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To John h Back Pain question

Posted by Ralph on 3/31/05 at 22:16 (172344)

John,
Back pain question. Tonight I experienced the worst pain I ever felt in my back. Something similar happened on 2 other occassions but never as bad as tonight.

I was just going to sit down on the sofa and it felt like I was breaking in half about diaphram level. The pain was so intense and ran completely around my body just under my breast bone and felt like it was also in my diaphram. The cramping pain was really bad and for a minute I felt like I couldn't move that my spine had to be realigned or something. I jolted because of the pain like when you hit your funny bone and it let up, leaving a spot on my spine very tender and feeling like I was wearing a tight band around my diaphram area.

In all honesty I was just about to leave for the E.R.

I know you have back problems does any of this sound the least bit familiar to you. As I write this my spine is still very tender, but I can bend but would not want to push my luck twisting just yet.

I plan on calling my doctor tomorrow. I don't think I was trying to pass a kidney stone or it's my heart, but I definitely will call my doctor.
The pain disappeared too fast for a kidney stone. My spine on the other hand is still very sore and stiff.

Can I have your 2 cents on this? I'm thinking a ruptured disk or something similar.
Thanks

Re: To John h Back Pain question

John H on 4/01/05 at 11:11 (172367)

Ralph: Every year or so I will experience something with my back that will knock me down for several days and cause some really really bad pain. It is always when I make some small insignificant movement such as barely bending over to brush my teeth or perhpas just sitting down a brief case. I will feel something that gives the sensations of a muscle tear in the low back. Within an hour I will be in major pain and to find any relief I will lay on the floor with my legs on an ottoman at a 90 angle to unload the spine. It is with great difficulty and pain to even be able to get up off the floor. It usually takes 2-4 days for this to subside. I do not know what happens. Perhaps a disc suddenly bulges out or I do actually tear something. As I say It is never when I am doing anything really heavy. I can lift and stand my 300 lb lawn mower on end and never once in 15 years has this caused me any back or muscle pain. I suspect when I do a heavy lift like this I have my muscles prepared and bend my knees as I should. I would surely check this out very soon Ralph for as you know heart pain can show up in various places. I have also had a kidney stone and it can present in the low back, pelvic region, side and other places . The pain can arrive suddenly and stop suddenly. To many possibilites here to not have this checked immediately. Go the ER if necessary. An EKG, xray, and blood test can quickly tell you if you have a heart problem, kidney stone. I think most back problems that suddenly happen like that will leave your back still hurting and not suddenly go away. Go see the Doc now Ralph and let me know when he tells you it is just your back. Several months ago my wife developed a racing heart at midnight on Saturday. I took her straight to the Heart Hospital and she was seen within 2 minutes after walking in. They slowed her heart down with meds and diagnosed her with artial fibulation. She had mitral valve prolapse all her life which is very common. She is now on the blood thinner commodin but in good shape and back to her mean old self. With unknown pains that suddenly come on like that it is best to error on the side of safety.

Re: To John h Back Pain question

John H on 4/01/05 at 11:22 (172369)

One other thought Ralph is back spasm. This can make a grown man cry they are so intense. Athletes often suffer these from dehydration. You usually know when it is a back spasm so I guess it is not that. When I had back surgery 30 years ago my surgeon left immediately after the surgery for Hawaii. When I awoke in recovery my back went into spasam and I thought the world was ending. The nurses could not get my doctor and on looking back I do not think they even knew it was a back spasm. Neither did I. I was laying there in a pain level 10 thinking my surgery must have gone south. My back was still in spasm 1 hour later when they moved me to my room and did not let up for a couple of hours. I was yelling for some pain meds and they kept telling me they needed my doctors permission. I sure let him know about it when he returned the next week. Go see your Doctor Ralph.

Re: To John h Back Pain question

Julie on 4/01/05 at 15:06 (172382)

Ralph, John gave you good advice: do see your doctor quickly. Back pain can present for all sorts of reasons, some of them serious and unrelated to the spine.

If it is spine-related, there can be many causes. A principal one is that the deep stabilising muscles, transversus abdominis and multifidus, aren't working properly. Together with the pelvic floor and diaphragm, these muscles constitute the body's inner core of stability. If they are working properly, they support and stabilise the spine's individual segments when it's required to move or bear load: they protect the spine from injury by limiting movement between the individual vertebrae. If they aren't working properly, they don't, and when one vertebra has sheared too far off its neighbours the muscles go into spasm in order to prevent further movement. This can happen with the most seemingly insignificant of movements (like going to sit down on the sofa).

In these cases the pain one feels is muscular pain from the spasming muscles, and it can last a few days days. You can think of it as 'pain with a point' - the muscles have done their job; ok, they've over-reacted a bit, but they've gone into action to prevent a real problem. It helps to alternate ice and heat treatments: an ice pack and a hot water bottle, ten minutes cold, ten hot, ten cold. The ice reduces the inflammation, the heat eases the spasm.

If the excessive movement has resulted in real injury (one possibility is a prolapsed disc, but it could also be a torn muscle or ligament) then you're into a longer-term problem. If it is, and the disc is putting pressure on a nerve, there should be identifiable symptoms in the area the nerve innervates in the buttock and/or lower limb. If nothing like that develops after a bit, and the pain gradually eases, you can be pretty sure that there is no nerve involvement.

I hope it is something simple and straightforward and that you are better very soon. But do get the doctor to check you out for any more serious problems.
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Re: To John h Back Pain question

Julie on 4/01/05 at 15:09 (172383)

Re nerve involvement (and as your pain seems to be in the mid back). The nerves that exit the lumbar spine innervate the lower limbs. If there is pressure on a nerve higher up, in the thoracic area, the symptoms would present in the arms or hands or torso.
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