Good morning, friends!! How are you all doing today? I decided to discuss a topic I feel like I talk about all the time in person, but not on the blog. It is something that constantly consumes a big part of my life, but I try to be an optimist about everything so I usually keep it positive on the blog (and in person) and just focus on the good stuff in my life, because really, I have way too much GOOD going on to focus on the negative. But, let’s be real, we all have things that get us down and sometimes it helps to talk about them. So today, I am venting to you and filling you in on a subject I try to ignore most of the time so here we go.
You may or may not remember me mentioning that I deal with really bad back/neck pain every.single.day. I haven’t gone into too much depth about it on the blog because well, truthfully, I feel like I talk/whine/complain about it all the time in real life so why bother. I also hate to be that person that is constantly complaining about being in pain. There are people out there that live each day in much more pain than I do so it makes me feel bad for talking about it.
I also feel like I drive my family and friends crazy with how much I talk about my back. If I were them, I would be thinking, “Just figure out the problem already!!!” But that is the problem. I can’t figure out the problem and neither can the 30-some doctors I have seen. Yes, you heard that right, I have seen over 30 doctors in the last two and a half years for my back pain and they are all just as stumped as I am.
Growing up I had lower back pain throughout my days playing sports, but it never debilitated me. I was always a healthy kid who stayed active (hey 5am YMCA workouts with my momma before high school daily), stretched, and ate well. I have always loved running, swimming, and strength training. Two and a half years ago when I was in graduate school (Health Promotion and Education) I was sitting, studying, and writing/typing for hours and hours. Gradually, my left side of my upper back, neck, and shoulder began to hurt. (I am left-handed so I thought it was just too much writing and tensing my muscles and that this would probably go away after school ended.). I stopped all intense exercise for 2 months (this was VERY hard for me to do) in hopes that my body just needed some time to rest and recover. Then for the next year, the only exercise I did was hot yoga 5-6 times a week. That’s it. No running, no weights, no nothing. Just yoga.
During this time I saw a chiropractor, massage therapists, an acupuncturist, and a physical therapist. I left each of my appointments feeling a bit of pain relief only to regain it usually within the next hour. My pain was consistently at a 8 or 9 on a 1-10 scale.
Over the next couple years, I would go on to see many different chiropractors and physical therapists. I had and MRI and an XRAY, which came back to show NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. A little bit of muscle spasming, but nothing that would cause this type of pain. I worked on my posture, did my daily exercises at home, tried my best to sleep on my back (instead of my side), and even bought a new mattress.
I was referred to 3 different pain management specialists during this time. The first one told me that facet injections would help me. I would have to be put under as the injections would go in my neck (certain spots trigger pain in different areas of the back). At this point the pain was SO bad that I was desperate to try anything that would maybe help me. I got the injections (about a year ago now) and was almost pain free…. for 4 days. Thousands, yes thousands of dollars and 4 days later, I was in extreme pain again.
It makes me sad to even think about this time in my life. It is extremely hard to not only be in constant intense pain, but to also look normal on the outside. I always felt people were thinking that I was exaggerating because I wasn’t bed ridden. But believe me, some days, it took me hours to get out of bed. It was terrible.
The next pain specialist I was referred to suggested trigger point injections. It is like acupuncture/dry needling, but there is medicine in the needle and the doctor will stick the needle in all the points on your neck/back that hurt the worst. I did this a couple times with absolutely no relief at all.
And the search for pain relief continues… Next I tried cupping which is an ancient practice that uses glass cups that are lit and literally suctioned to your back. It is supposed to help with blood flow, toxin release, and circulation. I did feel good after my session for a couple days, but then the pain came back full force.
Onto my current pain management doctor I see regularly… He has prescribed me muscle relaxers, pain medication, and antidepressants (in low doses can help with nerve pain). I am not one to take medication unless I really need it. I won’t even take an Advil unless my head is pounding for hours. My doctor thinks the pain on my left side of my neck/shoulder/back is from stress/overuse. I am currently the least stressed out I have been in years. My life is pretty calm/laid back/not stressful this year. I have a flexible job, I work part time and I travel a lot (for fun). I do understand that it will take time to get my back better, but lately it has been hurting tremendously and it is defeating when I don’t see improvement.
I have to miss out on things I enjoy like running 1/2 marathons, water sports, lift heaving weights, etc. I do not say this to complain, just to explain the pain. My doctor recently said something to the extent of, “now that your pain is considered chronic….” My mind literally stopped hearing anything past that word. Chronic. Chronic pain. Isn’t that for old people? I am 26 years old! How do I have chronic pain? Am I going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life?
I am sharing my story today in hopes that others can relate and realize they are not alone. Just because someone looks normal/healthy on the outside does not mean they feel that way on the inside. You never know what others are going through and we cannot judge based on appearance. If you are struggling with pain/illness/disease, I hope you know you are not alone. Each day can be a struggle, but we have to keep living and moving forward. I may be in pain most of the time, but I refuse to put my life on hold. I refuse to miss out on anything else and I refuse to stop trying to figure out how to fix/manage my pain. There are days when I am simply exhausted from trying to find new doctors/new medications/new pain relief techniques, but my pain won’t go away by sulking in my room. I choose to be proactive and keep pushing forward and that is just what I am going to do!
- Have you ever dealt with ongoing pain?
- Are you proactive about avoiding injuries/pain?
- Have you ever had pain/injury hold you back from something you want to do?