Too Young for Chronic Pain

I'm 22 years old, 5'4" currently 182 lbs, a college student, a medic in the army national guard and always in pain. I was always active as a kid, majorettes, then dance and in high school cross country running. That is when the trouble started.

It was on and off pain in the outside of my thigh and hip area and in the groin area. My cross coach just suggested to rest and that it would go away. I did, it did, but as soon as I started running again it came back. I started taking up to eight Ibuprofen a race and up to six every day for some relief. My senior year I stopped running due to work and the college level classes I was taking in high school. The pain faded with rare flare ups every once in a while.

I joined the military and shipped for basic training in July of 2006. The running and physical requirements of training caused everything to hurt, but most of all my hip area and lower back began to hurt much worse. Again I treated it with massive amounts of painkillers and avoided reporting it to anyone due to the threat of being "recycled" or having to start training over again. After I made it home, I rested as much as I could and although an ache remained, it wasn't really all that bad. I figured over time it would go away.

September 2007, I started college and joined ROTC and was running as much as when I was in training. The pain began up again, worse than before.

By February 2007, I would wake up unable to get out of bed in the morning until I worked at stretching. I called my family doctor back home and made an appointment. He told me to rest, prescribed tramadol and aleve and made an appointment to see him in six weeks. He said I was too young to be having pain like this and that it should go away. When I came back, rest hadn't help to relieve the pain, the tramadol and aleve helped to take the edge off, but I still hurt all the time.

The doc ordered x-rays and prescribed me muscle relaxers to help with the flares and bad days. The x-rays turned out to be normal and so the doc said to try physical therapy. This was in April.

May 2008, I began work with the national guard, on orders to work at SRPs for deploying soldiers. I found a physical therapist in Hershey and went three days a week for over two months. Some of the exercises did help to strengthen the muscles and I did find some relief from pain but still the ache remained. I was just thankful that the sharp pains had stopped coming so frequently.

I volunteered for deployment and tried so hard to hide any pain I was experiencing, although those who knew me best knew something was wrong, because I wasn't nearly as active as I had been and I started becoming depressed. I was passed over for deployment and as I watched many of my friends leave for overseas, I headed back to college.

No longer in ROTC and slowly losing the desire to do anything, I began gaining weight which made me feel so much worse about myself. I made the decision to start working out again, using the elliptical three to four times a week. I didn't lose weight, but at least I wasn't gaining anymore.

I started going to a new doctor near the college at this time and had to start all over again. Again, I was sent for x-rays, and again, I went to physical therapy. This time the treatment was different including spinal manipulation.

The exercises pulled the pain up out of my leg, although did little to relieve the pain in my back. I was forced to move back home with my parents due to lack of job and lack of a place to live. The pain was still there, but wasn't increasing so I continued using the exercises from physical therapy and walked, a lot.

I thought if I lost weight, that maybe it would hurt less, that maybe I was putting too much stress on the joint. At the time I weighed 170 lbs.

When I started school again in the fall, I noticed that with the falling temperatures and change in weather the pain levels were increasing along with the development of new problems. The sharp pains in my leg had started again, but now I had concentrated pain in my right knee also. The pain also felt like it was traveling across and up my back.

I again went back to the doctors and received prescriptions for tramadol and told to rest, given the improvement I had had over the summer. Within a month, I was back with numbness and constant sharp pains in my back, hip and thigh. The cold made it almost unbearable, especially when driving and any wrong movement could cause such an increase in pain. I didn't want to even move at times.

The doc prescribed steroids along with the tramadol in hopes that the combination would help, which it did for the week I was on them. A week after I had finished them I was back at the office for a reassessment. I was then prescribed NSAID's to help with interpreted inflammation (due the my improvement with steroids). He told me to take them everyday to see if they helped and to come back in two months. He also recommended yoga to compliment my walking regiment. I was back in a month and a half. The meds weren't helping, in fact the pain was worse than ever before.

I can't sleep the whole way through a night. I'm up to 600 mg of tramadol a day and an on a regiment of Prednisone. My right leg is weaker and randomly begins to shake as if overworked. I can't hold my balance on my right leg either as I discovered while doing yoga.

I'm medically flagged in the military and so can't be promoted. Storms, moving wrong or sitting can reduce me to tears with pain. I can't lay on my right side or my back at night, I can barely make the drive home because of the pain, and I'm just exhausted all the time.

My weight maxed out at 190 in the beginning of January. In the last two weeks, I've lost eight lbs without changing anything. I guess the yoga is kicking in with a passion.

For work I bought a pair of Sketchers Shape-ups because of the massive amount of padding in them, and by adding arch support inserts to them I can now at least make it through my shifts at work.

I can't concentrate in my classes anymore. It's getting to the point that I feel like I'm losing my mind and have no control over my life.

I was asked if maybe all this pain was in my head, given the normality of my x-rays and the lack of finding any defect. I was told I'm too young to have this much pain. Sometimes I feel like the doctors didn't believe me when I tell them what's going on. I keep thinking, am I a hypochondriac? Could it really be all in my head? Am I losing my mind?

I have an appointment with a orthopedic specialist on the 24th this month. I continue the yoga, the walking, and the medications. I'm trying my best to get sleep and to get through classes.

I hope this specialist will figure out whats going on. - Leslie

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