in case you were wondering.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?

I cannot imagine anyone was actually wondering, but here’s an update on my back pain situation anyway.

How about a (not so) brief history/recap?

In October 2017 while at my yearly physical, I told my doc about my nagging lower back pain that I’ve had for years. I just figured I had to live with it, but I was tired of that. I had an x-ray which showed a small curve in my spine that no one would ever have known was there by looking at me. Hell, no one would know by my actions either. I hide that I’m in pain most of the time. Anyway, usually a curve like this would show up in a child, but I either never had it then or no one ever caught it. Yay me. (Sarcasm… in case that wasn’t obvious.)

My doc sent me to physical therapy. I went for about eight weeks before stopping because it didn’t help at all. [I still do the stretches every day, though. But they still don’t help the pain.]

I had an MRI before being referred to a pain management doctor.

For the next eight months, I tried everything he (and the PAs I saw) recommended.

A ‘test’ injection to see if blocking the nerves would help. Fail.

A PA (who I hated) suggested some vitamins, ibuprofen, and a muscle relaxer that made me so dehydrated that I got sick. Useless.

Same PA (who I hated) called and suggested an ESI (an injection). Which I had… but that was another fail.

A different PA (much better) suggested an ESI in a different location. I did that, but it didn’t help either.

The better PA then suggested another type of injection which I also had but… nothing.

Followed up with a third PA who suggested possibly trying one other injection in 4-6 weeks if my insurance approved. About a month later, I found out my insurance did not approve. The PA suggested a medication. I resisted at first but gave in and tried it anyway. It did nothing. She didn’t want me to stop taking it, but I was just done. I cancelled my follow up appointment and haven’t been back to the pain management office since.

Last month, I returned to my chiropractor. I had been seeing him for years but I took a break during all of the above. He had previously been mildly helpful with little things here and there, but nothing he did ever improved my lower back pain. Still, with new information about the pain, I figured it was worth a shot.

For reasons I cannot determine, my pain has been significantly worse since last week. I was out one day shopping (but not buying… seriously, what was even the point?) and I kept having these spasms. (I guess that’s what I’d call them.) I got this sudden burst of pain that made me take very slow, careful steps… and then it was gone. But it kept happening. It made me kind of gasp every time. That went on for five days. Then yesterday, it didn’t happen at all, but the pain in general was (and is) still worse.

Yesterday was also my next visit to the chiropractor. I was hesitant to keep the appointment because after my first visit back to him, the pain was worse. But I went anyway. I explained the spasm thing to him the best I could. I was pretty fucked up when he checked my legs… about a half inch short on the pain side (if you have been to a chiropractor, you’ll know what I mean). He did a few adjustments. The pain wasn’t worse afterwards this time, but it wasn’t better either. At least my legs are even now. Probably.

For now, I will continue to see him monthly(ish). For now. But it’s a specialist (higher) copay, and if it doesn’t make a difference soon, I’m done. I’m not hopeful. But I am out of options.

My mom doesn’t think I’m out of options, though. She thinks I should try yoga—a specific kind. I only found one place for it that’s close enough to me, and parking is a nightmare in that area. So I doubt I can do it anyway. Plus, I don’t have the ‘extra‘ money to pay for it.

Today I was at my new ‘regular‘ (higher) level of pain without any spasms. But I feel like I have to move very cautiously or I might have another gasp-worthy event at any moment. Tonight, by the time I was finished making dinner, I was nearly in tears because the pain was so bad.

So here we are.

It’s been a year and I’m not better… I’m worse. And my current ‘treatment‘ is exactly what I was doing a year ago before all of this.

It’s scary and upsetting because although I already assumed I would be in pain for the rest of my life, it’s much worse pain now. It makes my life horrible. It makes me sad and irritable and hopeless. I do my best to hide it, but I know I fail a lot of the time. I do what I have to do anyway, pain or not. But there are limits. There shouldn’t be limits. Not if I’m going to be a decent parent.

I was living my life at a 6 or 7 (on the above handy pain scale brought to you by Baymax). But now I’d say the average is 7 or 8… reaching 9 at times. Unless I do pretty much nothing. And what kind of life is that? I already don’t do enough…

 

[Sorry for the crazy length of this post.]

©2018 what sandra thinks

         

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About what sandra thinks

Sandra is a writer, blogger, poet, artist, emotional disaster. She thinks far too much and sleeps far too little. Sandra lives in the Northeastern U.S. but dreams of an oceanfront home in Hawaii where she could learn to surf. She loves books, brutal honesty, coffee, and the color black. She hates insincerity, beer, whipped cream, and facebook. And she is uncomfortable talking about herself in the third person.
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38 Responses to in case you were wondering.

  1. I’m so sorry. I so wish any of the things you’ve tried would’ve helped. Have you talked to Meg about this?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope that the chiropractor helps out! I know when I go, sometimes I experience pain for a few days after while all the muscles relax and go back to normal. Maybe that’s what the spasms were? Just everything relaxing to where they needed to be? I hope so anyways!! Xoxox

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know what you mean, but the spasms happened 3 weeks after I saw him so I don’t think that’s it. I don’t think seeing him is doing anything, to be honest. But I guess I will keep going for now… even though I feel like I’m just wasting money.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah that does seem a little late for it to be from the adjustment. I say keep going for a few more appointments and see how it goes 🙂 my mom fell and it took her almost two years to get everything back to the right place

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’d be happy if this was from a fall. There would be hope of getting fixed. But the cause of my pain can’t be fixed so it’s not likely the pain is ever going to get better. Before all the other stuff, I was seeing the chiropractor for many years… like, well over 10… but this pain never improves.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. When you get those spasms, does it feel like the pain radiates anywhere? Perhaps making your entire lower back and hips feel like they’re locked and you can’t move without being in excruciating pain? I can relate a little bit to everything you’ve mentioned above. However, I don’t have a curvature in my spine.

    But alas, the pain in my lower back remains. I also have a shit ton of pain and tension in my shoulders, neck, jaw, and scalp. The pain and the migraines were getting so bad I was more miserable than ever and beginning to feel very hopeless. And then my doctor got to thinking. Though I respond in a different way than the “norm,” I still have what they call “trigger points.” She diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. I’m only about 3 weeks into my new Gabapentin regimen (the drug is designed to lessen the overreaction of nerves — which cause pain), but I have been feeling a little relief. A trip to my massage therapist (seriously, don’t go to those massage parlors with dozens of people on staff, they’re useless — ask your chiro for a referral if you think it might be something worth trying) later, and she pinpointed every single trigger point I have and used a shit ton (she said I was her workout for the week) of pressure to lessen the radiating pain. The “norm” I mentioned is that fibromyalgia patients tend to feel extreme pain in their trigger points with only a small amount of pressure.

    Now, you may not have fibromyalgia, but your pain might be more muscular than skeletal. I can be standing up (or grocery shopping) and feel like my back is a brick that will send fiery-hot agony up my back, out to my hips, and down my legs. Sometimes sitting down won’t let it calm down, too. I have to sit in my chair with a lot of lumbar and upper back support, lean back and use a heat pad or a shiatsu massager (with heat), or both before it will loosen up to a less brick-and-mortar feel. Sometimes, when my migraine is terribly bad, my husband will apply a shit ton of pressure on my shoulder trigger points — and though it hurts like hell for a few minutes (much worse than my migraine already was) it will recede and pull most of the pain away from my head.

    Don’t give up all hope yet, love. There still might be something you can do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing this, Sarah. When I get the spasm, the pain does radiate a little to my hip. I guess maybe it kind of locked up for a second. I don’t know about the trigger point thing. I had “trigger point injections” at the pain management place I went to, but had no relief from those. What’s interesting is that the medication the last PA I saw had recommended was Gabapentin. I took it for a month and felt no improvement at all and I stopped. Now I wonder if I should not have stopped. I really don’t know, but it wasn’t helping at all and I didn’t want to have to take medication for the rest of my life either. Did I totally fuck up by stopping that medication? I don’t know but now I’m crying because I wonder if I did. I don’t even know if I should go back to the pain management doc’s office or not. I went for 8 months and nothing improved. I am really frustrated with that place.

      I would love to try massage but I can’t afford it. Insurance doesn’t cover it and it’s really expensive around here. (And probably everywhere.)

      Maybe it’s my fault for stopping that medication. I don’t know. 😦

      Like

      • You know, you might try talking to your family doctor. Trigger points are typically in twos, at the same place on either side of the body. There’s one on the outside inner forearm just below the elbow (this one I can feel when pressure is applied, but it doesn’t cause me daily pain), the others are the occipital nerve at the back of your head, the sides of your neck (the muscles that stretch if you tilt your head), the tops of your shoulders, just above the inner part of your shoulder blades, same spacing in the front, just below the collar bone, the insides of your thighs just above the knees (this is also, for me, just like my elbow points, I can feel it, but it doesn’t cause me constant pain), the lower back, towards your hips (basically right above where the buttocks end, horizontally) and lower outer hips, just below the buttocks. Gabapentin generally starts at 300mg pills 3x a day, but my doctor said doses can go upwards of 2-3 grams in a day, I can’t remember which. I believe it’s a cheap drug to get, too. So basically, as long as I’m not feeling any adverse side effects, my doctor is slowly increasing the dose to see if I start to notice anything positive. Today was the first day she had me add an extra pill at night, so the increase is slow. Now, I have to say that I’ve got my heat pad, my heated shiatsu massager, and a weighted blanket for the couch and the bed (those things are a little pricey, but they feel like they’re giving you a big hug without the heat of a really heavy comforter). These might be helping with relieving a little bit of the tension, but no change (especially for the worse) is a win for me. It might be worth a try to start the gabapentin again and see how it goes. Again, if you feel there’s no benefits, but not any negative side effects either, there’s TONS of room to increase the dose to see if a benefit does happen. My doctor also mentioned a few other medications that might be worth trying, but gabapentin was her first choice for it’s affordability, wide range of dosing possibilities, and the overall benefits it seems to have with people. Also, if it makes any difference, a former neurologist of mine used to do both botox and nerve blocks on my occipital nerves. They helped only a tiny bit, not enough to make the cost worth it. So again, don’t give up hope yet. Get in to see your doctor and ask if it’s possible you have fibromgalgia, or if it’s possible you have a few angry nerves that may be eased with gabapentin. Also, unless you feel a lot of pain when pressure is applied, you could try having one of your kids crawl around on your back. My son is almost 8, but he weighs about 80 pounds (he looks like he’s about 12 from his height) and sometimes getting him in the right places on his hands and knees on my back help quite a bit. That might work for you instead of a massage therapist.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t seem to have issues with the trigger points you describe. My pain is only in one place… the same place… all the time. lower back, left side only. That is where my spine curves toward the left. I do think that my pain is from the curve/scoliosis.

          At this point, I guess I have a few options… I could try one or more of them, I guess. Yoga, my primary doctor, back to the pain doctor/PA, chiropractor…

          I will say, though, that today, my pain hasn’t been bad. It’s pretty good, actually. I wonder if I had pain after my chiro visit on Tuesday from the adjustments and now that it’s been a few days, I’m better. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just a fluke. Who knows?

          I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I think I need to stop thinking about it for a couple of days, at least, because it is stressing me out WAY too much. I don’t want to cry about this constantly anymore. It’s wearing me out.

          Thanks again for all the info and suggestions!

          Like

  4. mydangblog says:

    So sorry, my friend. Not much I can offer but hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hunida says:

    Ah, I am so frustrated for you. I wish the doctors could figure something out that would actually work & that your insurance would cover more procedures. Sending all the hugs your way though I know they won’t make anything better. ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dang. Hopefully, you can find a relief method soon. Also, have you tried looking up that special kind of yoga on youtube? YouTube has become my go to for “workout, relaxation, etc” videos. There might be a beginners video that could help you get started. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did look it up on YouTube. That was my first thought. I found a couple of videos but they use a lot of props (blocks, blankets)… things I don’t have and can’t really afford to buy at the moment. And there would be no instructor to correct me if I’m doing something wrong so I worry that I could make things worse.

      I don’t really feel that there’s an answer but I’m scared because things only get worse… not better. What condition am I going to be in 6 months from now? A year from now? It scares me so much.

      Like

      • Well, heck. Sorry, YouTube was a bust. 6 months… That is a scary thought. I know pain is a fine line to deal with. Sometimes simple stretching helps ease things, other times…not so much. May the Lord bring you answers quickly that can put

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know I should not think so much about the future… and how bad things could be. I should focus on what’s happening now. But it’s hard not to imagine the future looking bleak when I feel like I have no solutions, you know?

          Like

  7. (Ha! Darn keyboard…) May the Lord bring you answers quickly that can put you on the road to true pain relief and a full recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yikes, must be the time for worsening back issues. I just told my chiropractor I’m taking a break as my problems continue and yesterday saw an osteopath (autocorrect changed that to psychopath! Lol) he’s requesting new xrays and an MRI. I’m currently sitting with a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts behind me! All kidding aside, I understand how wearing the pain and discomfort are especially when you can’t just put your life on hold. Hugs, hugs and more hugs!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry your pain has gotten worse, too. It’s horrible. I worry sometimes about where I’ll be in 6 months… a year… and beyond that. It scares me. I’m having a decent pain day today. I wonder if my chiropractor visit on Tuesday really did help, but I was extra sore for a few days first. Because that happens. For now, I guess I will continue to see him… but I have a few other things I can consider after posting this and talking about it. But I’ve probably got too much info now as it is totally stressing me out. I cried for an hour over it this morning worrying about what I should do next and what I’ve done wrong already.

      Thanks, always, for the hugs. ♥

      Like

      • I forgot to tell you that doc put me on a one week course of prednisone which I have had before. Within a day and a half the constant pain is gone although my muscles are still tight and I occasionally am still getting pain at the base of my spine and front of legs depending on how I move. Doc says he believes problem is the sacro illiac joint and my pelvis is not totally even. Why, I’m not sure, but it’s happened all my life. It does sound like fibromyalgia or something like it could be going on for you. I definitely have trigger points on my hips where extreme pressure does help release the muscle I guess. I’m glad pain seems better for you. I agree that adjustment is more painful at first as everything seems irritated then it calms down and feels better in a day or two. I’ll let you know what they say after my tests.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t think it’s fibromyalgia because I looked it up and I have, like, one of the symptoms–pain. But I don’t have pain anywhere except the lower back on the left side, exactly where my spine curves to the left. That is it. I don’t have any pain on my right side at all anywhere… and nowhere else on the left either. Just that one place. I don’t get headaches or migraines, I don’t notice any pain specific to trigger points. I don’t have trouble sleeping and don’t wake up stiff. No numbness. No IBS or cramps. I just don’t see how it could be fibromyalgia since I have none of that. For some reason, thinking I have that upsets me. I start to cry. I’m not sure why.

          I had a steroid injection in my SI joint. It didn’t help, but clearly, the doc thought that might be the right spot on me, too. My pelvis is also tilted a little which is not helping my back pain. Chiropractor told me that… so did my gynecologist one time.

          I did my own little “pain test” today. It’s silly, but because I usually have much worse pain standing in the kitchen cooking or whatever else, I decided to bake a cake. LOL So now I have a banana cake with crumb topping that I made from scratch. (Yum.) Anyway… I found that I was fine, minimal pain, the whole time. It only got a little worse when I was washing the mixing bowls, which makes sense because then I’m leaning over a little bit, not standing properly.

          Now I’m sitting on the couch and I feel pretty good. Oh… and I have never taken prednisone. Wonder if that would do anything for me…?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Standing like that always bothers me. They’ve told me to stand with one foot on a step stool at the sink like that. Mine is not constant pain tho. I can feel a snap or stinging sensation in my back when something happens and then if I keep doing bending things — like every thing around the house pretty much, my back muscles spasm. Mine is always on the right side. The prednisone really helps the inflammation I think but they only want to do a short course. I think there’s a difference in osteopathic and chiropractic adjustments, too, and I like the osteopathic better. It seems gentler to me. I’m looking into T-Tapp which is exercise related to posture I think. And my oldest told me today that his family doc is an osteopath and he’s told him to try yoga for his back pain.

            Liked by 1 person

            • My primary care doctor is an osteopath… but she has never mentioned doing adjustments on me. I don’t know if she actually does them. Years ago, I worked in an osteopath’s office and he adjusted me a few times. I didn’t have any serious issues then, though.

              I’ve heard the thing with the stool, too, from my chiropractor and from my dad when he was alive (he was an MD). But I find that when I put a stool out, I just feel like it’s in the way and I subconsciously kick it out of the way all the time. LOL I did get one of those cushiony comfort mat things and I think it helps. But the one I have is small… it’s in the middle of the counter area. I need another for in front of the sink.

              My pain is there all the time, but there are times when it’s mild and I don’t notice it unless I specifically think about it. Gets worse with all that standing, though. Today… not as bad, even with the standing.

              I think trying yoga would be good for me but the place that has the right kind has the terrible parking situation. I’m not sure if any other type would be good for me. There are so many different kinds.

              Liked by 1 person

  9. Meg says:

    I’m sorry to hear this continues to plague you. Honestly, give your chiropractor a fair chance, a spinal curve isn’t going to go away overnight. Maybe not at all, but at least with regular adjustments it might be held in check. Now that having been said, if after a good amount of time has passed, if you aren’t noticing any appreciable difference, then it may be too late for the chiropractor to be effective. If arthritis has set in, or disk degeneration, or stenosis then it’s not likely to help very much. It still could help a little… I agree with Sarah about trying massage therapy and also acupuncture. I realize they aren’t covered by insurance but after an initial round of treatment you probably wouldn’t need to go more than once a month. I hope you find something to bring you relief. And I am glad t hear that it hasn’t been as bad at least for today! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was hoping you’d reply to this post. 🙂

      I plan to continue with my chiropractor. For now, anyway. It’s just hard because I am spending a lot of money for little “reward,” and we are not in great financial shape. I have been told that I have some arthritis but no one has given me the impression that it’s bad.

      I would love to try massage or acupuncture, but I definitely can’t afford either of those. No insurance coverage and I don’t have the money to dish out… even once a month. Hell, once a month for the chiropractor copay and once a month for the mental health NP copay is already a lot for us. It adds up quickly.

      Thanks for your input. Like I said, I was hoping I’d hear from you on this. ♥

      Liked by 1 person

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