Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pain in the back

I've had trouble with my back on and off for twenty years or so. Most of the time it's muscular, lower back pain that results from lifting something or moving in a way that I shouldn't have. With a little time, and sometimes some back stretching exercises like Pilates, it heals and goes away.

One of the bell towers on Saint-Aignan's collégiale church.

My last two episodes of back pain have been very different. I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv, so I can't be certain, but it feels like a pinched nerve. It's centered under my left shoulder blade, high up, close to my neck. Depending on how I move, it sends tingling sensations, and sometimes sharper pains, through my neck, down my arm, and sometimes down my leg (it's just the neck and arm this time).

The last time I had this, I did my Pilates back exercises plus a new stretch that I read about online and the pain cleared up rather quickly. So I'm "back" at it, but the relief has not yet come.

I have a feeling that my current pain episode was triggered by the painting I'm doing in the attic. Not only have I been lifting heavy ten- and twelve-liter tubs of primer up the stairs, but I've been climbing up the scaffolding and wielding brushes and rollers over my head. My back has not appreciated this.

Sitting at my desk is not comfortable, nor is lying down. I lie awake in bed for hours during the night, unable to fall asleep because of the dull pain. I've been taking ibuprofen, and that helps a little, but I don't want to take too much of the stuff. Still, I've got to get the painting done. Maybe once I stop, so will the pain.


  1. I too suffer with back pain from time to you elevate your feet with cushions when lying down. I find that it helps along with a heating pad. It is very difficult not to lift anything when you know that it might bother the back, but we do it and pay for it later.

  2. There are many causes for back pain. Ensure to consult a physician if the pain is severe to avoid any future complications. Exercise might look simple but they are more effective for your back pain relief.

  3. My sympathies. Sounds like you are doing the right thing to get relief though. Limited ibuprofen and gentle exercise and some time. Are you ambidextrous? It might help if you can change hands with the paint brush?

  4. I'm no doctor either, but your symptoms sound familiar. I bet you have a 'hernie cervicale C6C7', which is a slipped disc between the 6th and the 7th vertebra. You may need some physiotherapy to cure it! Don't wait too long ... it'll only get worse. I had the same thing in 2000, 2002 and 2007. Once you've had it, it easily comes back. So you can't be too careful.

  5. Hope you heal very fast. Back pain is a pain in the ... back!

  6. Listen, old guy, it comes with your extremely advanced age. Live with it!


    Sorry for your discomfort. Hoping the cause is discovered soon and treatable or the disomfort goes away on it's own.

  7. Have you tried a little Bengay?

  8. My husband has the same issues extending over 20 years as well due to his height of 6'4" mostly, disk issues etc. Every morning is a challenge for him dealing with the pain getting ready for work.

    A physical therapist has helped him deal with the dull pain so he is not constantly taking meds. Also shoe inserts.

    You know though, any pain that involves pain down the arm and leg that is centered in the upper mid section of your body in a man over 50 should be checked by a physician at the very least. JUST in case. Have it checked out for peace of mind. :)

  9. I had a lot of back pain about ten years ago. The only thing that would shift the pain was champagne. You should try it!!

  10. I had a lot of back pain about 32 years ago (had to take strong meds and wear a back brace) and it was accidentally cured because of a visit to San Francisco when I walked for five hours one day from the Cathedral, over Nob Hill to China town and back again bent over a stroller. I keep telling doctors how this took away the pain (which never came back) but they are really uninterested!

    Seriously, I hope you do see a doctor and I would stop the painting for a few days and rest as well. Don't let this continue or it may plague you for much longer than you would like.

  11. I have a similar crick in my neck from watching the meteor shower for just 15 minutes last week. I can imagine how much you're pinched from all your painting. Ouch! Take a break, yes?

  12. Get thee to a physical therapist. Seriously. There's a lot that can be done with the right stretching, etc. and you want to get to it now before you screw up more things by compensating for the parts that hurt. Voice of experience!


  13. I have two friends with herniated disks and terrible back pain, who have both been helped tremendously by accupuncture. Might be worth a try.

    Also, maybe you could hire someone to finish up painting for you?

    Hope you are pain-free soon!

    Donna in SF

  14. ohoh
    the lutin didn't do a job on you, up in that attic ?


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