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Hello all...wondering if I'm unique (prob not)?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in New Member Introductions
First of all I'd like to say thanks to the mods and all the members in here who contribute to this forum...it truly is an excellent resource.

Secondly, I've been using the search function and will continue to do so in an effort to try and find people with problems similar to mine, however, I haven't found anything that specifically relates to my issue, so hopefully there are some "compadres" out there. Meanwhile I'll keep looking. Anyway, here goes:

Age: 39

Competetive athlete since I was a kid in swimming and tennis.

First started back problems at 20 or so- was lifting something very heavy and felt a tear or rip. Back locked up for a few days to a week, and then I felt fine and it pretty much went back to normal after a few days.

Later on started having issues more frequently- back would "pull" and seize up where one muscle on one side would pull me out of whack, to the point where I'd be twisted for a few days and pretty much totally out of commission. Once again, being an athlete we tend to ignore pain or just fight through it, and I did this for a long time. Needless to say, I did very little in the way of preventative maintenance because, well, no one wants to to core exercises as we all know; we'll just attribute it to a torn muscle and suck it up, and then slowly go back to our old routine. So this pattern continued for many years until now.

A few years ago, I had some chiropractic work done, and the chiropractor confirmed that I had disk degeneration and that I was out of alignment. More recently, I had another x-ray which confirmed that the disk has degenerated a lot, but the orhtopedic surgeon did some tests and gave me some exercises and basically said surgery is a last resort for people who are having debilitating pain and/or can't walk, or their quality of life is really negatively affected.

Anyway, fast-forward to now, and I've been pretty much able to manage my back to the point where I can recognize when I'm about to have a bout of pain or when my muscles are getting tight, so thankfully I haven't been in a situation that has put me out of commission for days at a time.

However, now I get these intermittent spasms in my lower back, to the point where they jolt me like an electric shock and I have to "take a knee". I then wait about 10 seconds or so and it goes away, and then I can resume walking or whatever. Usually when this starts happening I'm pretty good at anticipating it and I'll just take it easy for awhile. So in general I can move around pretty well, and walking and working out I generally don't have a problem, but then out of the blue I'll get this jolt, and it's starting to have a profound psychological effect on me. The jolts have been happening for years, but now they seem to happen more frequently. I've read a few things about possible symptoms, from annular tearing which can lead to nerve fiber-ingrowth, to pressure on the nerve or fluid on the nerve causing the pain reaction. One other possiblity is that it is stress-related. And lately it does seem to happen in close proximity to stress-inducing events, so maybe there is something to that...although that could also be a little bit of subjective validation on my part.

So does anyone else have experience with this? Everything I've read about acute pain seems to be different than what I'm experiencing, because I do not have intense pain for weeks or even days at a time. I have flashes of a spasm for a few seconds and then nothing afterwards. Maybe some muscle tightness but no lingering pain. Thanks for reading this and hope to hear from some you out there.

Note: I have been slowly trying to get back into doing the exercises and looking into the possiblity of yoga, but generally speaking I've always been pretty bad about doing the maintenance work. But part of that is just me being disillusioned, and not believing that anything will help, thus I tend to give up something after a few days if my back doesn't improve, even though I know it should be something that I do for life. I guess there's so much info and so many specialists out there that I'm suffering from paralysis by analysis (to use a horrible pun).


  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I've had the spasms that you describe and actually, I'd forgotten about them until I read your post. It's like I'm standing there minding my own business and suddenly there a very sharp stabbing pain in my lower back that makes me jump. Usually there's about 2 or 3 in a row and then they're gone with no residual pain effects.

    I've never mentioned this to my surgeon, but since I've been taking muscle relaxants I don't get them any more. If what's happening to you are muscle spasms, I'd suggest you go to a spine specialist and have a lumbar MRI done. It could be that conservative methods could help get you better.

    What is usually suggested here on the forums is to find a fellowship-trained spine specialist, either ortho or neuro, but someone who only works on spines. It would be beneficial to see if your symptoms are because of a larger problem that needs to be dealt with before things get worse.

    Take care and keep us posted.
  • Thanks Cath for the quick reply. It's good to know I'm not crazy, and it does make sense that you no longer get them since you are on muscle relaxants- I do think my issue is leaning more towards being stress-related, but we'll see.

    Anyway, I'm assuming the "find a doctor" feature on here links to doctors with the exact qualifications/specialties you mentioned? I found a doc on there who is close to me and he is a fellowship trained, chiroractic surgeon who focuses on the spine.

  • I would trust any spine specialist that this site recommends. I looked at the link and this looks like a good choice. It's likely that you'll want to get a couple more opinions, depending on what your doc finds, so keep that in mind.

    This is funny - I found my surgeon by a referral from a friend of a friend and completely trusted him on my first visit. After I scheduled my ACDF with him, for grins I searched for him on this site and lo-and-behold, there he was. That made me even more comfortable.

  • He's also been listed in the Washingtonian list of best ortho docs in the greater DC area, and I've usually had decent luck with docs on that list. Thanks again!
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i am glad you have put one of the forum features to good use. :D i hope this doctor works out well for you. =D> have a look around the forum and make yourself at home. good luck as you face your future pain treatments. :D Jenny :)
  • Hey Jon, sounds a lot like me. For me it started with high school football and it was off and on since then. I would feel my hamstings being tight, then a jolt if I would move a certian way and then if I had an episode of my back going out, I would be out due to pain for days to a week.

    I also have DDD and have recently found out that I have annular tears in L34 L45 and L5 S1. For me about three years ago I had an episode that took weeks to recover from and I never felt right since. Any exercise I did I would always feel my back was not right and had to take it easy or I would suffer bouts of pain for a few days. finally after a year of this I saw a chiropractor that did two very light adjustments on me and this sent me over the edge with pain.

    I have been in severe pain since this, which has been almost two years now. I have had to take meds daily and I am only able to work part time doing very light duty work. I am in the process of looking into some type of surgery here soon because I feel like I have to try something to get some of my quality of life back, at this point just going to the grocery store will put me in bed for a few hours.

    For you........find a doctor that will order an MRI, it dosent have to be a surgeon at this point. You need to find out what is going on with you and find a way to get out of your rut. If you can do core stuff like yoga, or palates DO it now and see if you can save yourself from having to take any drastic measures.

    As far as stress effecting your back, this is really common. When you are stressed your muscles will tighten up and this will put pressure on you back.

    Well, I'm loosing my train of thought and rambling ............ Hope this helps a bit and that we can help you out in making sense of this and get you headed in the right direction. take care....

  • Thanks Jenny for the nice words and support!

    And thanks Mitch for your story, it sounds like you've had similar issues in some way, and I hope you are able to get some relief eventually.

    I'm going to get more serious in the next short while- I've already started doing some psoas stretching, which seems to be helping. I will update in the next few weeks/months to relate any progress.
  • Keep up the good work, we want you out of pain. Hopefully in the near future you will have no need comming on here, but keep us informed.
  • Keep up the good work, we want you out of pain. Hopefully in the near future you will have no need comming on here, but keep us informed.
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