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Always healthy -- Not so sure now

Ow Ow OwOOw Ow Ow Posts: 7
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi everyone =)

This is my first time posting in a forum. I've read a great many, and realize the great help that a community such as this can offer others. Forgive me for the long post, I just want to explain myself well.

I hope this isn't too small of a thing to bring up here. But here goes...

I've always had a very healthy back. Never much in the realm of pain, and nothing that lasted more than a day or two if I was doing heavy lifting or what not. Nowadays it seems things have gone bad, and I need advice on what to do about it.

In a nutshell: I have lower back pain on both sides of my spine. It seems to be a muscle issue, but I'm not 100% sure on that. It seems as though my lower back muscles are so tense and tight, like rocks. Just super tense and painful. I can get them to untense (not sure if that's a word) temporarily with a nice hot bath or shower, but it always returns. I start the day feeling ok, and as the day wears on it gets worse and worse until at the end of the day I'm in so much pain that I simply can't sleep. I'm all night in pain. It doesn't help that I already have enough sleep problems due to shift work...

I was once prescribed robaxin for a pinched nerve in my neck, which had the added side effect of making this pain a lot less. There are two contributors that I can think of to this pain: Working all day at a computer, and a bad lumbar puncture a year and a half ago. As a third, I guess I could add in stress. In the interests of not making this post any more of a book I won't go into the details of the lumbar puncture unless someone would like me to.

What do you guys think of this? Is this just a normal thing that I've just been lucky enough to not experience prior to this (I'm 28 now), or is it possible that this is something more serious? If it's possible to be more serious, what should I ask my doctor to look for? I'm in the military too, so I have all the healthcare I need (with some restrictions of course..).

Thanks to anyone who responds. Sorry I wrote such a book! I guess I just needed to get this off my chest and maybe get some answers.


  • Welcome to Spine Health Ow Ow Ow!

    I didn't see anywhere in your post reference seeing a spine specialist? From what you're describing, you have the average "bad back" via mechanical pain such as tight muscles, posture, stress, maintaining the same position too long etc. Usually with nerve pain, "burning, on fire, shooting pain" is described for the symptoms, and too if a nerve is involved, many times it radiates symptoms away from the neck or back to the arms or legs.

    None of us are doctors here, just going on our own experience with spine issues. You might want to ask your treating physician if a referral to a spine specialist (Orthopedic or Neurologist) is warranted at this time. Hopefully you will find that you are treatable with conservative methods (PT, exercise, posture awareness, medications, heat or ice etc.)

    I mention much of the above as too due to your age, and no statement of any traumatic injury, say a car accident, skiing, mugging, fell down the stairs - hehehe...you get what I mean there. You are young, and that can be to your advantage. Please let us know how it goes with your doctor.

    Also, there is a search box at the top of the web page that also might help with questions you may have. Welcome aboard!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Ow,
    I applaud the fact that you mentioned stress as a contributor and that is a valid observation, that same pain with reduced stress may seem less invasive even if the underlying pain is constant, it is not the pain that has changed but our concept of it. We soon learn that at times of high anxiety our functionality is less, pain is a journey into oneself, those innate skills you already have and we all find the strength and effort to continue.

    At the evaluation stage it is easy to become embroiled into what it might be, as our mind races beyond reality, the key is to work logically from what is known though medical evaluation, As Brenda said, you may have the average back and working at a computer all day will contribute to your symptoms, as far as I know nobody here has X-ray vision so a full examination may give a clearer picture to what is going on, diagnosis takes time and the more you read here the longer that evaluation process is and the complexity overall.

    Let the doctor do his job, could we tell you how to do your job, perhaps not. I am glad at times I did not know what would be ahead of me, we were all healthy before. I know you are keen to find out what and where this pain is coming from and time will provide some more evidence towards improvement. For me pain is pain, if you have had it two days or 20 years, welcome to our elite community, we embrace you with knowledge, understanding and compassion.

    Take care. John
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  • First let me say Welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find many whom have lumbar issues. I think the first place to start is with your primary medical doctor. They can perform a medical exam and come up with a treatment plan. If it is just muscular then hopefully they can get up and going rather easily. Even if it is just muscular, muscle pain can be intense at times. But the first thing you need is a diagnoses. Also not getting enough sleep certainly isn't helping with resting your back.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Keep us updated on what your doctor has to say.
  • Those were some fairly quick responses, and I thank you a lot. I definitely understand that you all are not doctors, was just hoping to pick your brains and head to my appointment with more knowledge than I've been able to dig up on my own online.

    Learning from others' experiences is something I take great pride in. I really wrote this because even though I truly do hurt, I didnt want to be someone who is just going in and complaining about a whole lot of nothing only to have the doctor tell me as much and send me home with some "vitamin M" (Motrin) as we call it.

    In my experience, sometimes suggesting things to a doctor if nothing else, allows me to put my own mind at ease. I'd definitely not tell him how to do his job, but at the same time it seems in order to get the best care here you have to know what your options are. I've not yet been to any type of spinal specialist, I've actually not had anyone evaluate my back yet. I was scared like I said...more worried that I'm gonna get told it's all in my head, or there's just nothing they are willing to do, or can do.

    I thank you guys for your suggestions. I will be making an appointment on Monday with my PCM (Primary Care Manager .. GPs of the military), and see what he says. I hesitate to do so because it just seems that all the sudden I've been going into the doctor's office left and right here. Mostly for sleep related issues. In a way, the being young thing actually works against me there. I'd really stop worrying if this wasn't continuous pain over the last span of time, or if Ibuprofen actually helped with the pain. At least my mind is a little more at rest knowing it's "most likely" not nerve pain. I watched my dad go through back surgery, and it's not a pretty time.

    I know you are all not doctors, I'm just searching for opinions of those who've "been there done that", and on that note, do you all think maybe some anti-anxiety med should be asked for to help with this? Or does that sound like someone over-reacting? With all the pressure on doctors to watch out for "pill seekers" and what not, I am trying not to push my luck with my PCM. He's already gone out of his way to help with my sleep stuff.

    Thanks again and sorry for my habitually long posts!
  • Thanks for the warm welcome! Also thank you for letting me feel a little better about this issue. With pain, for me, I've always got a little voice in my head telling me to just tough through it rather than complain about it. It's nice when someone can tell me that even if it's not so bad, it's not out of the question that I truly am hurting. I know this of course, because the pain is there and I can feel it. But, over time it seems like you pay more and more attention to pain and it gets worse just by paying attention to it... the vicious circle messes with my head sometimes, and I don't know how much of it's in my head and how much of it's truly part of the condition. All I know is it hurts, and I don't knoow what to do about it.

    Again, thanks so much for the warm welcome. I will definitely keep you all updated with what my doctor says. Unfortunately, even if I make an appointment on Monday, I'm sure they'll put me bottom of the priority list and I won't have a real appointment for a Month, but we'll see.
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  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    Many of us have had our problems start with the muscles. For me, it was a stabbing pain in the middle of my back that led to my cervical issues.

    If what is going on is strictly muscular, I'd think that muscle relaxants would help, as you mentioned that Robaxin helped you in the past.

    But like the others said, going to your doctor to see if the muscle problems are a symptoms of something more happening is imperative. Catching spine problems early is the very best, if something is happening.

    Good luck on your appointment and please do keep us posted.

  • So, I went in today as I said I would. Ended up just seeing my PCM again (GP). He prescribed Zanaflex. He didnt run many tests, but based on my description of the pain he figured it's muscle related too. He said there is a possibility of a bulging disc or something to that effect, but most likely that's not the case. We'll try this medication for 4 weeks and note any improvement or lack thereof and go from there. Physical therepy will be the next step. Hopefully they do some scans prior to physical therepy because I've had a lot of people tell me that physical therepy messed them up worse than when they began!

    Thanks everyone for your help here. If anyone else has any further opinions I always like to hear them! You guys (and gals) have been so very helpful!
  • Ow Ow Ow,

    Glad to see your got with your doctor, and too he feels it is muscle related. After I crashed my helicopter, PT and chiropractor treatments kept me going for another 17 years!

    Are you near a facility that has a pool - heated preferred? Aqua therapy or general swimming is really good for taking the load off of your spine and muscles. Just something additional to think about for getting relief. Hope the medication helps. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • This Zanaflex is working well, but it seems as though there may be more to this still. The Zanaflex has pretty much loosened all my muscles and I don't hurt nearly as bad, but strangely it feels like there is a bruise on my spine. It's strange because there really is no bruise. It's in the same spot as the ancient lumbar puncture.... has me a bit worried.

    I'm going to continue to give this a little time before I get too worried I suppose. It's possible that things just need to continue to heal. It's just now that I feel the pain on the spine itself, which I didn't feel before, I'm a little worried. Has anyone experienced this as well? I'm thinking it's either residual injury from the muscles being so tensed up and spasming for so long, or it's the result of the old lumbar puncture that was messed up. It's been almost 2 years since then though...

    Let me know what you all think. I'm keeping this all in one thread cuz it's part of the same issue.
  • Hi,
    I used to have bad lower lumbar pain. It was probably from from sitting at a computer. I am pretty active so sitting for a while used to give me terrible muscle pain. I went to a physical therapist and he said i need to stretch my lower back more. Did not help, plus i had already put stretching in my workouts. What actually made my pain go away completely was swimming. I just started for kicks (you tubed how to free style swim correctly, and started doing laps in the pool) and my back pain is completely gone. No more muscle pain. Now my pain was only when i was sitting for a while or laying down the wrong way. It was a pretty crazy amount of pain though. Just thought i would throw this up here. Swimming strengthens your lower back a lot. I would at least try it. Unless any physical activity makes it feel completely worse.
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