“is it your back?”

My husband is hurting.  His back, to be precise.  It’s all messed up.  He said that he’d had growing discomfort over about a week, and then by Monday it was acutely painful.  The poor guy.  And of course it happens after we’ve moved to a place with stairs.

So far, all he’s got is “back strain” and “spasm” and orders to rest and take pain meds.  It does not seem to be helping much.  And the pain meds are making him sick.  A little alarmingly, his blood pressure’s been spiking.  Although he’s overweight (and that’s probably what did in the back), his blood pressure’s always been really good.  During these episodes of feeling gross, I’ve had him check his blood pressure, thinking that maybe the pain med was dropping it.  Nope.  One thirty something over 89 is not low.  Diastolic-wise it’s quite firmly hypertensive.  Systolic, I guess there’s some debate as to whether 130s is hypertensive or pre-hypertensive.  My passive exposure to medical stuff leads me to the conclusion that this counts as a high blood pressure, but Dr. Google says “prehypertensive”.  If anyone knows if Vicodin can cause blood pressure spikes, please let me know!

I’m so worried about him.  I did get him in to see our primary care Monday, got x-rays, and he talked to a friend who is a neurologist on Wednesday.  We’re told that unless this continues or gets worse, he wouldn’t be a candidate for further imaging and that docs would recommend treating with pain meds, heat, and rest.  I hope we’re not making a mistake by being conservative about this.  My dad had a bad back and it plagued him his whole adult life.  I still remember a car ride back to Big City from my little brother’s college Way Up North one year in the early 90s, my dad had thrown out his back bending to lift a toilet seat.  The local hospital was just like “holy shit we can’t handle that, eh?” and drugged him up and sent us home to Big City where the BATHs abound and the back specialists can handle a disk that has basically exploded.

I do not want this for my husband.

Today is our anniversary.  😦  I bought him  a heat wrap yesterday as a present.  Happy anniversary, apparently 4 years is hot/cold packs.


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  1. Your poor husband! As far as I know NSAIDS can cause hypertension. In Canada, though it’s not considered HTN until sys >140 or diast > 90 so not sure how high it’s getting. Could also be the pain maybe? Just my thoughts.

    Is the pain central or does it radiate anywhere? Would they refer him to physio? If it’s actually MSK usually most seem to improve in 3 months, not that 3 months is a short period of time! I also hear ya that what if it’s not MSK? Ugh, too stressful. That being said it seems many are plagued with lifelong backpain which must just be horrendous. And all they say are diet, weight loss, physio, pain meds as needed. Ick.

    Whatever it is I hope it stops soon!! Good he has you to help take care of him.

    • I was blaming it on the Vicodin but you know, he was taking Naprosyn too, I wonder if that was it.

      Central, it’s very contained in his lower back. They would refer him but not while it’s acutely super painful. PT later, after rest and hopefully a retreat of the pain. He told me yesterday the magnitude of the pain had lessened even on a med free day so that is a good sign.

  2. Here’s my professional advice as a massage therapist…

    1.PT is good because they are much more familiar with the anatomy and presentation of injury than most physicians. It’s good to get their assessment. On the flip side, they tend to exercise you into wellness which is painful. In my experience, any time you trigger pain with a back problem, you are reinforcing the injury and delay healing.

    2.Heat is awesome. Increases blood flow which helps usher in nutrients and clear out dead cells.

    3.If you can determine that it’s solely muscular in origin, look into a positional release type massage. Also neuromuscular or orthobionomy. You don’t want a fluff n’ buff, you want a more medically focused massage, someone who has the skills to assess the pelvis and determine if it’s out of alignment. If there’s a bulging disc or nerve entrapment, massage is a no-no.

    4.Any position that is pain free should be maintained for as long as possible. This breaks the pain cycle and is a sign that the stress is off the back which allows it to heal.

    5.Avoid anything that causes pain for the next 4 to 6 months. Pain = facilitating injury and prolonging its duration. If you do something that hurts, you need to go back three steps–cut down on activity, heat, more massage etc…

    6.Don’t trust a pain free back. Back injuries are tricky…pain free means be very careful, not dig a ditch followed by a run and moving furniture. Stop at the first twinge. Expect to very slowly return to regular activities.

    7.Pilates is good for aligning the spine and pelvis. Get a DVD…when the pain is gone. Yoga is nice, but don’t start with it as, in my experience, it’s just as likely to aggravate the back as heal it–yoga would be a long term back pain prevention program, not a treatment for an acute injury. I think Pilates is better b/c it is very focused on core strength and less likely to twist something the wrong way.

    This is a great website: http://www.spine-health.com/



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