Think Twice About Going to the Emergency Room for Back Pain

With low back pain being the number reason why millions of Americans miss work, you would think hospitals around the country would be more compassionate with people who suffer from chronic low back pain. Being a chronic pain sufferer myself who suffers from low back pain with a herniated disc, I know too well how ER doctors treat patients seeking help for some kind of relief. It seems as soon as you walk in and tell them the reason your here to see the doctor is for back pain, your immediately cast in a different light.

The ironic thing in today’s modern times, hospitals and ER doctors have available, and can look up information on patients that have on record tests such as, MRI’s, CT scans, or any other type of documentation to verify a diagnosis the patient is complaining of. With so many people falsely going to ER rooms complaining of back pain just to get medication, they should actually do a little research before they put you in that category of just seeking medication.

For instance, I waited 2 hours in the waiting room, after I got back to see the ER physician, I waited in the room for an additional hour just to hear the nurse tell me I need to go see my primary care physician about substance abuse. I was in shock. I could not believe they thought I was there seeking medications and not truly suffering from pain. When just recently I had two MRI’s taken at this same hospital showing indeed I do suffer from herniated discs, and other back problems as well. To add insult to injury, I received a bill the following week charging me for the visit. I wonder what did they do for me. What did they charge me for? The only thing they did in all reality is turn me away. So why do they charge me for turning me away in my time of need.

Unless your in a horrible car wreck, or your wheeled in by ambulance on a stretcher, going to the ER room for pain is a waste of time and money. Not only is it a waste of time and money, your humiliated by the whole ordeal. People who suffer from chronic pain are simply not believed. For whatever the reason may be, ER doctors do not want to treat people in pain. Chronic pain sufferers in America are discriminated again tremendously. Everyone who suffers from pain should write their congressman or senators. Something has to be done. Seems doctors are taken the war on drugs against the innocent, against the people who truly suffer from chronic daily pain. There is something wrong with this picture. America has the best healthcare in the world, but yet you cant get treated for something as simple as low back pain. I just pray for the millions of Americans who are in the same situation they that somehow will find a compassionate doctor who truly understands pain. Seems most doctors today are more interested in what’s best for them, and not the patient. Don’t they still take an oath to help the sick and hurting? Sometimes I wonder.

40 comments

  1. csweet Reply
    October 9, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    I 1000000% agree. I suffer from a chronic pain condition and spinal cancer… often I have 'breakthrough' pain which has sent me to there quite a few (awful awful) times. I would bring binders of doctors diagnoses, the medications I take, anything and everything to verify my awesome debilitating, and PAINFUL condition. Yet, with all this ER doctors look at you and all they think is "addict addict addict". No matter what you have to say, no matter how legitimate you are… they all think you need "help" or they want to send you to detox. It's so frikin depressing. I'd love for these docs to be in our place just once-and then have some jerk-off in a white jacket say… "I refuse to give drug addicts care." Thanks US healthcare!

  2. Kim Reply
    July 21, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I wondered if I wrote this article, it is exactly what happened to me! I'm glad you put this out there, maybe something can be done because you are 100%correct!! Thank you!

  3. DH Harper Reply
    May 22, 2011 at 5:32 am

    You are absolutely right on that Subject my wife is suffering alot of Back pain, going through Muscle spasms, and other major symptoms from her spinal cancer yet we too have gone many times to the ER and all they do is medicate her up so she feels no pain and sends her home, and yes I agree with you that they should have some kind of Doctor who actually give a hoot about their patients that come in, in agonizing pain. It's totally rediculous how they treat people with Chronic Back pain that does't end, and yes they tell you all the time to go see your primary Doctor constantly. It makes no sense what so ever why they don't go and call the Doctor themselves and actually get another idea on why the patient is feeling the way they do instead of refering to a computer with dates of when they last visited and for what, and actually talk to the Primary Doctor instead and have them tell the ER Doctor that it's ok to treat this person for their major illnesses.

    Thank you for the post Robert definitly the exact same feeling we get from when we go to the ER and they do nothing thank you for posting this I hope more people including Doctors and Nurses actually see our posts on here to see what they are doing wrong.

    • Gianna Reply
      April 20, 2019 at 5:48 am

      I recently went to the ER for the most HORRIFIC pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I knew it was sciatica, I had this problem a few years back but it wasn’t anywhere near what I felt when I went to the ER. For the most part, they treated me well and could see that I was in excruciating pain. However, there was one nurse who was just a total B. They put me on an EKG (ECG?) whatever the thing is to monitor your heart rhythm and whatnot because my pulse was insanely high because of the pain I was in. I kept telling this nurse that I COULD NOT lay flat on the bed, that it was WAY too painful. She said I HAD to, and not in a nice way. Again told her that it was freaking KILLING me to even lay somewhat flat at that point and to please just let me elevate my legs to take the pressure off of my spine. She said no, and I cried. A lot. She pretty much held my legs down and still because I literally could not lay like that. After a few moments, I said “please, I can’t stay like this, I’m in so much pain and now my foot and leg are going numb”! That was something I’ve NEVER felt before and it terrified me. I still felt the pain in my back, butt and back of thigh, but I couldn’t feel the rest of my excruciating pain because now it was completely numb. This B actually looked at me and said “Well how can you be in pain if you’re numb”? As if my pain wasn’t real. That was 2 months ago, and I haven’t regained ANY feeling in my calf or foot. I didn’t realize until I stood up to leave that I also now couldn’t walk properly because my calf muscle wasn’t working. I had and STILL have almost TOTAL loss of muscle strength in my calf, and my calf and left foot are STILL NUMB. I’m absolutely miserable, can’t walk, can’t exercise, can’t play with my kids, I’m useless. I’m going to start physical therapy and possibly see a chiropractor and just pray that I can fix my now herniated disc, muscle atrophy and loss of feeling without going through surgery.

      Now, I’m not saying that my sciatica was HER fault, I’m not even sure that her forcing me to stay like that when I was clearly in distress and crying was her fault, all I know is that, while the PAIN was better upon leaving, I went home in much worse shape than when I went in. I’m actually crying while typing this, it’s been truly horrible and I’m scared that I’ll be this way forever. And that HAD THE NURSE LISTENED TO ME, my situation may have never gotten to this point.

  4. Jessica Reply
    May 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Wow, I just read the comments from csweet and it makes me so mad. I am a Radiation Therapist so when I was a student I had a rotation where I went into the consultations with the doctors. They push the pain medication on the patients because they know that cancer is extremely painful and I saw a lot of patients turn it down because they were scared they were going to get hooked on it. I mean they were in sooo much pain but wouldn't take anything for it because I'm sure they were wondering how the heck they were going to get off of it and what they were going to do once the doctor didn't want to give it to them anymore. So the doctor gets you hooked on the medication, but once you go to the ER they treat you like an addict. They are the ones who got the patients addicted in the first place! They can't help that they are dependent on it! How dare these doctors judge those people. They cannot help that they are in pain, and they cannot help that they cannot function without the medication because that is how the body reacts to the meds! And when it comes to back pain, they really need to change how they treat those patients. Especially when they have PROOF!

    I have a couple of herniated discs from doing therapy while having osteoporosis (I am only 26 but I have a whole rack of stuff wrong with me) and I can tell you that it is extremely painful. I can no longer work out or do a lot of the things that I enjoyed before due to the pain. I would be SOOO mad if I went to the ER and they treated me the way they treated you guys. They really need to start treating this differently and stop judging people. How dare them. It is disgusting.

  5. livinginpain Reply
    May 31, 2012 at 3:07 am

    Thank you for your advice. I'm new to the area and my old doctor is out of state. I have an appointment for a new doctor but it is 4 weeks away. I'm out of medication. I made many adjustments to my bed, but the pain is getting worse. Withdrawal is not an issue. Pain is. My pain varies from a 6 or so when I wake up and the first few hours of the day to as low as a 3. But IT NEVER ENDS. And I'm starting to lose my grip. Pain is torture. No one can withstand torture forever. All those scum who seek pain meds for fun and get addicted are causing millions of innocent pain sufferers immeasurable harm. I don't know how I will survive the next 4 weeks. I DON'T want to go to an ER but when the pain gets to a point where I can't cope, I suppose I will have to. I'm frankly terrified.

    Good luck to all the honest people suffering. My heart goes out to you and I sympathize.

  6. Anonymous Reply
    June 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    The article stated the problem of going to an emergency room with back pain without offering an alternative to seeking treatment in the emergency room. Perhaps working with ones primary physician to develop a pain management plan that includes a variety of approaches? Perhaps, in addition to a schedule of pain medication a plan to address pain that sneaks in between doses? Medication complimented by a healthy lifestyle (appropriate activity or exercise, diet and sleep)? Complimentary alternatives such as massage, gentle Yoga, acupuncture?

  7. Jennifer Reply
    July 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I am an emergency room physician. The reason why I get irritated by countless back pains in the ER is because back pain is NOT an emergency. The ER is for life threatening situations, and yes we do get irritated by people who come here with chronic, ongoing issues. Chronic back pain should be treated by primary care physicians, or physicians who specialize in back pain. Or, if you are in constant need of pain medication, then go to a pain management clinic. The ER should NOT the place to go for pain medication. You are taking up time and resources that could be spent on someone with a heart attack, stroke, appendicitis, etc. I can understand someone who is suffering an ACUTE back injury (fell, lifted something and tore a ligament, etc) but for someone to go to the ER for a CHRONIC back issue that has been going on for months and years is not right.

    • M Lynne Reply
      June 2, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      You do realize PCPs aren’t helping – where else do you suggest we go?

  8. Patrick Reply
    July 28, 2012 at 6:36 am

    I also suffer from chronic pain, but at the hands of the Dr. that performed a cervical fusion on me. He ended up damaging the Brachial Plexus and the Spinal Accessory Nerve. I was in so much pain for almost 2yrs before I was able to see someone else and during that 2yrs it almost came down to blows if this man didn't prescribe something that worked. I ended up going to a Neurologist and he is the one that found the new injuries that were caused by the surgery and it explains why my surgeon completely ignored me – This surgeon had the gall to label me a drug seeker (Must have an online database) because every Dr. treated me that way. I truly think this Dr. was trying to discredit me and my character because he knew what happened during surgery, so hey lets label the guy as some drug addict and when he tries to sue me he will make a fool of himself. I read a lot and a lot more of people going through a cervical fusion and ending up with more pain than before or different pain patterns than before ex: my pain after surgery was neck, shoulder, arm and CHEST pain – The Neurologist caught on right away because my trapezius muscle on the right side was complete gone due to so much atrophy and the only thing that really causes that is a damaged Spinal Accessory Nerve and that nerve only really gets damaged through neck surgery of some sort. Always include a Neurologist in your care especially when dealing with Nerve problems or Chronic Pain that doesn't have a source to blame, but make sure they specialize in Brachial Plexus and such injuries if your injury is anything like mine. If you feel like your case is like mine and you are not getting any answers whatsoever and you went through a similar surgery as mine, well it just might have been malpractice and that is why you are not getting answers. Remember, Doctors know Doctors and protect each other, so get away from the area when seeking that other opinion.

  9. Jackie Reply
    August 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I myself am only 30 yrs old. Have had a degenerative low-back condition since I was 12. Grew up and continue to live under extremely stressful health and financial circumstances. I have had medical experiences ranging from horrible to amazing. I was hit head on by a drunk driver almost 4 yrs ago which added to my ongoing health problems as well as gave me a giant new list of additions and financial hardships as the driver had no license & no insurance. Then after finally reaching a somewhat stable yet chronic pain level was involved in a minor car crash last year.

    Now my pain and ability to function is worse than ever! I will soon be having jaw surgery as I have had to wear rods in my mouth for the last 8+ months and both of the disks in my jaw are out of place. To anyone with back pain, especially those of you with little or no insurance I beg of you…."Don't go to the ER unless you have to L. Schedule an appt with your Dr asap. Even if you have to miss a day of work it will be cheaper and way more beneficial to your health to have an actual appt. If u don't have a doctor make as many calls as are necessary to find a free or low cost clinic to see you. Ps if you do have to go to the hospital, have a written down list of everything you've tried, when and how it started, and if needed ask for whatever type of financial assistance they offer. I myself have been blessed with lots of paid for care through Providence. Best of luck and when in pain breathing exercises and ice can seem ridiculous but I swear they do help and I have 18yrs of experience. So do core stabilizing exercises. You can save a lot of money by looking online and not having to go to physical therapy. Listen to your body and continue to care for it every day!

  10. Ellen Reply
    August 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I think it's not true, wait until you're the one suffering, and the fact that they consider a person a drug addict infuriates me when they could very well run a drug test on you and see what a drug addict you actually are. I wonder if it's better to lie sometimes, though call me an idiot, I tell them the meds I'm on, and btw only go when my doc either tells me to go or is unavailable, and another thing, chronic pain patients get sick more often, are definitely decimated against, and they don't even know the simple rule of pain management, get the person out of pain quickly and then it generally stops the cycle of getting worse. They have made me hate them, distrust them, and our population has an extremely high suicide rate due to the constant pain and doctors who refuse to give appropriate treatment. They want to be the ones riding on the stretcher giving CPR and have God complexes, aren't we supposed to tell them the truth, one doc told me only answer his questions and don't add anything because it makes me look suspicious, even knowing the severity of my degenerated back. Then they will try to save our lives if we try to kill ourselves, because the simple fact is they care little about quality of life, they love the money, and the feeling of control and the making their patients cry in hysterics because they refuse, so I at 43 have had a dnr in place for 10 years, now I ask you, is this the kind of treatment we deserve. 'And btw, my sis was a nurse who used to steal drugs from patients and got caught, there are quite a few of the docs who are alcoholics and druggies themselves, and have the best stash any addict could ever want. I only want to feel better! If you don't mind I would like to share my blog and start a campaign with signatures to send to our law makers, because why should individuals with actual illnesses be discriminated by just because of the what they state is approx 2 percent that are addicts and abusers. I will never be pain free. I've lost everything that I ever loved to do, and my poor husband just doesn't know what to do with me. But I will tell you this, I've passed every single drug test ever given!! And don't believe them and the BS they give you about the law and the dea, read the state law on controlled substances, they are encouraged to make their patients more comfortable, living or dying, as long as they can prove it is needed, like you have been on the same dose for 7 years and now you get a lower dose and are in more pain, they state it should go up over time, and no one gives breakthrough meds anymore, so what, do we feel the same every day, or are their days we'd stay out of the ER if they gave us a little something extra as needed? I wear a patch, so unless am wearing them all at the same time, it wouldn't matter how many times it was changed, sometimes they fall off and I must replace it early, but since it's released hourly how exactly do I get more medication. It's not possible because of how it's made, and I don't use the ones that have liquid in them so I can do like a true abuser and inject or drink the liquid, I wear them as prescribed. I hate the way they treat us and will get back with the site if you are alright with it as a link from your site so we can get more appropriate treatment or possibly have these docs charged with discrimination, which is illegal, we need enough signatures, so get the word out, please get back to me, and let me know if I can add a link to send to our lawmakers.

  11. garrett Reply
    December 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I have to agree with Mr. Gould I also recently went to the ER for severe lower abdominal pain and was told to go to my pcp for help or drugs for the ER was for people with real problems, I thought my pain was a real problem, it was on a Saturday evening and I tried by taking otc meds and nothing was helping so I finally gave in to go to the ER just to be told to go somewhere else. I would have waited until Monday but I was hurting too much and was worried that it was something serious and to find out it was, my colon was dying! I ended up having to have surgery for a colon resection, something has to be done with our medical system.

  12. Tracy Thornton Reply
    February 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I suffer advanced degenerative back pain with bone spurs and sciatica. Major neck pain too. Arthritis in knees ankles shoulders. My left knee was swollen to the point that it ripped the cartridge. And I live in WA St. Have for 20yrs. No state medical Dr. will see me. I have had to pay out of pocket for a spine Dr. On a monthly income of 710.00 per month. And he just told me by march of this year Dr's will no longer be able to give me the medicine I have taken for 12 yrs. After I tried every other option. I finally could not stand it. I was dumbfounded to think that this can happen. No one will be receiving opiates unless you have cancer or are in hospice. The last time a nurse was rude to me I came home dumped my meds down the sink. 3 days later in ending up having severe chest pain and of course back pain. The discovered it wasn't my heart. It was my spine causing that horrific pain. My blood pressure was 221/198. The Dr. said well, Tracy good news you're not having a heart attack. But, if your blood pressure reaches 230/198. Your heart stops. If I had known what little quality of life I would have in the future. I wouldn't of listened when the Dr. said "Tracy this is what these meds were made for. I wouldn't of listened and I could be in heaven now and would be suffering no more. No Dr. cares about how much I suffer I have numerous M.R.I'S ETC. TO prove it's real. I'm out of options and out of hope. I have nowhere to go. No one cares as long as I just go away. Despaired in Seattle.

  13. Mike Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 6:01 am

    I am going thru this right now. I've been in pain for over a year now. The worst part is I have no insurance. I have been trying to find a way to have MRI done. I've gone to the ER many times. They choose not to give me and MRI. The funny part is they even diagnose me with having a pinched nerve. Commonly caused by my slipped disc. I really don't know what to do at this point. If u can help me. I'd love to hear it.

  14. Julie Reply
    March 13, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I agree – have had back pain since my 20's I have a spinal fusion from L4-L5 and L5-S, and now I also have new herniated disks at the L1-2 and L2-3 level in my lower back. I have a C5-6 herniation also. When I told a doctor I get tired of being treated like an addict he sent me to a therapist! I hate pain management bc they make you wait and there are a lot of drug addict looking ppl in there. My primary stopped giving me meds after 10 yrs- said they were getting stricter. I have degenerative disk disease – rolled over and bed and sneezed to get my 2 surgery's! Fell down steps once and have a T7 compression fracture that also hurts! Doctors make me so upset the way they treat! Thx…

  15. Shaylee Reply
    April 14, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    I have chronic lower back pain from the surgery I had 2 years ago from a herniated disc. I was in severe pain that I couldn't get up and I went to the hospital and just let go after waiting for 3 hours.

  16. Melinda Reply
    April 25, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Thomasville Medical Center Hospital treated me the same way! I went in with pain running down the back of my legs. I did not need any pain medicine all I wanted to know was what was causing the back of my leg to go numb and hurt like crazy. The she-male PA told me I had a narcotic problem and needed substance counseling! They will get no pay for that visit in my life time!!!

  17. sweet girl Reply
    March 22, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I agree with every one of you! I was just recently discriminated against in the ER room! However, I am not going to stand by and continue to read these types of things. I suffer from chronic pain! Pray for us all, I am going to stand up and take a stand! Prayerfully I can make a difference for all of us! Have a great day!!

  18. Joyce Reply
    April 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I too suffer from chronic back pain, I have been humiliated, and degraded by my local hospital, I do feel that they should have access to medical records before they start pointing the finger and accusing people of being in there to get pain meds. I refuse to go to this hospital if I had to go IDE drive 30 miles to the next one first.

  19. Lynda Franklin Reply
    August 31, 2014 at 1:33 am

    I absolutely agree with you. Thank God I'm not the only one that thinks something should be done about how doctors treat patients. It is sad to say but one of these days a patient is going to die, because some idiot doctor didn't do his job right. I mean come on, why on earth would it be a law that ppl with chronic pain are not allowed to be prescribed narcotic pain meds? But someone can come in with a small cut and be prescribed narcotic pain meds. It does not make sense to me.

    Yes ppl should take this to the mayor, governor and hopefully get the right care that we deserve.

  20. Bob Reply
    January 11, 2015 at 12:04 am

    This article is spot on. My primary care physician recently retired, and it takes literally months now on Medicaid to get scheduled for a doctor as a new patient. I was in a car accident in September and sustained a herniated disc. I had an MRI taken, have the MRI disc and report, and am in so much pain since September that I have been to the ER four times now. Even with an MRI and report and all my paperwork in hand, I have been turned away from four different ER's with nothing more than a shot in the butt and told to see my PCP! I CAN'T SEE HIM UNTIL JANUARY 22! Am I supposed to go shoot myself in the meantime because I am in constant, unbearable pain daily and can't find any source of help until then? Every ER is now on the lookout for drug addicts and sending away people in need of legitimate help with terrible pain. I do not know what I am going to do until January 22 as I am scheduled for surgery on Feb. 3. The surgeon won't prescribe pain medicine until AFTER the surgery! What has our healthcare system come to?!

  21. Lois Reply
    August 27, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    This happened to me when I moved from one state to another trying to set up a family physician. I have never been so insulted in my life. I was treated like a druggie trying to get a fix. I had brought my files with me to the new office. I told him IF he had read a portion of them he would have been able to treat me as a person instead of some undesirable person. I took my files & found a new physician.

  22. Leesa Reply
    September 2, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    The same has happened to me several times. I have deg disk disease and a swollen left knee that can't hardly bend and when in the hospital for 5 days just last month, they told me I would need to use a walker now. BUT I CANT GET ANY MEDICATION FOR MY PAIN! OMG I wish there was someone out there could help me. I took Vicodin for 15 years 3xa day with no problems until December and now since the first of the year I can't get any help from any of my 3 doctors. Sometimes I just wish I would just stop breathing, the only thing stopping me is my 2 grown daughters. They would never understand why I left them ya know.

  23. Kim Reply
    January 17, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I am 62 yrs old & was hurt on the job. I have a neck injury & the SMC is clearly swollen. I have had a MRI & the want to burn a nerve in my neck. This has been going on for 5 months, I have to sleep sitting up & because of this it has irritated a pre-existing L4 L5 sciatic nerve PAIN. I am in so much pain I get NO sleep & they will not give me anything for pain. I have to wait to see a pain management doctor but it first must be approved. My health is circling the drain!! If I was just given a pain medication and rest to start I would be fine now. Up to this point I haven't even seen or needed to see a doctor since 1999 so I'm not a drug seeker. This new form of medicine is just WRONG!!! It is causing unneeded suffering to honestly suffering people. What ever happened to the oath a doctor took. They should be able to tell by a person's record that it is OK to give certain people a dam pain pill!!!

  24. Carole Reply
    April 17, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I will pass this site on to friends, there's a blog that needs the voices of pain patients on it, it's an e.r. Blog but be prepared to get very upset, could make you cry, did me!!! Oh if you haven't heard about this attorney you should look her up, her name is Laura Cooper, could help some of you.

  25. Katie Reply
    May 21, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    To Jennifer, the emergency room physician: it's not only back pain patients that get treated poorly. I went to an urgent care for kidney stones (I've had them before). I don't have insurance because of the cost nowadays. They refused to treat me and referred me to the ER. So I went from the $200 clinic, the ER to be told after a $16,000 CT scan, a $600 antibiotic plus a lot more, "you can't fake this".

    One of my repeat customers, who is a nurse at that urgent care, recently told me that, yes, they could have treated me at urgent care appropriately, and they probably thought I was just after drugs at both her office and at the ER.

    Moral of the story, you, Dr. Jennifer, feeling that most "back pain" patients are a waste of time will probably send me to bankruptcy and the loss of my business.

  26. Dale Hurst Reply
    June 1, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    This just happened to me a few days ago but instead of the referral they just flat out refused to treat me! The PA said the Dr. may want to contact your Pain Dr. and I told him I want you to, I'm not trying to hide anything here. Then he came back and said the Dr. can't help you and does not want to wake up or bother your Pain Dr., it was pretty late though, 8:45 pm! I refused to sign anything on the way out and ended up making a complaint to the Hospital that by the way not only have I spent 10's of thousands of dollars at they had access to all my records also.

    I feel guilty for seeking help, they make you feel like a dam drug addict. The next day was no better so I called my Pain Dr.'s answering service seeking advice and was told the Dr. has left orders to NOT be contacted unless I had an injection recently. WOW! I asked what I am supposed to do? This Dr. has given me strict instructions to not take any extra of my pain meds unless he okays it. I have called the office twice today to report what happened and still no call back…

  27. Cindy Beyeler Reply
    June 16, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Wish I had read this article before my recent to the ER for back pain.

  28. Nichole Reply
    October 16, 2015 at 8:32 am

    I totally agree. I have CRPS in both legs (the pain is the highest on the McGill's pain chart). I have been handed ibuprofen and discharge papers. I am now in horrible back pain, radiating down my left leg. I contacted all my doctors, and EVERY one of them said go to the emergency room. For what? To be humiliated?? I just want to thank all the real drug seekers out there that have ruined it for people who suffer everyday… smh

  29. Nitro Reply
    November 1, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I am a chronic pain sufferer, who also happens to be a CASAC certified alcohol, substance abuse counsellor. Who had to leave her job due to herniated disks, stenosis, sciatic…, you name it. I know the deal. I know pain and I know drugs. I myself have never been addicted to anything but nicotine…, which is a bitch in its own right. Today I just happen to be having one of the worst pain days I've had in a while. The bad/bad day. I'm thinking that I had better go to the ER, when I remember how useless it is. I have all of the proof, I could bring it with me that would show the nurse physical proof of my ailments. And the best I will get is an anti-inflammatory shot of Toradol which I could use right now. But would rather not put myself through the pain shaming that goes on in the ER. My husband helped me get into a hot Epsom salt bath, I took a 500mg Naproxen, 1 Hydrocodone 5/325, a flexeril, and I'm still racked with pain and in bed with a heating pad. I have seen both sides of this after running a halfway house, I can understand why the nurses might feel this way, but they have records and now those records are available to them. They can see who are the frequent flyers and they choose to SHAME instead.

  30. Emily Reply
    April 23, 2016 at 2:10 am

    This happened to me tonight! I fell down the stairs and I have a bruise the size of a softball on my back. I went into the ER bawling (I don't cry) and all my vitals were high. Even had a temp. I have a previous back injury (fracture) so keep in mind of terrified I've done something to it. I know I've not badly fractured it BC I can walk. I get in the room, the PA touches my back and I jump. He asks "you mean that hurts?" I said "yes" asked me to sit but it hurts to sit. I can't squat, my strength isn't the same, I have shooting pain down my leg, and my Lower back is huge. He says "well I can't do anything for you. You need to go to urgent care until you can see your PCP on Monday." I said URgent Care sent me here. "I can offer you Lortab." I said, "no. I am in super pain, I have a past fracture, I want an X-ray, an mri, or something. My swelling won't stop." He said well I can't help you, let me get your discharge papers. I walked out. Didn't sign his papers and an appealing the bill. It was a 4-5 min conversation. Worst experience of my life. Have never felt so unheard and hurt.

  31. Nicole Reply
    May 11, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Interesting read… I am suffering currently with no medical coverage or care. Today is a severe day! I was debating going to the er or just laying in pain.

  32. Tinalee Reply
    December 31, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    To the Er Physician: I have had 2 Discectomy and Fusions from car accidents that were not my fault! I wish that just once you could step in to my shoes for one day! I would never wish for even you to be in my shoes for more than 24 hours. I used to have a life of no pain. Advil? What's that? That was me up until 2 years ago. I suggest you watch the movie The Doctor… he gets throat cancer and survives. However, he got to experience being a patient, a patient in pain. We are out here… we make you your money… we keep you in a job… but trust me… we would rather be pain free. And we would definitely pray that you were never the one to try and treat those of us in TRUE CHRONIC PAIN! With your lack of knowledge it would be best to find another profession that does not involve humans or animals.

  33. Anonymous Reply
    March 9, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    I've pulled muscles in my back on several occasions and never had any problems being treated in an ER.

  34. Maddie Reply
    March 21, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    I live in Pittsburgh and we basically have only one health system UPMC. High mark also but they are much smaller here. The problem I have encountered is that none of their cookie cutter doctors think for themselves. So trying to get a second opinion is meaningless. As for pain management or actual meds that would help, forget it. Broken bone, take Tylenol. Diverticulitis, have some Tylenol. You get the point, your pain and suffering means nothing to them. I'm curious to see what they do when people start overdosing on OTC meds? That will make their war against pain patients seem that much more heartless.

  35. Austin Reply
    June 4, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    I too am suffering from back pain and have to wait 3 days and part of another just to get an MRI just to be able to get an appointment with the doctor who has already done one discectomy on me. The only positions I can be in are laying down or standing up and neither one is very comfortable and at times are unbearable. There's no one to turn to in these times of need. Not even God will help.

  36. Vivian Verrier Reply
    June 21, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    Very well written article. I try to NOT go to any hospital for any reason due to how pain sufferers are treated. Like myself. Aurora Bay Care hospital in Green Bay Wisconsin. Let me bleed internally for 3 days. I did suffer a collapsed lung in day 2 and succumbed to my hospital given injuries on day 3. Dr Alex Roistien cracked my chest open and brought me back with minutes to barely spare. My records indicate they thought I was addicted to morphine and is why the staff ignored my cries and screams for help. I remember trying to call 911. From my hospital room. 10 years later I'm in worse condition than I was before my procedure there. I now have severe back pain as well and cannot get decent pain management in the state of Rhode Island.

  37. Anonymous Reply
    September 9, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    This is why ERs are packed because of chronic back pain patients, and other non-emergent patients such as rash, STIs, etc. Either looking for NARCs or not following up with their primary care providers or pain management provider. Patients could lose weight. Have better body mechanics. These are lifestyle changes that Americans cannot handle, instead they like easy quick fixes, such as NARC use or filling up the ERs when have not done their do diligence in their own care. ERs patch you up, they are not the specialist doctors. In Europe, they would give you Motrin and be done with it for non-back pain emergencies. You save ERs for real emergencies, such as CHEST PAIN, PEDIATRIC EMERGENCIES, TRAUMA, and etc. I have had severe Back Pain before getting into the medical field. I did not go to the ER for care. Everybody likes the easy button. When it comes to your health, it is not easy. You have to work at it. Otherwise, it is partly your fault that you do not participate in your health. Not the doctors. I agree with comments 5 (unknown user) and 7 (Jennifer) in article below.

  38. Amber Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    This has been my experience to a t. The pain led to nausea which led to dehydration yet all I got was a note on my er chart that every medical professional has access to, flagged as a drug seeker and abuser… oh and lidocaine patch… which gives me a rash…

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