Back Doctor and Pain Management Clinic Rant – Why So Insensitive?


This is going to be a bit of a rant. Yesterday I received a letter from the orthopedic doctor and pain management clinic I was seeing for my upper back/neck pain. That letter turned my mood sour quickly. It said that I had been non-compliant with physical therapy and the spinal injections they had ordered, so they were kicking me out of the practice.

Why did it tick me off? Because the way they expressed it is totally not what we had discussed in person. First of all, I was not “non-compliant” with physical therapy. I tried it for several weeks and it WORSENED the pain rather than helping. It also caused widespread fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome flares throughout my body. This wasn’t the first time I had tried physical therapy, so I had been worried from the start, but they had promised they would accommodate my conditions, which they didn’t actually seem to do.

When I called the physical therapy office to explain that it was worsening my back pain and my fibromyalgia/cfs symptoms, they seemed understanding at the time. I was also having issues driving myself to therapy because when my back pain flares up, I can barely turn my head because of the neck pain. I asked the physical therapy office if I should perhaps try again in the summer when my husband could drive me, but the lady said that if the sessions were causing me that many problems, trying it again in the summer didn’t make much sense.

As for the spinal shots, the main reason I was fearful about going through with them is because they would not offer any kind of sedation. You see, I had been told how important it is for spinal injections that you be absolutely still during the process or you could cause damage to the spine. As an autistic person with severe sensory issues and intense over-sensitivity to any kind of sensory input (including pain), this worried me. I also have severe anxiety and that can sometimes make me shake and tremble involuntarily.

I had researched the shots and noticed that many other places offer sedation. I even talked to a few other people who had undergone the shots and had been sedated. I was not trying to be a pain or a drama queen, I was simply being cautious. Affording the shots was also a major issue at the time (since they required full payment up front), which I had explained to them.

In the end, I’m not upset that they were unable to further help me, I had already kind of figured that out. However, I am upset at the accusatory tone of the letter they sent me and the obvious insensitivity and lack of understanding for people who suffer from chronic pain/chronic illness and people who happen to have autism or other sensory processing difficulties. By the way, I will be sending them a letter back stating much of what I just said here. Hopefully they will learn something.


20 responses to “Back Doctor and Pain Management Clinic Rant – Why So Insensitive?”

  1. My mom was diagnosed with arthritis and she tried physical therapy for a time, but ultimately found it was too much trouble with costs, mostly for transportation and time going there and back. Your spine is nothing to take lightly, so I see nothing wrong with being cautious when it comes to potential damage. Good for you for being your own advocate. Thanks for sharing this ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really feel for you 🙁 I think generally people can be very ignorant of the effects of autism and how that can make certain things a lot more challenging. This kind of reminds me of my doctors surgery, I had a lot of problems with them, things have settled down a lot now luckily, but in the past on one occasion I’ve had to send them a letter, can’t say whether it was a direct result of that that things got on that occasion got solved but they did, and they sending the letter was a big weight off my shoulders, it felt good to express how I felt. Good luck with your letter 😀👍 and just know that understand if that’s at all good to know? ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I believe you should send them a letter back . So wrong how they handled this I’ve been to many physical therapy sessions more my condition and some times it works and sometimes not . Have witness the cold shoulder when I’ve stated it’s not helping . Yes everyone is different . Go get them girl .

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I went to physiotherapy for pain earlier this year and also have autism. My pain got much much worse so I did what my GP, who manages my pain, told me to do. I went to see him and he put up my pain medication. He still felt that the physiotherapy mght help so I kept on trying. However the physiotherapist constantly thought I was being awkward because I didn’t always understand what he was asking me to do. I explained repeatedly about the autism but he just ignored that. Then when he found out that my GP had increased my meds he threw me off the course with no explanation and no chance for me to tell him that my GP still thought it was worth pursuing. He just stopped in the middle of a session and binned me. I was upset because I’d been bearing a lot of pain to make the physiotherapy work and had been trying really hard. I still don’t know why he binned me. Maybe he has internal metrics about the pain medication or he couldn’t manage being straightforward in his speech so I could follow his instructions. I blamed myself and the autism but now I wonder if it was something to do with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds to me like it was more his problem than yours. He is probably one of those doctors who demonizes opioids and other strong pain medications. I hate how many of us with chronic pain are being punished in a sense because some people abuse pain killers.


      • It could be, although I’m in the UK and there’s usually no problem over here with having opiate pain relief for genuine medical conditions so long as you work with your doctor and follow the guidelines he or she gives. Usually you’re sent to a pain clinic first and then once you’re stable on whatever the pain clinic gives you, you are then managed by your GP.

        I did feel like I was being punished because the physio’s exercises made my pain a lot worse though – as if it was my fault. This sort of thing used to really bother me but now I just ignore the opinions of people who make no sense.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great article and very inspiring as well. I liked that you had taken a stand for yourself and the doctor’s need to make improvement in their treatment procedure and need to help the patients throughout the process.

    Liked by 1 person

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