Back problems

Tips on how to keep yourself in top form for the hunting season.
wack
 
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Back problems

Postby wack » Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:58 am

I've always had aches and pains in my lower back, usually from hard work, nothing serious but gradually getting worse over the past few years until about 1 week ago. I woke up with a stiff back, pretty normal, sat down with a cup of coffee and when I got back up I had sudden major pain in my lower back. I just got a new Doctor, she's fresh off her internship and English isn't her first language although she does speak pretty well. She's looking me over and I mention that I sold my motorcycle because a 30 minute ride would put my legs and to sleep, like pins and needles... she prescribed anti inflammatory, muscle relaxer and Vicodin 10/650. I believe that's the largest dose of Vicodin made. The meds did nothing the 1st day and a half.
She sent me to have an MRI Wed. told me no bow hunting, just rest and take it real easy. Thursday I heard nothing. Friday she calls and says "the MRI results aren't too scary, you have a lump on the lowest disk which explains the pain but not the numbness. Maybe the radiologist missed something, (meaning she's reading a Radiologist report, not reading MY MRI)results are being forwarded to a neurologist who will contact you and make an appointment to see you." 

I can read between the lines when it comes to the radiologists report but what exactly does a lump on my disk mean? Does she mean a bulging disk? A tumor? What the hell is a lump? I've been on the meds for a week now, the anti inflammatory medicine is gone, have enough of the muscle relaxers and pain killers for the weekend, and although there is still pain there, it's a lot better and haven't need pain killers in 2 days. I'm ready to go hunting, not to sure about pulling back my bow from a tree climber and bending at the waist in perfect form but I think I'm ok on the ground. Wife says no, I'll end up crippled. Wait to see the neurologist. Anybody here have problems with the bottom disk in the lower back? What am I up against? Is my bow season over? 
American by birth, hunter by choice.

msbadger
 
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RE: Back problems

Postby msbadger » Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:51 am

Wack...so sorry to hear this....Several years ago I went thru hell with a lower back problem...Your actually lucky...I had a doc. that wanted to prescribe anti depressants ....muscle relaxants and hard core pain killers and refused to do an MRI....6years...2 ambulance trips ...bed ridden for months ..weight gain ...ect

I had to sleep in a recliner for years....One day I slipped in some mud and went down on my hands and knees HARD...could barely move for three days and then woke one morning and realized I didn't feel any pain....It scared me so bad that I layed in bed crying ...thinking I was paralyzed....took me a half hour to get the nerve up to try and move....Other than aches I've been pain free for years now...

On one of my ER trips they did ex-rays and saw a what they thought was a bulge...I didn't know that was possible on just an ex-ray....but what ever it was that hard jolt put it back in place

My reason for telling you all this...GET a SECOND or THIRD opinion...and don't let it go as long as I did...I lost a better part of 6 years



Best of Luck

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kighty7
 
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RE: Back problems

Postby kighty7 » Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:15 am

I can relate to a lot of what you guys are going through. I am 35 and have had degenerative discs in my lower back since 18 years of age. I now am having more problems with my back than ever before. My wife works as an MRI tech and she did my scan. I have a slight bulge in my L5 S1 and it is causing pain in my left testicle, and a sensation that I have urine stuck in the tip of my you know what. I have to do stretching and take a pain killer but I know things could be worse and will get worse in the future. I too would recommend getting a few opinions before committing to anything major.

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Everyday Hunter
 
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RE: Back problems

Postby Everyday Hunter » Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:28 am

Wack,
You've had some good comments so far.

I agree with you that a "lump" is a pretty non-technical term, and misleading, too. I'd be a little suspicious of a doctor who told me that. Doctors tend to use medical terminology that is confusing to the non-medically trained person, but that seems to be going a little too far in the non-technical direction.

"the MRI results aren't too scary, you have a lump on the lowest disk which explains the pain but not the numbness. Maybe the radiologist missed something, (meaning she's reading a Radiologist report, not reading MY MRI)results are being forwarded to a neurologist who will contact you and make an appointment to see you."

Everything I say depends on the accuracy of that statement. If you are quoting her accurately, I would have some questions and objections. In saying that the MRI results aren't too scary, is she saying that the MRI results are a little scary? She should explain. Here again, she's lapsing too far toward non-technical language.

And, although I'm not a doctor (and I don't play one on the Internet), it's a fact that a lump, bump, growth, or bulge on a disk can cause numbness. Nerves radiate from the spine, and when something is out of order it can put pressure on the nerves which shows up farther down the line in pain or numbness. My big toe has been numb for months, and the doctor thinks it could be caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve where it exits my spine. We haven't investigated yet, but he said the cause could be a bulging disk in my lower back, or by muscle spasms in my lower back. I've chosen not to have any further medical treatment, and instead (for now) concentrate on better posture, and on weight loss.

Also, it's unusual for a doctor to suggest some deficiency in another doctor, so suggesting that the radiologist possibly missed something is not kosher in the medical field. She should raise her question with the radiologist before causing you to doubt the radiologist's report.

You already have a second opinion coming at the appointment with the radiologist, but you should make sure the radiologist is looking at the MRI and not just his X-ray. My advice is to do some online research so that when that appointment comes you will be armed with all the questions you want and need to ask. Don't be afraid to write them down, but if he's a good radiologist he will probably answer most of your questions before you ask them. If he doesn't, seek another doctor.

I don't think your hunting season is over, but you should know what you're capable of. Maybe climbing a ladder stand won't be too strenuous for you. You can probably hunt off the ground. Avoid uneven ground.

You need good medical treatment not just to save your hunting season, but to make sure you return to health and stay that way for the coming years. And remember, you're not as young as you used to be (yeah, I'm one to talk!), so make some adjustments.

Here's an example: Last year in fall turkey season I was running through the woods to break up a flock, and I fell. I injured my knee. It is still giving me a problem, so I finally presented it to the doctor. He thinks I damaged the right inside meniscus (which was also my diagnosis based on Internet research), and I had an MRI for that yesterday. I'll see the orthopedic doctor next week to get the results. What do I do about it? I can walk OK, although it gets sore after a time. But I quit running through the woods after turkeys. No great loss -- fall turkey season comes during the whitetail rut anyway. [:D]

Take care of your health, and you'll hunt many more years. All the best to you.

Steve
When the Everyday Hunter isn't hunting, he's thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting.
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JOEL
 
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RE: Back problems

Postby JOEL » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:27 am

wack i feel for ya as someone who has a messed up back.the pins and needles thing sounds like a pinched nerve it could be that lump doing it.the lump could be the bulging disc or a non cancerous tumor or many other things dont let your mind run just wait till a nerorolgist sees ya.as for hunting you should be able to shoot the bow but forget the climber stay on the ground get a stool thats what i do.the hard part is after the shoot and all the work gutting and dragging.good luck buddy,i have been dealing with this for 10 years
"Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person." - Fred Bear

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JOEL
 
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RE: Back problems

Postby JOEL » Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:44 am

ironiclly my Drs office just called im getting facet injections to block the pain.they sedate ya then under xray they inject your spine at the facets to try and block the nerve pathways.at least thats my understanding of it.i had it done before to my cervical spine now its the lumbar
"Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person." - Fred Bear

drdaven
 
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RE: Back problems

Postby drdaven » Fri Oct 16, 2009 9:26 am

Joel,

Nerve blocking is at best a temporary fix.  It will get you out of hot water right now, but you need to address the real problems to fix them.

Ask for a full biomechanical work up.  Seek help from a sports Physiatrist or sports Chiro.  Find out where your faults/weakness' are and strengthen them.  It is not easy work by any means, but it will "FIX" your problem.  Many times the faults are full body and are over looked.  I have my patients build a stack of blocks.  The only challenge is that the blocks are not squared off.  They are wedge shaped and distorted.  This represents the alterations of a normal human body.  These alterations are our faults, usually induced by postural problems, work related issues and leisure habits. 

Good luck with the shots but be aware it isn't fixing the problems.
Hunting the Michigan Thumbs agricultural mecca...farm country bucks taste the best.

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JOEL
 
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RE: Back problems

Postby JOEL » Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:38 am

i went the chiro route for years all it did was temporarily relieve it for a week.the low back injury is something that progressed for over 10yrs,the weakness is the herniated and bulging disks,plus desication and pinched nerves into both legs,core exercise/streches help but the damage is done
"Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person." - Fred Bear

drdaven
 
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RE: Back problems

Postby drdaven » Sun Oct 18, 2009 2:45 pm

Joel,

You must keep in mind that the body takes time to heal.  Depending on the tissue that is involved, the process can take anywhere from days to over a year. 

The faster the metabolic turnover of the cells/tissue, the faster the healing.

Cartilage is a very dense tissue that is not highly vascular.  As a result, it takes over a year to heal.  There are many other factors that effect the length of healing. 

Think about this.  If you do EVERYTHING right and NOTHING wrong (ie. perfect case scenario) the process of healing the discs of the spine would take well over a year.

We all know that we do not do EVERYTHING right.  And most of us have no idea how many things we are doing wrong.

The average Chiro does a fine enough job of assessing the spine and performing the adjustments but they do a pretty piss poor job of attempting to address the underlying causes that have led to the biomechanical deficiencies (ie. disc bulge). 

You know.....I take that back.  Chiro's are fully aware of what the underlying causes are.  What they lack is the drive to involve their patients in the required work to resolve these issues.

It is damn hard work that needs to be done on a daily basis.  Your awareness has to be on the level of every waking moment.  You must watch your posture, the way you walk, the way you move, sit and just about every other aspect of your regular routine.  But, it can be done.

Be diligent with a well planned out exercise/rehab plan for at least one year and see what pans out.  After all, what BAD could come of it.  Most everything you need to do is done using your own body weight and can be performed in the comforts of your home.

This course of action can be done concurrently with the facet blocking.  I just didn't want you thinking that the facet injections were your only option.

Good luck!
Hunting the Michigan Thumbs agricultural mecca...farm country bucks taste the best.

wack
 
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RE: Back problems

Postby wack » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:50 am

Thank you everyone for your input. What a roller coaster ride this has been for me. The first couple of weeks I've had the ER doc hinting this is serious. Then my family doc freaking out, rushing the MRI and both docs raising more questions than answering. It gets worse...

 My 1st appointment at the Neuroscience Group I thought was going to be with the neurosurgeon. Wrong. My wife and I get there and we see a young lady who is the surgeon's assistant. Not sure what her qualifications are but we walked out stunned. In short she said
1) Your bottom disk is degenerated and bulged.
 2) When there is degeneration of 1 disk, there's usually degeneration of other disks. The MRI only shows the lower back and the rest of those disks look OK.
3)MY bottom disk has no water, is much thinner than the disks above it and less flexible. Basic description of degenerated.
4) That disk WILL NEVER GET BETTER. It will only get worse. Surgery to fix it gives 50% of patients 50% relief.
 A) Avoid the surgery until you can't walk anymore, she hammered home the point of 25% success rate.
B) We're going to get you with our pain management specialist
C )Make appointment with the chiropractor/strengthening coach. She said NOT to have my back cracked time after time. A few times to manipulate and exercises to build muscles to help that disk last as long as possible.

"So let's get started" and she leaves the room as a scheduler comes in and starts scheduling appointments........ at this point we are both so stunned I even forgot about the list of question I had in my hands. It's never going to get better. Dried up disk. Pain management......We can get you in to the chiro tomorrow, can't get you to the pain doc in 4 days...

 I refused the 1st chiro appointment as seeing a pain manager first made much more sense. The ride home and for the next 4 days her words, "It's never going to get better",  "avoid surgery until you can not walk anymore" are rattling through my head. I'm thinking I should sell my bow, my tree climber, my life as I know it is over, time to make some changes...I called the DNR and had them send me the handicap forms, wife's on me about signing up for SSI/SSD, back to the family doc...who writes up work restrictions like no lifting over 20 lbs, no bending ect and these restrictions are not expected to change in the next 12 month.... She writes up prescriptions for more pain killers and muscle relaxers. Then the kicker, between the doc and my wife they decide another prescription is needed, Fluoxetine.  My heads spinning these 4 days, I ask my wife what Fluoxetine is, she tells me it's Prozac. [8|] Let's add I believe I just lost my right to buy firearms to the list of life changes....

 I finally go see the Pain doc and non too soon. FINALLY someone takes the time to show me my MRI, explain what I'm seeing on the MRI, I even got my x-ray and MRI on CD to plug in pc at home. I told him right away what the assistant told me, and he said forget all that. I'm a long ways from needing surgery and with a battery of tests that he did a lot was explained to me in a away I could understand. In short I irritated that degenerated disk which set off sever muscle spasms to every muscle attached to that joint. So severe that it basically sprained my lower back. I've had 2 spasm attacks and most of my pain is muscle pain recovering from the spasms.  Heal the muscles, prevent the spasms, that pain will improve. Finally some good news!

 I saw the chiropractor, he did more explaing, cracked my lower back, sent me home with exercises to do, every day I was getting a little better. This last Monday I had more pain in my upper back than lower back so I had the back cracker crack my upper back too. Not sure if the cracking is helping or hurting. Leaning towards hurting but the exercises are helping, I'm feeling pretty good so Tuesday I grabbed my bow, fired a 30 yard shot, hit my 1" sticker dot, packed up my gear and the plan I was working on when my back went out.

 I left a map for my wife, grabbed my gear and away I went. I got there and find that the DNR had cut a 10' wide path right past and under my tree. When I scouted it weeks before there was no path, it was head high weeds and hard walking.  I grabbed my tree climber thinking this is perfect. 150 yards off the road, path goes right between my tree and the pond. Food on other side of road, bedding other side past tree and pond. I dropped my gear off in the ditch and parked my truck in the public parking lot 1/4 mile up the road. Walked back to my gear, packed it to my tree, climbed up and I'M HUNTING AGAIN!

 Get settled in, all is good. 3 hours till closing. 2 Hours before closing a truck parks right at the end of the path blocking my potential deers path to food.  Here comes another bow hunter carrying a wooden decoy, walks right under my tree and on out towards the bedding area. As he disappears out of sight I see 2 white tails pop out of tall grass and retreat 400 yards the other way. I'm sure these 2 bucks plan was to get out of bed, get a drink, cross the road. If they did this before dark, I was ready but they were not going to do this this evening. I tell myself maybe there's a doe or two he didn't scare off, all is good, I'm out hunting.

 Happy hour, last half hour, have a wood duck on my pond, temp dropped, I started to get cold, sun set is awesome, back is tightening up, time to climb down and call it an evening. I didn't want to leave my equiptmen in the ditch by this guys truck so I packed it on my back the 1/4 mile to my truck. I shouldn't have done that. lol The last 25 yards was a struggle, but I did it. Wed wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, thursday more stiff than soar. Friday felt pretty good so I did some yard work that needed to be done, pushed my luck just past the limit, needed a pain killer to go to sleep. Pretty soar this morning. I was hoping I was done with the roller coaster ride but at least it's mellowed out some and I have a few options.

  The pain doc said if the chiro doesn't help we can try injections. Doesn't sound pleasant. After that he can burn the nerves. Says that lasts about 2 years. Doesn't sound very pleasant either. I request my family doc send me to a podiatrist in hopes I can get insurance to provide better foot wear with proper arch supports for better balance, posture and to help cushion my steps. I guess I've got to go day by day, take it easy and give it more time to heal before I try again to learn just what I can and can't do anymore.          
American by birth, hunter by choice.

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