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Lower back pain and muscle spasms
Old 11-27-2019, 10:40 AM   #1
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Lower back pain and muscle spasms

How did you decide on a back specialist? I didn't do so good at deciding when I had several knee and shoulder surgeries in the past. I was somewhat surprised a search didn't show up with many post on backs. Have been having a lot of back problems for the last 6 mths and to the point now that I'm always one move away from my back going out or very bad back muscle spasms. This is 2-3 times a week now. Always been active, athletic my entire life and still in fairly decent shape. Put up 186- 80# hay bales this past Sept by myself that took a cpl days to recoup from. After my knees and shoulders never getting back to normal I'd somewhat decided not to do anymore surgeries. Thinking my back could have other plans.

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Old 11-27-2019, 10:53 AM   #2
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Most back problems are muscle issues. I have had back problems for 35 years after a few car accidents. Seeing my chiropractor once a month keeps me in great shape. Now if you have a ruptured disc that’s a different story.

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Old 11-27-2019, 11:12 AM   #3
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Back issues are such a complicated diagnosis. i have back mice (Google it) and, like Terry, my chiro has been very helpful over the decades. When they act up, i am bed-ridden for days. Other times, with my back pain, its not my back; it is issues with my glutes or hamstrings. The one thing that each of us knows- back issues are extremely debilitating. I empathize and wish you well.
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Old 11-27-2019, 11:19 AM   #4
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At 6'5" who worked in coal mines for 35 years, I always had temporary issues, spasms being the worst and most frequent. Spasms occur when muscles that are supposed to work N/S or E/W get overworked because the other set of muscles is tired, not used because of technique, or atrophied. My issue was tight hamstrings; they would literally pull at my right side pelvis and cause spasms. Sometimes, I'd be locked up in a forward leaning position.

If you go to an urgent care center initially, they can put in the right direction after giving you some temporary relief. I've been to orthopedes, physical therapists, masseuses and chiropractors. For the last 15 years, it's been a chiropractor with a masseuse. If you go to a chiropractor and he wants to see you 3 times/week for 6 weeks, run the other way. Word of mouth is the best way, my guy was my son's football coach, and had 2 sons that were friends of my son. He also was the guy that convinced me if I can make beer, that I can make wine. Boy, did that open a can of worms!!!!!
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Old 11-27-2019, 11:33 AM   #5
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I had frequent back problems when I was younger. Did the chiropractor thing, cant do that anymore. Then I found a DO who still did manipulation until we learned I had cervical spine issues and I can't be manipulated anymore. PT works! Yes it's slow and a lot of work but it helped me. Massage was pleasant and provided temporary relief. The answer, for me, was losing weight and exercise.

As far as getting recommendations I've trusted my PCP for answers. You probably want an orthopedic surgeon if you are going down that path. Of course if you do PT they're a great resource to point out the providers who seem to have better results.
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Old 11-27-2019, 12:20 PM   #6
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I have had back issues for 35 years, starting around the age of 30. There have been a few times when I was absolutely convinced I would need surgery. 3 years ago MRI showed severe disc herniation, with floating pieces of disc. Along with that was severe sciatic pain, and weakness in right leg to the point I could barely walk, with a cane. Well, actually an 8 iron...Pain doctor was pretty darn sure I'd need the knife, but just to get me to the point that I could move, and pursue physical therapy (PT) he did a procedure where he injected steroid and anesthetic into the affected nerve root. That and PT gave me so much improvement, I avoided the surgery. 2 1/2 years later I had a similar event on the other side, although not nearly as severe. I did not have the nerve block, but did to back to took a few weeks, but I got better.

So, my advice to you is to see a pain doc, and usually the best ones are MD, anesthesiologists, sub-specializing in Pain Management. Get an MRI, and a specific diagnosis. If you and your pain doc decide his intervention would be helpful, do it, then go to PT. Avoid surgery if you can. You just won't know until you've spent 8-10 weeks at it. In my case I knew after 4 weeks I wouldn't need surgery. Wasn't "all better", but was enough better that surgery was a no-go.

Best of luck, and if you need to PM me to hear more of how things have gone for me, non-surgically, feel free.

edit: BTW, I had another MRI last summer when I was going through that second episode, and the "floating" piece of disc that was evident 2 1/2 years prior had resorbed (i.e. got eaten up by the little cells we have that are supposed to do that stuff)...
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Old 11-27-2019, 12:35 PM   #7
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Chiropractic + regular yoga. I swear by this combo for 12+ years.
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Old 11-27-2019, 12:48 PM   #8
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I also have had fairly severe back pain which effected the entire spine. I also had muscle spasms, which were excruciating. They literally caused me to immediately gasp and stop breathing until it eased up. It was horrible.

I went to an orthopedic surgeon, had an MRI, and he gave me a RX for physical therapy. He wanted to do a steroid injection, which I declined.

The PT I worked with for just 8 visits was willing to be very focused and helped me to customize a home program of stretches and core strengthening exercises which I continue to do once a week. It's a little like Pilates and yoga combined, but the work is in holding the stretch for a loooong time. Like 1-2 mins each. Most programs talk about doing a stretch for 30 seconds. Doing it for much longer seems to allow the muscle to "accept" the stretch better and has helped me to build better flexibility in the muscle.

After 2-3 months of these stretches I was much better, and am now just doing them for maintenance. UTube has a lot of good stretches, but I needed to sort through them to find what worked best for me.

I hope you get out of pain soon. It's awful.
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Old 11-27-2019, 01:38 PM   #9
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Thank you. It's good to hear many have been able to stay away from being cut on and have been able to get good results. I've been very fortunate that up until recently, have only had real back pain maybe once a yr. I've definitely abused my back over the yrs. YouTube does show some exercises so will give that a try and maybe even yoga.
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Old 11-27-2019, 01:52 PM   #10
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DH has herniated disc from old HS wrestling injury.
PT, steroid injections and home exercises have kept it at bay.
He does have an ortho pain specialist he has seen maybe once every 5 years when things get worse for the steroid injections.
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Old 11-27-2019, 03:05 PM   #11
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Yes to gentle yoga and PT. Yes to ice or heat while resting (whichever helps). Yes to hydration to keep everything that should be puffy and lubricated that way.
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Old 11-27-2019, 03:40 PM   #12
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Didn’t realize that there is so much non-surgical treatment for ruptured discs now. My ex had it 40 years ago when surgery was the only option.
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Old 11-27-2019, 04:13 PM   #13
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I recommend you bring this up with your primary and go from there to at least get a diagnosis. Perhaps some exercise recommendations specific to your issue (without making it worse, which you could do if you don't know the root cause.)

Also, how old/good is your mattress? I had an on-again-off-again lower back issue that results from a slightly herniated disc, per the MRI. I knew I was getting bad when I wasn't feeling better after a full night's sleep.

But keeping my back and core strong, and getting a much better mattress, and I've had zero issues now for 15+ years. However, after a few days travelling on hotel mattresses I can start to feel twinges.
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Old 11-27-2019, 05:07 PM   #14
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Timely thread for us! We're skipping the two-hour trip for Thanksgiving dinner because of DW's sore back, and I'm not complaining because mine's sore too. We've both been to the primary doc, I just went to see a surgeon (first thing he said was "you are not a candidate for surgery") and start PT in a bit over a week. DW is already in PT but just started two weeks ago. Yeah, we're a pair all right.

When I said "Come grow old with me" I didn't know it was gonna hurt this much....
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
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Old 11-27-2019, 05:50 PM   #15
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When I was going to PT for my shoulder my back seized up so I started searching the internet for exercise and solutions.

I came across this YouTube Channel
He is a PT and has great insight to back pain and what exercise will and will not work.
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Old 11-27-2019, 07:30 PM   #16
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After enduring back pain for years, I've come to conclusion everyone's issue is unique. Lots of suggestions on what I should do, even from several doctors and specialist. Muscle relaxers, anti inflammatory prescription drugs, PT, massage, chiro, blah, blah, blah. Nothing has worked. Pain management has helped, nerve ablation, but it's temporary. Nothing unusual shows on MRI, appears to be nerves pinching. So purpose of this is find what hopefully works for you. What someone else experienced has good chance of not being your experience.
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Old 11-27-2019, 07:46 PM   #17
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I struggled with periodic back pain starting in my early 20’s. For me the cure was yoga which taught me how to breathe and squats which strengthened all my core muscles. Never had my back go out again.
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Old 11-27-2019, 08:02 PM   #18
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I'm not a doctor and don't have experience with drugs but my back has gone out and I read a little on it.

There's evidence that anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit healing where bone is involved. I bet they inhibit healing for purely soft tissue injuries too but I didn't read that. I believe when you have to build a good muscle to bone/spine connection after a tear or maybe after a workout it could help to avoid anti-inflammatories, but they do relieve pain so it's a balancing act.

I try to warm up at least a little before bending over. I try to have this happen naturally, for example, if I have to scrub the tub I'll try to do it when I come back from a walk or even after doing dishes rather than right after I've been sitting for 30 minutes. And I treat a day of heavier than usual work as a work out day and I go easier the next day.

Also, try to avoid anything strenuous on your back for an hour or two after you eat. The blood that your muscles need will be busy working your digestive system.

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