Saturday, October 13, 2012

How I beat back pain

Second (and probably last) in the series of solved physical troubles. Back pain is probably the most difficult challenge that I have faced. This is partly because of the uncertainty and doubts of any given treatment, but mostly because results take a long while to show up. Of course, the pain itself  is nothing to scoff at. First, the usual disclaimer that what follows should not be taken as medical advice and that you should consult your doctor. Now, to give you an idea of what I felt extend your hand palm down and pinch with your other hand the fleshy part between the thumb and the index finger; if you're averagely strong, aim for three quarters of your strength. Now, mentally place the sensation on your lower back and you'll know what I felt.

Doctors ruled out herniated discs or degenerative diseases and surgery was never considered.

  • What didn't help me:

  • Long-term anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • Staying put and trying to reduce movement. It is counterintuitive, but if  I stayed put, negative thoughts began to creep in with a pain increase following

  • Chairs with lumbar support. These  supposedly give support to your lumbar area, but after trying them I have to agree with someone who accurately described the sensation as having "someone's F** elbow jabbing you on your back"

  • What helped me:

  • Cold, then warmth applied to the area. Just for some minutes. After some months I reduced the cold component and then entirely dropped it.

  • Some physical therapy. One should be wary though, because many therapists expect you to get well right away with their treatment, even if you are not out of the woods yet

  • Swimming. Great exercise, makes you move all the muscles in your body and it is pretty tame. I still do it.

  • Getting up and moving around at least once every half an hour

  • Regular stretching exercises. The trick is to find which ones to do.

  • Overcome Back Pain by Kit Loughlin. Only Incorporated five or six exercises from the first part and by then I was already well, so I didn't push for more.

  • Relaxation recordings. I may talk of these in a later post.

  • What I am uncertain if it helped or not:

  • The Herman Miller Areon chair. In desperation I got one. The back support in this one is in the sacral area rather than the lumbar and can also be tweaked.

  • Placing a pillow under my knees while sleeping or lying down

  • What I didn't try, but could have:

  • Healing Back Pain by Dr. John Sarno. This one came to my attention too late to play a role. I would encourage you to check it out nonetheless if your initial treatment does not work, the pain moves around your body (i.e. from the right side to the left side), or if you have been suffering for more than a month. Also, good alternative is Rapid Recovery from Back and Neck Pain by Fred Amir, which includes a treatment plan.

  • Acupuncture


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