Silly me, I ordered Back Pain for Dummies. It’s not as though I don’t know what’s wrong with my back: I fell at work in 1970 and pushed my tailbone out of place & compressed my spine. Yes,OUCH! Did it at work, the company sent me to medical doctors who couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I started going to chiropractors, who said they couldn’t figure it out either since they hadn’t treated me before the accident. Finally, found an osteopath in 1983 who said “Oh look — your tailbone is out of place & your spine is compressed.” Three years of treatment, but he finally got everything back in place, but those big muscles along my spine had readjusted themselves and they still want to be readjusted. Plus my L5/S1 eventually fused themselves together naturally, and I’m 3″ shorter than I was (good thing I was tall to begin with!) I found water aerobics in 2008 and that fixed the problem. All was well until 2015 when my knee went bad & I spent 3 years waiting to have the surgery … & not moving much so it wouldn’t hurt. Surgery in August 2018 & just getting back into the groove when the cancer was discovered … and then just after the surgery, when I could have gone back to water aerobics, the virus lockdown hit. I mean, had the surgery on Friday, came home on Monday and Wednesday the lockdown was announced. So no water aerobics. And my back is slowly but surely disintegrating back into constant low-to-medium level pain. My current chiropractor diagnosed me with degenerative disc disease, but I can’t even get to see him, what with no car & the lockdown.
So I’m reading Back Pain for Dummies — I don’t know why (since I think I already know it all…) but it turns out there’s a reason. (“There’s a reason for everything and all timing is set by the Universe.”) “Deconditioning or deactivation syndrome occurs when you try to alleviate your back pain by limiting normal activities, restricting exercise, or resting more.
“Deconditioning syndrome begins when you avoid activity … Rather than helping, inactivity may make a bad situation worse. By reducing your activities, you eventually decrease the size, strength, and flexibility of your muscles and ligaments, as well as your cardiovascular and muscular endurance.
“If you’re experiencing deconditioning syndrome, getting active again to strengthen those muscles is important. … your back pain is not harmful (even though it may hurt). … resume normal activities as soon as possible.”
Well, that explains that. So walking is going to kill two birds with one stone, hopefully.
Reading further, I come to the bit on degenerative disc disease: “Degenerative disc disease is a condition in which the soft, central portion of the disc loses some of its water content and begins to dry out … which decreases the disc’s height, narrows the foramen (or opening), and misaligns the facet joint. … The condition isn’t really a disease at all, but a term that describes the wear-and-tear of aging that begins at about age 20. .. Sometimes this condition can lead to a mechanical type of low back pain in people who are not physically fit and attempt strenuous activity. Degenerative disc disease is treated with appropriate exercise, body mechanics, and anti-inflammatory medication. This disease rarely requires surgical treatment.” Which is good, because I’ve avoided back surgery for years. And I can’t take anti-inflammatories any more: the osteopath gave me samples of naprosyn and they helped, so I took them like candy, resulting in a grand case of GERD & thinning of the skin on my hands & forearms so that I bruise if you even look at me.
But the book goes on to talk about Chronic back pain syndrome: “chronic back pain syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur when your back pain lasts for more than about three to six months — beyond the point of tissue healing. … Changes to blood flow patterns to the back muscles and anxiety about the pain may keep the muscles perpetually in spasm. Overtreating with rest and passive therapy can lead to deconditioning and chronic pain syndrome. Chronic back pain syndrome often gets worse over time …”
So this back thing seems more complicated than I thought. (What a surprise — I didn’t know it all after all …) Probably I should have a bout of PT but the blasted virus thing makes that impossible. And if only there wasn’t this blasted virus thing I could get back to water aerobics & slowly work my way back to an almost normal back. But no … So I’ll keep walking & hope that helps.
Walked again this morning, although my back was sorer than it was yesterday, and my breathing not very good either. But I did it anyway, just not as gracefully as before. And I’ve been thinking (always a dangerous thing …), both the front & back yards desperately need to be raked. There’s cuttings from the mowing, and branches & twigs. And I need to water the container plants on the patio since it’s been so blasted hot (NOAA says 97 but my patio thermometer says 100). Just wondering if doing those chores can count as exercise instead of walking — not every day, just some days. I don’t see why not, especially the raking. And once I get the back yard raked, I need to mow it. And it’s getting higher every day, so that should be a splendid exercise!