May progress report

What’s Going On?

Woah, I really just barely snuck in under the wire with the May update!  I feel like I blinked and it’s nearly June.

This has been a good month for my back, with the major caveat that I haven’t ridden or done a workout since my birthday.  So with that in mind, I’ve been a busy little bee this month.

So, what was the plan last month?

  • I see my back doc on Monday but am not expecting anything other than an offer to do another epidural injection.
  • I did see my back doctor and he did offer another injection — this time in the SI joint — but he also referred me to a new doctor to try a new treatment plan.  More on that below.
  • Peter and I are starting a six-week program (one class per week) next Tuesday at the Esther Gokhale Wellness Center.
  • We’re nearly at the end of this class (one more week to go) and I’ve really enjoyed it.  While taking the class didn’t suddenly make all my pain go away, the body mechanics that Esther describes and recommends make intuitive sense to me and I think they’ll help long term.  Her method of “stretch-lying” to go to sleep on one’s side, in particular, has been very comfortable for me.  I would recommend her book (or class, if you’re local) to anyone.
  • I saw my general practitioner for a checkup a couple of weeks ago and she mentioned the Stanford Pain Clinic.  I may look into this a bit more; it seems like it’s primarily for people with substantial pain (like, “I can’t function without heavy narcotics” pain) but it would probably be worth investigating.
  • I mentioned this to my back doctor and he wasn’t a fan.   We discussed pros and cons, and the “cons” that he mentioned matched very closely some negative experiences that I’ve had with Stanford in the past, so I decided not to pursue this.
  • Melinda has a coworker that she says has a knack for figuring out what’s wrong with people. 😉  She’s going to give me his info and I may make an appointment.
  • I haven’t done this yet.
  • I’d like to try acupuncture; not sure if I’ll get to it this month.
  • This is still on my I’m-going-to-try list, but I didn’t get to it in May.

What’s with the new back treatment?

  • So, when I went to my back doc last month, he referred me to New Back Doc, who does Spinal Decompression Therapy.  The internet (http://ergonomics.about.com/od/treatmentprevention/f/spine_decomp.htm) describes SDT as:

Spinal Decompression Treatment is non-invasive and provides gentle decompression of the disc through the use of a decompression table. You are strapped to the table so that as it moves it applies a distraction force to the targeted area of the spine (the compressed disc). A computer controls the distraction force which is applied in between periods of relaxation. This gently pulls the spine apart elongating it and creating a small vacuum between the vertebrae which pulls the disc back into shape.

  • I’m doing three treatments per week, for about 8 weeks.  I’ve already done 4 weeks and have my “halfway point” exam next week.  One session comprises about 30 minutes on the table, 10 minutes of ultrasound, and 10 minutes of ice.  I started out on the table with 40 lbs of pull in the “active” mode and 20 lbs in “relaxation” mode; now I think my settings are 50lbs/25 lbs.
  • It’s hard to say whether it’s really helping.  On the one hand, I’m almost entirely pain-free during the day…on the other hand, I still have SI joint pain if I do the elliptical and I haven’t tried riding or doing a workout since starting the treatment (at the doc’s request — he wanted me to pause those things so that if I had pain, he would know that it was something with the SDT and not the riding or whatever).
  • I’ve explained the SI joint pain to New Back Doc and starting next week he says he’s going to address that as well.  I also have two daily exercises that he gave me to do, so there’s that.
  • Overall, I like New Back Doc and I think Peter does too (he came to one of my treatment sessions and New Back Doc spent about 20 minutes talking to Peter individually).  He’s also pretty close to our house, which is convenient.

Exercise.

  • No workouts this week other than the daily exercises I got from New Back Doc.
  • I’m currently in Week 8 of Couch to 5K, and it’s going pretty well.  A single workout is now about 3000 steps and I’m able to go at 120 strides/minute for 28 minutes straight. Last workout I had slight SI pain after the workout, but I’m not sure it was due only to the elliptical.

Motorcycling.

  • No riding this month.

 

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4 Responses to May progress report

  1. Jamie C. says:

    So, you’re getting strapped to a rack for therapy. Any chance that they can make you a couple of inches taller? 🙂

  2. Mike says:

    Do you at least get to yell “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” when they strap you into the stretchy machine?

  3. Nyna says:

    Yay for being almost entirely pain-free during the day!! Does that mean that you’re in pain at night??

    Maybe you should stay off the elliptical, no? How did your back feel after the 5K walk?

  4. John Bollman says:

    The “rack” did wonders for my father in the 70’s. He had messed up his back and it was a low level discomfort that would not go away. (this was a man who had a good chunk of his leg blown off by a mortar – minor pain to him was crippling to the rest of us). The first session on the table relaxed him so much that he fell asleep nearly instantly. Another couple of months of various therapy techniques (including the “rack”) and he was back to his normal self. He even won the company bowling tournament the next year.
    Keep your spirits up and continue to seek out methods that work for you. Best, John B

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