(especially lower-back PAIN sites)
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Table of Contents: (links to sections of this page, below)
End of Table of Contents. Start of contents.
Where I'm Coming From :
I have personally experienced a lower back injury while under general anesthesia during surgery --- in July 2005.
Something unknown happened during the time I was under general anesthesia for that (colon) operation. Perhaps nurses who were responsible for transferring me from gurney to table 'dropped the ball', so to speak? Or the doctor was the cause? Through something he did during the operation? In my one-and-only post-op meeting with him, the doctor said he did not know what would be the cause of the new, chronic, excruciating back pain.
Unfortunately, although my wife was in the hospital during the surgery, she did not follow me to the operating room, nor did she observe the operation through a window. She probably would not have been allowed to. But, in hindsight, I now know that I would not have major surgery without having an 'advocate' observing the entire operation --- the doctors, the nurses, and any other assistants.
[ 2009 Aug update :
I used to have a lot of pain while sitting in a chair or in a car. After about 3 years, I started noticing some improvement --- less pain, but not a return to pre-op back-pain-free-sitting days. Before the operation, I had no significant pain in the lower back. I did not have lower back pain, in the lumbar region.]
At the same (first) post-op visit where the doctor said he had no idea why I would be having more back pain than before the surgery, he seemed to be quite eager to conclude that I did not need to come back for another follow-up post-op exam.
Why, I wonder? That first post-op visit was too soon after the operation for a thorough post-op exam. It seems that he should have scheduled one more post-op exam, but he seemed eager to "cast off" from a potentially troubling patient. I think if I were the doctor, I would have been interested in seeing how my work went --- how the surgery was healing.
In any case ... forgetting about the doctor and pushing on ... I get a lot of back pain when I sleep in almost any position. In the first couple of years post-op, I found some temporary relief by doing alternate hot and cold soaks at a local Wellness Center, about seven (7) cycles at a session --- using jaccuzzi and swimming pool. The relief would last about an hour. I would not feel muscles in my lower back all tightened up ... for about an hour. But then, the cramping would return.
[ 2009 Aug update :
I have found that saunas really help relieve the cramping of muscles in my lower back. But the relief lasts only about half an hour to an hour.
I finally started jogging again, to get excercise, in spite of the fact that my back was quite painful (about 4 on a scale of 1 to 10) during the first mile of running a 3 mile run. Once the endorphins kicked in, I was able to run without too much pain (about 2 on a scale of 1 to 10).
The pain did not get any better after more than 6 months of jogging about 2 or 3 times per week. But I started doing 100 meter sprints at a local track, to try to improve my running times for 5K (3.2 mile) runs. Although that was excruciatingly painful at first (about 6 on a scale of 1 to 10), amazingly, after doing those sprints about once a week for a month or two, I started noticing some slight improvement in my back condition --- a little more flexibility, and not so much pain while driving my car. And, gradually, less pain during the first mile of 3 mile jogs.
Yet, still, four years after the surgery, I have pain while lying in bed (on my back or on my side). The pain-while-trying-to-get-to-sleep and the next-morning-cramping (lower-back muscle-cramped feeling the next morning --- pain of about 3 on a scale of 1 to 10) has moderated a little --- corresponding to the lessening of pain during the first mile of a 3 mile jog. But it seems that some of this back pain may be with me to the grave.
I would love to know the cause --- muscle tears? or hair-line fracture of a vertebra? --- or a combination of ligament, cartilage, and bone damage? It looks like I will never know. The one set of X-rays that I had before the course of physical therapy did not reveal any causative agent to the back specialist. I'd try a place like a Mayo clinic if I thought there was a good chance of determining the cause of all this muscle cramping, day after day, morning after morning. I am resigned to hoping for a little bit of noticable improvement, from year to year.]
[ 2010 Aug update :
[ 2015 update : (SIGNIFICANT RELIEF !!)
After some web searches on 'lower back pain every morning', I found a health forum site where someone said they found a web site of an Australian who found relief by doing lunge stretches. The culprit seems to be the Psoas muscle, which is hard to get to any other way. To make a long story short, I have found significant relief in doing lunge stretches --- initially, several times a day --- months later, every day or every other day, for maintenance.
I have documented many of the details of my search for a solution at a page titled Lower Back --- 'Every-Morning' Pain --- and Deep Muscle (Psoas, etc.) Stretches. I highly recommend lunge stretches for everyone --- especially elderly people who are probably more prone to stiffening of the Psoas muscle.]
Some summary observations :
The U.S. has all these amazing body-examination machines (MRI etc.), but when you get in an operating room under general anesthesia, you are at the mercy of "human error" and "lack of common sense".
[I could go on about several examples of errors related to anesthesia for my 2005 arthroscopic knee surgery --- a surgery about a month before the surgery that injured my back. I may add a link here someday, to a description of that knee surgery experience.]
The danger of general anesthesia is not appreciated by doctors and nurses.
Anesthesia is a blessing ... to subdue chronic pain in emergency situations. BUT, in a surgical environment, anesthesia removes the opportunity of the patient to provide feedback to the nurse or doctor when the doctor/nurse may be causing damage --- say, damage by simply moving the patient in an "awkward" way, or by positioning the patient's body components in an "unfortunate" way --- not to mention, accidentally dropping the patients on the floor when moving them from a gurney to an operating table --- as is likely to be done by a couple of operating room nurses with inadequate help.
There is probably even an tendency of "medical professionals" to get complacent and forget that under anesthesia they may be causing the patient surgical damage and not know it.
The medical saying from the ancients is "At least, do no harm." Based on my experiences, I have to conclude that there is little appreciation --- or at least inconsistent appreciation --- by most of today's U.S. medical practitioners --- nurses as well as doctors --- for what that saying really means and entails.
For one thing, it should mean always taking extra special care under general anesthesia.
More here, on (lower) back pain, later --- as I learn more in coming years.
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Page was created 2006 Aug. Page was changed 2010 Aug 09.