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Monday, June 27, 2011

The Woes of Back Pain Part 1: my experience

Taken from googleimages
It happened to me March 9, 2011. I was on my motorcycle. I felt a twinge on the right side of my upper back, between the shoulder blades. I thought it was nothing until later that afternoon when I couldn't move! I could barely get up to go to the bathroom without experiencing excruciating pain. It only got worse from there. From test to test and pill to pill, I didn't find relief until the beginning of June! This two-part series aims to help you protect yourself. So read on.


At first I thought it was just a sore muscle so I stretched, continued light exercise and slept with a pillow under my knees. Just like all the advice on the internet suggests. It only made it worse. After stretching I would feel worse!

Going to the doctor was no help because they didn't tell me what I wanted to hear. I stated above that the pain started between the shoulder blades. However, it quickly moved on to my lower back where it remained. I had a right side (lateral), lower back pain for three months.

I, however, did not think it was back pain. 

When I was a student in England I got a kidney infection and had to be hospitalized. The pain I was experiencing in March, and the subsequent months, was very much like that pain. So I was convinced that I had a kidney infection. That was what was causing the back pain, in my opinion.


It didn't help that my doctor here in Cordoba is less than content with her job. So she barely looked at me. She didn't ask me any questions and simply sent me for an x-ray of the back. I was fuming! I knew that I didn't have any spinal problems. But what could I do? 

My appointment wasn't until the next week but the pain got so bad that night that I had to be seen sooner. (Funnily, my back would hurt more at bedtime than during the day). My husband used some connections that his father had in the public health system and I was seen that week.

Long story short, nothing on the x-ray. So I was given a prescription for a painkiller (Ibuprofen--600mg) and a muscle relaxant (Myolastan--50mg). I took 1 Ibuprofen and half a Myolastan, in the morning, and 1 Iburprofen and a whole Myolastan, in the evening.

The muscle relaxant made me tripping big time! Good thing I wasn't operating any heavy machinery! It was strong stuff but it worked.

I wasn't satisfied though. I'm a person who doesn't like to take pills. Plus, this was not solving the problem, it was only treating it. Anyway, I was still convinved that I had something really serious.

Fed up!

I went back to the doctor and told her what she gave me, flat out, didn't work and that she needed to find another solution. So she asked me questions and performed some tests and told me it was back pain. 

It couldn't be a kidney infection she said. Not only did I not have any of the other symptoms (pain when you urinate, high temperature, abdominal pain), but also the pain in the back was not the same. It didn't hurt to touch, (which she proved by giving my back a good wack). My back only hurt when I moved. So that was not consistent with a kidney infection.

Whatever. I still didn't believe her but she refused to do anymore tests until I tried these other pills (Diclofenac sodium--100mg). I probably took one or two pills when the pain was just unbearable and I had no other choice. After re-reading the side effects I preferred to deal with the pain.

Lessons Learned

I have been pain free for at least a month or so now. Definitely since I began my hair journey so I'm happy! I have now accepted that what I suffered from was a form of lower back pain.

This wasn't a nagging pain. I would be in so much pain that I couldn't sleep, I couldn't move, it hurt when I breathed...it was serious. 

I think it was the result of a lot of things:

  • Stress
  • Not stretching properly
  • Exercising more than I needed to
  • Bad posture
  • Sleeping on a horrible pillow
  • Not drinking enough water
I still haven't solved the pillow problem. I plan to because I think it's incredibly important to sleep on a pillow that aligns your head with your spine. 

Stress affects the body in so many ways. Incorporating yoga into my life, and being aware that I need to relax, has helped me tremendously.

More than ever before I am aware of my body and how it feels. If I need to take it easy I do so. That's the most important lesson I've learned.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I discuss: 
  1. Common causes of back pain
  2. How to treat it
  3. Back exercises I've incorporated into my exercise regimen.

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