It was not by choice that I recently became a member of an exclusive club. Yes, Im now in the 80 percent of Americans suffering with back pain.
I was cutting weeds in the yard when I had a sudden onset of pain in my back. It was like an electric shock suddenly hit me, causing me to seek out the nearest chair where I could rest. I was in misery wondering if I had spinal stenosis, a ruptured disk or just plain arthritis. I knew I would have to quit weed-whacking and avoid strain and irritation to back muscles. Perhaps there was a possibility I might even have to follow that advice given daily on one TV channel or another, "Talk to your doctor."
So what was it going to take to cure a common human complaint? Exercise, therapy, medication, surgery? Would aquatherapy ultrasound, electrical stimulation or steroid injections be required?
Who knew how to maintain spine health? My spouse tells me to keep moving. Use it or lose it. Bed rest would be nice, but probably won't help a whole lot. It is exercise that improves flexibility.
Take pain pills. Sure there are many available, but side effects may be worse so I shy away from this suggestion. I'm not much in favor of pills of any kind.
One person told me those hot patches helped. Maybe they would be worth a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Patches appeal to me rather than being over-medicated.
A friend with back problems told me about that needle his doctor stuck near his spinal cord. This treatment does not appeal to me. I don't like needles of any kind. Besides this friend said the relief he got from his shot was only temporary. This treatment did not work favorably for him.
So there is no doubt about it. Back pain is a serious problem shared by many people worldwide. I'm not the only person grunting and groaning, using heat, ice and avoiding further strain.
I'll just follow the advice of the doctor, stay active, keep on with simple treatments hoping for relief. Eventually I may be forced to pursue other treatment avenues. Only time will tell. Some days will be better than others and I'll cherish my good ones. Welcome to the club. I know there are many of you old-timers out there who share this experience. I also know you are not allowing a back pain to be an excuse to stop living. It is hell to get old, but hey, it is better than the alternative, huh?
I realize I have joined in an experience felt by just about everyone at some stage in life. I also know home treatment can help, but if pain persists the wisest thing to do is consult a physician. Pain might be just strain, but it could also be a ruptured disk, arthritis, osteoporosis or some more serious cause.
One more observation: It must be a slow news day when the column written deals with affliction, suffering, aching, painful discomfort and torment of the lower back. Relief is on the way -- physical therapy started on Nov. 11.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.