Pain Management/Chronic Back Pain


QUESTION: I have been dealing with chronic back pain for about 2 1/2 years now and have finally figured out what I can and cant do because I have been to pain management.

about 2 1/2 years ago my back got so tight that it caused me to break a rib right at the T6 level of my rib...right in between my spine and shoulder blade.  The way that the rib grew back actually grew back with a slight curve to it a few milimeters away from my spine.  I had one doctor tell me that this was most likely the cause of my pain, while I had another doctor tell me that this would not be causing me pain and that I just had chronic back pain.

My problem that I am having right now is trying to understand why I have a very difficult time trying to hold an 8 pound weed eater.  I can start pretty good, but about 3 minutes later the back pain comes back really strong to the point where it feels like my back is being squeezed really hard!  Can you tell me why I am feeling this much pain when I am only lifting something that weights this much?

Can a fractured rib in the location between my shoulder blade and spine cause me to have chronic back pain?

ANSWER: Dear Mark,

In your case, which is most probably muscle spasms in the back due to your trauma, I would recommend to consider these two ways of pain management. One requires patience and commitment but it worths it. Another is rather passive but also proved efficient. The best results would be if you combine them.

1. Learn how to stretch, strengthen and straighten your spine's muscles the right way. The Pilates method is very accurate bio-mechaniclally and safety-wise. If you need help in finding classes in your area or online instructions (e.g. free downloads) please let me know. I can also recommend a fundamental book: Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. The link will bring you to author's page with the "look inside" possibility.

2. Significant pain relief in a matter of 30 minutes is shown for the "bed of nails" method in the US in 1990s and in Sweden and Germany in 2010s. To figure out how it works, visit the US site Relaksomat, you'll have links to PDFs downloads of the research articles should you decide to read them. You can shop for the device searching Amazon for "Acupressure Mat for Back Pain Relief", the prices vary broadly but they are exactly the same "bed of nails" mats.

I hope it helps but be advised that it'll take time and efforts to radically improve your situation. I'll be happy to answer any further questions.

Tanya Zilberter

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The problem with this is that I have been had a total of anywhere between 25-30 visits to physical therapy, which had no significant impact at all.  I have also been to a chiropractor, acupuncture, electric stimulation, and biofeedback therapy, and massage therapy and none of these have proven to do anything good for me.

I also had a visit today with a state doctor and he examined my back and felt where I was having my pain.  He went over the spot twice and it appears that he was able to feel something at that point and said the exam was over at this point!

I have noticed that on the left side of my back it is muscular and on the right side it feels smooth, like there is no muscle there at all!  I can't guess that this is what he noticed, but he did stop the exam rather quickly.

I am so sorry to hear this.

What I've suggested does not overlap with the methods you've already tried. I noticed that the things you've tried have something in common: they are passive and they are temporary. Maybe it does make sense to try an active and permanent approach?

However, please keep it in your mind that I am not giving you a medical advice, I don't even know your diagnosis.  

Pain Management

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Tatiana Zilberter


I'll do my best to answer any question, which can ease your pain. My stronger topics are:
- General pain mechanisms: explanatory answers
- Pain neuroscience you can use
- Pain management without drugs
- Alternative/holistic techniques
- Pain education for self help

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