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Tell Me About Back Pain

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AmberGretchen

Ideal_Rock
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Jan 6, 2005
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7,770
Hello wonderful PSers
I''m writing to you from my bed, where I''m currently laid out flat at the advice of my Dr. Why, you might wonder? Well, I''ve been having severe back pain, most likely Sciatica, caused by a pinched nerve, most likely in turn caused by a bulging disk.

Does anyone suffer from chronic (or acute) back pain? What has worked the best to help you get through it? What treatments were useful, and which were a waste? How old were you (if you don''t mind sharing
) when it first happened? Have you found effective ways to prevent it from happening again? Any advice/insights/experiences would be welcomed - this is a first for me, and I honestly had no idea what its like...
 

asscherisme

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Messages
2,811
I get back pain but not as severe as what you are having now. I''m sorry you are in so much pain right now.

The first time it happened, I was 20, had just graduated college with my B.A. and went running. I did something odd to my back and came home and it froze up and was crying in pain and could not stand up. I was in bed on tons of advil for days.

Ever since then, I get painful back flair ups sometimes and advil is the only thing that helps. Luckily its not too often. I also avoid lifting heavy stuff in my day to day life.

The good news though is that even though I''ll be 40 this year (YIKES!), the pain has not gotten worse over the years. I get flare ups sometimes but it has not progressed.
 

decodelighted

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
11,534
Me!! Me!! ... blerg, sorry you're suffering. It really sucks! Okay so your questions ...

When did it first occur:
my first incident was at about 22 yrs old. Totally stress related. I suffered pretty regularly w/back pain from about 22-32 at which point I found a wonderful physical therapist who taught me some exercises that I've used to prevent flare ups (so far, knock wood).

What treatments were useful:
Meds! For the pain! Muscle relaxers too. But everything really changed with the right physical therapist. Its strange but most of the sisters in my family have had some back pain ... and the doctors think it might have to do w/learning posture from our mother who was preggers most of our lives. To counteract that I lie on my stomach and kind of force my back into a curve by pushing up onto my arms. Not sure I'm describing that right. Also, I had some slips on ice which bruised my tailbone & led to a sports injury type of arthritis there. But that knowledge hasn't really helped. Not much can be done about that at this point. Mostly I've been able to feel when I'm getting tight & work on it before it really flares. Kind of getting to know your body over time.

Other experiences:
I've had the total fall-on-the-floor and can't get up kind of pain. It happened once when a friend was over (on a day we all got laid off of a job we absolutely loved -- go figure -- stress again!) and she had to stay with me until we could figure out how to get me onto the couch. That time they prescribed an AMAZING drug that numbed my whole lower body. That was the event that eventually led to the PT, so I guess I'm glad it happened.

One of my friends pulled her back getting out of my car one day & had some type of seizure & passed out. She stayed at my house a couple of days recovering from that & still has flare ups to this day. Think she's getting some PT now, though. Hope it helps her as much as it helped me!

Good luck! Don't underestimate the mental component -- when I look back it seems clear it had a lot to do with it.
 

AmberGretchen

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Messages
7,770
Date: 4/14/2009 7:54:00 PM
Author: asscherisme
I get back pain but not as severe as what you are having now. I''m sorry you are in so much pain right now.


The first time it happened, I was 20, had just graduated college with my B.A. and went running. I did something odd to my back and came home and it froze up and was crying in pain and could not stand up. I was in bed on tons of advil for days.


Ever since then, I get painful back flair ups sometimes and advil is the only thing that helps. Luckily its not too often. I also avoid lifting heavy stuff in my day to day life.


The good news though is that even though I''ll be 40 this year (YIKES!), the pain has not gotten worse over the years. I get flare ups sometimes but it has not progressed.
Wow - that sounds dreadful
I''m surprised you were so young when it first happened (then again, I''m only 27), but I''m so relieved to hear it hasn''t progressed/gotten worse - that is a big concern of mine, and I want to do whatever I can to stop that from happening.
 

AmberGretchen

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Date: 4/14/2009 7:57:22 PM
Author: decodelighted
Me!! Me!! ... blerg, sorry you''re suffering. It really sucks! Okay so your questions ...


When did it first occur:

my first incident was at about 22 yrs old. Totally stress related. I suffered pretty regularly w/back pain from about 22-32 at which point I found a wonderful physical therapist who taught me some exercises that I''ve used to prevent flare ups (so far, knock wood).


What treatments were useful:

Meds! For the pain! Muscle relaxers too. But everything really changed with the right physical therapist. Its strange but most of the sisters in my family have had some back pain ... and the doctors think it might have to do w/learning posture from our mother who was preggers most of our lives. To counteract that I lie on my stomach and kind of force my back into a curve by pushing up onto my arms. Not sure I''m describing that right. Also, I had some slips on ice which bruised my tailbone & led to a sports injury type of arthritis there. But that knowledge hasn''t really helped. Not much can be done about that at this point. Mostly I''ve been able to feel when I''m getting tight & work on it before it really flares. Kind of getting to know your body over time.


Other experiences:

I''ve had the total fall-on-the-floor and can''t get up kind of pain. It happened once when a friend was over (on a day we all got laid off of a job we absolutely loved -- go figure -- stress again!) and she had to stay with me until we could figure out how to get me onto the couch. That time they prescribed an AMAZING drug that numbed my whole lower body. That was the event that eventually led to the PT, so I guess I''m glad it happened.


One of my friends pulled her back getting out of my car one day & had some type of seizure & passed out. She stayed at my house a couple of days recovering from that & still has flare ups to this day. Think she''s getting some PT now, though. Hope it helps her as much as it helped me!


Good luck! Don''t underestimate the mental component -- when I look back it seems clear it had a lot to do with it.
Wow! Sounds like you''ve had quite a journey with back pain
That drug that numbs your lower body sounds pretty amazing right now - I''m on muscle relaxers, but I can''t take most of the heavy-duty pain killers (vicodin, etc...) because I can''t keep them down, and the stuff they have me on doesn''t quite cut it


That''s great to know about the PT though - I''ve had PT before for other injuries, so I think I will definitely look into that once I''m a bit more on the mend.

Its funny you mention stress - I was actually thinking the other day that I''m LESS stressed now than I''ve been over the last year or so. Ironic that this happened now I guess...

That sounds really scary what happened to your friend - I''m glad mine isn''t that bad!!
 

joflier

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3,511
Well, I''ve had chronic lower back pain for about 7 years or so. Started when I was about 17 or 18. Actually, it was before then, but just not very severe. It got worse after I did a couple of years of gymnastics in high school. There are some days now, where its very mild and almost not noticeable (although I''ve just developed a lot of pain tolerance, so mild is probably a relative term) and other days where its almost unbearable. I''ve had xrays that have all been normal. So I don''t entirely know what the problem is. I could have an MRI, but I can''t afford doing that right now.

I live on advil. Not the generic garbage. I have to take 3 x as much of the generic ibuprofein for whatever reason, so I stick to the Advil brand. It definitely helps alot. I''ve also taken muscle relaxors in the past which have also helped when its really bad. I also go to a chiropractor every so often. That really helps relieve my pain. But if you truely have a bulging disc, I don''t know that that will help you at all. Chiropractors are not for everyone, and I''ve had some that don''t do any good at all, and the one I have now, who is just wonderful.

So, that''s my story in a nutshell. Don''t know that that''s any help to you, but your certainly not suffering alone, if that makes you feel a little better.
Good luck Amber. I hope you can find some relief asap!
 

blackpolkadot

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Jun 4, 2008
Messages
495
When I was a freshman in college (which was only 2 years ago), I had severe lower back pain. I just suffered for a while, taking Aleve- the only thing that touched the pain. I finally went to a chiropractor after I bent over to tie my shoes and couldn''t stand up.. for days. I had misaligned vertebrae, slight scoliosis, and a twisted tailbone (and I still don''t know how that happened
).

After 2 weeks, I felt MUCH better. 2 months later, I was completely pain free. I am supposed to go every 6 weeks for maintenance, but don''t because I can''t afford it since my insurance doesn''t cover it. Hopefully when I get a job next year I can start going back. I have some pain every so often in my back, but nothing like it was. I usually don''t even take medicine for it.

Chiropractors aren''t for everyone like jolifer said. Many times, a different chiropractor can help you more than others. But I am sure glad I went!
 

AmberGretchen

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Date: 4/14/2009 8:31:46 PM
Author: joflier
Well, I''ve had chronic lower back pain for about 7 years or so. Started when I was about 17 or 18. Actually, it was before then, but just not very severe. It got worse after I did a couple of years of gymnastics in high school. There are some days now, where its very mild and almost not noticeable (although I''ve just developed a lot of pain tolerance, so mild is probably a relative term) and other days where its almost unbearable. I''ve had xrays that have all been normal. So I don''t entirely know what the problem is. I could have an MRI, but I can''t afford doing that right now.


I live on advil. Not the generic garbage. I have to take 3 x as much of the generic ibuprofein for whatever reason, so I stick to the Advil brand. It definitely helps alot. I''ve also taken muscle relaxors in the past which have also helped when its really bad. I also go to a chiropractor every so often. That really helps relieve my pain. But if you truely have a bulging disc, I don''t know that that will help you at all. Chiropractors are not for everyone, and I''ve had some that don''t do any good at all, and the one I have now, who is just wonderful.


So, that''s my story in a nutshell. Don''t know that that''s any help to you, but your certainly not suffering alone, if that makes you feel a little better.
Good luck Amber. I hope you can find some relief asap!
Wow jo - seven years sounds miserable, I''m so sorry!


That''s good to know about the Advil. I''ve been taking both Advil and Tylenol, on top of the Rx NSAIDs, but it doesn''t really help that much, and the Advil upsets my tummy after a few days, so its not a great option.

Thank you so much for the good wishes. I did try a chiropractor (have gone to him in the past for mild issues), but it seemed to make it worse, so I think that''s not a good option for now. I hear you about the gymnastics though - I was a ballet dancer in high school, and now I wonder if that''s having an effect...
 

AmberGretchen

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Date: 4/14/2009 8:57:36 PM
Author: blackpolkadot
When I was a freshman in college (which was only 2 years ago), I had severe lower back pain. I just suffered for a while, taking Aleve- the only thing that touched the pain. I finally went to a chiropractor after I bent over to tie my shoes and couldn''t stand up.. for days. I had misaligned vertebrae, slight scoliosis, and a twisted tailbone (and I still don''t know how that happened
).


After 2 weeks, I felt MUCH better. 2 months later, I was completely pain free. I am supposed to go every 6 weeks for maintenance, but don''t because I can''t afford it since my insurance doesn''t cover it. Hopefully when I get a job next year I can start going back. I have some pain every so often in my back, but nothing like it was. I usually don''t even take medicine for it.


Chiropractors aren''t for everyone like jolifer said. Many times, a different chiropractor can help you more than others. But I am sure glad I went!
Thanks for sharing your experience polkadot - I''m so glad you were able to get some relief from a chiropractor! I wonder if I should maybe try a different one. I just wonder about it possibly making something like a bulging disk worse, and I hesitate to go because of that...
 

rainwood

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AmberG -

I''ve had back pain on and off for years, some of it related to a gymnastics accident, some of it from a slight curvature of the spine, some from car accidents/skiing mishaps, etc. My general philosophy is to take as few medications as possible so I rarely take pain relievers/pain killers, not even ibuprofen. Plus, I didn''t think they did much for me.

I did chiropractic for a number of years and that helped, but the very best thing I do for my back is Iyengar yoga. It''s a form of yoga where you do poses for an extended period of time rather than moving from pose to pose quickly. It''s made a huge difference. My husband is also a yoga convert for the same reason. If you can find the right yoga teacher, it can make a big difference.
 

TravelingGal

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Messages
17,193
I''ll be reading this thread with interest. I''ve suffered from back/shoulder/neck pain since I was in my late teens. I never take anything for it and I''m just always in some state of pain. I''ve almost become numb to it.
 

KimberlyH

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Messages
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I was in a major car accident when I was 20, and then several subsequent small accidents, and have had back problems since. The best thing I''ve done for myself is maintain a healthy weight and exercise to build the muscles up around the affected areas. When I was overweight I really struggled with pain and used meds to mask the pain. I still have flare ups since losing weight, but they are fewer and far less painful. Learning exercises, through PT, really helped but I am not so good about doing them as a preventative measure; I wish I had a much more consistent routine in that regard. Pain pills only masked the problem for me, and didn''t allow me to live what felt like a full life, so I avoid taking them as much as possible (It''s been about a year since the last time I needed to).
 

Skippy123

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Date: 4/14/2009 9:54:04 PM
Author: TravelingGal
I''ll be reading this thread with interest. I''ve suffered from back/shoulder/neck pain since I was in my late teens. I never take anything for it and I''m just always in some state of pain. I''ve almost become numb to it.
Me too, it is a nerve in my neck that shoots down to my shoulder. All I have been doing is going to the chiropractor. Also, went to a PT who gave me exercises to work on my core muscles. Restorative yoga seems to help too. I am sorry AG, you poor sweetie.
 

swingirl

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Messages
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So sorry to hear about your condition. Any kind of pain is bad but back pain seems to be the worst. DH suffered from muscle spasms for years that left him flat on his back for several days at a time. But then he injured his back during a fall on the ski slopes. He ended up with a herniated disc in his lower back and consequently sciatica. His doctor recommended everything from rest, exercise, meds, and trips to the gym. After an MRI confirmed the herniated disc and after DH was starting to experience nerve damage in his foot, he found a good surgeon and went for it.

I know surgery is considered everyone’s last resort but DH was in his 30’s with 2 small children and wanted to remain active and pain free. For him the surgery was a total success, his pain was gone as soon as he woke up in the hospital and was back to work in a few weeks. I am going to guess they use new procedures today. DH’s surgery was 19 years ago.
 

akw94

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Date: 4/14/2009 7:32:23 PM
Author:AmberGretchen
Hello wonderful PSers
I''m writing to you from my bed, where I''m currently laid out flat at the advice of my Dr. Why, you might wonder? Well, I''ve been having severe back pain, most likely Sciatica, caused by a pinched nerve, most likely in turn caused by a bulging disk.

Does anyone suffer from chronic (or acute) back pain? What has worked the best to help you get through it? What treatments were useful, and which were a waste? How old were you (if you don''t mind sharing
) when it first happened? Have you found effective ways to prevent it from happening again? Any advice/insights/experiences would be welcomed - this is a first for me, and I honestly had no idea what its like...
Hi Amber,
So sorry you''re having such severe back pain! I had extremely severe back pain a few years back (late 20''s/early 30''s). I am not positive but I think it came from a bad fall on ice. I can''t be sure since my pain didn''t occur immediately after but it''s the only thing I can think of that could''ve caused the injury. I had an MRI which showed a very slight bulging disc. I had some other nerve test which showed nothing but everyone was sure the back pain was causing nerve pressure which made my leg hurt so bad.

My pain came all of a sudden and was extremely severe, could barely move. I think I started acupuncture almost immediately, although can''t quite remember if the pain got a little better before I started or the acupuncture made it a bit more bearable. I do remember acupuncture worked for awhile. At some point, the pain left my back and moved to my leg. Only the right leg and always between the calf and the knee, kind of on the right side of the leg. I remember the constant aching of my leg. Not a pain where you push your leg and it hurts but it was inside my leg. It hurt!! Once it left my back, the acupuncture didn''t seem to help much. I do think acupuncture helped overall but at some point, he decided to try a bit more aggressive method and the pain got MUCH worse. I stopped after that b/c just couldn''t bear that type of pain happening again.
I think I tried a Chiropractor next. That hurt and I didn''t stay with that all that long.
I also tried Physical Therapy. That also hurt quite a bit.
Through each of these methods, I do feel like I got better little by little. The pain became more bearable more definitely still there. It was almost always in my leg and not my back. It always got worse when I sat for long periods. Driving to/from work used to be very difficult, especially driving home.
Once I was in physical therapy, I started exercising again. It was really the 1st time I could due to the pain. Once I was doing this regularly, it hurt more in the beginning but seemed to really help. It almost felt the stretching from exercising made it feel better.
I didn''t last all that long in physical therapy either. Each session just hurt too much and I thought the exercise was helping.
I continued to exercise and the pain continued to lessen. I no longer have constant pain in my back or leg. I do feel it in my back first, whenever I sit for too long but it usually goes away fairly fast. I feel it in my leg here and there, I feel that achy sort of feeling. Right now, I was sitting for most of the night and can kind of feel my leg hurts just a little. I almost don''t even notice it. But whenever I get a massage, there are certain points in my back that hurt very bad when pushed, always worse when I''m feeling sore. That just seems to be a constant.

When I think back, I think it was the combination of everything I did. Thinking about medications, the only thing that helped me a little was anti-inflammatory pills. The more potent stuff I wouldn''t take since I drove every day and needed to be focused and clear during the day. Plus, I''m not someone who really takes medication or wanted to live on it. In the beginning, I think I took more serious stuff but really can''t remember. In the beginning, the pain was very bad.

My mom recently has had a very similar back experience. Pain in the back which then moved to the leg. She has done physical therapy and exercises and no longer has the major pain.

I think exercise has a lot to do with the healing. It''s hard b/c at first, the pain is so bad that you can''t exercise but once it gets bearable, I think it makes a huge difference.

I''ll also agree with stress being a factor. I remember that when I was upset about something or having an upsetting conversation with someone, my leg would start to hurt more. I truly noticed the difference. It made me take some of the negative things out of my life. Just not worth my well-being.

Ok, I''ve rambled on long enough. I hope some part of that was helpful!
 

akw94

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Messages
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Well, I logged off b/c I should be asleep but then I thought about my current back/neck/shoulder discomfort (totally separate from the previous back/leg issues).
One thing a previous masseuse told me is to always check how you are sitting/standing. Posture means a big deal. I noticed at my desk that where my computer was made me sit at an angle any time I was typing. Once I changed my computer around, I actually noticed my shoulder/neck pain getting a little better. That''s, of course, with constant massages there too.
Now *that* pain is truly coming from stress. It started around a particularly hard time in life and always is worse when I''m stressed. Very annoying! But things like how I sit also make a difference. Certain exercises also helped as did massages.

More thoughts for you..
 

soocool

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Messages
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My DH had on/off problems with his back since his 30s (he's 53 now). He had an MRI and it showed slight bulging of the disks. At some point he had sciatica and finaly went to see a chiropracter who helped him immensely. After he recovered the chiro gave him some stretches to do at home and when I saw what he was doing, I laughed and said,"That's YOGA!"

When I suggested Yoga or Pilates when he started to have the back problems he laughed at me. Now he has been doing yoga (taking classes/at home) for over 5 years and absolutely no back problems whatsoever. Plus he has the added benefit of having great muscle tone and tight abs (no beer belly).

Some of the things he endured was an epidural shot in the back when he was in the most intense pain. This at least gave him the ability to move around and begin treatment. The chiro started with ultrasound and tens unit treatments and about 1/2 hour on an Aquabed (heated water massage bed that you can increase the intensity of the massage) and then started a series of range of motions to see what he could or could not do before moving on to the next step. When he was able to move better he began the adjustments and my Dh got weekly massages for about 1 month and continued with the stretches at home. My DH took nothing stronger thanan Advil, because he doesn't do pain meds.

Once you get over the severe pain and the doctor gives you the go-ahead, start walking, stretching, yoga, etc. The core muscles have to be stregthened in order to support your back properly. And your muscles need to be properly stretched so that there is no muscular imbalance that will lead to other problems (I developed an IT -iliotibial band problem because I did the stairmaster everyday without stretching afterwards. It took almost 3 years to recover from the problem which included severe nerve pain shooting down into my toes 24hrs/day).

I hope you recover soon! Sending lots of healing dust your way.

edited for add'l content
 

Lorelei

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Date: 4/14/2009 7:32:23 PM
Author:AmberGretchen
Hello wonderful PSers
I''m writing to you from my bed, where I''m currently laid out flat at the advice of my Dr. Why, you might wonder? Well, I''ve been having severe back pain, most likely Sciatica, caused by a pinched nerve, most likely in turn caused by a bulging disk.

Does anyone suffer from chronic (or acute) back pain? Yes for many years due to severe scoliosis. I have also had sciatica as my hips and legs are troublesome.
What has worked the best to help you get through it? Strong painkillers. What treatments were useful, and which were a waste? In my case nothing can be done so no effective treatments. How old were you (if you don''t mind sharing
) when it first happened? I was 13, just hit puberty. Have you found effective ways to prevent it from happening again? Keeping as active as I can, avoiding twisting my spine. Any advice/insights/experiences would be welcomed - this is a first for me, and I honestly had no idea what its like...
I hope you feel better soon Amber and have Mr TuftyFeeties to keep you company!!
 

laine

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Feb 21, 2006
Messages
696
I don't have the knock-you-down, threw-out-my-back kinda pain, but I have been struggling with back and neck pain lately (I'm 29, its fairly new for me, but back problems run in my family). Heat, ibuprofen, and the occasional muscle relaxant do wonders. Ice works better for some people, but for me, its definitely heat--the heating pad is my friend!

But, I also went to get a massage, and the guy told me my pelvis/hips are misaligned which is screwing with my back, which then screws with my neck, which then gives me headaches. So, I've been going to him for a few weeks now to try to get things straightened out. Chiropractors make me a bit nervous, and I don't think its to the point of physical therapy, so this is working for me. The guy is at a spa, but he does more therapeutic massage, where he helps to guide me into alignment, in part by relaxing muscles that are tight. He's also helped me focus on the parts of my posture that are making things worse and given me a few stretches to help. He's definitely more than just a regular masseuse! Anyway, don't know if that would be at all helpful to you, but its at least something to think about.

ETA: My mom tried acupuncture when her back got really bad, and that helped her a lot. Hope you start feeling better soon--pain is no fun!
 

absolut_blonde

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I've had sciatica for a few years now and my PT (who was amazing, worked with several Canadian Olympic teams etc) specifically told me to remain as active as possible. In most cases, resting does NOT help sciatica - it actually makes it worse.

Now, there may be a reason that your doctor told you to rest and certainly PS isn't the place for medical advice so I won't pretend to be an expert. But I will say that I never found regular doctors/GPs to be of any help with any sort of pain/injury issue - all I ever got from them was 'if it hurts, don't to it'. Sadly, that really doesn't solve anything.

But I digress... I'd highly rec seeing a good physiotherapist. The actual underlying cause for sciatica can vary somewhat-- for me it's around my L4/L5-- and that will affect how it should be treated. Very often people have weaknesses in some areas and tightnesses in others that can really contribute too. For example, I have/had tight hip flexors and poor glute activation, which is very common in people with sedentary jobs.

A PT will evaluate you and create a program for you to do on your own. I found it really helped for me. My PT also gave me a list of exercises that I personally should avoid at the gym, which included seemingly innocuous things like back extensions (things that would be fine for other people). That was also very helpful.

And ditto the massage rec! I get a massage every 3-4 weeks and it helps immensely.

Mine still acts up once in awhile, but it's mostly when I am tired/wearing improper shoes/etc. I do have to make a conscious effort to remain very active though, hence being a gym rat.
 

Pandora II

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I''ve had chronic back pain for most of my life now but considerably worse since spending a month in hospital with pleurisy in 2002 when I was 30 and losing a lot of the muscle tone I had that was helping my back.

I have spinal stenosis (normally seen in over-60''s but mine is genetic and I got it in my 20''s) plus two herniated discs. I had surgery in 2004 and got about a 60% reduction in pain which was about as good as was expected - I see one of the only spinal neurosurgeons in Britain. Sadly a few months later one of the discs herniated again and due to the danger of too much scar tissue being generated and making the stenosis worse, my surgeon and I have agreed on no more surgery for 15 years and until I have had kids - he''s one of the pioneers of artificial discs, but they haven''t been around long enough and I''m too young for him to want to risk doing one, but they could be far better than a fusion which will just lead to problems at other levels. So finding a cocktail of meds was deemed the best option.

I''ve been to the Rolls Royce of in-patient pain management courses (which was useless) and tried just about every possible therapy out there - I will not go near chiropractors or osteopaths for a number of reasons (above all that no-one should manipulate your spine without access to MRI scans and x-rays in advance).

I now take tramadol, codeine and lamictal everyday (I''ve been on them for over 5 years) and although it works out as a morphine equivalent of about 50mg a day I have a normal life and very few side-effects plus they are very safe when used properly. I also use heat and acupuncture and very occasionally TENS. I also see a pain consultant and a specialist spinal physio.

It''s really important to take plenty of pain-killers and to keep active when you first get back pain. The pain-killers will allow you to keep moving the spine and that stops you getting muscle spasm. Muscle spasm makes everything far worse and sets up a vicious cycle of pain generating pain. You also hold your body in positions that are not natural and can create even more problems. Bed-rest for more than 2 days is a BAD move as it can make things a lot worse (sounds brutal I know but really is a good idea to keep moving.)

Acupuncture is very effective on muscle spasm, but won''t normally do anything for the underlying pain. A good physio (and there aren''t that many) can also help a lot with stabilising exercises.

Most back-pain resolves within 12 weeks with conservative treatment: painkillers, exercise, heat/ice, physio etc. Surgery should be a real last resort (here out of every 10,000 people that see their GP with back-pain only 1 will be a good candidate for surgery) as it can cause more problems and isn''t that effective unless the main problem is leg pain.

TENS can be helpful for muscle spasm and as a distractor, but it doesn''t cure anything.

I really sympathise as pain is awful - I saw my pain consultant this morning as I developed an inflammation at the T7 costovertebral joint in my back at Christmas and I can''t have any of the things that would help it as I''m pregnant. I''d expected the usual back problems I have to get worse in pregnancy and they''ve actually been a bit better, but I don''t think I deserved a new one! The consultant told me how proud he was of me and how brilliantly I was doing and how I only had 5 weeks to go and got a look to kill from me! We''ve now done a deal that he will inject the joint with cortisone after the birth if it''s still bad - I knew that would be all they could offer (the baby will be opiate dependant at birth so they''re not happy about adding/upping meds) but I still cried on the way home. I can''t stand up long enough to wash my hair in the shower anymore and my DH won''t take me out unless we have access to a wheelchair at the moment so I''ve been stuck at home and seriously fed up!

So believe me, I know just how bad you feel and I really do feel for you. The best suggestions I can give you are to try and find a pain-killer you can take and take it regularly according to the instructions (don''t wait for the pain to break through before you take the next dose if it''s past the time it''s due), microwave heatbags/hotwater bottles and ice, hot baths, gentle exercise and see if you can get some acupuncture - TENS is worth a try as well!

Good luck!
 

AmberGretchen

Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
7,770
Date: 4/14/2009 9:51:11 PM
Author: rainwood
AmberG -


I''ve had back pain on and off for years, some of it related to a gymnastics accident, some of it from a slight curvature of the spine, some from car accidents/skiing mishaps, etc. My general philosophy is to take as few medications as possible so I rarely take pain relievers/pain killers, not even ibuprofen. Plus, I didn''t think they did much for me.


I did chiropractic for a number of years and that helped, but the very best thing I do for my back is Iyengar yoga. It''s a form of yoga where you do poses for an extended period of time rather than moving from pose to pose quickly. It''s made a huge difference. My husband is also a yoga convert for the same reason. If you can find the right yoga teacher, it can make a big difference.
rainwood - that''s a fantastic suggestion. I''d been thinking I should either try yoga or go back to Pilates (I used to do it when I was a dancer) to balance the higher-impact stuff I tend to do the rest of the time (running, heavy-duty cardio, etc...). I think as soon as my back is feeling a little better from this episode I''ll look into it. I''m glad its been so successful for both you and your husband - I''ll look for Iyengar specifically
 

AmberGretchen

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Messages
7,770
Date: 4/14/2009 9:54:04 PM
Author: TravelingGal
I''ll be reading this thread with interest. I''ve suffered from back/shoulder/neck pain since I was in my late teens. I never take anything for it and I''m just always in some state of pain. I''ve almost become numb to it.
Awww...TGal, that sounds horrible
I really hope some of the suggestions people post here might provide some relief - that sounds like such an uncomfortable way to live
 

AmberGretchen

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Messages
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Date: 4/14/2009 10:18:50 PM
Author: KimberlyH
I was in a major car accident when I was 20, and then several subsequent small accidents, and have had back problems since. The best thing I''ve done for myself is maintain a healthy weight and exercise to build the muscles up around the affected areas. When I was overweight I really struggled with pain and used meds to mask the pain. I still have flare ups since losing weight, but they are fewer and far less painful. Learning exercises, through PT, really helped but I am not so good about doing them as a preventative measure; I wish I had a much more consistent routine in that regard. Pain pills only masked the problem for me, and didn''t allow me to live what felt like a full life, so I avoid taking them as much as possible (It''s been about a year since the last time I needed to).
Kim - that''s so interesting that a car accident that long ago can have an effect. I have been in several car accidents in my life, including one when I was 16 when I got rear-ended by an 18-wheeler truck (which then fled the scene, after hitting me twice
), but I remember my back did hurt after that. It went away pretty quickly though, so I never thought it would be an issue again. I wonder if perhaps that is continuing to affect me now?

I hear you on the healthy weight - I know when I lost a bunch my knee especially got so much better. I''ve been pretty good about keeping it off - at least, I''d imagine the 5-7 lbs I put on over the holidays/job hunting stress in the Fall and am now trying to take off are likely to have been the main culprit here, especially compared to the 50 I''d originally lost and mostly kept off. But its a really good reminder to stay diligent about my diet, especially since I can''t really exercise right now...
 

AmberGretchen

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
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Date: 4/14/2009 10:25:08 PM
Author: Skippy123
Date: 4/14/2009 9:54:04 PM

Author: TravelingGal

I''ll be reading this thread with interest. I''ve suffered from back/shoulder/neck pain since I was in my late teens. I never take anything for it and I''m just always in some state of pain. I''ve almost become numb to it.
Me too, it is a nerve in my neck that shoots down to my shoulder. All I have been doing is going to the chiropractor. Also, went to a PT who gave me exercises to work on my core muscles. Restorative yoga seems to help too. I am sorry AG, you poor sweetie.
Awww...Skippy, that sounds dreadful
The restorative yoga and PT sound like really good ideas though - I''ll definitely have to look into those. I''ll basically try anything at this point...
 

AmberGretchen

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Date: 4/14/2009 10:57:59 PM
Author: swingirl
So sorry to hear about your condition. Any kind of pain is bad but back pain seems to be the worst. DH suffered from muscle spasms for years that left him flat on his back for several days at a time. But then he injured his back during a fall on the ski slopes. He ended up with a herniated disc in his lower back and consequently sciatica. His doctor recommended everything from rest, exercise, meds, and trips to the gym. After an MRI confirmed the herniated disc and after DH was starting to experience nerve damage in his foot, he found a good surgeon and went for it.


I know surgery is considered everyone’s last resort but DH was in his 30’s with 2 small children and wanted to remain active and pain free. For him the surgery was a total success, his pain was gone as soon as he woke up in the hospital and was back to work in a few weeks. I am going to guess they use new procedures today. DH’s surgery was 19 years ago.
Swingirl - it really is nasty, the back pain. I had no idea how bad it was. I have a pretty high pain tolerance from dancing and always assumed that those who were suffering from back pain (dreadful of me I know) perhaps just didn''t have as high a tolerance. I still can''t believe its affecting me as much as it is.

That''s really good to know your husband had success with surgery - the Dr. did mention that, but given my young age (27) and the fact that I''m in good shape/active, he wanted to wait and see if it will heal on its own. I think I will read up on the surgery more though, in case the next round of tests shows a herniated disk as the Dr. suspects - sounds like it might be a better option than I thought...
 

blackpolkadot

Shiny_Rock
Joined
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Messages
495
Date: 4/15/2009 11:38:44 AM
Author: Pandora II



I''ve been to the Rolls Royce of in-patient pain management courses (which was useless) and tried just about every possible therapy out there - I will not go near chiropractors or osteopaths for a number of reasons (above all that no-one should manipulate your spine without access to MRI scans and x-rays in advance).

My chiropractor took x-rays during my consultation. He then waited ten days to study the x-rays before he actually did anything for me; it was a LONG ten days. He also took x-rays in the middle and at the end of my treatment to monitor my progress.

I don''t know Pandora''s other reasons, which I''m sure are valid, I just wanted to clarify the chiropractor''s office that I dealt with did look at x-rays before treatment.
 

AmberGretchen

Ideal_Rock
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Messages
7,770
Date: 4/15/2009 1:01:04 AM
Author: dixie94
Well, I logged off b/c I should be asleep but then I thought about my current back/neck/shoulder discomfort (totally separate from the previous back/leg issues).

One thing a previous masseuse told me is to always check how you are sitting/standing. Posture means a big deal. I noticed at my desk that where my computer was made me sit at an angle any time I was typing. Once I changed my computer around, I actually noticed my shoulder/neck pain getting a little better. That''s, of course, with constant massages there too.

Now *that* pain is truly coming from stress. It started around a particularly hard time in life and always is worse when I''m stressed. Very annoying! But things like how I sit also make a difference. Certain exercises also helped as did massages.


More thoughts for you..
Thank you so much dixie! What a dreadful experience it sounds like you''ve had, but it also sounds like you''ve gained so much insight from it, and I really appreciate you sharing.

I think there''s definitely something to what you say - one of the frustrating things for me is not knowing what will help. So far I''ve tried chiropractor and also moving around more, and both definitely made it worse. But you''ve reminded me its important to keep trying things and to not give up - it sounds like, based on your experience, the more things I try the better, so I''m going to keep that in mind and try to let that guide me, especially because I always feel better doing something vs. not doing anything...
 

AmberGretchen

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Joined
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Messages
7,770
Date: 4/15/2009 10:03:52 AM
Author: soocool
My DH had on/off problems with his back since his 30s (he''s 53 now). He had an MRI and it showed slight bulging of the disks. At some point he had sciatica and finaly went to see a chiropracter who helped him immensely. After he recovered the chiro gave him some stretches to do at home and when I saw what he was doing, I laughed and said,''That''s YOGA!''


When I suggested Yoga or Pilates when he started to have the back problems he laughed at me. Now he has been doing yoga (taking classes/at home) for over 5 years and absolutely no back problems whatsoever. Plus he has the added benefit of having great muscle tone and tight abs (no beer belly).


Some of the things he endured was an epidural shot in the back when he was in the most intense pain. This at least gave him the ability to move around and begin treatment. The chiro started with ultrasound and tens unit treatments and about 1/2 hour on an Aquabed (heated water massage bed that you can increase the intensity of the massage) and then started a series of range of motions to see what he could or could not do before moving on to the next step. When he was able to move better he began the adjustments and my Dh got weekly massages for about 1 month and continued with the stretches at home. My DH took nothing stronger thanan Advil, because he doesn''t do pain meds.


Once you get over the severe pain and the doctor gives you the go-ahead, start walking, stretching, yoga, etc. The core muscles have to be stregthened in order to support your back properly. And your muscles need to be properly stretched so that there is no muscular imbalance that will lead to other problems (I developed an IT -iliotibial band problem because I did the stairmaster everyday without stretching afterwards. It took almost 3 years to recover from the problem which included severe nerve pain shooting down into my toes 24hrs/day).


I hope you recover soon! Sending lots of healing dust your way.


edited for add''l content
Thanks sooocool! It sounds like you and your DH have had quite a range of experiences. You guys sound like me though - very into exercise and fitness and I''ve always thought that that is the answer - every other time I''ve been injured, after a little bit of rest, moving around was really the thing that helped the most.

One thing that occurred to me to maybe try, if I can get the go-ahead from the Dr., besides the yoga, is swimming. My gym has a heated indoor pool and my mom finds it really helpful for her arthritis - maybe that would help get me moving around without so much pain.

That''s an interesting point about your IT bands too. I know when I last went to see an ortho about my knee (messed it up in a car accident about 5.5 years ago), she commented that my IT bands were tight, and that running was likely to make them more so. I''ve been trying to remember to stretch them ever since, but I''ve probably not been as consistent as I could, so I wonder if that could have contributed somehow...
 

AmberGretchen

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 6, 2005
Messages
7,770
Date: 4/15/2009 10:13:08 AM
Author: Lorelei
Date: 4/14/2009 7:32:23 PM

Author:AmberGretchen

Hello wonderful PSers
I''m writing to you from my bed, where I''m currently laid out flat at the advice of my Dr. Why, you might wonder? Well, I''ve been having severe back pain, most likely Sciatica, caused by a pinched nerve, most likely in turn caused by a bulging disk.


Does anyone suffer from chronic (or acute) back pain? Yes for many years due to severe scoliosis. I have also had sciatica as my hips and legs are troublesome.

What has worked the best to help you get through it? Strong painkillers. What treatments were useful, and which were a waste? In my case nothing can be done so no effective treatments. How old were you (if you don''t mind sharing
) when it first happened? I was 13, just hit puberty. Have you found effective ways to prevent it from happening again? Keeping as active as I can, avoiding twisting my spine. Any advice/insights/experiences would be welcomed - this is a first for me, and I honestly had no idea what its like...
I hope you feel better soon Amber and have Mr TuftyFeeties to keep you company!!
Thanks Ms. Lorelei - so sorry to hear about your scoliosis, that sounds dreadful!


You''ll be happy to hear though that Mr. TuftyFeeties and his sisters are doing an EXCELLENT job of keeping me company - its pretty cute actually, they literally take turns curling up next to me all day long. So cute!
 
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