i am a 30 year old male, normal weight for my height, eat fairly well & have never smoked (but will touch on second hand smoke later) - & was fairly active until my problem(s).
1) i became close friends with a chronic/habitual smoker. I mean, 4 packs a day. No lie. this individual is practically bed ridden (due to a disability), and smokes literally one cig after the next if she's up (and sometimes even falls asleep with a cig in her mouth/hand! (how she hasn't lit herself on fire is a miracle!)) - i've actually lived at her place for weeks at a time (when she needs me to - or once when i had no other place to go) - and i'm there helping her (as sort of a secondary caregiver) 4-5 days a week. about 2 years ago i started to get pains in my chest & heart from her smoke. also, lightheadedness, headaches, sore throat, and a bad cough. about a year ago, i started to notice pain in my actual bones (including my back), and that my bones (my hips specifically) would start cracking after i left her place (walking home, etc.) - the longer i stayed a way from her smoke, the better my body started to get (no more pain in lungs/heart, no more cracking/hurting bones). now i barely go at all - because she refuses to even open a window (she likes to have her air conditioner on at all times - even in the winter! which just circulates the smoke around and around her apt. it's horrible).
2) on my 30th birthday (4 months ago) no less (how poetic!), i slipped backwards down my staircase (12 steps). i still don't know how it happened, but i fell HARD. right on my spine and then rolled down the rest of the way, again landing on my spine (double whammy). so anyway...initially my muscles felt so torn i couldn't bend...this was four months ago. that feeling has pretty much gone (yet the muscle is still sore to touch). what has happened though is a constant pain in the middle of my spine. i can't sit for too long (5 mins max) or stand to do dishes for too long (5 mins max). my back is too stiff, sore to be bending/lifting things. i've made it so everything is at waist level so i don't have to bend too much. cleaning my apt is a depressing though because it causes me so much discomfort and pain that i just give up...the only thing that relieves this constant pain/discomfort (which is getting worse) is to lay down (and if i sleep in too long, it gets bad, too). i find myself having to crack/pop my back (my grabbing my chair and twisting until it cracks loudly like bubble wrap) every 30 mins to give me like 1 minute of relief...or i bend backwards slightly and i get a little pop that is barely felt but feels good nonetheless.
i can walk for long distances with only a little pain but i can't run. the second i run i get a major pain in my lower back that feels deep in the bone (in the middle of my spine but also in the area of where the dimple is right above the buttocks).
so i included the shs thing because i am wondering if that set me up for some sort of osteoarthritis - as i haven't really done a huge amount of "wear and tear" on my spine (no hard sports or big lifting throughout my life) - and have always walked A LOT (sometimes 3 hours a day - with good shoes). i know i fell down my stairs, but jeez i'm only 30. i swear that her smoke made me feel a deep bone pain, especially in my spine/hips.
anyway, i went for an x-ray on my very lower spine ("about where the navel is and below" said the x-ray tech - even though i asked my doc to do my whole spine?) - which came back relatively fine, and in lamen's terms apparently i was showing "slight arthritis in hips" - and that was fluffed off by my doc as "nothing to worry about" -
anyway, the main pain/discomfort for me is in my middle part of the spine. which wasn't x-rayed. i feel a constant stiffness/pain/discomfort. to the point that it's maddening. i try and twist and turn to crack it, but when it won't, i just want to scream.
...and of course i am unemployed, about to get evicted, with a dog. and i have no choice but to get a job ASAP. an office job or any job dealing with people is out of the question for 2 reasons - 1) i have serious social anxiety 2) my back can't take sitting for long periods...
which leaves me with some sort of physical job, which i am worried with kill my back for good. if it's just pain and no damage in the long run, i'll suck it up, because otherwise i'll be homeless and lose my dog.
getting on disability can take years - i don't have time for that. i feel so depressed/helpless right now. all of my family just shrugs it off with comments like, "a lot of people have bad backs. they just deal with it" or the worst, "you're too young and healthy (ya, the second hand smoke/breathing in packs of cigs a day to the point of physical pain was really healthy!) to have that serious of a back problem"
- that's my story. where do i go from here? what should i do? thank you!