How to get a Dr to help me?
February 12, 2017 12:21 AM   Subscribe

Short explaination, with more to follow. Had elbow surgery in November, Surgeon W. who has completely ignored my concerns about pain and the fact I'm much worse than before surgery (7/10 pain now, 3/10 before). I'm tried going to a Dr S. who I had previously seen for said elbow pain, and but from the surgically notes and post ops he has no idea what the surgeon did. Because of this quite complicated surgery he does not feel comfortable or seem willing to take it from here. Basic question, how do I at least get my arm to be manageable and get some Dr help me recover?

Extended version, this started with a elbow fracture in July 2015 with ORIF (had a plate put in to stabilize fracture) surgery 5 days later. Fast forward 4 months (December) for surgery #2 to remove said plate. 2 months (January) later there was a shoulder surgery on the same arm, that involved some shaving down of bone and cleaning up/stitching down ligaments. About 2 months (March) afterwords I went to see Dr S., who after repeated visits concluded that he could not specify why my elbow still had pain, it was about 80% use at this point in time. He thusly recommend giving about 6 months from my last surgery and revisiting it, in the mean time doing PT and OT.
Jump to August, Dr S. has now said I need to accept the fact that 80% might be the new normal. I could not accept that fact, as my fracture was not bad nor unusually different. It was not an open fracture only barely went into the joint and took "some simple extra rebuilding" during surgery #1. I went down normal physically therapy and recovered ahead of schedule compared to where surgeon #1 said I'd be at.
So at this point I found a new dr, call him Surgeon W., and he basically promised me the world. Well maybe not the world, but said he had seen this before and it's pretty normal and simple surgeon (spoiler it's wasn't). Basically saying I pinched both my Ulnar nerve and Radial nerve, having a 6-8 restricted recovery before I would be released for everything (cycling and swimming for me).
Fast word to today (3 months later) I have had serve pain within a week of surgery. This is to say not normal surgical pain but something different, something didn't heal or something happened.
The surgery it's self had much more done them just the 2 nerves (of which Surgeon W. never told me, had to find out from Dr. S.) and involved basically, golfers elbow and tennis elbow surgeries on top of the nerve surgeries. The weeks and months following he seemed to keep me down a recover for the nerves, but never bothering to listen for anything else. He gave several excuses, like internal stitches, scar tissue, nerve pain, and or general surgery pain for my extremely slow recovery compared to initial expectations.
At this point, I'll explain why I think it's bullshit, I have had 13 orthopedic surgeries with several nerve, bone and ligament repairs. I have an idea of what all pain feels like besides organ, and even that I have somewhat of an idea (bruised liver). So when I'm repeatedly telling surgeon W. that I'm having the exact same pain, visit after visit after visit, I expect to at least ask and change his recovery and help me improve. He still hasn't even asked me my pain level or what activities I can't do besides work. He couldn't careless, and because of how unusual of a surgery he took, Dr S. is terribly afraid to take over.

I frankly just wanna wash my hair, cook, put my t shirt on, ride my bike, swim, play any number sports, work....etc, with out serve shooting pain. I simple can't find a Dr that will help. I do see a 3rd Dr in about a week with a hope I can start recovery 14 weeks post op. How do I fix this?
posted by bigbadbehr to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
What country are you in?
posted by metaseeker at 12:30 AM on February 12, 2017

Response by poster: USA
posted by bigbadbehr at 10:02 AM on February 12, 2017

Best answer: You said you're telling him that there is pain but that he isn't asking you the details about the pain. Have you told him that the pain is severe and that it's keeping you from doing routine daily things like putting on your clothes? What did he recommend as the next step?

Honestly when you're in a situation like this, it's tricky. The surgeon who did the surgery is the one who should have the best idea of what's causing any post-operative complication like chronic pain. Other surgeons that you see probably aren't going to have much to offer you unless there is a clear next surgical option they could offer you, which it sounds like there is not.

Other types of doctors may have more expertise in terms of recovery and pain management. Have you seen someone from physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R)? Are you undergoing physical therapy right now? Another thing to consider is since you've been having pain in this elbow for a year and a half now, and surgery has not helped, have you seen a pain management specialist?

Also, you might want to think of reframing your perspective on your original injury. A fracture that goes into the joint and requires an ORIF is by definition "bad". Obviously you don't want to live with chronic severe pain, but hoping to get completely back to your previous level of athletic activity might not be realistic. Be careful in going from surgeon to surgeon... eventually you can find someone willing to take the money to do surgery on you even if maybe it's not the best thing objectively speaking.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:33 PM on February 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: When I tell him pain is severe, doesn't seem to care or ask what the level is or if I need help with (not just pain killers, but bracing or padding to help). He has come up with a bunch of different excuses, not his physical therapist, (an added hour of commute for someone who doesn't drive) scar tissue, internal stitches pulling, general surgery pain (none of these add up as I have had ulnar nerve surgery with transposition before on my left arm without remotely this level of pain.) Scar tissue doesn't feel like tearing sensation deep within the medial side only (feels like a catching and popping.) He also never acknowledges that I have some idea of what type of pain I'm describing, which bugs me. Also, internal stitches feel like, well, internal stitches, almost like a tugging pulling sensation.

The only thing he has said that could be remotely similar to the pain I feel is bonespurs, which took him 14 weeks and over 10 visits to pull out of his ass.

With what you said about Dr S. not wanting to be in a lawsuit, I completely agree with you. I just wish he didn't feel that way, because I do trust him and should have listen to him a couple of months ago. I totally was searching for a relief of sometype, just someone to give me hope (I'm only 26, @ time of accident) and it really sucks to have a dr basically give up on you. Which is what I felt 80% was, no matter how right or wrong that is.

I also wasn't trying to downplay my break, I know it was fairly severe, I just know it could have been much worse. I just wish I had someone strive to get me closer to where I was pre-break, mostly because I recovered very quickly from the initial break (had full range in under a month, out of metal brace month early...etc) I just felt compared to how it could have been, 100% was possible. Instead of that I had Drs seemingly making decisions for me/leaving very important information out. So when Dr W. gave me hope I didn't think clearly.

I thank you very much for recommendations, I already have an appointment with my primary to find a someone the specialize in pain.
posted by bigbadbehr at 11:50 PM on February 14, 2017

« Older Windows 8.1 - Cordless USB mouse gone berserk...   |   Coping with life,chronic illness and harassment. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.