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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Ways to Deal with Chronic Back Pain During a Lockdown


A woman in the yoga child's pose

Since December, I've been regularly going to a physical therapist to deal with pelvic and lower back pain. I've written before about how I have very loose ligaments in my pelvis which makes the whole thing sublux and cause me a tremendous amount of pain, and then a fall I had in later December on my glutes made things pretty painful, so that I can't sit or lie down normally for long periods of time. That causes a cascading effect and one part of my body or another is always seeming to hurt.

When I was able to go to a physical therapist, I'd get mobilized and have deep tissue massages plus I'd get the subluxed parts of my body pushed back into place. It was expensive, but it made my pain manageable. However, I finally arranged to get physical therapy through my health insurance and not private anymore, and that's when everything shut down. My first physical therapy appointment with the new PT was supposed to take place during my quarantine when I got back from Austria. And then since then all appointments that are not emergencies have been canceled, and while I am in pain, my back and pelvic issues aren't exactly considered emergencies.

So I've been having to figure out ways to deal with this pain at home, by myself, without even another adult to give me a massage. I'm not sure whether or not my issues count as chronic pain, but since they've been hurting me non stop since December (and on and off before that), I think they'd definitely be at least at least loosely referred to as chronic pain. I know everyone's chronic pain is different, but I decided to share some ways that you can deal with these pain issues without needing to leave the house to physical therapists, chiropractors, or masseuses.


First off, don't do things that you know exacerbate your pain. For me, I know that working in bed on my computer was one of the biggest things that set off my pain, even with a computer table, even with proper posture, so I restructured my room to be able to put a work desk there, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Secondly, I know that if I do something like push heavy things with my legs, that immediately pushes my pelvis out of place. Even though its annoying to not be able to do these things, and to have to ask someone else to help me out there (it is especially annoying when spring cleaning or building furniture as I've been doing lately), again, prevent more pain instead of trying to heal it after.

Secondly, use natural pain reducers with minimal side effects. I rarely take NSAIDs (such as aspirin, motrin, ibuprofin, naproxen, etc...) because they often cause me stomach aches (I don't want to trade one pain for another, thank you very much) but even more so now I'd refrain from using them, as there's been talk about contraindication with them and coronavirus.
But if you're in pain you do need something. You can take CBD oil internally which has beneficial effects on reducing pain by interfering with your pain receptors, without the potentially dangerous side effects from other pain relievers. It is legal even in places where marijuana is not, and it is non addictive and doesn't give you a high.
You can also use different creams externally, such as CBD oil based salves, Traumeel, Arnica, Bengay, etc... Taking turmeric pills is also meant to help reduce chronic pain from inflammation.

I find it very effective to relax my muscles and therefore reducing pain via hot water. Hot baths work best for me, because there's nothing like soaking in something really hot, and I like to put in some peppermint essential oil which also works as a pain reliever and muscle soother, but don't overdo it or it can irritate your skin. Adding magnesium oil to a bath can also help with that.

If you don't have a bath tub, or if that isn't an option, hot showers are also helpful, as are hot water bottles placed on the painful spots.

Once I heat up the area, I do try to do stretches to loosen up the area most. Luckily I got some stretches and exercises to do from my physical therapist, and while they aren't nearly as helpful as actually having a physical therapy session and getting mobilized, they definitely are helpful for me. The one that works best for me to loosen my back, and get my pelvis more or less back in place, which I do after first loosening them up with my hot shower or bath, is what is called in yoga a child's pose. My knees are on the floor, my bottom is near my heels, and my head and arms are stretched out on the floor. (See picture at the beginning of this post.)

Of course, none of these will really help if your chronic pain is different than mine, but I just wanted to share things that work for me or things I plan on trying, during this difficult time. And hopefully soon this will all be over and we can get back to our usual ways of dealing with our pain and hopefully even healing, but at least I hope I have offered you some tips for dealing with your pain during this exceptional time.

For those of you dealing with chronic aches and pains, how are you managing to deal with them during this period of lock down? Do you do any of the things on my list? Do you have anything to add to my list?

3 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear your having a painful time of it. Maybe get one of the girls to walk in place on your body? I use to get my daughter to walk on my back when she was under 50 lbs and it helped with lower back pain. Now I use Tylenol for pain relief. Planning to learn Reiki healing which is energy healing via universal energy. Figure it's free and at best it works, at worst I got some decent meditation time in (win-win). I intend to do more Vinyasa yoga as well.
    Take care and be safe.

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  2. Thankful I don't have aches and paina but my husband has constant issues with his knee and it has been very swollen. We have been trying to do a lot around the house and I see how much more mobile I am than him and that's hard. I Feel for you...doing it all and with the kids to care for too!

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  3. I have something similar, a low back pain that seems associated with my hips/glutes. I have seen multiple physical therapists who have not been able to pinpoint exactly what is causing it, sitting makes it much worse, to the point I started using a standing desk to work. I have worked out at a gym to build up muscles, which seems all to help somewhat, plus walking or using a elliptical or treadmill helps keep it from getting too stiff. It's been much, much worse at night. Ibuprofen can help, so I take it as needed. Massage relieves the pain temporarily, but I want to recommend a 7-8" diameter yoga ball, which you can inflate to your preferred firmness--the round shape and flexible sides feel amazing when you roll over it, almost like a custom massage! I have even fallen asleep on this ball underneath me in bed! I have discomfort in the rear side areas right under my ribs, and it seems to be associated by tightness in my hips/glutes areas. The funny thing is that I'm actually very, very flexible (too much?). I had 2 C-sections with my now grown daughters, and wonder if this has contributed to the low back pain. The night discomfort morphs sometimes into insomnia, which is terrible, but I'm 51 so this could also be perimenopause symptoms too. Lately I've lost 30 lbs and toned up quite a bit, which is terrific, but I noticed that I have no butt anymore! What I mean is now I'm trying to build up my glutes (just read that it's a major part of abs) and core work, hoping to ease the discomfort. The shelter in place rules make it so I can't go to the gym or yoga classes, so trying to do exercise and core work at home. Also, I have tight quads (front of thighs) and stretching them plus glute work (dreaded squats and lunges) seem to help...so far. Good luck!

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