Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Another Piece In The Bad Back Puzzle?

Long-time (and clairvoyant!) readers know that I seriously injured my back 11 years ago in a freak car accident.

Whiplash was the initial diagnosis; then TOS - Thoracic Outlet Syndrome - which was most manifest in a 99% occlusion of the vein in my left arm. I suffered a gradual loss of strength in my hands to the extent that the milk carton might fall out of my hand when pouring and that I had trouble opening a beer bottle (domestic!).

Ignorant, I underwent a risky invasive surgery where they cut all sorts of stuff out of my thoracic region. It was an attempt to free up physical space around the blood vessel and whatnot. The doctor from the opposing insurance company likened the procedure I subjected myself to, to *bloodletting*, i.e. contemporary quackery.  And he was probably right.

Anyways, there was no noticeable improvement in my condition post-surgery. At the follow-up with the doctor, he actually he sent one of his minions(!) who said, "Oh, you won't be able to tell if it helped for at least a year or longer; it takes a long time for nerves to decompress...". Heck the clown may as well have been a *financial adviser* wielding that long-run BS.

Even after the surgery, physical therapists, and the doctors, emphatically told me NOT TO DO any stretching, NOT TO DO anything like yoga because that would compress my blood vessels even more.

Of course they were, and are, complete Morons as *yoga* was the only thing that ever helped my back after surgery.

While my condition at the moment is stable, I am still far from 100% strong and healthy. But I'm honestly convinced that one day, before I leave this overheated, variable-climate planet....I'll discover the magical cure and restore my back completely.

Lately I've been reading a highly regarded, technical book - Trigger Point Therapy for Low Back Pain: A Self-treatment Workbook (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) - to that end.

A lot of the recommended treatment, to me, came off as highly technical and time intensive. It also seems like it's geared for *practitioners* and those who have much worse symptoms than I have. Though I'm sure if I reread it with application I'll really learn a lot - enough perhaps to become the masseuse that every chick dreams of marrying! (Years ago, I once had a young lady tell me that I should really study *massage*. And she was right! A man who can massage and dance proficiently will never have to suffer loneliness.)

When I went in for my surgery in 2001, my hands were weakening and all of my back pain was up high - from the upper back through the neck.

But when I came out, I started experiencing a new *lower* back pain. I would say the pain moved but after so many years of a stiff neck I can't even tell if my upper back is better now or if I just got used to it.

Whatever, this lower back pain is far more debilitating than the upper variety and actually goes down into the top of my hiney (images upon request).

From the book I'm inferring that my issues might be centered in my quadratus lumborum - which is the hard-to-target back wall of the abdomen or something.

The book says that one thing guaranteed to aggravate this particular area is *sleeping on one's side* - which I've done my entire life.

The author INSISTS that sleeping with the knees touching, one on top of the other like this, is very bad for this quadratus lumborum or whatever it is. It also leads to a postural imbalance which I also definitely have (left shoulder high) and have had since I was a kid.

She highly recommends that side-sleepers put a (king-sized) pillow between their legs at night.

Guess what. I tried it the other night and when I woke up, I was only 20% as stiff as I normally am. This may not sound like a big deal, but generally I wake up in such rough shape that I need to spend a full hour stretching each morning before I can fully function.

I was giddy all day yesterday thinking I may have finally found something helpful. So last night I leg-straddled a pillow again and also woke up this morning feeling positively bouncy.

Now I've had false starts before. After I bought an inversion table, the first time I used it I was euphoric and thought I had found the answer. Of course I didn't.

BTW, if you sleep on your stomach or flat on your should also use pillows (under your stomach and under your knees respectively) to protect your spine - click here.

Blankets are always a good idea too - particularly when your camera-wielding buddies are around.


auntulna said...

Verrry interesting. A few questions; is your hand numbness gone? completely? If so, how long did it take? Do you know your grip strength? Did you have a MRI of your cervical spine?

CaptiousNut said...

yo auntie,


The hands still tingle when engaged at a distance for more than a couple of seconds - like when *seeking* on my AM/FM car stereo - or when cutting up my kids' meat into a million bite-size pieces.

That has actually never improved - although I don't drop things like the milk because I'm aware and concentrate more.

Have no idea what my grip strength is, I just know that when shaking hands with squeezers I am often overmatched below the wrist. (To compete I tense up my entire bulging, vein-popping arm!)

Had the MRIs way back when - nothing in 10 years. They did one where they injected a dye in my bloodstream through an IV so the MRI could gauge circulation or something. That one was a b1tch, lasting over an hour.

I don't think I'll be getting another MRI soon - not with $500 copays...

That money would be better spent with a professional yogi or one of these trigger-point therapists. Or on a golf trip!

auntulna said...


I got nothin. On the west coast, you could take that $500 and get some "energy work". In New York, isn't that about a year's city parking sticker?

Unknown said...

Emer Inversion Table from Bizarkdeal

Compared to the inversion tables I have used in the past this is one of the best by far. It is comfortable, easy to use and l love that it locks in place for multiple angles. The instructions could use some more detail as some assembly steps were left out, after studying the pictures and using logic I was able to figure out without much trouble. It is a heavy duty table and very well made, I have not doubt that it can hold the 330lbs it says it can. My husband has had a lot of back pain and since using this a few minutes several times a day he has already felt enemies relief. My 9 yr old son has back pain as well and has started to use it some, it is easy for him to adjust and get set up for his hight and use himself. We also discovered that with the well placed hole in the top of the back rest you can lock it in to place and use it as a massage table. I can say I am very happy with my purchase!