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help us think outside the box - back pain

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'm asking this on behalf of my sister, I hope that's okay. If it makes a difference she's 27, never had kids, no other health problems that she knows of, average weight for her height.

 

About three years ago she had what the doc called a lumbar sprain - she woke up one morning and her back hurt so bad she couldn't walk. She'd been lifting boxes the day before but didn't notice anything at the time. Had painkillers and anti-inflammatories and it got better, but for the last couple of years (she's not sure exactly how long because she says it started gradually) she's been experiencing back pain, mostly lower back but sometimes around her shoulder and often but not always focused around a particular muscle on the middle left side of her back. Late last year she was treated by a physio who did lots of massage and gave her exercises to strength a muscle in her lower abdomen which he said would support the back. Her back was significantly but not completely better for a few months but now the pain's back - not as bad as before but she gets it most days.

 

So the thing is, she wants to join the military and she's terrified that she won't get through the medical tests. I've never seen her want anything as badly as she wants this and I really want to help her out. So, what can she do to strengthen the back itself? She's not focused on the pain going away because she can deal with that, she wants the back itself to strengthen/heal, if that makes sense. She wants to apply in about a year and she has to get her fitness up over this year. We both think that will help, but what else can she do? We're both kind of new to this whole natural health/healing thing. More physio? What about a chiro or an osteo for this kind of problem? Because she has to pay out of pocket for everything she wants to focus on things that are more likely to help. Are there any supplements she can take to help the muscles heal? For exercise she plans to walk/run/swim and do weight training, anything else?

 

We've tried google but a lot of the sites we get are total scams - you know, the buy my e-book and your pain will disappear overnight sort of stuff, so I'm hoping there's someone on MDC who has experience with this.

post #2 of 11
Does she sleep a normal amount and wake rested? (I'm asking for a reason....)
post #3 of 11

It may sound weird, but my pain was in the middle left of my back as well. Back spasms all the time. Went to many doctors over it for many years, and spasming all the time, even on many meds. For me, physical therapy and any exercise made it worse. I went off gluten and dairy because both my kids were intolerant and I just wanted to "check it out". Wouldn't you know it - the spasms stopped. I still have back pain and apparently have a compressed nerve in my neck, but the spasms are gone (unless I have something I'm not supposed to, which happens by accident only). So it's just an idea.

 

Arnica could help keep the muscle loose (gel or cream). Ice is good for me. There were lots of strengthening exercises. Doing them on an exercise ball was supposed to be good. Strengthening the core is one of the things that's mentioned often. Yoga might help since that focuses on strength and flexibility. Has she had MRIs and xrays to rule out structural issues?

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sbgrace View Post

Does she sleep a normal amount and wake rested? (I'm asking for a reason....)


She says she thinks she sleeps a normal amount but because she wakes early for work she often feels tired in the morning.
 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kjbrown92 View Post

It may sound weird, but my pain was in the middle left of my back as well. Back spasms all the time. Went to many doctors over it for many years, and spasming all the time, even on many meds. For me, physical therapy and any exercise made it worse. I went off gluten and dairy because both my kids were intolerant and I just wanted to "check it out". Wouldn't you know it - the spasms stopped. I still have back pain and apparently have a compressed nerve in my neck, but the spasms are gone (unless I have something I'm not supposed to, which happens by accident only). So it's just an idea.

 

Arnica could help keep the muscle loose (gel or cream). Ice is good for me. There were lots of strengthening exercises. Doing them on an exercise ball was supposed to be good. Strengthening the core is one of the things that's mentioned often. Yoga might help since that focuses on strength and flexibility. Has she had MRIs and xrays to rule out structural issues?


She hasn't had an MRI/xray - neither the doc nor the physio mentioned it she says. I guess she's always just assumed it was a pulled muscle or something so she's never asked for one. The gluten and dairy thing is interesting - she's sitting here telling me it's summer, she eats lots of icecream! And more so over the last couple of months which is when the pain came back so that might be worth looking into, thanks!
 

post #5 of 11

It sounds to me like the psoas muscle. It's deep inside, not touchable from the outside, and after being injured it can overtighten, causing chronic low back, shoulder, and hip pain. It actually pulls the tailbone to the side, which ends up pulling the muscles in the neck and shoulder. There are excercises you can do to release and loosen it. You can also consider craniosacral therapy, which is very effective for the psoas.

 

It's often injured after lifting because it's the muscle that connects the spine and the legs, and the body relies on it a lot when lifting.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks - that does sound like it could be the problem. I'm a little baffled by how vague her docs have been so it's helpful to have something specific to look at. :)

post #7 of 11

I've had problems with lower pain, on and off for years, aggravated by weight lifting, which I like and don't want to give up. Few weeks ago I've had a craniosacral therapy and guess what, after only one treatment my lower back pain is gone, I'm lifting heavy weights and doing great, I feel like I have a better range of motion too.

Hope that helps smile.gif

post #8 of 11

I want to second what Kathy said about giving up dairy and/or gluten.

 

Also, consider a chiropractor who uses an activator. I thought I was going to be in severe pain (lower back) FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, until I found the activator chiropractor a few months ago. I am a different person (or, I'm back to who I used to be). Found him by going to a Rolfer, who is someone who manipulates the facia. Also would second the idea of a craniosacral person. My Rolfer did both. (But the chiro did more for my back pain, specifically).

 

Physical therapy did nothing. A physiatrist did nothing. Surgery did nothing (made it worse).

 

Acupuncture can also help with the pain. When I had lower back pain ("in my kidneys") that my doctor, physical therapist, rheumatologist said wasn't connected to anything they could measure/detect, 6 months of weekly acupuncture and Chinese herbs made it go away.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

nak

 

Thanks for the suggestions - everyone we know irl just says "go to the physio" and that doesn't seem to be solving the problem so its great to have more specific ideas, thanks. I'll pass those on.

post #10 of 11

I have had great success with a chiro, I highly recommend it!  Keep in mind that going to the chiro is a process.  Once your body is accustomed to being out of alignment getting adjusted so your spine is aligned can make muscles sore and it can take quite a few visits to get your body to stay aligned.  I hope your sister finds a way to get better!

 

SJ

post #11 of 11

I've actually read that taking Vitamin D supplements can help with back pain.  I've had back pain on and off for years, then ruptured a disc in my back, and I started taking Vitamin D after I read that, and it helped.  It's an easy thing to do even while you're doing other things, so I just thought I'd mention it.

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