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Chronic upper back knots from sitting at computer for many years

I've had chronic upper back muscle knots now for several years. I should also mention that I have osteoarthritis in my neck, so when the muscles cramp up in the upper back or shoulder, my neck gets pulled out and I wind up with headaches and have to visit my chiropractor for electric stim and an adjustment. I have tried the following with some short-term results.

- Chiropractic with massage and/or electric stim (I have a wonderful chiropractor for 30 years who knows my insides better than I do and he is just as frustrated to see me in so much pain as I am.
- Accupuncture
- Massage
- Accupressure
- Trigger point injections
- Physical therapy with dry trigger point injections
- Muscle relaxers (just make me sleep great, but don't relax the muscle knots)

Since I've been at a desk for most of my working life (30+ years), the results don't last. The more I exercise to strengthen the back, the stronger the knots come back. I feel as though it's a terrible vicious cycle. Does anyone have any other advice they can offer?

Thank you in advance!
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Comments

  • LizLiz Posts: 7,904

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Have you ever tried trigger point injections with Botox followed by ice & stretching religiously? That works for me. Nothing seems to work on its own & it's better when my pain is better controlled. I use the Botox shots, ice, heat, stretches, muscle relaxants & massage all at the same time & I've had pretty good control over them for a couple of years. I still suffer but it's not as bad as it used to be even though the damage & pain has increased. I've been warned not to allow a chiropractor to do adjustments on me ever. Does yours offer massage?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Sounds like a good old fashion deep massage would work wonders.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,047
    edited 09/26/2014 - 6:08 PM
    behind a computer. 8,10,12 and sometimes 15 hours a day. I joined IBM in 1974, had my first lumbar surgery in 1978 and had 6 more surgeries while working with IBM.

    Because if this, I was added to an task force to come up with the best workstation platform. We tried all sorts of things, different monitor heights, keyboards, mice, chairs., etc. I even worked with a doctor and a furniture maker to come up with the best ergonomic chair. This chair was manufactured in 1987, probably the first of the so called computer chairs. I helped with the design, mine was Model #1 out of a total of 1 made! It was the ugliest thing you ever saw. It probably still exists today, tucked away in some Poughkeepsie warehouse!

    It started to become clear that there was no such thing as the perfect workstation. Sure, there are specific things that go into making a workstation more suitable to the body , but the bottom line is that the best way to avoid or to minimize back/neck problems while using a computer is to get up every 45-50 minutes, stretch, walk a bit and wait about 10 minutes before returning to your desk.

    I started distributing mainframe clock timers that would set an alarm every 45 minutes to remind you to get up. This was in fact the best way .... At first some people were taken back by the fact that you had to get up every hour or so. But in a short time, they saw the benefits. I remember way too often, while in the middle of a project, that I would be behind a computer for hours on end without getting up and taking a break. Couple of days doing that, and I went into flare ups that kept me out of work for a number of days.

    Prior to my retirement, I was working from home 100% of the time. I still followed the 45 minute break cycle, but I also added those large green exercise balls as my chair. Those chairs forced you into the proper posture. Today, there are so many different variations of the exercise ball, many built around actual furniture.

    But nothing will and nothing has ever taken the place of getting up and taking those breaks.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • EbethEEbeth Posts: 4
    edited 09/28/2014 - 5:47 AM
    To English Girl, actually my Pain Mangement Dr. was going to look into Botox trigger point injections. Any idea what type of doctor would administer these as opposed to the facial kind?
  • My Botox injections have been performed by my pain management doc in exactly the same way as the lidocaine ones. For me they both work well (as long as I ice, stretch etc. they never worked when I didn't) but the Botox last longer for me. My doc had to place a special order for it, he didn't have a stock of it like the lidocaine shots.

    I hope it helps you. I'd be jolted awake on several occasions when mine were at their worst. It's so incredibly painful isn't it? Ugh! Best of luck. I've started concentrating on my pains as serapate entities. I study all I can on each & do what I can to chip away at the pains one at a time. It seems to be working. I always feel so much better emotionally when I have a plan. When I first realized that I'd always have pain it was devastating (still is sometimes if I let it) but there's pain & then there's PAIN. I struggle to keep it just lower case pain. When my pain is poorly managed I have a tendency to throw a pity party & that makes everything so much worse.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Thank you, English Girl. My Pain Mgmt. Dr. did say he would have to work out the logistics of it as he would have to order the Botox. I'm psyched and will call him today. I had one of the worst weekends and yes, a pity party, indeed I had! LOL I also ordered an FDA approved TENS machine (my chiro uses on me in his office) and I noticed after using it yesterday that today I woke up feeling a bit better!! Hope it's starting to help. Also I read on another post here that a gentleman recommended taking magnesium chloride. So, off to the Vitamine Shoppe I ran yesterday and have been trying this as well. I'm glad I found you and this forum. Will keep you posted and hope to hear any other advice you all may have.
  • Yes! I take magnesium suppliments. Grab some Epsom salts (magnesium) too while you're there. A really hot Epsom bath really helps me too. I'm glad the tens helped, I use that as well! I've tried a lot over the years. Keep what works & dump the stuff that doesn't. That's how I developed my 'Blend', my routine of treatments & therapies that help. I've realized that some things that don't help the first time I tried them do help now either because I've combined them with other treatments or because my spine has changed. It's a bit of a merry-go-round but I'm a work in progress, chip, chip, chipping away at the pain.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • banana9bbanana9 Posts: 1
    edited 09/29/2014 - 2:46 PM
    Deleted duplicate post in wrong thread.

    Duplicate posting is not permitted on Spine Health.
    Slipped L1 Disk, Nerve root compression and central canal stenosis, Surgery not offered on NHS.
  • I swear by the magnesium for calming nerve pain...made a huge difference for me.
    Angi
  • Hi

    In my humble opinion, pain is a message. I do apologise if I sound like I am ignoring the fact that you are in pain. I know pain because I've been there. The body is trying to tell you something is wrong and it wants you to fix it. Sometimes, unfortunately, the fix has to be surgery and or medication. In most cases, however using medication and surgery is equivalent to "Ignoring the message". The source problem still exists though.

    Some 20 yrs ago, I was scheduled for surgery to fuse two verterbrae together which would restrict my movements by 25%. The diagnosis was that I had spondylolysis. I did not have the surgery. I walked away and have since studied the human body to truly understand what could be done with the message of pain.

    I have since gone on to lead a very active life (marathon, triathlon, etc.) with no back pain since. It took many years to understand, learn and apply what I learned to solve my problem. Depending on your diagnosis, it is quite possible for anyone to do the same.

    Start out with the assumption that muscles and other soft tissues of the body as well as bones are not functioning properly and this is causing the pain. The longer this goes on, the more damage and the more pain. The fix, while being quite simple, will take commitment on your part.

    1. Get the bones which are out of place, back in place
    2. Get the overworked muscles to relax
    3. Get the underused muscles to strengthen
    4. Give the body the proper movements, movements by design, which will prevent the issue from coming back

    It works. I have used it on myself and others.

    Thanks and hope you get better.

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