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Back spasm sufferers: I feel your pain. Oh god, do I feel your pain

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Small Town Guy, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    I've always read about back spasms, especially in sports of course, but never really understood what it meant. Was it twitching? How bad would that be?

    Monday night, late in the evening, my lower back started to hurt a bit. Nothing severe but more than just a little ache. Progressively got worse, sleeping was tough. But I hadn't done anything to cause it. Didn't twist it, didn't pick anything up, no sudden movements. Just out of nowhere.

    Tuesday was brutal. Every step hurt. Sitting down or getting up was torture. But still I thought, well, maybe just resting for the day, getting some sleep, it'll go away.

    Didn't sleep a minute Tuesday. Occasionally when I moved the pain was so severe I screamed. Pissed in a pickle jar (empty) my wife brought me in bed; a touching moment, as it were. Just counted down the hours until 8 a.m. when our doctor opened. So around 8, I'm dressed and my wife is helping me walk out of our NYC apartment. Every step brought upon the worst pain I've ever had. Yelled.

    Then everything went black. I felt nauseous, went blind and couldn't hear and that's all I remember for a few minutes. My wife caught me and put me in a chair, called 911. By the time the crew arrived, I'd regained my senses but the pain was still horrific. They loaded me up, drove me to the hospital that's 1 mile away (one of the crew pitched my wife, a literary agent, his book idea about the life of a paramedic, as I sat there moaning). After about an hour in the ER they shot me up with morphine. Before that I was screaming in the little curtained-off area they gave me in the ER. For a second I felt self-conscious, then did not because all I could think about was the pain. The morphine wasn't kicking in and I told my wife, "Nothing is going to work." She said it'd kick in. And it finally did. They rolled me in for an MRI and found nothing. No pinched nerve, no disc problems, no tumors on the spine or any other nightmare I envisioned. They kept me there about five more hours then sent me home.

    And here I am, with Percocet and Ibuprofen, but today I really felt no pain. Didn't even take the pills that much. Seems like it's gone. And I'm like, how in the hell could it just go away like that?

    Folks who have suffered these: Did they come back? I'm praying it was a fluke thing. Last night I was supposed to start my basketball league. I'm 39. Have never had any injury problems, not even a sprained ankle in years of playing ball. But now, even though I feel good, I can see myself being leery, just waiting for that pain to return.

    As for what caused them, I'm thinking maybe it was a combination of things. On Monday morning I had turned in the first half of a major work project. The weeks before I'd been in total work mode, hyperfocused, intense, no breaks. So maybe my body finally let go a bit. Then about two hours before the pain hit, I learned a good friend back home in Minnesota died. I actually bought a ticket right away to go to his funeral. (canceled it because I was supposed to fly today and even though I felt better didn't want to take a chance). So can stress bring this stuff on? When I blacked out it was definitely a panic attack, combining with the pain, I think. My wife said my eyes went black and my lips went white, which is when she got terrified.

    So I just wanted to say the next time I hear a player is sitting out with back spasms, I am going to feel so much sympathy. Holy shit. But I also won't be surprised if they come back a few days later because I now feel I could play old man hoops. In college I played IM ball the same day I had all four wisdom teeth but unfortunately couldn't pull this one off.

    But those who have had stuff like this -- one time type things (having chronic back problems is a nightmare I can't even comprehend) -- did they reoccur down the line or were they just flukey things and you've been fine since? Can diet or anything bring them on? Stress? Bad posture (which I have?). I'm just trying to do everything I can to avoid ever dealing with that again.
  2. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Lose weight.

    I started having these something awful in my late 20s. I went to the doctor and got a book of stretches to do, and those worked for a while. I do recommend looking into some area-specific exercises. (My favorite one was to lie down and put my legs up on a chair. Just lay there and watched TV and the whole lower back loosened up and stretched out. Some nights I even slept like that.)

    But the spasms would return every few months, sometimes to a debilitating degree ... then a few years later I got on a real health kick, one that has lasted more or less for the last 10 or 15 years. When I do lag, I can start to feel it in my back again.
  3. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    I was rear-ended in 1993 and went to a chiropractor for an X-ray. Nothing serious at the time.
    The chiropractor said, "Do you know you have a broken bone in your back?"
    I didn't.
    I thought back to a bad bicycle wreck I had when I was 16, and figured that must have been it.
    A few years later, the back started acting up. It became worse when I was a dishwasher, standing on those hard, rubber mats.
    Then it hit.
    There were times I couldn't get out of the car. I would lay writhing on the couch in serious pain.
    The doctor said he couldn't give me anymore steroid injections and ordered a myelogram. The pain during that procedure was unbearable.
    At the time, the specialist said, "If we do surgery, there is a 20% chance it gets better and a 20% chance it gets worse. Being on medicade at the time, I opted not to have the surgery.
    Fast forward to around 2007, when I developed sciatica and couldn't stand long enough to sing a hymn.
    That's when I broke down and had spinal-fusion surgery. They screwed in two Titanium rods between my fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae.
    I'll never be pain-free again. Some days are worse than others. The aluminum bleachers and hard seats are unbearable at times when covering games. But at least I can stand without help.
  4. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    Back spasms do suck.

    I've had them before, and the only thing I can do to lessen the pain is take ibuprofen and sleep on my couch at night. Sleeping in the bed is rough, but sleeping in the recliner seems to help. Not sure why, but it does.
  5. ChrisLong

    ChrisLong Well-Known Member

    Ice and stretch, heat and stretch. When the pain strikes get into the correct pelvic tilt position, which is to lie on your back and bring your legs up like your sitting in a chair. Get a bunch of pillow or some kind of platform to rest your legs on. Ice and stretch ... heat and stretch.
  6. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I had them once for a few days, and it was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced, too.

    They were real spasms, that I grew to anticipate, and actually fear as I lay there. It was also the strangest sensation I've ever felt -- I remember thinking I could actually hear/feel a rubber band being stretched, then let go, and pinging in my back.

    Except that it was literally paralyzing at the crest of it for a minute each time they occurred.

    Like yours, they came on suddenly, I never really figured out what definitely caused them, and they left suddenly, too, although I do have an old lower-back disk injury (third/fourth lumbar area) that may have contributed to it.

    That was years ago and I haven't had an episode again. I'm glad for that.
  7. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    That gives me some relief, Write, that you haven't had them since.

    I definitely have to start doing some stretching, whether before exercise or just general stuff with the back. LTL, I'm 6-3, 220 pounds and while I've always wanted to lose like 10-15 pounds--which I could probably do by giving up most of my four sodas a day habit--I never thought I was overweight or anything. But when my knees were aching playing hoops a few years back my doctor said I had to lose weight, because that's what puts the pressure on the knees. My fat thighs or whatever. Didn't do it then, although that did get me to do some leg stretching before basketball. The difference is right now I think I'd be scared to even do stretching for my back because I have an irrational fear of triggering the spasm again. But I'm guessing that should pass soon.
  8. Dyno

    Dyno Well-Known Member

    I had some kind of freak, horrendous lower back pain during the summer. I wouldn't say it was spasms, but it was really intense, horrible pain when I moved, and especially when I tried to sleep. I could not get comfortable and while the pain would come and go, it mostly stayed. I took ibuprofen, which helped, until it didn't. Heat helped, but then stopped helping. I couldn't think of anything I had really done to cause the pain and Dr. Google had me thinking it might be a kidney stone. After a horrendous night's sleep and a ton of pain, I went to an urgent care place. They couldn't rule out a kidney stone, but sent me home with a prescription for muscle relaxants and orders to continue with the ibuprofen and heat on my back. Fast forward, after a few days, all of that wasn't helping much anymore. I went to my real doctor, who told me to drop the relaxants and take Aleve (apparently I wasn't taking enough ibuprofen to make a difference). Within 6 hours, I was totally better. I took Aleve for 3 days and haven't had a twinge since. Totally random, totally out of the blue. I have a really high tolerance for pain, so I know it was bad if I saw doctors twice within a few days.

    Anyway, that's my long way of saying, I, too, had bad lower back pain from out of nowhere that has NOT returned. I also have a bad posture so I got a support thing for my office chair.

    Good luck!
  9. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Don't know what kind of car you have, but you might want to look into getting one that rides a little higher, like an SUV or a full-size pickup truck.

    Sitting with your knees hiked up for extended periods really puts pressure on your lumbar area. And the ability to slide down --- rather than stand up --- to get out certainly helps.
  10. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    For those who like to crack their spine, like I do, be careful not to twist and contort too hard. I have and it wrecks you for days until your spine realigns.
  11. Glenn Stout

    Glenn Stout Member

    Acquire and use a rocking chair, slowly build up your core muscles, use a skinny wallet or remove it from your back pocket when you sit down, and if you walk a lot of hard surfaces (concrete, tile or carpet on concrete like most offices), wear comfortable shoes, and make sure you don't let the heels wear down unevenly.
  12. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    I broke my back in a car accident years ago. I had to have major surgery and for years afterwards I had trouble sleeping and spent a fortune on physical therapy, chiropractors and even had several rounds of having steroids injected into my spine to ease the pain.

    Then a friend asked me if I wanted to try his inversion table. He said he'd had back issues for years and he said it made a huge difference.

    I tried it. As soon as I went upside down, I felt knots that had been in my back for years pull out. It was crazy. I bought one and I use it twice a day. It has been the greatest thing ever. I have not spent a cent on chiropractors or PT since and I have several friends who have used it where it had a similar impact on them. I immediately started sleeping better and people almost immediately started saying things to me like, "Wow, your posture has improved incredibly."
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