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Saturday, 6 October, 2001, 00:08 GMT 01:08 UK
'I knew I wasn't making it up'
Back pain can continue even after treatment
Back pain can continue even after treatment
Sue Clayton has suffered from back pain for the last 20 years.

Despite numerous treatments, and four operations, nothing has cured her pain - and now all she can do is manage it as best she can.

She talks to BBC News Online about how she has coped.


Sue Clayton's problems started 20 years ago when she was told she had a slipped disc.

She had osteopathy and alternative treatments, but after 18 months was told she needed surgery to cure the problem.

From the surgeon's point of view, the procedure was a success - but it did not cure Mrs Clayton's pain.

A second operation found no underlying cause.


I was basically being told 'It's your fault, you're not coping very well, you're talking yourself into this'

Sue Clayton
"They said the spinal nerve looked as if it had been hammered.

"They sewed me back up, but didn't feel there was a proper cause for it."

But Mrs Clayton, from Canterbury, was still in excruciating pain.

At that time, she had two small children aged six and eight, and she says she could not look after them properly.

"I was sometimes bed-bound or house-bound, I couldn't look after the house."

'No help'

She tried complementary therapies, and faith healers - all the while seeing GPs and specialists - but nothing helped.

She said: "I was basically being told 'It's your fault, you're not coping very well, you're talking yourself into this'.

"I got really despondent because I knew I wasn't making it up.

"Doctors really didn't want to know."

In 1984, she had a lumbar fusion, where vertebrae are fused together to stop excessive movement."

But that caused even more problems, and three years later she had to have a fourth operation to treat them.

Since then, Mrs Clayton, now 55, says she has had to accept that she has to live with chronic pain, using medication and pain management.

She has also become involved in pain management support groups, trying to help others in her position.

See also:

31 May 01 | Health
Training to beat 'phantom pain'
20 May 01 | Health
Back to nature for pain relief
07 May 99 | Health
The complex world of pain
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