When the pain of a sore back becomes nearly unbearable, what works best to control it? Here are a few different techniques I am trying, to make myself as comfortable as possible as I struggle to recover from a severe case of sciatica, in which my last lumbar disk has herniated and hit my sciatic nerve, making everyday life, well, really difficult.
After going to my orthopedic doctor, I tried physical therapy. It felt good in traction, when the body is pulled to take the pressure off the spine. Little did I know, that the next day, my whole body would go into major spasms. Being practically paralyzed from the pain, I knew that if I didn’t do something to help myself, then I’d most certainly end up in a hospital bed. With limited insurance, I decided to fight going, until exhausting my options. I called the doctor, and he changed my medicines to new ones, since the former kinds didn’t have an effect on the pain whatsoever.
Now, on muscle relaxants, narcotics and steroids, the pain subsides some. The only place I can find comfort is on the floor, as my bed, couch and recliners aggravate my spine right now. It is so touchy that I have to be careful how I get up, walk, turn, and I cannot bend or twist at all.
With a slab of memory foam on the floor, and a sleeping bag over top of it, the back pain forces me to work my computer from the floor. Not being able to sit up hardly at all, I am propped up by pillows only slightly, with a wedge under my knees and another behind my back for firm support. If I lie still, the pain subsides somewhat. Other people would have given up and gone to the hospital, but I am being gentle with my back, in hopes of recovery. I gave myself a time limit, if there is no improvement in two weeks, then I will go to the hospital as the doctor advised. I don’t recommend this for everyone, but when money is tight and work must be done, for me it’s worth a shot.
The steroids seem to be helping. I am now able to do more than a few days ago. I can sit up a little longer, and walk to the bathroom without doubling over in severe pain. I can get up just enough to get my food, and and feed my cats. They are concerned and sleep at my side at all times, wondering why their normally energetic owner isn’t moving much.
I have stopped physical therapy for now, to avoid more strong muscle spasms, my body is too touchy right now. Thank goodness the pharmacy has someone deliver my medicines to me. I have bottles of different meds all over my desk. It looks like a pharmacy in here. I take pills to sleep, for the pain, to relax muscles, and to keep calm during all of this. I am mellow as a marshmellow. Slowly, there is improvement. The floor is quite comfortable, and when I tried to sit up in my recliner, I realized that I’m not ready for it yet. It is a long and slow process.
Every so often I talk to my doctor, or one of his nurses. I avoid seeing friends much and rest most of the time. Work has been difficult, and I’ve had many days off (though I work from home, it is hard to work on the phone and use the computer efficiently). Thank goodness my bosses understand. As I lay here on my back, surfing the net from a horizontal position, I am learning a lot about dealing with lumbar spine problems, spine anatomy and what not to do to make the condition worse. Surfing orthopedic supply sites, I shop for a tens unit (muscle stimulator, to help control the pain) and all sorts of contraptions meant to help with back pain. I have already bought a few supplies meant to help my back, such as a hand held massager, massage recliner, back belt, ice packs, wedge pillows and memory foam. How glad I am to have them, they all have gotten quite a bit of use lately and make the situation more bearable with their convenience. Using the massage chair or the vibrating massage wand can aggravate the swelling in my back if used too much so I just use them briefly as needed. I apply heat then ice packs.
I’m doing gentle leg exercises to keep my muscles from wasting, too, when I get a momentary reprieve from the pain. Slowly, steadily, there is improvement. The pain is there but there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. It is a slow process, and I am encouraged but impatient.
So far, so good. I have new appreciation for my spine. Carelessly twisting, bending and otherwise abusing my back on a daily basis has probably gotten me into this position so now, newly learned habits will get me out of this mess. No more contorting my spine into a pretzel as I fall asleep on the couch in front of tv. Those days are over. This is an unfortunate but necessary learning experience. Take care of your spine and get it checked, it never hurts to be preventative, than come in later with a bad case of back trouble. Some conditions aren’t preventable, so if you get one of those, read up on the condition so you know what to expect from your treatment. It will make the whole situation less scary, the more you know.