Back once again with the renegade master

If you recognise the lyric, your brain has the same alarming capacity for bad music as mine :-)

Sorry for the lack of updates, but I’ve been buried underneath Deadline Mountain. I’m still there, but I’m slowly tunnelling out with a teaspoon. But never mind that. I want to talk about how my back is messing with my head.

(Apologies to David, Squander Two et al, who I’ve already bored senseless about this)

A quick recap if you’ve come here from Google or haven’t been following my back saga. Last April, I hurt my back and slipped two discs. In September, I fell down some stone stairs and made it worse; around Xmas, I developed sciatic pain which got worse and worse. By February I was munching 12 pills (anti-inflammatories, painkillers) per day, pretty much unable to sleep, focus, think or work. I’m now scheduled for a horribly expensive operation to get rid of the pain, and it’s due to happen on May 2nd. The sciatic pain has worsened by the day, and by last week I was at the point where if I’d been told the only cure was to amputate my leg, I’d have sawn it off myself.

Last Thursday, after yet another sleepless night, I made an emergency appointment with the doctor to get some ridiculously powerful painkillers. If the doctor had refused, I’d have attempted to kill him: I was at the end of my tether, sick and tired of being sick and tired. If you’ve never had a serious back injury, I hope it’s something you never experience; if you’ve had one, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s amazing how debilitating it can be.

I only ever took one of the super-painkillers, because the following morning I discovered two strange and startling things. The first strange and startling thing was that my clock said it was 8am: for months, my night-time routine has been go to bed – eventually fall asleep – wake up half an hour later – eventually fall asleep – repeat until you get pissed off and start work at 6.30am. The second weird thing? I didn’t have any sciatic pain. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

I’m now well into my seventh day without sciatic pain – not even a twinge – and I’m pretty much convinced that going ahead with the operation would be a dumb move. The op won’t do anything about the slipped discs – they’re still knackered – because it’s designed to relieve sciatic pain; getting an operation to relieve symptoms that I no longer have isn’t exactly a bright idea. I’m going to call the neurosurgeon later today to get his opinion, but it’s safe to assume that he’s going to cancel the operation.

Don’t get me wrong, my back is still goosed – getting out of chairs is a challenge, and I can’t lift anything even slightly heavy – but I can live with that; it’ll sort itself out sooner or later. But for no apparent reason, the pain that’s been driving me daft for months on end vanished overnight and doesn’t seem to be returning. I’m delighted, of course, but baffled too. How can something so bloody painful just vanish overnight?

Naturally, I have a theory about this – helped considerably by the gentleman who posted some interesting links in a comment on a previous back pain post (which I can’t find at the moment, sorry). I suspect that it was the chiropractor, in the study, with the lead pipe.

It may be a coincidence, but when I think about the timeline here it does look as if the arrival of the sciatic pain coincided with the chiropractic treatment. Even after falling down the stairs, I didn’t have sciatica; that arrived in December. I started regular chiropractic treatment in November, and I stopped it one month ago. After a lot of web wandering – and excluding the lunatic fringe of whack-jobs whose medical sites are dubious at best and dangerous at worst – I’ve found a number of articles suggesting that spinal manipulation, if you’re unlucky, can sometimes cause or exascerbate sciatic pain.

Of course, I’ll never know: it could just be a coincidence. And I don’t really care, because at last I can put on a pair of socks without swearing.

12 thoughts on “Back once again with the renegade master

  1. Ronnie says:

    > Aah, but what was the next line? (No Googling)

    blah blah damager, power to the people!?

    Now, back to the pain.

    Gary, d’you mind if I ask the name of the super-powerful-painkillers?

    My mum recently had contracted cancer and as a result of the chemo, her hip has become very worn and painful. It’s now at the stage where she’s scheduled in for a hip replacement operation. At the age of 54!

    The pain she’s in sounds similar to what you’ve described and she has a very sympathetic doctor who might be happy to prescribe her your “miracle drug”.

    Cheers

  2. Squander Two says:

    D for damage, power to the people. What a great record.

    If the pain was caused by the chiropractor, I may die of guilt. Glad the pain’s stopped, though. And you’re not boring me.

  3. Gary says:

    It’s “default damager, power to the people, back once again with the renegade master with the ill behaviour with the ill behaviour with the ill behaviour…” Do I win a prize? :)

    Ronnie, the painkillers were Tramadol – the least powerful of the really powerful painkillers. As far as I know it doesn’t have any anti-inflammatory effects but you can take them alongside Naproxen (Voltarol isn’t great, Indomethacin has nasty side-effects). Tramadol’s only main side-effect is drowsiness, and it does zombify you a bit. It’s also potentially addictive, but again less so than the other codeine-derived drugs.

    It’s worth looking at the BMJ’s clinical evidence site – I think it’s clinical-evidence.com – to see what you can find there. It’s a good site.

  4. Gary says:

    > If the pain was caused by the chiropractor, I may die of guilt

    Don’t be daft. He *did* make the lower back stuff much, much better, and since I’ve stopped the treatment my back muscles have gone back to being sore and stiff. I suspect in my case it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario: chiro helps the lower back but seems to increase the likelyhood of sciatica. Although I’ve no idea whether there’s a connection or if it’s coincidence.

  5. Squander Two says:

    I read your earlier comment and was about to write, “Default damager? I’m a cloth-eared git.” I have no idea who’s right. Mine makes more sense, but sense is rarely a prerequisite of rap.

  6. Gary says:

    Having now googled it, I’m getting answers ranging from “default damager” to “D4 damager”. It’s a mystery!

    Oh bugger, I’ve now got Toyah on my internal jukebox.

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