I have a "bad back". At least I believe that is how people used to refer to the particular injury pattern that I have experienced since around the age of 15. Most folks don't even know the pain is present. I am a firm believer in "chin up and keep going" so I don't discuss it much.
Since my GF's horse has been diagnosed with Kissing Spine he and I have had many discussions about back problems. He is an avid listener and I keep telling him to let us know when he hurts and when he feels OK. I wish I could crawl inside his brain and just "know" what it feels like to him. I wonder if his pain is similar to mine?
In pinpointing the source of my injury, I believe it must have happened when, while getting out a pick-up truck with metal running boards, my foot slipped and I fell straight down, hitting my butt first on the running board itself and then on the ice covered pavement. It didn't hurt at that time any worse than - OUCH! - so no one thought another thing of it. As my teen years went by, my back got worse and worse, to the point that in order to stand from a seated position I would have to take my time, hold onto something and inch my way up. Long car rides were almost unbearable, as was any activity that required me to remain seated. In order to combat the pain, I just kept moving (it didn't hurt as bad when I was standing, walking, running) and swallowed a hell of a lot of over the counter pain medication.
The pain, to describe it, felt like some sort of searing, hot coal deep inside my back. Sometimes it traveled down the back of my leg. Sometimes my right calf was numb. My mom took me to doctors, who found nothing. X-rays revealed...nothing. By the time I was 19 the pain was sometimes so bad that we finally pursued a more detailed exam at the university medical center two hours away. Bingo! An MRI revealed two severely ruptured discs in my lower back. Ruptured so badly that the surgeon recommended immediate fusion. He asked me jokingly if I played football and commented that he had not seen anyone with herniation that severe outside of professional sports. I sat there a bit smug I will admit, because there was a point when my mom felt I might be making it all up since no one else could find a problem.
I have about a three inch scar on my lower back and a limited range of motion due to the fusion. It isn't really noticeable to anyone but me. I was warned that the pain would lessen but probably never go away completely, as due to the fusion and ROM issues the muscles would always be tighter and of course, as with any break or bone trauma, arthritis would be an issue someday. Since my back was obviously a weak link overall, other issues would plague me as I aged. At the time of course I didn't care for a word of all that. I was young, my back didn't hurt as bad, old age was far, far away.
LOL....well, here we are.
So, most days in my life my back is stiff. Not necessarily painful to any great extent, but I most definitely am always careful with what I lift and how I lift it. I always had fabulous form when weight lifting because I was very, very careful. Sometimes I have "bad back days". Sometimes, as with recently, they stretch into weeks. Right now my back has been giving me issues for almost a month. Issues that impact my ability to properly care for the horses and myself. It is annoying and gets me down. I've tried deep medical massage, which didn't help a bit. As a matter of a fact, my left shoulder (which is another issue I've been dealing with since a seven hour weed-eating session this summer) hurts worse now than it did BEFORE the massage. I've tried heating pads and OTC pain meds and "taking it easy" for a few days. Right now I'm sitting on a pillow at my desk and I know that when I get up it will be so stiff and sore that I'll not be able to directly stand up straight.
It is a bit of a wake-up call in that yoga and other fitness activities do help. As long as I am careful and using good form, things like deadlifts and ab work are amazing because they strengthen the back as well as the abdominal muscles, which support the back too. When I was practicing yoga more regularly I was as limber as I have ever been. It was probably faulty of me to assume that the work I'm doing on the farm would replace these things. Perhaps they simply compliment the farm work because they will keep me more flexible and build strength in different ways.
So, today, after I take a hot shower I am going to dust off my yoga mat and reintroduce my back to some loving stretches. Not a bad way to start a day, even when your back feels fine.