I have never turned to a BB for medical help before, but I here is my problem, and I'd be grateful for your help/ideas:
I am 27 years old, American, and an English professor living in South Korea. When I was 20 years old, I had a terrible back injury. I was unable to walk for a week, had incredible pain, and had to learn to crawl and gradually walk again over the next 2 weeks. It was a lower back problem (it happened right after driving for about 10 hours). A chiropractor came to visit me in bed at the time and told me it was a slipped disk and I just needed to lie on my stomach and prop myself up on my elbows to gradually arch my back and make the disk go back..
I recovered, but ever since then I have dealt with recurring lower back pain at various times in my life, but nothing as bad as that first time.
Well this week, my back started hurting again. I drive to work (about 1.5 hours/day) and my job involves a lot of standing. I also have much stress and responsibility. I thought it would just go away and I exercised at the gym like I normally do. This seemed to make it worse. Yesterday, I was suddenly overcome with pain at work (it very was hard to make it through teaching my classes)..
Now I can barely walk. This is the worst relapse I have had since 7 years ago. The pain is not in my legs, no numbness, only my lower back. Laying down I'm okay though.. Ibuprofen does nothing. Today I had to call in sick to work for the first time. I am scared to visit a doctor here in Korea because of (1) the language barrier and (2) Would it really even help anything?
My questions are:
What do you suggest doing in a case like this?
Is Oriental medicine worth trying?
What posiitons/remedies can I try to feel better?
Please help me. It's not easy being in a foreign country and experiencing this.
I feel for your pain. I don't know anything about Oriental medicine but first you could do a search on the internet for help there if you haven't already. 2nd, since standing aggravates it, sit and teach your class if possible. To me, this sounds like it may be a herniated disk as this is how my back problem progressed also, starting out with low back pain so bad that I kept having to lay down. It happened every night after work, went on for hours, and I was barely recovered by the next day. It eventually got so bad I could not walk or stand, and progressed down my leg. I had a huge herniation and after months of non invasive therapy, ended up having to have surgery. I would suggest searching for help near you because you need to get the problem treated as soon as possible. If you don't find it there, I don't know of any alternative but to search elsewhere. It can get worse, as you can see, the longer you wait. Let us know how you are doing and what you find out. I am curious to know the type of treatments there for your problem. Hopefully, somebody else here can help you with where to go. Good luck and keep us posted.
[This message has been edited by Kamden (edited 09-12-2002).]<p>[This message has been edited by Kamden (edited 09-12-2002).]
My first suggestion is to get a MRI test done. From this they can see how bad the problem really is. This test will show disks out of allinement, rutured, and herniations. It will also show arthritis and DDD Degenerative Disk Disease.
Then with that information you see a pain specialist. You may be able through a regiment of pain therapy and light PT you may be able to avoid surgery for the short term. Since you don't like the doctors there if given a little time like summer recess then maybe you can get the surgery done if need. But, the most important is to be tested and then go from there. Be sure you get a copy of all the films in case you need them for another doctor here in the states. I also would ask the doctor to review the films with you so you can understand where the problems are on the spine.
I remember when it came time for my second surgery on a different part of the back. I reviewed my own films after the doctors and saw with my own eyes that I had no choice but surgery. The damage was to severe to heal it's self. The PT only made matters worse. Steroid injections were tried and they served no purpose except they burned like fire going in.
So there is my advice. Good luck and keep us informed.
Oliver <IMG SRC="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/wave.gif"> <p>[This message has been edited by OLIVER-DOVE (edited 09-13-2002).]
A friend of mine was able to give me the number of an English-speaking neuro-surgeon in this city. I went there today and he took X-rays and did a CT. He showed me the films - I have 2 herniated disks on L4 and L5. He said it is moderate to severe. They gave me 2 shots in the rump and prescribed meds (including valium) and physical therapy.
The PT was heating my lower back, then electrotherapy, then traction. My back didn't feel any better afterwards. I can still barely walk.
Does all this sound pretty standard? I'm very new with this and wondering if the Korean way to handle it is okay. The doctor suggested rest and physical therapy on a daily basis, plus more shots of anti-inflamatory and muscle relaxants (which seem to have no effect on me).
He also said that he would not tell my job about my condition because they might fire me if I need to miss several weeks of work. He said that is often the "Korean way of handling things" and to be careful.
Thanks for your input.. looking for answers.. *globalized*
sitting for long periods of time is one of the worst things to do, you may have central prolapse of the spine (my partner had this following an injury) what is basically is the discs protrude and touch the nerves etc its important to get an mri scan dont put yourself at risk of further damage by using gym un til your doc has cleared it if you have trouble urinating or trouble using your bowels its important to get help immediately please have this checked out and good luck <IMG SRC="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/wave.gif">
globalized, the PT you are getting should be soft tissue work on the muscles, rarely does traction help, which is what they tried on me too. Here is the order of treatment many people receive and maybe this will help you. Pain meds., muscle relaxers, rest, hot or cold packs, physical therapy, then if none of these help, epidurals, and last resort is surgery. I would also go get a 2nd opinion from another neuro. because moderate to severe herniations usually take more aggressive treatment than medicine and traction, and these have not touched you. Also, you should have an MRI by the 2nd one, as this gives a better picture of a herniation. Most people do get a 2nd opinion when it comes to their spine anyway. And by all means, don't keep going to work and sit, if this also aggravates your symptoms. You may just have to take care of yourself and give up your job to do it. You will be the one who suffers in the end, nobody else will. I hope you find relief.
It must be difficult to be in a country with a language difference AND such a cultural difference. You are doing the right thing to get diagnostic reports to see what the problem is. Here is the states, it was my (any many others) experience that you must follow a certain treatment protocol before surgery was even discussed. That included PT, steriod injections, chioropractic (if they know what they are doing), anti-inflammatories. It sounds like you are in the right treatment plan for now. It takes a long time to get through all of that and it is tough. I've been there and ended up having fusion surgery after a year of treatment. Some pain meds help some without making you groggy so you can still work. It also helped me to stand with one foot on a step if I had to stand for any length of time between sitting. It can be a block, a box, whatever. Good luck and keep everyone posted. You may be the person farthest away on this site!
Second, what types of supports do you already have in place? You're driving for an extended period of time. Do you have a back support, maybe even one that has a heating element? After my first accident, my doctor told me that my car would be one of the biggest contributors to continued back pain. The way the average automobile is made, the seats are concave, causing you to curve ( forward. The "neck" rests are rarely actually at your neck, another stressor.
You say that you have to stand for long periods of time, do you have orthopedic inserts in your shoes?
Or, and I know this may sound crazy <IMG SRC="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/dizzy.gif"> , but what about Dr. Scholl,s or Birkenstocks? They were designed, after all, for people with back problems and folks swear by them. That may help a little bit.
Don't think that I am making these suggestions INSTEAD of a doctor. I'm just trying to give you some suggestions to keep you going UNTIL you can get to that second opinion.
Finally, you asked about 'Eastern' medicine. What about accupuncture? Isn't that supposed to be good for pain? Meanwhile, keep swimming as it seems to help and good luck. I hope you're able to find something/someone that will work for you and make you better.
Take care and may God's blessings be with you <IMG SRC="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/heart.gif"> <IMG SRC="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/wave.gif">
[This message has been edited by emeraldbee (edited 09-16-2002).]<p>[This message has been edited by emeraldbee (edited 09-16-2002).]
Hope things are starting to improve globalized.
I agree with emeraldbee says, might I add:
Orthopedic shoe inserts are too thin to do much good. I only wear sneakers with air soles in the heal.
Iíve tried both and for me it made a big difference.
Also, for me driving is the worst, and using a clutch is even worse. I got rid of my car, moved within one mile of work, and ride my bike. If you have to drive, or sit, put a towel or something behind your lumbar for support.
If you have no leg pain you probably will not get surgery. The most informative web site is <A HREF="http://www.spine-health.com/" TARGET=_blank>http://www.spine-health.com/</A>