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Discussion: Pain

in: BorisGr; BorisGr > 2016-03-25

Mar 25, 2016 3:47 PM # 
I'm so sorry this is happening to you. It's so not fair.

Is that the PT telling you they can't help you or the doctor telling you that PT won't help? Totally different type of pain so maybe not relevant but I once had a doctor tell me I was in such bad shape that she didn't even think the PT could do anything for me and I cried over the same vicious cycle you're frustrated by. Then the actual PT was like "What? Why would she tell you that? I can always do something."

Have you looked into mindfulness and CBT? A pain group I was in was really pushing that as part of a package of interdisciplinary treatment. I'm not very good at practicing mindfulness now but I did it pretty consistently for a couple months when I was at a real low point and I made good progress. There's research that suggests it can reduce pain by 30% or something like that, which sounded like something I wanted. Resources I have used are Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which is more focussed on pain but his program requires an hour a day which I found hard to do, and the Headspace app, which is more general but a lot easier to commit to. A therapist who specializes in chronic pain and CBT might help with some of the anger too. I liked the CBT exercises I've done in the past for getting me out of angry despairing thoughts.

I've also saved the name of this book but never read it cause I was starting to be in a pretty good place by the time I heard about it: The Pain Chronicles by Melanie Thernstrom.

It is so frustrating how long these things can take to resolve. And I'm really lucky because my pain is almost always provoked and rarely bothers me throughout the day. I've been working really hard to get better for almost six years now and was diagnosed three years before that. I thought back in 2010 I would take six months off from orienteering training and get this pain problem fixed and that would be great. Ha. Now I'm finally starting to make progress on my actual goals which is wonderful but wow, that's a lot of time when I write it out. You just lose so much bandwidth for dealing with everything else in your life when you're in pain and you're putting so much energy into getting better.

I'm really sorry you're going through this. I realize our types of pain are completely different but let me know if you ever want to talk more by phone or email. *hugs*
Mar 25, 2016 6:18 PM # 
I don't know whether I should hope the MRI shoots down that diagnostic theory or confirms it strongly enough to overcome any reluctance on your part to resort to radical methods (or do they have a less scary sounding word to the the opposite of "conservative" in medical contexts?). If it comes to the latter, here's hoping for as good an outcome as Nadim seems to have got for his at least vaguely similar issue in 2014-15.
Mar 25, 2016 6:31 PM # 
Carol said it best. But at the very least, you should know that it's ok to rant about things on your AP log.

I hope you can get a handle on your pain. I can't imagine trying to go through life with constant debilitating pain. Good luck with whatever the doctors and the physical therapists and the new-age posture professionals diagnose. We're all here for you.
Mar 25, 2016 9:42 PM # 
And yet you remain so positive and encouraging to all of us. don't hesitate to let us know how we can help, even if only to appreciate a great rant!
Mar 26, 2016 2:42 PM # 
Courage! We care.
Mar 26, 2016 8:12 PM # 
Truth. Stay strong :)
Mar 26, 2016 10:06 PM # 
There are lots of us out here that do care about your condition, and would like to offer any encouragement we can. As for the occasional longer complaint, don't apologize. Most of your readers have complained at length of their own injuries (usually smaller ones) at some time or another, and even those that haven't probably mostly realize that some problems are both more painful and worrisome than others, and they have just been lucky not to have yet experienced such a difficulty themselves. An occasional moan from somebody as normally cheerful as yourself just lets us know that you are actually human, and maybe could use an expression of sympathy!
Mar 26, 2016 10:36 PM # 
I vividly remember Nadim last year being in such pain from his disc injury that he was literally bedridden. I don't know if more conservative measures would have helped him, but the surgery he ultimately had had him up and walking immediately, with next-to-no pain. It's not perfect, he still has some pain now and then, but he's running and biking again.
I hope you're able to find a solution that works for you and fixes your issues. It totally sucks being so broken. And rant away on your log, that's what it's for.
Thinking healing thoughts for you.
Mar 27, 2016 7:09 AM # 
Even from reading your log, I didn't really get a sense of how bad it was until we were emailing the other day. It's one thing to not be able to do a sport you love, it's another to not be able to engage fully in the life you love.

Wishing you all the best. You're not alone.
Mar 27, 2016 9:53 PM # 
Hang in there man! I know how you feel. I've lived through a lot of pain that seemed to not ever go away. I was told that I would never run again after I screwed my ankle back in the day and that I shouldn't go to gym after I hurt my back when I was even younger and wasn't able to sit straight in a chair for months. Yet, somehow, it always gets better after a while. Stay strong! Don't lose the sight of your goals, they will help you to get where you ultimately want to be in the future. We are all here for you! Get better soon!
Mar 29, 2016 10:16 AM # 
Hi Boris, sounds horrible but best wishes in dealing with it, thinking of you and stay determined in looking for a solution!
Mar 29, 2016 2:17 PM # 
Boris, I am so sorry that you are in this much pain. I had no idea. I really hope this next MRI can help you find out how to get better and that soon, you will have some sort of solution to work towards. Chronic pain is no joke and you should talk about it as much as you have the need to, on AP or else where. Too many people suffer in silence because they don't want to bother others and serious side-effects of chronic pain, such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse can start to happen. Take care of yourself!!
Mar 29, 2016 2:57 PM # 
Perhaps you've already tried all this, but when I was your age, I also had several years of increasing back pain. Couldn't even sit in a desk chair on some days. Unfortunately, being single, I was sent to distant assignments by GE, and had to see doctors all over the world: Sydney, Los Angeles, San Juan...they all wanted to operate, but fortunately I'd left town before they could get out their scalpel. Finally it was a doctor and PT team at Mass General in Boston that helped my pain to stop entirely by:

- pointing out that as I got older, my troubled discs would naturally shrink, become tougher, and recede from the irritated tissues
- that the spine was not straight, but was a complex system of 4 curves
- muscle spasms in the back were often caused because that portion of the spine was never allowed to properly align, and hence those muscles never rested
- ensuring the spine was properly aligned during the night was of primary importance

I came back to my room in Manhattan and looked at my hotel mattress: typically it was sway-backed, old and beaten down in the middle. So I moved to the floor, with only the mattress pad underneath. I slept on my stomach, and also inserted a small pillow under my hips, to establish the proper curvature of that all-important lumbar curve. And in the morning, I'd do a few wrestler's bridge exercises, to continue to strengthen and align the lumbar curve.

Initially I was in even more pain. But over a several week period, the pain level diminished, I was able to walk normally. And even got back to my morning jogs along the East River. Eventually I returned to sleeping in my bed...but always added a big pillow under my hips to compensate for the inevitable worn mattresses. I just turned 75, and haven't had a serious back pain in over 40 years. Those spinal discs must be tough as cobs by now! Good luck!
Mar 29, 2016 3:55 PM # 
I echo what everyone has said. We all are feeling for you--hang in there.

And chitown? +1. That is a very relevant, encouraging post.
Mar 30, 2016 2:44 PM # 
Hi everyone,

Thank you for the outpouring of support on my log! I really appreciate it, and it is such a good reminder of the wonderful community we have through orienteering and AP. There are a lot of good suggestions in here as well, and so plenty of leads for me to follow.

I am currently trying to pursue a three-pronged assault on back pain:
1) The usual medical approach. I got another MRI yesterday and will be discussing the results with an orthopedic surgeon once the MedStar Hospital network pays the ransom to get back online.

2) Back to physical therapy. I went for an evaluation at a new physical therapy place - not because the old one was bad, but just to try something different. The goal is to start with ways to stretch the back that ease the pain, if those exist, and then see if recovery can progress.
(Clark>> You have some very good suggestions, but my back is way too messed up to be able to do any of those exercises - or to sleep in anything other than the fetal position on one side after taking some sleeping pills.)

3) Gokhale method. This is a thing suggested by Zan that is meant to help improve general posture, sitting, standing, and walking. I am not sure this will be able to help me right now, given the levels of pain, but I am going to give it a shot. It might at the very least be something to attempt as a preventive treatment once the pain subsides.

I am thinking about mindfulness/meditation for pain control as well, but haven't gotten to a concrete approach yet.

Thanks again everyone for all your encouragement! It is very, very appreciated.

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