 to 5 Norco daily.

  30. 30
    Laertes says:

    Holy shit. How’d you do the molar?

  31. 31
    Parmenides says:

    I’d say your biggest problem is inflammation. I’d try and up your omega 3’s in your diet, fish is useful but hard to find fish that is labeled properly since farmed salmon doesn’t have many omega 3’s. Fish oil tablets. Ton’s of spicy food and hot pepper compresses help. Apparently the capsaisin depletes your bodies store of pain.

  32. 32
    Steller says:

    Second the recommendation for an anti-inflammatory diet. Check out a book called The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf.

  33. 33
    Santiago says:

    Loesch is suing because indentured servant. Or something.

    I hope that that eases your pain a bit.

  34. 34
    Anne Laurie says:

    Lots of good suggestions here, and may I add: Try all of them, or as many as possible, at once. It took you forty years of multiple & varied tissue-insults to achieve your current status, so go with the laundry list — theraputic massage and acupuncture and yoga and postural sleep aids (pillows under your knees, supporting your neck, holding your shoulders). Also, stress reduction (insofar as that’s possible) and meditation techniques or biofeedback, which can help you ‘reset’ your automatic subconscious ‘tensing up’ in response to specific pains… like, you know going up a flight of stairs will make your bad knee ache, so you tense your lower back, and the limp throws your opposite hip out of alignment.

    Basically, you’ve forced your body to spend way too much time in A!N!G!R!Y! mode, and now you need to learn how to re-set to a (lterally) less inflammatory state. Which sucks, it’s liable to be tedious & expensive — but you’ve decided the manly walk it off alternative isn’t working so good for you any more, and being in pain all the time sucks even worse.

  35. 35
    Santiago says:

    Loesch is suing because indentured servant.

    I hope that that eases your pain a bit.

  36. 36
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Acupuncture. And yoga.

    For serious.

  37. 37
    Radio One says:

    I’ll just say that in general, if you’re in immediate pain, and you’re debating with yourself with whether something’s broken or if it’s just a sprain or something else, you should go to the ER immediately. That’s your best shot when it comes to dealing with chronic pain from broken bones later on.

  38. 38
    GregB says:

    Join the NRA and get whatever Wayne LaPierre is on. That is some strooooong shit.

  39. 39
    Foregone Conclusion says:

    “Every part of me hurts except my back and my ass and my thighs.”

    I would have thought that running this blog would have given you problems with number 2 at least…

  40. 40
    Laertes says:

    Every time a winger sues a winger an angel gets its wings.

  41. 41
    Jamey says:

    I’m roughly your age and have a similar litany of old injuries (two bad shoulders from hockey; etc.)

    I’ve long ago forgotten what it’s like not to be in pain, but I find that “hair of the dog” works to mitigate my suffering–and by this, I mean exercise and activity to combat injuries caused by exercise and activity… I stretch regularly and engage in intensive low-impact exercise (cycling, 40 min-2hrs at least 3x weekly).

    Sometimes I get achy overall (esp. after riding in cold weather), but I find that the crippling joint pain I used to experiemce is pretty rare. Also, I avoid regular use of alcohol. A cocktail or two from time to time is nice (in fact, I drink less and enjoy it more). But cutting out alcohol and staying active has immeasurably improved my life. Get a bike. Build your endurance and resistance gradually. I can’t guarantee it’ll work for you, but it’s definitely helped me.

    Also: Aleve.

  42. 42
    kooks says:

    I’d recommend looking at anti-inflammatories as well. Heated yoga or Bikram, dry saunas, fish oil, and an anti-inflammatory diet. I try to stay active and play outdoors as much as I can, but I’ve gotten a few injuries this past year – screwed up my elbow, threw out my shoulder, some weird random popping in my knee. I find that Bikram or a sauna really helps with healing and pain relief, along with drinking lots of water and keeping good fats and oils in my diet (lots of avocado) – gotta keep the joints lubed up.

  43. 43
    SatanicPanic says:

    That sucks man. I got nothin. +5

  44. 44
    Frivolous says:

    I’m very sorry to read of your chronic pain problems, John.

    Please be assured you have my good wishes for your better health.

    You have been in an awful lot of accidents, though. That is a lot of trauma.

  45. 45
    Joel says:

    Chronic pain is a bitch.

    Narcotics are really your best choice. There’s some research being done on mixing mu (traditional morphine-type) and kappa (salvia divinorum) opioids in therapy. The idea is that both relieve pain but they have offsetting mood effects. Dunno if this is anywhere close to clinical trials.

    I used to chew down 2400 mgs of ibuprofen a day, which is the maximum dosage. I did this for six months before my provider acquiesced and gave me the surgery I needed for my herniated disc (basically pain free ever since). The chronic NSAIDs messed with my blood pressure, although I was far too young for that to be a major concern.

  46. 46
    wasabi gasp says:

    Botox may be another option.

  47. 47
    LT says:

    I’m getting an MRI the 27th to hopefully find out what the hell has been causing the electric ice pick stabs in my upper back for 13 years. (I know it is 13 at least because I first went to my chiro for it in 1999. He was good enough to say it was beyond him and wouldn’t waste my money.) I’ve just lived with it – sudden stabbing pain in a particular spot, between L shoulder blade and spine – for years. I can work, walk, lift things, all that – it’s just fucking pain. Started going to a physio in Australia for it last year – x-rays, MRI, bone scan, physic exercises – nothing. Now worse than ever, and my left hand is partially asleep – waxy feeling, some needles – all the time, sometimes full on waterlogged log asleep feeling like I’ve slept on my arm wrong. (New MRI will be for different section of spine – up in neck.)

    I went years living on way too much Ibuprphren, then just fuck it and drink – now both, frankly. It blows. Pain like that wears a mind out. It is tiring in ways that you don’t notice eating at you. I’m not I hope like hell they find a hidden pinched nerve and I can finally be done with this.

    I also have been in several car wrecks, one very bad (large tree down, engine next to me when I woke up – I was a passenger), I’ve hit my head very badly – do you know the kind when you can actually hear the *crack*? (one involved white lightning in a Knoxville basement with concrete stairs and floor) – too many times to count, was shot in the back with a shotgun – sans shot, just wad – from about 20 feet once when I was 12 or so, broken bones not related to this…so I guess I’m saying I’m getting what I deserve, yeah?

    It sucks balls, John. I feel for you. I’m fifty next year and this ain’t going to help itself over time. Been swimming twice in the past weeks – hope to get that more regular. THAT may be what really finally helps.

    I’m going to read the comments. This lot probably has some good advice.

    Happy Christmas – and cheers. Too many cheers…

    EDIT: Jesus, that was a long whine. Oh well.

  48. 48
    kabiddle says:

    My god man, I’d say get a hysterectomy but that probably wouldn’t work. Try this — it’s rather far-fetched but worked for me. I was a vegetarian before anyone even knew what the hell that was but found out after years of aching knees and knuckles and crazy rashes that some foods in the nightshade family will and do cause inflammation. Potatoes, tomatoes, GREEN PEPPERS, eggplant. Bean sprouts are a real killer for some reason, unless they are absolutely fresh. No tobacco (nightshade!) and keep away from the sulfites and nitrates (wine!) Get the shit out of your system and then reintroduce slowly. Give it a week.

  49. 49
    Michael G says:

    I have back issues myself. Aleve/naproxen works better than Advil for me.

    There is a reason several states have medicinal marijuana laws. I am told the anti-pain effects work at lower doses than you need to get high, and take longer to wear off.

  50. 50
    Old Dan and Little Ann says:

    More guns!

  51. 51
    mskitty says:

    By now *some* of that is bound to be neuropathic pain, for which gabapentin (generic neurontin, CHEAP) works beautifully – standard dose starts at 300mg and goes up but my horrible pain from a pinched nerve in my neck is *erased* by just ~30 mg gabapentin (300 mg put me to sleep for 18 hours).

  52. 52
    Genine says:

    I’d like to second (or is it third? Or 20th?) the suggestion of yoga, massage, fish oil and acupuncture. Also try some daily hydrotherapy. Alternate between hot and cold and see which combination works best for you.

  53. 53
    LT says:

    Through two windshields? Jesus, John, you’re lucky to be alive. I at least was wearing a seatbelt.

  54. 54
    Jewish Steel says:

    After that laundry list be glad you are still around to feel anything.

    Exercise will raise your endorphin level naturally. Gotta get that weight off anyway, right? Two birds with one stone. Recumbent cycling works great for me. And I’ve had two microdiscectomy

  55. 55
    taylormattd says:

    I know everybody loves acupuncture for some reason, but honestly, it doesn’t work.

    You defintiely should have a discussion with your doctor about pain management, but here’s my crackpot idea: get a hot tub.

  56. 56
    LT says:

    @taylormattd: I second the hot tub. Wish I hd a bath that was worth a fuck.

  57. 57
    LT says:

    @taylormattd: I’m not sure saying something works only because of the placebo effect is the same as saying it doesn’t work.

  58. 58
    PsiFighter37 says:

    That’s a legit rhythm plus/minus rhyme at the end, but I’m so toasted I don’t give a shit.

    PF37 +13 beers/wines/winning

    I drop tunes on your ass as retribution to a time when I was younger and could handle this shit when I was younger.

    My fiancee’s parents and my parents are meeting for the first time tomorrow. Fun/awkward times ahead.

  59. 59
    mandarama says:

    Yoga. I tried it once when I was younger, and didn’t have the patience for it. I was the least new-agey person, really controlling, etc. Tried again after turning 40, and found that my back pain, sleeplessness, and anxiety all improved. It really can improve almost every area of life. Look for a class that focuses on deep stretching and relaxation more than exercise, until you’re in less pain and more used to the practice.

    I haven’t been able to go in a while because of work–which is why I’m here in the middle of the night. Ate too much of my DH’s unbelievably good fudge that he makes for the neighbors at Xmas, so I’m all poisoned up with sugar to boot. Well, I brought it on myself.

  60. 60
    Joshua Norton says:

    Seriously, listen to me. I’ve been in chronic pain for the last 5 years, what with arthritis in both knees and ankles. I was stumbling around with a cane, which is a major pain in the ass.

    Dr’s couldn’t give me regular arthritis meds because I’ve also developed afib and blood thinners would probably kill me. I’ve changed Dr’s and the new one prescribed Diclofenac Potassium – 50 mg, twice a day. The pain disappeared and it felt like my entire body unclenched. The relief was wonderful. It may not be solve your problems, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask about it.

  61. 61
    starskeptic says:

    After this history of injury – I think the cure involves time travel…and possibly offing your younger self – or your older self – I forget which…

  62. 62
    askew says:


    I agree with the hot tub. Disagree about the acupuncture. I had chronic migraines for years and they finally got bad enough that I couldn’t work for 2 years. I went to multiple doctors, even the mayo clinic. Nothing worked. 6 months of acupuncture and I know only get 2 migraines a year. It was a lifesaver for me.

  63. 63
    taylormattd says:

    @LT: No, that means it doesn’t work.

  64. 64
    LT says:

    @taylormattd: No, otherwise it wouldn’t be an ‘effect.’

    You and I should argue about this for hours. I’ve got lots of cheap red wine…

  65. 65
    Pieter B says:

    I’d talk to a pain-management MD. Most are anesthesiologists, and it’s a growing specialty. I have had a number of injuries over the years from mountaineering, but nothing to compare with yours.

    I was pain free except for the occasional twinge up until a bit over a year and a half ago (I’m old enough to be your dad) when I got rear-ended by a guy going at least 40. He literally didn’t see my car until his airbag deflated—the damage to our cars makes it quite clear he never touched the brake.

    Without the pain-management guy I’m seeing (who has no problem with MMJ) and a good neurosurgeon I’d have gone ’round the bend long since.

    If you do try alternative treatments, try to be a bit scientific about it. Don’t jump into several things at once; try them one at a time so you can get an idea of what intervention is producing the effect, if any.

  66. 66
    Sherri says:

    Weight training with a good personal trainer has worked the best for me. I’ve got a bad shoulder, have broken my wrist three times, broken toes, tore up my knee, and had back problems, and I’m a 50 year old woman, but after my ACL reconstruction, I started working with a personal trainer. I wasn’t weak before, but I’m much stronger now, and I’m strong all over, and my pain is much less.

  67. 67
    Jewish Steel says:

    Acupuncture. Probably bullshit.

    Psychologists can list plenty of other things that could explain the apparent response to acupuncture. Diverting attention from original symptoms to the sensation of needling, expectation, suggestion, mutual consensus and compliance demand, causality error, classic conditioning, reciprocal conditioning, operant conditioning, operator conditioning, reinforcement, group consensus, economic and emotional investment, social and political disaffection, social rewards for believing, variable course of disease, regression to the mean — there are many ways human psychology can fool us into thinking ineffective treatments are effective. Then there’s the fact that all placebos are not equal — an elaborate system involving lying down, relaxing, and spending time with a caring authority can be expected to produce a much greater placebo effect than simply taking a sugar pill.

  68. 68
    Americanadian says:

    If you arm your pets, your house will be much safer and you’ll feel less stress and tension, and hence less pain. Other than that, I got nothing. I hope someone here does share something that’ll help you feel better.

  69. 69
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    So sorry John, I feel your pain.
    I am a bit older(50)and have severe spinal issues, surgery for scoliosis at 13(with major problems) as well as fibromyalgia. Am lucky, or not, that oxy**** works for me. Have been on doses as high as 40mg x 2 daily. Now on 10mgx 2. Depression is also a big problem for me and is often a side effect of chronic pain. I would try anything and everything suggested, but highly recommend seeing a psychologist

    Best of luck.

  70. 70
    Gus diZerega says:

    @Tonybrown74: I was going to recommend the same. A great many people I know swear by acupuncture and it is good, they say, for sports injuries. It is also not expensive.

    It is important, I am consistently told, to get someone with experience and significant recommendations if you otherwise know little about it, as not everyone is equally adept. A friend of mine is one of the most prominent physicians in Canada and he pointed out that while he could not accomplish anything with it he had fellow doctors who could do very impressive work.

  71. 71
    Craig says:

    I was in constant, low-level pain from an autoimmune disease and I found mindful meditation very helpful.

  72. 72
    Capt. Seaweed says:

    @Joshua Norton:
    When I started my journey of pain management my Dr and me talked about Diclofenac Potassium. He said even tho it worked to block pain as well as any other meds on the market these super-NSAIDs like DP have an enormous downside.

    I skipped it. Not close to being worth the risk. To be taken only with great caution:

  73. 73
    Bnut says:

    As a 20-something with service related injuries (compound leg fracture, broken back, VERY minor-PTSD), I will second the yoga. I am the most sarcastic MF’er to ever walk the planet, but GD, it helps you find a center between here and there. Hard to explain.

  74. 74
    Gus diZerega says:

    @Jewish Steel: Sigh. No. But it helps preserve your world view, then whatever.

    The most important point for people who care about health is that a many people say it works. While I avoid personal testimony and didn’t mention it in the comment below, I had a stroke that left me barely able to walk or talk and unable to write my name let along anything else. Two months later I drove cross country alone and was no threat to anyone while doing so. The ONLY treatment I had was working with “chi,” as does acupuncture, and taking the aspirin the doctors suggested I take. They also recommended physical therapy, by I’d overshot my insurance and chose not to. Turns out it wasn’t necessary.

    It works for many, but if your worldview is more important than your health, just write it off because Richard Dawkins and similar worthies disapprove. Use the magic word “anecdote,” like they do.

  75. 75
    ColdieZ says:

    John – I would definitely recommend pot. It will make you feel better, That was the first thought I had after reading those paragraphs. I am 10 years younger than you but due to a lifetime of manual labor, 10 years of distance running, 10 years of skateboarding, and 5 years and counting of 365 day a year bike commuting, I have pain daily. I blew my knee and have cadaver ligaments in my body, along with multiple surgeries and screws. And I smash my limbs a few times a year one way or other. I think you have to just get used to living in pain all the time. Every human goes through it at one level or another. But I would definitely say pot and aspirin work the best. The hands are tricky though. Mine can be bad, but my fingers are fine. I have no perspective on that. I have friends with wrist and elbow problems that sound worse, but I am lucky to have pretty good hands with few nerve endings. Hope you find what works.

  76. 76
    ruemara says:

    I third or fourth or whatevereth acupuncture and I’d also recommend qi gong. even tai chi, but qi gong is really more focused on healing movement. When I got a blood clot in my leg (DVT), after my first and only month on birth control; I was told I would never walk without a cane and would always be at risk for another clot. I researched some Traditional Chinese Medicine and started practicing qi gong interspersed with some recumbent biking and small weights. It took nearly 9 months, but I now walk very well thank you, on my own 2 feet. When I started having very bad carpal, I turned to acupuncture and again, qi gong with some yoga mudras (hand poses). I get swollen fingers and some stiffness, but I have never been troubled by carpal again and I’m online even more than ever (curse you, WoW and animation). I also used to have my bp under decent control with less medication, but one of the first things I could not afford was regular acupuncture along with my vitamin therapy. I’m doing a little home acupressure, but it is not as effective as a certified LAC. You also may have to clean up your diet from inflammatory foods like nightshade plant families (tomato, eggplant) and wheat, at least for a while, but really get either this book, by Michael Tse or this one by Danny Connor and Michael Tse. Do the exercises regularly and I think you will see improvement. Sorry this is happening, you’re still young enough to change things.

  77. 77
    legion says:

    Earworm? you should try this version instead:

  78. 78
    Tim I says:

    I would not keep doing Advil. I was diagnosed with acute kidney failure last January. I was taking ibuprofen for my knee and back on a daily basis and it really fucked me up. Acute renal failure is heavy shit. They put you on dialysis and dialysis patients have a life expectancy of not much more than a year or two.

    My nephrologist told me to stop taking NSAID’s and gave me tranodol instead. It’s a synthetic narcotic. It mimics morphine in terms of how your brain reacts, but with far fewer side effects. The only issue I had was constipation, which was easily remedied with taking a few pysillium capsules a day. My kidneys have been fine for several months and while the various pains are still with me. They are much more manageable.

  79. 79
    Deb says:

    Delurking to say…..have your vitamin D levels checked. And before you all start groaning do some research. It’s not a vitamin but pre-hormone. We make it in our skin via exposure to the sun. We have all be swallowing the bad science from the sunscreen industry about humans and the sun. Our lifestyles have changed tremendously in the last few hundred years. We’ve moved indoors and are rarely outside. The sunscreen industry has us convinced that it is poison to us when it is in fact a vital part of our survival. You have over 2000 vitamin d receptors in your body. It’s not a cure-all but it’s amazing how many chronic illnesses and diseases it directly affects.

    Article from WebMD on chronic pain:

    Please google “Vitamin D Deficiency.” Also visit

    I don’t sell supplements or anything. It’s changed my life. I live in NOrthern Indiana and it is very hard to maintain good serum levels when at this latitudes. Don’t use the prescription Vitamin D. Use good over-the-counter D3. Very important between the two.

    I’m not a health food nut. I have been doing lots of research on respiratory issues because I am a recovering smoker with COPD. It does amazing things for our bodies and affects many of the auto-immune diseases too.

    For what it’s worth.

  80. 80
    delosgatos says:

    Just out of curiosity, how did the fingers get broken?

  81. 81
    Jay C says:

    Outside of single bout of sciatica 13 years ago, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with chronic pain – though Mrs. Jay does ( from Ehrlers-Danlos Syndrome) and I can tell you there’s no easy answer. It sounds like your source problem is coming from old bone injuries, so anti-inflammatory measures may not do a lot for you. I’ll second the recs for acupuncture and the happy hemp: it can’t hurt in any event, and may help.

    But dealing with inflammation via diet and supplements might wont be a bad idea anyway. Oh, and patches for occasional spot pain…

  82. 82
    Deb says:

    Also, forgot about this site but this guy has created a Vitamin D “Wiki” with links to tons different studies and news articles:

  83. 83
    Honus says:

    @Mnemosyne: I also recommend the Gluten free approach As a result of a serious auto accident and 20 years as a carpenter, I have a list of ailments similar to John’s. I went gluten free about six weeks ago and feel immensely better; I have been taking maybe 25 or more advil per week for years; i have taken maybe a dozen since I quit eating bread and drinking beer. It should only take a couple days to see results. I felt much better in less than 24 hours. I really miss pizza though.

  84. 84
    rammalamadingdong says:

    I finally found a good physical therapist at Stanford and that has made all the difference. Gave me my life back. I had tried PT a variety of times, but never really got anything out of it. He did a lot of work “calming” my knees. A lot of massage and very slow progress. The hardest thing to accept is going hard at exercise can really set you back. Hot packs, cold packs, therapy pool at the gym, and a buckwheat pillow has really helped the neck and shoulder region.

    I know you won’t listen but don’t reject the narcotics. I believe you had bad experiences, but there is a lot of work being done and it may be a matter of finding the right medication.

  85. 85
  86. 86
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Did everyone here go to sleep and miss this? Dana Loesch suing

    This literally could not be happening to a more deserving asshole.

    Also lulzy is the fact that this #tcot is only seeking $75k for a year of lost compensation. (Bear in mind that the initial demands are typically inflated, meaning she could have been making $50k. Or less. My guess is high 20s.)

  87. 87
    Mnemosyne says:


    Fortunately for you, gluten-free is very fashionable right now. (Ah, for the halcyon days when lactose intolerance was “in” and I could find lactose-free milk everywhere I shopped …) I know the BJ’s pizza chain has gluten-free pizza, and other local shops probably make it, too, if you know where to look.

  88. 88
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @ruemara: Does not taste the same.

    Lucky for me, I love sweet potato. Kinda overdid it at the beginning, though.

    And corn pasta is tasty. Brown rice pasta is easier to find (granted, some people are allergic/sensitive to corn too, while rice allergies are rare) but tastes nasty. (I mean the stuff that’s a replacement for Italian-style wheat pasta. Asian rice noodles are fine by me.)

    I miss all that American-Sicilian food but I’m probably better off not eating it anyway.

    Tho a friend of mine (who is Italian) nearly died due to his wheat allergy (chronically inflamed sinuses leading finally to burst vessel, “nose bleed” that wouldn’t quit, hospital admission, surgery) REFUSES to stop eating pasta. Corn pasta’s out because he’s also very allergic to corn. Oh, and he has high blood pressure and overweight but keeps shopping for doctors who tell him he can eat all the roast beef and cold cuts he wants (2 days portion at lunch, etc).

    I’ve met his wife and I know she’s not trying to kill him with food, but she is enabling him. They are both quite delusional on this point. No surprise, she is a giant Tea Party activist and cried bitter tears on election night. He is pretty delusional in general but is the realist and more human of the pair. Weird. (He had his kids with his first wife, who died of cancer when the kids were in college.)

  89. 89
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @rammalamadingdong: I know you won’t listen but don’t reject the narcotics.

    You need a doctor you can trust. Narcotics must be carefully managed. Too many docs are either bad at it or don’t care b/c they’re pushing patients and scripts through too quickly. Some docs don’t understand drugs all that well (no surprise, as it’s de-emphasized in medical school, leading to the peculiarity that PharmD’s know much more about the drugs than MDs but are not allowed to prescribe… that would be fine in a more integrated setting, like a clinic or hospital where they all work together… sometimes it’s a disaster in our outpatient damaged care system) and with narcotics that can be quite fraught for the patient.

    Just sayin’.

    We had a rash of Oxycontin stickups in Mass when I was working at the CVS in the early 2000s. Most of these guys were legitimately prescribed that shit in that early wave.

  90. 90
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Tim I: NSAIDs tear up your guts too. Nasty stuff.

  91. 91
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    The people that said “do stuff to work the body.’ Yeah. What they said. For pain management… given the chronic nature of your pain, smoking weed is almost certainly the best choice for you from a long term perspective. Especially if you use a vaporizer so you can avoid those nasty combustion by-products.

    You must keep moving. Life is awesome while you’re on your feet, and it sucks when you’re no longer able to be on your feet, so it’s important to keep moving so you can stay on your feet for as long as possible.

  92. 92
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Gus diZerega: Your inability to distinguish between anecdote and data, or even to grasp at a bare minimum why this might be important, makes me question to veracity of your miraculous brain function cure anecdote, fwiw. “Sigh”

  93. 93
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Gus diZerega: So-called sham acupuncture (random sites) with sham needles (do not pierce skin) has been shown to be just as effective as “real” acupuncture–but without the risk of infection.

    Also, massage is as effective for back pain management as chiropraxy, without the risk of stroke.

    @Craig: Now this is a good complementary therapy. Effective for what it’s effective for with little risk. Takes less training than you might think, too.

  94. 94
    Allen says:

    @TheOtherWA: I remember my introduction to Naproxen. I had hurt my back getting ready or a short trip out of town. Hurt so bad that that I couldn’t bend over, had to lie on my back to put on my shoes. Talked a coworker into making the drive, had the hotel refer me a doctor. When the doc saw me, he had to chuckle as he had never seen a guy in so much pain, my back was in such spasms that the center of my chest was five inches out of line with my navel. He prescribed Naproxen. Worked like a dream. Highly recommended.

  95. 95
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @LT: If it only works b/c of placebo, then we must ask about the harms of the procedure, as there are many known placebos with much less in the way of harms. Like a massage by a competent, licensed massage therapist.

    Acupuncture (high-tech blood letting) carries plenty of risks that don’t justify the dubious benefits… you know, like blood poisoning, hepatitis, bacterial infection, scarring…

  96. 96
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Santiago: I swear that comment wasn’t there when I posted mine!

    /// kidding

    feel silly now

  97. 97
    poptartacus says:

    being in constant pain is a pain. When I had pancreititus. I visulized my pancreas a little baby otter with a red hot tail which I would pour super-cold blue liquid over. It helped.

  98. 98
    Dead Ernest says:


    I’m a physician. Board certification is in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. At this point, my practice is narrowed to taking care of people with chronic pain, its what I do all day, everyday.
    While I rarely post here, I do visit Balloon Juice pretty much every day and have for years. I recall the story of sacrificing your shoulder for Lily quite well.
    I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of who you are, what you’re sensibilities and preferences are.

    I’d be happy to talk with you. The subject of chronic pain is rich, dense, complicated and for me, endlessly fascinating. And all of that is true before one even begins to consider treatment options. It differs from many other medical conditions, including acute pain. While almost every one of the many facets (seemingly infinite sometimes) can, and in fact does, fill innumerable discussion boards every day, any one person’s own chronic pain experience, and treatment options doesn’t easily lend itself to resolution in this particular venue.

    My ‘New Patient’ visit rarely lasts less than 2 hours. A good share of that time is spent addressing the great number of misconceptions & both over and under emphasized aspects of the problems and the treatment options.

    If it helps you overcome your inclination to ‘stay in your shell’ when it comes to talking to strangers, I can tell you I share some of your dearest musical tastes. The Grateful Dead seemed to have followed me around for awhile too, just a few years before they latched on and went off to follow you. And not only do I agree with you that the Little Feat album Waiting for Columbus, deserves hearing, at least in part, every week (which I’m grateful to honor), I was also in the audience when they recorded the show and can tell you of an odd, unexpected and never written of dynamic occurring on stage that night.

    I assume, this being your blog, that you can see my email address.
    Please do feel free to email me. I’d be more than happy to talk to you about what your options might be, discuss what the risks and benefits profiles for those options might be given the specific needs and concerns that matter to you.


    (Please pardon sloppy syntax, graceless grammar. I composed this on an iPhone so I can’t see what I’ve been writing very well)

  99. 99
    mai naem says:

    I see somebody already mentioned the affect of advil and the other NSAIDs on your kidneys. My mom’s going through this. If y’all think a diabetic,low fat, or heart healty diet is hard try a renal diet. It is hard. No tomatoes, you have to soak potatoes for hours before cooking, no OJ, limited dairy, limited legumes, limited nuts, limiting of a bunch of fruits. And once you’re on dialysis – limiting fluids, limiting your phosphorus – again that’s in a bunch of veggies. About the only things that are okay is eggs, white bread and oatmeal.

    My sister is into essential oils. She says you can use white fir oil, frankincense, or wintergreen oil for arthritic/joint/bone pain. These are all topical. Also, some of the nsaids are available in topical creams. They aren’t cheap but my guess is that you don’t do as much damage applying it topically then taking it in pill form.

  100. 100
    Mary G says:

    I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for more than 30 years and have had chronic pain for all of them. Fish oil, flaxseed oil, ibuprofen, swimming/water exercise, ice and biofeedback are the things I’ve found help me the most. Biofeedback made the most dramatic difference – I have learned to feel the pain but not let it affect me, is the best way I can explain it.

    When it’s really bad, I have oxycontin, but I am still working on a bottle of 60 tabs I got in October 2011, so it’s not very often I need it. I hate taking it, it just puts me to sleep and makes me feel stupid.

  101. 101
    @VividBlueDotty says:

    Lots of GREAT suggestions here.. Just gonna make one I don’t see. Ever seen the commercials for Cymbalta for chronic pain? I took it for years (till I lost my job/insurance) for anxiety/depression, and it changed my life. Originally it was classified for prescription as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant, but its use as a chronic pain aid has been recognized and now can be prescribed specifically for that. I did not have chronic pain of the type you have, but the stress-related pain I DID have vanished within a few days of starting it. I slept better than I ever have in my entire life. And it managed my anxiety and depression better than anything else, without the weight gain associated with some of the other SSRIs I had tried. I know people who achieved tremendous relief from years of pain of various types after being prescribed this drug.

    There are drawbacks (side effects, stigma of taking this type of medication), but if it’s the right solution for you (as it was for me) you will feel like a new person in many ways. Worth a try (or a discussion with your doctor) if nothing else appeals to you more or solves the problem.

  102. 102
    picturesofsmith says:

    I’ve got nothing to add, but I have a 67 year old cousin with scoliosis so bad her spine is a perfect S. She’s in constant pain, yet she manages without drugs.

    So, yeah it’s going to suck and get worse, but it’s doable.

    other than that as has been suggested, pot or booze.

  103. 103
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @mai naem: I think topical nsaids are readily available in Canada? No gut problems, so that’s a big plus. Can’t find them OTC in the US.

    I was really desperate but my guts have healed a lot since I quit the gluten so I do take pills from time to time. Ibuprofen was okay. Aspirin (not a nsaid, but serious stomach irritant) made me puke the other day, though.

  104. 104
    MaxxLange says:

    What the hell do you people do for fun in the sticks? Get drunk and throw cinder blocks at each other?

  105. 105
    JustaBitofHelp says:

    You said no narcotics but… Vicodin is a little different than the rest & it’s the only thing that ever came close to helping with my chronic pain & still left me able to function. My doc is very watchful about the addiction issues but the benefits, so far, outweigh the risks.

  106. 106
    Joey Maloney says:

    Has anyone suggested topical capsaicin yet? Other things that have worked for various afflicted people I know – self-hypnosis, meditation/biofeedback.

  107. 107
    Fordpowers says:

    Anyone that didn’t immediately recommend medicinal marijuana is a fucking idiot.

  108. 108
    Lavocat says:

    Dear lord, you really are a crash-test dummy that has somehow been blessed with the animation of life. Through some stroke of luck, you’ve been turned into a “real boy”.

    Other than the obvious recommendation to “get mellow, Dude!”, here are a few things that work for this aging body:

    1. A decent soak in a hot bath (when needed), sometimes with Epsom salts;

    2. Regular imbibing of alcohol (esp. red wine);

    3. Regular imbibing of various green and black teas;

    4. Daily walking (moderate physical activity);

    5. Daily stretching (helps the most!);

    6. Daily aspirin (NOT advil); aspirin does wonders for the circulatory system, things that Advil can only dream of doing.

    A friend of mine absolutely SWEARS by chiropracty and various Chinese therapies, but especially acupuncture.

    You might want a neurological consult before you start anything serious.

  109. 109
    MikeJ says:

    Put some Lister’s Carbolic Unguent on a wad of cotton, and stick it in your ear.

  110. 110
    Raven says:

    Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness [Paperback]
    Jon Kabat-Zinn

  111. 111
    Raven says:

    I have rods on my spine from a fractured T-6 in 1974, shattered my left leg in 18 fragments in 8th grade, broken nose, dislocated fingers, broken wrist an collar bone. I swim a bit under a mile a day keep my weight down and drive on.

  112. 112
    Sarah says:

    eleventy billionth recommendation for acupuncture. my practitioner also does something called cranio-sacral therapy, which i think is utter horseshit, but it still works incredibly well for pain and healing. like, magically well.

    Moderate but regular exercise. Glucosamine. Tons of water. Like everyone up there already said.

  113. 113
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    The obvious suggestions: acupuncture, massage, yoga, regular exercise (walking, swimming, and above all, weight-bearing exercise). Find a good physical therapist for a consult. You may have to interview quite a few to find a good one.

    I was referred to a rheumatologist a number of years ago, and she sent me back to my then-PCP with recommendations to check for thyroid issues, vitamin D deficiency, potassium deficiency, and food allergies. I had to change doctors to get any progress (no drug company kickbacks on Armour, after all). The D3 and potassium supplements have made the most improvement in my joints.

    There’s a new food allergy test out within the last couple of years that’s a lot less expensive. I turned up sensitive to soybeans and potatoes. The difference cutting those out of my diet has made is astounding. The same test also checks for gluten sensitivity.

  114. 114
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Physical therapy — you get exercise, stretching, heat therapy, etc. under the guidance of a professional. And thanks to Obamacare, my husband’s insurance company allows him NINETY NINE PT visits a year to combat the osteoarthritis in his knees.

  115. 115
    JoyceH says:

    I agree with a lot of the suggestions here – yes to yoga, yes to acupuncture, and yes to trying gluten-free.

    I think a lot more people are gluten-sensitive than we know. A couple years ago, I tried gluten-free just as a test, and when I’m eating gluten-free everything that’s wrong with me is better. Then when I fall off the gluten wagon for a few days, the issues start coming back. Not just the joint pain, but the heart burn, the sinus issues, the dry eyes.

    Another thing to look into is the nightshade family – a lot of people are sensitive to them. The nightshade family includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant, so they’re pretty hard to avoid.

    I think chronic system-wide inflammation is the cause of a lot of what ails many of us, and much of it can be alleviated based on what we eat.

  116. 116
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    I am beginning to wonder if perhaps you also have a road runner in your menagerie you have failed to mention to us.

    Honestly, about the only thing I can offer is talk with your doctor about low level dosage of hydrocodone, an Rx you can keep on hand and use as needed. High dosage is not necessary, the lowest 2.5 mg a couple times a day will help, and not impair you mentally. But it will knock the edge off the pain. It is also good to have on hand when you have flu and colds, as it is the best antitussive out there to help control coughing. The only side issue is most preparations also include acetaminophine, so you have to not drink too much and destroy your kidneys.

    It is also possible you should consider a regular dosage of some anti-inflammatory. Mobic (Meloxicam) is one of the oldest on the market, and the safest as far as side effect. I had to start taking it about three years ago because the pain in my legs and joints when walking had gotten so bad. It has been very helpful in controlling the inflammation.

    Bottom line, though, you have busted your bones up everywhere, and as you continue to age, arthritis is going to have a heyday making you miserable. But there are coping strategies. They can interfere with drinking, but hey, moderation is good in everything.

  117. 117
    Maude says:

    Swimming is excellent.
    I don’t have any answers for chronic pain. Everyone is different and what works for one doesn’t work for another.

  118. 118
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    @suzanne: I just want to second this. It is amazing how much relief from pain and how much better you will sleep if you will do two things. First, keep a pillow under your knees when lying on your back, and when you turn on your side, wedge the pillow between your knees, to elevate the upper leg. This relieves pressure on the spine. Second, when you are lying on your side, tuck a good firm pillow or bolster up against your chest, and rest your upper arm over the pillow. This relieves the pressure on your upper body of the arm being pulled down and the shoulder area stressed.

    I am deadly serious when I say try these two strategies. Part of dealing with chronic pain like this is being able to relax and get a good night’s sleep. If you do not, that leads to stress and fatigue, and that piled on to the physical symptoms of pain just make the situation harder to handle.

  119. 119
    jt says:


    Kabat-Zinn also has an audio book with guided meditations: Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief: Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your Life

  120. 120
    Ann Hartzler says:

    I would also recommend acupuncture and/or acupressure, yoga, Qi gong and massage. Body Rolling on foam cylinders is a form of self massage and there are numerous YouTube videos on specific muscle groups. I haven’t read all of these replies so this may repitition, but my family relies on socks filled with rice heated in the microwave for instant pain relief with no downside unless it is too hot. For my finger joints I find the Chinese medicine patches cut in strips and secured with a bandaid help for a good 12 hours. There is more than one brand so you may need to try various concoctions.

    None of these are miracle cures and you will have to do them regularly for the rest of your life, but they are definitely better than Anti-inflammatory pills. I use those and they seem more effective when I switch around from one to the other.

  121. 121
    p.a. says:


  122. 122
    SuperHrefna says:

    I struggled for years with constant pain until an undiagnosed neuroma was diagnosed and removed. And I still get flare ups every now and then. What worked best of anything was exercise, finding a trainer who specialized in rehab got me off crutches and walking normally again! So please find a good gym & someone to supervise you. As far as meds go, I second the suggestion of lidocaine patches, they are great. Wore them for years with no ill effect which is more than I can say for most pain meds :-)

  123. 123
    Teri says:

    Chronic Pain Clinic Near you….John Hopkins

    Yoga, Massage, Fish Oil, Non-inflamatory diet

    Go to spa get hot wax treatment for hands, works so well I bought one for at home, I broke every bone in hands and feet several times.

    Buy a hot tub….heat therapy helps with tendon issues because the pain makes you tense stuff up cause it hurts to move so you limit your range of motion.

    Daily ROM exercises to be found at Arthritis Foundation website, no link cause I am traveling, which you can do in bed and really entertain my dog in the morning.

    God Bless and Merry Christmas

  124. 124
    JoyceH says:

    And something else to think about – sometimes treating the area where the pain is doesn’t help because that’s not really where the problem is.

    I sometimes get pain in the top of my foot. Ice and massage don’t do anything for it, and I’d crip around for a few days figuring I’m just getting old. But the other day I went to the chiropractor and I had the foot pain so I asked him about it. (Chiropractors! They’re not just for spines!) He checked out the alignment of my feet, and then started pressing on the foot, and then pressing on my shin. Hit a spot and I yelped.

    Turns out the actual problem is the tendons (or do I mean ligaments?) on the front of the leg leading down to the foot and not actually on the foot itself. Well, now that I know that, I ice and massage in the right spot and it clears it right up. Dang, I’ve had that top of foot thing on and off for ages! Wish I’d asked the chiro about it a long time ago.

  125. 125
    sweaver says:

    I tried acupuncture for low thyroid. The Chinese doc I went to said that for something adrenal usually stress is involved – he told me the adrenal system was the first system affected by stress. I went about 5 times. Nothing specifically happened with my thyroid but I can tell you I was incredibly relaxed after my sessions, which according to him was the first step in restoring the imbalance. He strongly encouraged meditation and exercise, both of which I haven’t done, but I’ve wondered for a few years whether he was right. I kind of feel instinctively he was, but I’m too busy being stressed to do anything about it. I just realized how pathetic I sound.

    Anyway, chronic pain sucks, and I do have 1 relative (retired D.E.A. guy, from west Texas, very feet on the ground) who went to an acupuncturist for ankle pain that nothing (surgery and medication)had helped. And he went a hand full of times, and now he tells everybody about it because he went from being unable to walk on it to being pain-free almost immediately.

  126. 126
    RSA says:

    My sympathies, John. Dealing with chronic pain is terrible (some people in my family suffer from it).

    A lot of interesting suggestions have been made in this thread; a well-informed doctor is the best bet, I’m thinking. As background reading, you might find this interesting: Snake Oil Science, by R. Barker Bausell, a biostatistician. It’s a readable overview of the scientific status of complementary and alternative medicine.

    The tricky thing about chronic pain, sometimes, is that it comes and goes, and it’s easy to mistake correlation for causation in its treatment. The placebo effect is powerful. (Bausell recognizes this, and at the end of his book he tells readers that if they choose a form of complementary/alternative medicine, discounting what he’s written, they should try to believe in it wholeheartedly–it won’t work otherwise. Unintuitive but plausible advice, given the nature of placebos.)

  127. 127
    gelfling545 says:

    I have chronic pain due to fibromyalgia & the 2 things that have worked for me are 2000 units of Vitamin D (prescribed by my doctor who is extremely conservative and not at all the type to chase after fads treatment-wise for all his “achy patients”)and Tai Chi with the Taoist Tai Chi Society which has branches all over. I do the Tai Chi for muscle pain but most there came to it for bone issues. When I can get to do even part of a set every day it keeps the pain pretty much under control. I have also returned to using aspirin in place of other drugs when pain control is needed. It just seems to work better for me.

  128. 128
    Lojasmo says:

    Naproxen sodium on the regular (keep hydrated to protect renal function)
    Regular exercise

    In that order

  129. 129
    stoned stats says:

    Late to the party as usual, but for chronic pain: pot. (Yoga is pretty good too.)

  130. 130
    Miki says:

    @Raycharles90: I have nothing but the deepest sympathy for you, Raycharles90. Has your doctor suggested anything more than the lidocain (e.g., gabapentin or pregabalin)? I’ve heard they can help sometimes. My Dad had PHN and got absolutely no help getting any relief from his SCAM doctor – herbs and acupuncture and homeopathy-woo just don’t work on anythingthe kind of pain you and my Dad have/had. It wasn’t until he developed a bedsore, became septic and landed in the ICU that he got any relief (lidocain), but by then it was too late. Seriously, folks – post-herpetic (shingles) pain is not something to fuck around with.

    As for John’s chronic pain, dang – it sounds like the inflammation is crippling you. Wine doesn’t help that (she says because she knows). PT and yoga can help you increase mobility which can help with chronic pain, but it can be a long slog until you see results (she says because she knows).

    And yes – getting old brings the chickens home to roost.

  131. 131
    shortstop says:

    Can’t take narcotics and ibuprofen and its relatives have started giving me massive stomach problems, so I’m grateful for the ideas in this thread. Thanks, all.

  132. 132
    Rumpole says:


    Look up trigger point therapy. A lot of times the pain that we get is due to some kind of imbalance caused by sitting and typing all day. I played lacrosse in hs and college as well-one break and a bunch of contusions (no car accidents or 3-story headers-knocks wood.)

    For your fingers-be sure it’s warm when you type. Over 70 degrees. If my office is cold, my fingers start to hurt. Keep them warm. Also be sure that you’re sitting up straight, keyboard at the right height etc. this is really important.

    Second – take a lacrosse ball. Make a figure four with your legs and put it under the glute on the bent leg. If it doesn’t release in a couple of seconds (it will stop hurting) then that is a source of tension. Keep at it. Odds are your hip flexor a and psoas are tight as well. Put the ball under your calf, hamstring etc -if it hurts (you’ll feel the knots) – you have work to do. A few minutes a day. Get a foam roller off of amazon and learn to use it.

    Third- core strength. Yoga is great. If you like weights check out kettlebells. They take up no room and in 20 minutes you are done. Crank some music set a timer with 1 min rounds and 20 sec rest – 4x per week. Thats it. But start light and learn the proper form. YouTube is great for this. Most of us folks over forty don’t engage our butts properly when we walk or run or ride a bike and it makes it harder to take weight off because one of the largest muscle groups in the body simply is not firing. Sitting at a desk is awful for us. That leads to neck pain, hamstring pulls, all kinds of things that don’t seem related but are b/c your muscles are all connected. (See-I sound like a liberal).

    That said, you have beat the crap out of yourself. The above helps most sedentary folks (myself included) reduce some of the afflictions of middle age, but I don’t have that medical history. Particularly with the weights and yoga–go see a Chiro or pt before you get yourself rolling. Have them do something called a functional movement screen. If they detect imbalances (weak butt, poor hip rotation, tightness inn the spine etc) they will give you a plan to fix It. It may not get rid of all of it, but it has decent odds of reducing it. Give it eight weeks and abase yourself by posting here so we keep you accountable. Consistency works wonders.

  133. 133
    Karounie says:

    Yoga didn’t work for me, but swimming did. I only do relaxed stretching strokes: breaststroke, sidestroke and backstroke with frog kick. I have no medical background but the reason swimming seemed to me to work so well is that it very quickly strengthened my core muscles so they could cushion and support my spine better (I had no actual back pain but it all goes through the spine.) Carrying around any sort of gut makes everything worse plus its nice to have a waistline again.

    The way to make swimming interesting or at least not unbearably boring is to get a waterproof case/headphones for your iPod or MP3 that you can wear and crank it up high as will not hurt your eardrums.

  134. 134
    Michelle from Chicago says:

    John — If you’re serious in asking for advice, I have a few suggestions:

    1) Find a really, really good chiropractor and/or massage therapist to help you deal with the musculoskeletal problems caused by your injuries

    2) Get hold of a copy of The Magnesium Miracle, by Dr. Carolyn Dean; magnesium, strangely enough, can help with chronic pain

    3) Also get hold of a copy of the book Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis, and seriously consider going gluten-free, or at least wheat-free, for a couple of months and see what happens. The proteins in wheat are a huge promoter of inflammation, which is precisely what you need to tamp down, but in a healthy, non-NSAID sort of way.

    4) If there are any good biodynamic craniosacral therapists anywhere near you, please consider getting some treatments. BCST can be excellent for musculoskeletal pain, and other problems, as well.

    Good luck, John. Chronic pain is no joke. We all wish you well.

  135. 135
    mcmullje says:

    @Honus: My granddaughter has celiac disease and MUST be gluten free. The only thing she really cried over was pizza. However, UDI’s has really really good gluten free breads and pizza crust (as well as bagels).

  136. 136
    Citizen_X says:

    I know more guns were mentioned. Has anybody mentioned tax cuts? ‘Cause tax cuts cure everything!

  137. 137
    curiousleo says:

    Late to the party but since no one else said it I’ll be the ahole….

    get some weight off. (yes, I know from personal experience easier said than done. easiest first step if you drink regularly is 1 less drink a day or 3 less a week. and give up all sodas. and move at least 20 min more a day)

    Yoga/stretching is great and makes a difference for many people. Try it. counts as your exercise, too.

    Massage can make a difference for many people. Try that, too.

    But lugging around 10-30 extra lbs makes a difference on the joints. Think about a hike where you’re carrying the loaded pack vs a hike where you’re just carrying you.

  138. 138
    kbro9 says:

    Just keep moving, bro, or it will get a damn sight worse. You can’t undue the stupid shit it sounds like you’ve done. I recommend that you nag all the kids to learn by your example, and that you do crazy amounts of yoga.

  139. 139
    Mike says:

    The best thing you could ever do is do daily mobility drills:

  140. 140
    different-church-lady says:

    Dude, you know they have professionals who understand this stuff. You should see one. Or three.

    I’d start with a physical therapist and let her/him steer you to other disciplines.

  141. 141
    Nanzee says:

    Acupuncture and Tai Chi. Neither is a quick fix, but they will slowly help with chronic pain.

  142. 142
    The Pale Scot says:

    Ask your doc about t r a ma d o l, it’s a non-narcotic pain reliever that can be safely taken long term.

  143. 143
    Daffodil's Mom says:

    Longtime lurker here with a few additional suggestions based on both my own experience and that of two of our dogs. First mine: have you considered a really good air mattress? It makes all the difference in the world, and you can adjust the setting depending on however much support or cushioning your various pains require. Never discount the worth of a good night’s sleep. Also, check out whether alfalfa would be safe for you — I can’t take it but it has made a world of difference for my husband’s arthritis in both his hips and fingers. Now from our doggies: Adequan injections worked wonders on two of them, though I know not its use in people, while topical capsaicin is a good spot relief for people too. In terms of joint pain though, the best thing we have found so far is Traumeel. It is a homeopathic supplement with arnica, I think, as its primary ingredient, it is available for people, and honestly, it was like our pain vet waved a magic paintbrush. And though all of my dogs are utterly brilliant, I really don’t think this was a placebo effect. Good luck to you, John — there are an awful lot of good suggestions in this thread and I hope you find stuff that works, soon.

  144. 144
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    You’re 42? Shit, I felt fine at 42 compared to 46 (47 in a few weeks). I hate to say this does nothing but get worse, but it does. The best stuff out their is the demon weed, but I’m in an occupation where that’s a strict no-no and I think you may be as well. I don’t have any good suggestions. It sucks.

  145. 145
    WaterGirl says:

    Cole, completely agree with all the suggestions about acupuncture, deep tissue massage, chiropractor, eliminating nightshade foods, fish oil, eating blueberries and other anit-inflamatory foods, doing yoga, etc. Pretty much everything except the drug recommendations because I don’t know anything about those.

    I will just add three things that I haven’t seen yet. Tart cherry juice has amazing anti-inflamatory properties. Amazingly, so does pineapple.

    Take a vinegar bath. It may sound crazy, but it really helps. Run a hot/warm bath and add a gallon of apple cider vinegar to the water and soak. Real apple cider vinegar, not the “flavored” stuff. Try it. Vinegar is cheap, what have you got to lose?

  146. 146
    danielx says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    Ask your doc about t r a ma d o l, it’s a non-narcotic pain reliever that can be safely taken long term.

    Ah, so that’s why my earlier posts never appeared. That medication is good stuff, strong analgesic but without the narcotic side effects so you can do things like driving a car, for example.

  147. 147
    Stephen1947 says:

    I don’t have time to read all the comments, but I hope I am echoing at least a handful of folks who have suggested turmeric. I discovered it last winter when I was having knee pains, so bad that I had to put both feet on the same step when I was walking up or down stairs. It comes in capsule form and you take it 2-3 times a day – doesn’t make pain go away, but it does make it more bearable – not quite as effectively as cannabis, but I was able to work with it.

  148. 148
    Beauzeaux says:

    Diclofenac. Advil in an ointment. Rub on directly. Works.

    For the oral route, a combination of ibuprofen and an extra strength tylenol. Doctor recommended when I did an undignified fall on my butt and bruised my tailbone.

  149. 149
    Dice says:

    @Tonybrown74: I Second acupuncture, and that stuff you spark up at 4:20. I am riddled with arthritis (different causes) and both help.

  150. 150
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Gus diZerega: You are correct if you are saying that medical plausibility and double blinded, placebo controlled testing is part of my worldview.

    Guess I’m just a hopeless romantic.

  151. 151
    Gary says:

    Longtime lurker.

    Acupuncture. Also yoga for flexibility.

    Both are great. Wife has serious spine problems and also will not do narcotics – deep massage is good, acupuncture best. Chiropractor also helps.

  152. 152
    RosiesDad says:

    Cole: You need to get your ass out of the chair and start exercising. Walk outside or on a treadmill, recumbent bike at the gym or swim. Loss of muscle mass is the enemy of arthritic joints because maintaining muscle mass stabilizes the joints and supports your frame.

    You need to find a fitness trainer and get on a program to drop weight, build some muscle tone and to improve the flexibility in your joints by stretching. Start slow and increase intensity VERY SLOWLY.

    And then you can supplement with the NSAID of your choice–ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, etodolac, pick one that works for you.

    Also, if you don’t take it, a couple of grams of fish oil a day is a natural anti-inflammatory and Cosamin ASU (Nutramax Labs) will help lube your joints.

    It is a daily battle and it doesn’t get easier but if you don’t get off your ass, you are sunk.

  153. 153
    Ruckus says:

    Don’t want to be a downer here but getting old sucks. Best alternative but still.
    I have 20+ yrs on you and don’t have the quite the range of ills that you have but many of mine have been from accidents as well, decades ago. Both knees but especially left, both shoulders but especially right, right hip and that all the time just the level changes, back, left thumb almost continuous. Oh also migraines, that’s 40+yrs. The last 5-6 years has been getting worse except for the migraines they are now only occasionally. Oh and random short duration shooting pains at level 7-8, now those are fun.
    So how do you live with chronic pain? You just do. You learn to sleep in one or two positions, you learn what not to do any more. Drugs have too many side effects and generally stop me from doing something I want. Ibuprofen is my go to to take the edge off but I try to keep from taking it more than once or twice a week but some days…
    I often wonder how many people live pretty much pain free and marvel at what that must be like. Lucky bastards.

  154. 154
    RobZ says:

    Curcumin. Lots.

  155. 155
    Karon says:

    Turmeric is a anti inflammatory. A little every day helps.

  156. 156
    Mnemosyne (iPhone) says:


    I found out a couple of years ago that migraines are strongly tied in with nasal allergies and I’ve had a LOT fewer since I started taking Zyrtec every day and using a prescription nasal spray (Nasonex). Also, staying hydrated and making sure to wear sunglasses outdoors helps a lot with prevention.

  157. 157
    Mnemosyne (iPhone) says:


    I found out a couple of years ago that migraines are strongly tied in with nasal allergies and I’ve had a LOT fewer since I started taking Zyrtec every day and using a nasal spray (Nasonex). Also, staying hydrated and making sure to wear sunglasses outdoors helps a lot with prevention.

  158. 158
    Ruckus says:

    Lot of good suggestions here. I’ve tried many of them and gotten little to no effect. OK I’ve had some negative effects! I think some of us just have to live with it.

    Do all humans/animals just live in pain to some degree and have we lost the means to be minimally stoic?

  159. 159
    Whidby says:

    Contact the doctor who posted unthread.

    If s/he can’t help consult another pain specialist. Repeat if necessary.

    Ignore quackery.

  160. 160
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):
    Depends on the root causes of your migraines. The sunglasses thing used to be massively important for me, for some reason not so much any more. The zyrtec and nasonex didn’t seem to make much difference. Here is an interesting tidbit, all of my siblings suffer from migraines, with me in the middle of the range. Genetic?

  161. 161
    Gus diZerega says:

    @Jewish Steel: @Another Halocene Human:
    The standard model using statistical tests and double blind experiments is very good for all cases where the basic assumption holds that people and their ailments are interchangeable. Like a model car. It enters more troublesome waters to the extent this is not the case. This is hardly the place to discuss the issue but traditional acupuncture practitioners insist that it is NOT a technique such as giving a pill or setting a bone or taking out an appendix. The acupuncturist him or herself also has to have a “gift.” Mental attitude is an important part of the work.

    I mentioned a very prominent Canadian physician who admitted that when he was in med school he could not do anything with it whereas a classmate was very effective. He was wise enough to say that while it certainly was not what he did, it seemed good for others. That attitude is called letting experience influence your theoretical outlook.

    You can poo poo all you want, but people from experienced physicians to people who have tried every other method they can think of in the Western lexicon to address a problem often report that they received as much or more assistance from acupuncture than from more Western methods for certain kinds of issues.

    When something does not fit a theoretical outlook one of two possibilities emerge. First, the phenomenon does not really exist. Many of us have too much experience either personally or with friends to take this seriously with respect to acupuncture. The second is that the prevailing model is incomplete and outliers that are disregarded as measurement errors of one sort or another by the dominant model are clues to a different and better paradigm.

  162. 162
    SGT Hammer says:

    Learn Spanish and spend the winter months south of the border or learn Australian and tour the Southern hemisphere? Assuming that these are the months when your various injuries are most painful.

    If you’re experiencing pain from scar tissue (especially as muscles/soft-tissue adapt into unnatural conformations as a result of your joint/bone pain), you might try using a foam roller to break up the adhesions/scar tissue. Lots of youtube vids of exactly how to roll out specific body parts.

    Sounds like swimming is painful. If it were that you find it boring and that’s what’s keeping you out of the water, I’d suggest getting some coaching to improve your stroke or possibly using a snorkel and mask if breathing were the problem. When I focus on technique I manage to forget some of the aching boredom inherent to swimming. I also vary my pool workout as much as possible by including flotation-belt-running; kickboard, hand-paddle/pull-buoy sets; 50 yard, 100 yard, 200 yard sprint sets; and drills on specific parts of technique that any h.s. swim coach uses with her team. There’re online resources, too.

  163. 163
    Mnemosyne says:


    Migraines are tricky, because the root causes of them are different for everyone, and something that’s a trigger one time may not be a trigger another time. I once got a migraine from a glass of chardonnay, but normally wine isn’t a trigger for me. I believe really strongly in the hydration thing, though — for me, being dehydrated causes all kinds of nasty effects to happen (not just migraines, but it causes my IBS to kick in, too).

    One of my friends swears that her chiropractor did a lot of good for her sinuses by getting her neck back in alignment, and he’s in Burbank — Dr. John Dalcin. If you have the extra cash, it may be worth a visit.

  164. 164
    Eva Shelby says:

    My chronic injury and ptsd- related pain from age 13 to my 40s was finally relieved by studying and now practicing Deep Memory Process (google it), which revealed the many imaginal and possibly past life patterns of similiar injuries, assaults, betrayals, etc. In my 60s now, I also follow most of the diet and exercise suggestions offered here, but none of the big pharma meds for sleep/ thyroid/ adrenal dysregulation. I’m pain-free and in better shape than I was when the secondary stuff hit about ten years ago. Find a good doc or naturopath, acupuncturist, nutritionist, exercise coach for help with the physical stuff. Find a DMP practioner to see your chronic personal and ancestral patterns. It’s fun and you can let go of them. Although I’m a liscensed clinical social worker and take most insurance, we work deeply with the psyche, soul and active imagination.
    In case you believe you don’t have an imagination, try not thinking of the color blue (couldn’t help seeing blue, could you?) You can do it. Ten sessions. We practice in Vermont.

  165. 165
    different-church-lady says:

    I recently did a job for the AARP at the MIT aging lab. The point the demo woman made over and over was that lost of mobility and capacity doesn’t have to be inevitable, but we need to stay on top of things like stretching.

  166. 166
    gravie says:

    I second (third, fourth) the use of acupuncture. I’m doing it every three weeks for severe chronic pain in my hip and most days I’m actually pain free.

  167. 167
    JoyceH says:

    Well, this is my third post on this thread! But someone upthread mentioned knees, so I had to chime in on that. I have arthritis in the knees – the cartilage is pretty much entirely gone, joint doc says the knees really ought to be replaced. I get Euflexxa shots. They’re a sort of goo that works as artificial cartilage. You can get them every six months. I’m due for another round and my knees are feeling pretty good.

    What I discovered a few months ago is stationary biking. That’s an exercise that’s not just not bad for the knees, it’s actually good for them. I think in addition to being non-weight-bearing, it also puts the knee through a range of motion that no other exercise matches. When I haven’t biked for a few days, the knees start to hurt, and I know it’s time to go back to the Y and get to pedaling. Sometimes when I’ve finished pedaling, the knees really hurt, and I’m worried ‘this time it’s not going to work!’, but a few hours later, the pain is gone.

    So anyone who has knee issues, give the stationary biking a try. I do 30 minutes for aerobics, but when I was traveling over Thanksgiving, 10 minutes on a little home bike had the therapeutic effect.

  168. 168
    ellie says:

    Like others said, come on out to Colorado! It is beautiful here and there is plenty of room. Otherwise, I would try acupuncture. And please be careful!

  169. 169
    My Truth Hurts says:

    The cure for chronic pain would be the chronic weed.

  170. 170
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    Re: pain management.

    1) Get thee to a pain specialist. Stop fucking around, chronic pain is nothing to fuck around with.

    In “life lessons” this is like “Once you pull the pin on Mr. Hand Grenade, he is no longer your friend.” It’s basic and simple, and someone who loves you should be screaming at you for not remembering this important safety rule.

    2) Seriously consider joining a support group. This is not just the kind of thing you do for hugs and empathy – it’s so people can tell you that X_Brand of pain killer *sucks ass* in the generic form, and that for bone pain, you do not want Y_Drug because it’s meant for muscle pain. It’s where people tell you that this exercise routine helped them, and whether it hurt while they got up to speed or whether it felt good from the start, so you know what to try and what to expect. And, yes, it also offers hugs and sympathy, because you will feel alone and unloved and in pain.

    They can also tell you about what alternative therapies have actually worked. Be careful here – almost any therapy has at least *some* success stories, so one person saying “I got relief by lying face down on a pool of molten lava” doesn’t mean it’s time to find an active volcano.

    3) Consider more advanced pain meds and remember that support group? They can help. One important thing: the people who take narcotics to quell pain sometimes get scared of addiction because pain relief feels so good. But people who want pain relief don’t tend to get addicted. The people who get addicted are the people who think that the buzz feels good, and decide that, gee, just a *tiny* bit more would feel good too. They start chasing the good feelings (not the pain relief) and the good feelings drop off rapidly as your body adjusts to the drug, and that’s why they get addicted. (Narcotics do cause *dependence* which is also a problem – it means you need to taper the dose down when going off of them, and you might feel like crap when that happens. But that’s a pain in the ass, and very different from addiction.)

    Now, you just said you don’t like narcotics. I get that. But the makers of narcotics have made up bunches of formulations to try avoid side effects. Talk to a doctor. Find out if there are options that you’re not aware of.

  171. 171
    portlander says:

    Lots of good suggestions already. I will second (or whatever) the fish oil and the hot yoga. Not sure if people have pointed out that with fish oil don’t skip on the quality, Costco brand isn’t going to do. I’m a fan of Nordic Naturals but there are some other good ones.

    Also, if no one has mentioned this, there is a big problem when taking NSAIDS, which is that they block the inflammation pathway. To which most people are thinking, “Isn’t that exactly what I want?” The answer is: no. The inflammation response is part of how your body repairs damaged tissue. By taking NSAIDS you treat the symptoms while making the underlying problem worse (same with acid blockers and antacids). What you want to do is improve your body’s anti-inflammatory response which in the US generally means upping your intake of omega-3’s. So high quality fish oil but also pasture-raised meat, dairy, and eggs.A

    You’re only 42, you’re not supposed to be in chronic pain. Your body just needs some additional nutrition to recover. (in my opinion)

  172. 172
    LCaution says:

    I second many of the suggestions (chronic pain clinic – absolutely, hot tub, massage, etc.) and see nothing wrong with daily NSAIDS (as long as your stomach doesn’t mind). Certainly better than narcotic usage at this stage in your life.

    Also, Darlene Cohen has written a book called Turning Suffering Inside Out, wooish (Zen) but it is a well-written perspective, one person’s experience, on living with chronic pain. You may find a useful idea or two hidden inside.

    People who don’t live with chronic pain don’t understand the toll even low-level pain can cause. Reducing it to the maximum extent possible matters because the pain can become re-inforcing.

    Be willing to try different things, but if something doesn’t work or makes your pain worse, don’t waste any more time or money. Just because it helped somebody else doesn’t mean it will help you. Alternative therapies: I would stay away from anything more far-out than acupuncture and be careful about herbal remedies (lack of quality control, studies).

    The science-based medicine blog is a good place to start if you want a very skeptical look at so-called alternative therapies:

  173. 173
    Al says:

    For me it’s maxed out on gabapentin for pain and nerve damage, Mobic and Tylenol for inflammation, supratz knee injections, pool therapy, gym to keep the weight down when the joints allow it, and surgeries as a last resort. Unfortunately with the meds even a sip of wine makes me falling down drunk. And you need Prilosec to deal with the Mobic but its a good trade off. And of course it stills hurts. I’m not religious but I try to be “Buddhist-lite” about; I saw a passage once about being human is all about dealing with pain. And after Sandy Hook I’m reminded that I’ve got the good pain.

  174. 174
    judy says:

    I suffered from shoulder, neck, knee, foot and back pain for years. Pain pills make me feel sick, and phys therapy and massage feels good, but the results wear off after a few hours. Then I went to a new GP who practiced acupuncture which really helped me in the long term. He learned it in med school. I also use reflexology which is even better because the results are faster. I encourage you to check them out.

  175. 175
    debbie says:

    I too have fibromyalgia, a messed up lower back and neck, and I’ve been on Coumadin for 15 years.

    When a heating pad or stretches doesn’t help, I use diclofenac sodium gel (“Voltaren”). My doctor gave me a sample and I held off using it because I don’t like taking anything I don’t have to, but especially on joint-type of pain in my hand or shoulder, it’s a miracle. I don’t even use as much as they say to and I don’t use it that often. I find if it just takes the edge off, that’s all I need.

  176. 176
    Ruckus says:

    If you have the extra cash…

    Ahh, I see we’ve arrived at the crux of the problem. Wine, red for sure is a trigger. Chocolate, OK in minimal amounts(which is how much?), otherwise… Alignment, not an issue, exercise, not an issue. And so on.
    An interesting aside women suffer from migraine more than men and it has been attributed to hormones. But studies have shown that men have cycles and hormonal changes as well just not as noticeable as women and this can be considered a cause. Of course my migraines at their worse were in clusters up to 3-4 per week. Other times they run 1 or 2 a year or at least don’t build up to a full blown 8-11 on the Dr 1-10 pain scale.

  177. 177
    kifaru says:

    I had exactly the same problem for about 4 years that kept getting worse and worse until my entire left upper back an shoulder had muscles that felt like rope they were so tight. I did the x-rays and the PT and finally found a chiropractor who noticed that one of my ribs was slightly twisted where it should be held close to my spine and it was the cause of the intense pain in my nerve (which also went down my arm)…exactly in the area you describe. Apparently no one is a rib “specialist”. Between my chiropractor/sports therapist and a neuro-muscular massage therapist it got better, but it took a LONG time to breakdown the muscles to get them to release, and the rib took a while to stay in place as the tendons had been stretched.

  178. 178
    Bert Wells says:

    Three things:

    One, ouch. It must be awful to be in that kind of pain, all the time. I know that sympathy doesn’t have any analgesic effect, but for what it’s worth, you have mine. I have worked with a lot of chronic pain sufferers, and while I don’t know from direct experience, I do know from first hand experience that chronic pain is real and it sucks.

    Two, I second the suggestions to go see a pain management doc. In fact, go see several, because some of them are true angels and some are quacks. The field draws those two types, and you really want the right doc for chronic pain. Seriously, get several evaluations.

    Three, find a way to get some exercise, every day, no matter what. It is going to be tricky, since you have so much joint pain, but you gotta find a way. But do not take the exercise step until you see the doc. Get your pain doc to write you a scrip for either physical or occupational therapy to facilitate it.

  179. 179
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Look, everyone. There is no such thing as “nightshades” or “the nightshade family” except as peddled by the ignorant who like to feel important on fringe websites. They are SOLANACEAE or Solanaceous crops. They have been extremely important agriculturally. They changed the world. Respect. They’re also delicious.

    Plants in this family to create some toxic compounds such as capsaicin and solenin (and others). Both of the compounds I mentioned can kill you in sufficient doses. (Ie, don’t eat the ghost peppers.) Solenin is usually associated with potatoes, which is why the USDA carefully regulates the level of solenin allowed in potatoes sold in the USA. The eating of potato skins is only able to occur because we have bred ultra-low-solenin potatoes.

    SOME people, not all people, not most people, SOME people have a high sensitivity to the trace amounts of solanaceous crop plant toxins which occur in, for example, potato skins, eggplant skin, raw peppers. They may experience anything from stomach upset to ARTHRITIS-LIKE SYMPTOMS.

    I am tired of seeing these vitally important (and delicious) crops smeared by association because a few people have a problem with it. Just as wheat was a vitally important crop as well (and its relatives) and doesn’t deserve to be blamed for (get this) the US obesity epidemic. It’s also tasty. According to SCIENCE, my own gluten intolerance was probably silent and basically not a problem my whole life until I had a Bad Antibiotics Event. That’s the new factor to look at, not dwarf wheat varieties or whatever. (I do agree that the switch to quick-rise from traditional breads probably is an issue as it turns out Celiac sprue is much more common that previously believed.) And DAIRY has been hugely important. Just because Holsteins have a mutation that many are allergic to does not negate the importance of yogurt/kefir/butter in human history.

  180. 180
    LT says:

    @kifaru: I’m so glad I got up and read all the way to the bottom! Thank you for the response. I had some inconclusive checks on ribs – what do you mean by “slightly twisted where it should be held close to my spine”?

    I’m remembering now that one PT could do a thing where she just very lightly pushed on a rib under my armpit and reproduce the hot spot next to my spine. she said something about a rib pushing out, the two ribs next to it falling together, causing all sorts of problems – but I could never get any kind of confirmation, nor did any of the rec’d exercises ever do anything.

  181. 181
    virag says:


    cycling is really good, especially as it is not weight bearing. for the love of jeebus, start with road riding until you get into better shape, cuz mountain biking fun and much better xtraining, but it means crashes and bumps that won’t hurt if you are in shape, but could kill you if you aren’t.

    cole: if you are in that kinda pain now, just wait until your back goes. then you are frakked.

    what has to happen now is: lose weight. alot of weight. the excess weight is a dangerous strain on your body. then get strong. yoga, weight lifting, stretching, core strength. then the cycling. safer than running on bad joints. (once you get fit and get strong, you can go play in the dirt on a mountain bike without fear.) add in some swimming. you are fortunate you don’t depend on destructive physical labor for your survival; take the opportunity and free time and get in shape and get healthy before you become an invalid.

    i watched someone with no physical damage go from a healthy middle age to immobility in less than 20 yrs. just because their body gave out. it they had had your problems at 40, they would have been bedridden before 50.

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    Rebecca E Allen says:


    Jay is right. There are many pain management clinics that employ psychologists. My husband is a psychologist who specializes in this area, doing biofeedback and hypnosis. He’s going to try to get some information for you; I’ll pass it along when I get it. Medications don’t work well for chronic pain at all. Opiates just knock people out, and they’re addictive of course. NSAIDS like ibuprophen and naproxen do work to some extent, but long term heavy use can damage your kidneys. The other meds prescribed for chronic pain, such as tricyclics and anticonvulsants don’t work especially well and have lots of bad side effects. (I’m a psych prescriber and thus familiar with most of these.) Good psychological pain management can reduce pain by 50% or more, without the problems associated with meds.

  183. 183
    LT says:

    EDIT: Nothing to see here. Move along.

  184. 184
    virag says:

    oh, and please lay off the excessive weed smoking. a little is enough if you must.

    and be wicked careful of stationary exercise bikes. the ergonomics can be dangerously bad, and if you start with many joint issues, the result can be disastrous. the key to cycling is to get a properly fitting bike. go to a pro shop. the next problem is that if you get fit, the bike you got first might not be an ideal fit or up to the task of higher miles and more intense riding. but that’s a problem for the future. get skinny, then you can wonder if a chris kvale or gaulzetti or some other expensive toy is the just the thing for your super-fit new you.

  185. 185
    Ruckus says:

    Bike fitting. Absolutely necessary to have a good bike fitter if you ride and want to get the most out of your experience. (Disclaimer – I am a professionally trained bike fitter) The number of people I fit in my shop who were amazed at what a proper fit did for them was above 90%. Huge amounts of time off their triathlon bike and run time with fewer pains and issues. And not just triathletes get more positive results out of their riding. An extreme example was the man with an artificial knee who exclaimed when we were done that his knee no longer got hot. His knee had actually been overheating from riding.
    Unfortunately like a lot of things in life money is involved, usually from about $250 to $350.

  186. 186
    Duhkaman says:


    Chronic pain can’t be fought. I broke my saccrum and almost all the bones on the left side of my body in a car accident in 1969. As you say, the pain gets worse as you get older. What I have tried to do is learn my pain or accept it as part of who I am, not something foreign. Sometimes it helps, sometimes not, but I think my mind is better for it. Mindful meditation practice, vipassana, is my solution, but mindfulness does not make the pain go away, it makes pain something to stop fearing and hating. I am not trying to be smug or claim I have an answer, but I think meditation has helped rid me control and minimize the emotional side effects of pain.

  187. 187
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: Did great things for my arthritis.

    Also, I’ve been taking a teaspoonful of dry gelatin (the unsweetened, unflavored kind) and IT DOES WONDERS.

    In clinical studies it helped animals actually grow new cartilage, so I’ve been giving it to my 16 year old cat. He now has spells of running around like a kitten, jumps much higher than before, and is generally more active.

    Try it, you have nothing to lose!

  188. 188
    PJ says:

    Because system redundancies can help reduce catastrophe when problems arise, I will chime in with what others have said: stretching is key. Qi gong, in particular, makes me feel better than a normal human being. I started tai chi ages ago and gave it up after a few years (though I highly recommend it to everyone), but have kept with the qi gong – it only takes ten minutes a day, and makes a huge difference.

  189. 189
    robuzo says:

    My grandfather was a race driver and stuntman in his younger years, and managed to break nearly every bone in his body, including having his left leg nearly torn off. By the time he was in 60’s the bone breaks were coming back to haunt him with a vengeance. He was a notorious doctor shopper, living near the borders of four states with a doctor in each (I suppose that made a difference in his day). Winters were especially tough, and he found much relief in migrating to warmer climes during the cold months in the NE. Have you considered moving somewhere warm? It might make a difference.

  190. 190
    Ronzoni Rigatoni says:

    Wine therapy works for me both physically and mentally. Not good for you? Utter nonsense. I made it to 70 with it. Of course, ol’ MOM (She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed) sez it’ll kill me some day, but it never seemed to hurt her (she’s 95). Back in the day, we grew and made our own, but nowadays it’s just too much work. Some nice stuff on the shelves at the local establishments these days. It is, of course, a HOME remedy.

  191. 191
    kifaru says:

    I think the term is “subluxated” The rib just slides out of place and stretches the tendons out. My chiropractor was good at “popping” it back in place….I had to see her a few times a week for it to work along with regular deep tissue massage. My sports therapist thinks it was originally caused by a shoulder injury and a tightened trapezius muscle. Have you ever looked at a massage training manual? The first time I tried to figure out which muscle was causing my misery I gave up…there are way too many:) Hope my story helps!

  192. 192
    kifaru says:

    Ignore this one….computer said it had not posted!

  193. 193
    kifaru says:

    I think the term is subluxated. The rib just slides out of place and stretches the tendons out. My chiropractor was good at popping it back in place….I had to see her a few times a week for it to work along with regular deep tissue massage. My sports therapist thinks it was originally caused by a shoulder injury and a tightened trapezius muscle. Have you ever looked at a massage training manual? The first time I tried to figure out which muscle was causing my misery I gave up…there are way too many. Hope my story helps!

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    WereBear says:

    @PJ: Mr WereBear & I are going to be learning that during the holidays; we plan to make it our GoTo during the winter.

  195. 195
    Narcissus says:

    Get a hot tub or a fancy bath tub of some sort. I had a short period of serious pain some years back that drugs didn’t really do much for and the baths did. I ended up spending a lot of time there.

  196. 196
    RedKitten says:

    I get chronic pain in my upper shoulder blades at times, causing vicious headaches. Chiro didn’t do anything for me, and any relief via traditional massage was short-lived. The two things that DID offer long-term relief were acupuncture and myofascial release. My first myofascial release session, I could feel myself walking differently afterwards. It completely realigned my gait. And the acupuncture? When she put in the needle, I could actually feel something in my back going “sproing!” It was crazy. And the pain didn’t come back for several months.

  197. 197
    Zelma says:

    Weekly myofascial massage, a chiropractor who does pressure points, regular exercise (which I hate) and weight loss. The latter two are the hardest. I’ve never tried acupuncture, but my masseuse recommends it. Also wine.

  198. 198
    debbie says:

    Yes, myofascial release made a huge difference in my back pain, something that years of chiropractic barely touched. Until I ran out of money, I had weekly sessions. Now, I can work on most of my own pressure points, but I do miss that myofascial.

  199. 199
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    You need to man the fuck up or get a spa like I did.

  200. 200
    LT says:

    @kifaru: I hope it does too, Kifaru. Glad you found a solution – and I will look into it more.

    Thanks much for the replies – and Happy Christmas!

  201. 201
    JWL says:

    I’m championship caliber where free advice is concerned.

    First: No alcohol whatsoever. Eat only healthy food, and, even then, eat like a spartan. Exercise 24/7/365. Finally, take three aspirin every day after work.

    Nothing to it.

    Oh, yeah. You should also memorize the Book of Job.

  202. 202
    Brad says:

    Try SuperCissus. It’s a natural herb that serves as a painkiller and it helps your joints heal. A lot of bodybuilders and amateur athletes swear by it. If you’re diabetic, it might mess with your blood sugar. It’s worth a shot, you can Google it for some reviews.

  203. 203
    Uncle Cholmondeley says:

    Please consider taking up a yoga practice (hatha is very gentle) to help with the pain. Many arthritic sufferers found it helped alleviate their pain. Not to be too new age-y, but changing your diet to be more plant based might also help.

  204. 204
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Gus diZerega:

    Unskewed Medicine!

    You realize that everything you described can be accounted for by the placebo effect, yes? No?

    Apart from that, it’s just a bunch of anecdote, special pleading, and strawmanship. You’re certainly free to believe in magic instead of science if you like. You don’t have to make a pretend argument to support it.

    May God have mercy on your chi.

  205. 205
    Roy G. says:

    As a longtime practitioner of yoga, and now several years of tai chi and qi gong, they have helped me to ‘fix’ chronic shoulder and back pains caused by youthful indiscretions and especially contact sports. (My teacher’s teacher was an martial artist who turned to tai chi andqi gong after being in a terrible car accident in the mid 1970s and told he was never going to walk again.) Beyond specific aches and pains, there is a lot of stress that we unconsciously hold in our postures, and there is a lot of gain (albeit slow), by learning to really relax the body.

    My tai chi/qi gong teacher says, ‘in yoga you stretch to relax, in qi gong, you relax to stretch.’ While I think this is an oversimplification, there is some truth that the more energetic yoga practices can cause strain and tension. In fact, I took a year off from yoga because I felt I was straining too hard, and came back with a new outlook on being softer and relaxing into poses. It’s easy to get caught up in pushing yourself too hard in yoga, and that’s one of the pitfalls, so if you try it, John, take it easy – it’s not about how much of a pretzel you can turn yourself into! Probably the biggest challenge is to get past the competitive, ‘no pain no gain’ bull that we’ve all been indoctrinated in here in the west. Hard is easy, soft is hard.

  206. 206
    Tess says:

    Magnesium. Helps with muscle and inflammation. A hospital once broke my 3-day migraine with a magnesium drip.

  207. 207
    StringOnAStick says:

    I didn’t read all the comments (200+!?!), but I can tell you what worked for me. This past August we were contemplating selling the house to get a 1 story place and I was looking into knee replacements (age: 54). My hands hurt, my knees made doing anything awful, and then I quit eating wheat. No more Aleve 24 hours/day, and I’d been doing that for years. I can’t remember when I last took a pain pill of any kind, and my weekly migraines are gone too.

    Read “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD. Get “Practical Paleo” by Diane Sanfilippo – every recipe is easy and fabulous. At least 40% of the population is sensitive to wheat (you don’t have to be a diarrhea-ridden celiac to be sensitive, and most people aren’t); wheat sensitivity causes leaky gut syndrome, where food particles and proteins that shouldn’t be getting into your blood stream are leaking out of your small intestine and causing HUGE amounts of systemic inflammation – most common form: joint pain. Try it for 30 days and see if you don’t feel better. I felt like a new person after just 3 days. I try not to be an evangelist about it, but the results have been absolutely remarkable plus (1) I lost an instant 10 lbs and (2) I am eating better than I ever have. What do you have to lose but your pain?

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    Steve Finlay says:

    Try cannabis, definitely. In order to get the right product, however, you need to take a trip to Colorado, California or here in Vancouver and go to a real medical dispensary. Regular pot from the street is NOT what you need. You need something that is low in THC and high in CBD, and you would probably be far better off taking an extract such as Cannamist, rather than smoking.

    Forget Sativex. It’s nearly useless.

  209. 209
    negev79 says:

    I have psoriatic arthritis, which is basically the same thing as rheumatoid arthritis. At one point I was on 7 or 8 different medications, including daily narcotics, until finally I decided “f**k this” and took a serious look at what else I could try.

    I found that acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care and lifestyle/diet changes worked at least as well, if not better than, all those medications.

    I quit my 80-100 hour a week job and now work 40 hrs with less stress. And I try very hard to get enough sleep if possible. And for two years I gave up gluten, white sugar, processed foods, dairy and soy (and for awhile caffeine). It was no fun, but I live in the hippie haven of Portland, where weird dietary restrictions are easily accommodated. I felt great.

    Fell off the wagon though, I mean, seriously – I love food. And all of my symptoms are creeping back. So in January I’m back on the restrictive diet again.

    It’s definitely possible to reduce pain without medication but it’s hard. Good luck, I know how much being in constant pain can wear you down. Hang in there.

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    warning-message says:


    Watch out for Aleve. Can be great for short-term use. The danger is that it can cause intestinal ulcers with prolonged daily use, I know someone who almost died from several years of daily use. YMMV, of course.

  211. 211

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