Bad Back Bleg

Bad back, sad sack. Yes, folks that’s an inane family saying.

Which brings me to the point of this post which is to say that my back is killing me. I have a bit of a scoleosis but am told by those in the know that it isn’t a big problem or explanation for my back ache – which, according to a physio I went to – who seems good – is some muscular spasm or muscular ‘memory’.  I often feel like someone is poking a knife just below my shoulder blade. It’s bearable most of the time, but just.

Anyway, the physio said such things were quite common, were not easy to treat as skeletal problems. He suggested exercises were unlikely to help much and prescribed a few days of Neurofen. The idea was to banish the muscle memory – but it achieved nothing.

It occured to me that accupuncture or ‘dry needling’ might be worth considering.  Anyway I’d be interested in any suggestions, including miracle healers, from Troppoholics.

Postscript clarification inserted by the time of the eighth comment: I live in Inner Melbourne (but, since you ask prefer cappuccino and tea to latte, though I would subscribe to the folk dictum “better latte then never”).

This entry was posted in Blegs. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
27 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paul Montgomery
Paul Montgomery
9 years ago

Stay away from anyone in the Labor Party.

shane bonetti
shane bonetti
9 years ago

hi nick,

i had a back injury before christmas, oddly enough playing father christmas. For the first time in my life, i sought treatment from an osteopath.

The place that was recommended to me, which I would recommend to you, was Osteopathy on Canterbury, which is in Canterbury, on Canterbury Road, East of Melbourne.

http://www.osteopathyoncanterbury.com.au/

I was treated by Brad Robinson. I was impressed with him, the treatment was highly effective.

shane

shane.bonetti@gmail.com

Charles
Charles
9 years ago

I recommend osteopathy … similar to, but much more gentle than, chiropracty.

I’ve had a funny back for years, partly due to skoliosis and partly due to the sedentary life = no musckle tone and poor posture.

But Peter Edwards and David Moor in Paddington, are wizards.

02 9332 1677.

1 Church Place, Paddington.

JJ
JJ
9 years ago

Over the years, my back had gradually deteriorated. I had progressed from reactively going to the physio when it really hurt (such as after the time I sneezed at just the wrong moment and wound up unable to move on the floor), to going and getting preventative exercises from the physio.

However after a year of being good from these exercises, my back was seizing up and due to family circumstances, I really needed my back to be reliable. Picking up my 4 year old daughter was risky. I was ready to do something.

Just then, a doctor at work noticed the back roll I carried to meetings and recommended Pilates to me. He had had a very bad back (so much so that his kids sitting on his knees caused pain) and following Pilates had been able to go sea-kayaking in the Whitsundays! I was sceptical as I thought that Pilates was an alternative therapy.

However I respected this doctor’s skills (he practises as a GP) and he said that it needed to be a really good Pilates studio, preferably clinical Pilates with a physio. I’ve done that for the past 18 months (1 hour per week with 1 physio to 3 people – also claimable on private health insurance) in Richmond.

After the first session, I could feel my back unfreeze. After a month, there was a very significant improvement indeed.

Now I feel it is like it’s almost cured (I realise it’s a chronic issue which needs management). However I can pick up my now 6 year old daughter without thinking about it and don’t have to constantly embarrass myself if someone asks me to help picking something up. The pain is almost gone.

This has transformed my back and much of my life. Even my cycling has improved due to the greater core strength (as a physio at work who was interested in Pilates explained to me).

I realise I sound a bit like an evangelist, but comparing notes with people, it seems to me that trying Pilates is definitely worthwhile.

Good luck

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
9 years ago

Exercise, specifically weight training. Weight training has for me banished lower back pain and saved me from crippling RSI in both hands/forearms.

This book is generally considered the best resource for beginners.

meika
9 years ago

was getting some referred back pain in my thigh after doing that nanowrimo write a novel in a month silliness,went off and spent all spare time grubbing out three enormous stumps, reseating an old kitchen woodstove concrete plinth the post 1967 bushfire clean-up knocked askew, concreting it, and a skirt to stop it splitting, another concrete slab, then laid a large number of bricks, including a PC as a time capsule and re-covered artefacts from dig in the void between the outer wall and a woodstorage area (trial parabolic arch for the oven chamber) mixed all mortar by hand a lot of the concrete too (not the big slab). Room for 6 pizzas and after 6 hour firing we cooked nearly 100 pizzas for an anniversary party.

Image of the project here.

no more referred back pain, or even twinges when I sit on the damnable chair that caused it originally

I recommended ‘exercise’ or at least enough activity to do away with bad habits and introduce new goodly ones for our aging bodies. I find exercises that focus simply on recovery not good enough, some break with bad habits must be attempted. Or at least some activity in which I can forget that I am exercising.

But then I am quite fit otherwise and know this is not the easiest for all to do.

cbp
cbp
9 years ago

I’ve had a similar issue which I’ve learnt how to get on top of. Haven’t had a problem in more than 6 months now, after spending many nights in agony.

In my case there wasn’t any magic to it. My muscles were over-developed in some areas due to the sports I was doing, but under-developed in other areas because I would be sitting down writing computer code the rest of day.

First I just have to wait out the initial pain, using pain-killers and heat packs to help. Eventually it goes away.

After that, I just have to religiously do the various stretching exercises recommended by my physio. You have to get light regular exercise, no matter what – swimming twice a week and light stretching every day.

Then you must avoid the activity that might be setting off the pain. This could be any of the usual suspects: sleeping posture, sitting posture or over/under exercising.

JJ
JJ
9 years ago

PS – there’s not much evidence that anything works for chronic back pain, but there is evidence that accupuncture does help.

murph the surf.
murph the surf.
9 years ago

Is this a sort of assault by blog on the medical profession?
As it is following after the let’s bust open the guilds thread I just wondered.
.
I would suggest you need to get a diagnosis first.
Pain can have multiple causes but if it is debilitating to the point you need opiate pain relief then a physical examination could lead to a CT scan or MRI.
They each have capacities for investigating different areas of the body.
.
Once you have a diagnosis – and you might need to keep pushing your chosen advisors to get there , the treatments may only be for coping with the side-effects of degenerative change.
Hopefully you are only suffering an acute injury and may heal completely but if you are over 50 , well time diminishes us all.
Exercise seems to the flavour of the month – it stimulates autophagy and that sounds excellent regardless fo the area affected.It is also beneficial to your cardio heath and mental state.
Many people find it difficult to accept that the changes they are told stem from older age are permanent and may require a change in life choices.
Without a diagnosis though you don’t really know what the problem is so your choice of treatments is possibly incorrect.

The Feral Abacus
The Feral Abacus
9 years ago

Some GPs are also acupuncturists, in which case Medicare rebates are available for the treatment (or at least were in the late 90s). My own experience was that acupuncture provided about 24 hrs near-total pain relief from a persistent lower back injury, with some level of relief for several more days. All of which was handy in reducing my dependency on analgesics.

JC
JC
9 years ago

Anyway, the physio said such things were quite common, were not easy to treat as skeletal problems. He suggested exercises were unlikely to help much and prescribed a few days of Neurofen. The idea was to banish the muscle memory – but it achieved nothing.

I have the same problem and it goes from my shoulder blade to the back of my eye as referred pain.

Get a prescription for Mobic. It’s the best anti-inflammatory going and much stronger the the one you’re on. It’s a relatively new anti-infam and works like a dream.

It occured to me that accupuncture or ‘dry needling’ might be worth considering. Anyway I’d be interested in any suggestions, including miracle healers, from Troppoholics.

This stuff is quackery. The best shot is hitting it with Mobic and closing down the pain receptors.

Be careful about exercise. Ensure you don’t do any over the head press ups and make sure your tabbed up with a Mobic before training.

Tel
Tel
9 years ago

Desk work is bad for you: poor posture, long-term muscle tension, reduced blood flow, bad night’s sleep, head sits too far forwards, tiny injuries build up and never heal properly, extra pressure on your spine… each problem reinforces the others in a downward spiral. Also, the majority of well paying desk jobs are high stress jobs, further increasing muscle tension and overall poor health.

I’ve found this guy very helpful:

http://www.parramattasportsmedicine.com.au/osteopathy-sydney.html

JJ
JJ
9 years ago

A few clarifications are in order – they are related to lower back pain and I have no idea whether this is in any way relevant to any other condition. I am not a clinician. All I can relate is what I have learnt about back pain from my own experience in the health field.

Exercise is beneficial for most health – this video from a doctor is excellent and rather succinct: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo

Exercise also appears to be good for back pain:
http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD000335/exercise-therapy-for-treatment-of-non-specific-low-back-pain

There is some evidence for acupuncture:
http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD001351/acupuncture-and-dry-needling-for-low-back-pain

My physio explained that the spine is very complicated and science knows very little indeed about it. I remember first being excited when I got a ‘diagnosis’ from a doctor in Germany (later I learned that the term just meant lower back pain). Then I got excited when I first saw my spinal CT scan report – until a physio at work explained that most spinal CTs of healthy and unhealthy people show disc and other problems. There is also a theory that after a bout of back pain the back’s stabilising muscles no longer kick in when required – the auto response is lost. I’m afraid that ‘diagnosis’ doesn’t mean much in this situation. Whatever you do, be very very very careful before having any surgery.

The key to this all is that this is a chronic disease and how you manage it is important. A few other ideas: try strengthening your core muscles under the care of a therapist – ideas above – I use Pilates. Make sure you are getting lots of exercise. Perhaps have your desk checked by an OT specialising in ergonomics (we have a great one at work who comes in). Ensure you have good sitting posture. Lift properly. Make sure your bed is appropriate (is the mattress old?) etc etc.

A disclaimer: I find Pilates (and gym in general) very boring, but I do it because it works for me.

JC
JC
9 years ago

Training under the influence of painkillers or anti-inflammatories masks the pain response, which means you can exacerbate an injury. I’ve done exactly this.

True Jacques, but we’re not talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger at peak here. It’s Nicholas and he needs to be a little careful all the same, so light weights at beginning. In any event there nothing in the that would stop stop serious pain breaking through the med other than an overdose of morphine and then you’d be dead.

conrad
conrad
9 years ago

“Many people find it difficult to accept that the changes they are told stem from older age are permanent and may require a change in life choices”

No doubt that’s true, although some of things we used to believe were inevitable are not. A neat study came out recently suggesting that a lot of age related muscle deteriation is probably due to lack of use and atrophy, not aging (presumably this would include back and neck mucles). The other big one we know now is that if you want to keep your cardiovascular ability into old age, then you basically need to do intervals (i.e., hard excersize) often. Curiously there was an article in the Age today from a psychiatrist complaining about it (how odd — presumably inactivity is the big problem these days).

As for backs — I also get back and neck problems occasionaly. I find climbing more fun than pilates (and similar things) although unfortunately I can’t get to a climbing gym easily after work at present. However it does wonders for me when I do it consistently.

Gavin R. Putland
Gavin R. Putland
9 years ago

Cramp under right shoulder blade?

Fold arms. Lean forward, placing elbows on desk. Thrust right shoulder forward and inward while leaning on elbow. Stre-e-e-e-etch.

Stand up. Place right elbow behind head. Pull down right hand with left hand. Bend over forward and to the left. Stre-e-e-e-etch.

It worked for me. Mind you, I had to do it occasionally for about 10 years…

zoot
zoot
9 years ago

I’d suggest talking to a Feldenkrais practitioner if you can find one.

Mel
Mel
9 years ago

I found exercise is the best thing for my chronic lower back pain. The very worst thing you can do is to not exercise for a few days, unless your back is seriously inflamed, in which case it is best to stop exercising until the inflammation settles. When the pain is acute I do exercises with a gym ball which gives me instant relief nine times out of ten. However, when the back is really crook and seriously inflamed, a couple of weeks bed rest with a good supply of morphine does wonders. Problem is, many GP’s today hate prescribing morphine. We can thank the conservatives and their “just say no to drugs” mentality for that. Arseholes.

JC
JC
9 years ago

Mel:

How did you manage to politicize back pain?

Patrick
Patrick
9 years ago

Get swimming lessons (really) and swim. Also, don’t sit. Use your tablet to do what you can standing up. Dictate to your phone.

All things I aspire to do before I get back pain!

Richard Tsukamasa Green

The specific pain underneath the right shoulder blade may be just mouse arm (assuming you’re right handed) from holding your arm out for too long. Apart from all the exercises (stretches may be enough, as wonderful as swimming is) you may simply need to put your mouse lower relative to your body when at the computer.

Acupuncture did provide temporary relief when I had the same (once it was distinguished from all the other issues). It may well be purely a placebo effect, but assuming your physio is right about it not be a deep rooted issue that’s a much of a muchness.

Sancho
Sancho
9 years ago

For musculoskeletal pain, I swear by reflexology.

The process can seem like a hippy placebo “therapy”, but I’ve had great success with it for back and joint pain over the years, and it’s no more peculiar than acupuncture.

And, of course, exercise and avoiding prolonged sitting. I now know two people who use standing desks for work and are very happy with them.

via collins
via collins
9 years ago

What an impressive array of answers!

For me, it’s been a combination of yoga (hatha – the breathing and gentle posture one), and some seriously good massage/manipulation by a woman named Teresa at a place named somewhat uncomfortably, Tectonics. She’s in Victoria St, Brunswick West, and she’s saved my life from referred pain.

For my pal, it was the right anti-inflammatory. He used some with nasty bloating side effects before setlling with the life changer.

Good luck.

fxh
fxh
9 years ago

Nic – I’m sure you are only joking with regard to “alt” health scams – if you are serious then I can do remote Reiki for “twice my normal fee” – all I need is your GPS position at any time.You can eletroncially transfer the fee“investment” to my bank acc.

The best bet for “mysterious” muscle or back or whatever issues is to use an experienced qualified sports medicine GP person. If they work with proper professional sports people they will be focused on what gets people back to activity, quickly and safely and long term.

They have no “bias to action” like a orthopedic surgeon, who will think of cutting. They will look at evidence. They have no bias toward mystical religious beliefs like homeopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, reflexologists, naturapaths – etc

john
john
9 years ago

fxh

agree good sports medicine types are really great. And agree that homeopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, reflexologists, naturapaths are bunk.
However learning to move better be it through yoga , Pilates, feldenkrist and so on is also a good idea.

JJ
JJ
9 years ago

I went to Pilates tonight and the woman on the bench next to me said that her osteopath had referred her there and that Pilates had transformed her life. She said she was also telling all her friends about Pilates. So sorry if this all sounds a bit evangelistic.

I did ask my Pilates physio tonight about shoulder pain. She said that depending on a proper assessment, Pilates may be able to help shoulder pain. She also noted the importance of checking that a physio (or anyone) advertising Pilates is properly qualified – many people are jumping on the bandwagon after a weekend Pilates course and really don’t know how to teach it.

I think we would all be interested in the outcome of your investigations, if you are able to report back.

Cheers