It has come to my attention that some people reading this blog are having their own back pain situations so I thought I would share what I have learned with regards to managing my back, with the disclaimer that everyone is different, therefore what works for me, may not work for other people.
I have worked very hard at this and have learned what works and doesn’t work for me through trial and error.
After seeing many specialists, taking pain management courses, trying 14 physio therapists, massage therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, laser therapy, acupuncture, Pilates, injections and medications this is what I have discovered:
1. I need to pace in everything I do. DO – REST – DO. I take breaks when practicing singing, doing computer work, and teaching.
2. I walk every day.
3. I have a series of exercises I do every morning: mobility exercises for my back, neural flossing exercises, stretching, and core strength work.
4. I take approximately 40 ml. (2 teaspoons of oil made from 13% CBD) every morning along with a small amount of THC. Some days I increase this up to 2 more teaspoons, if I am having increased pain. I also use Voltaren cream on days when I wake with more pain.
5. I have a physio therapist (the 14th and best I have tried) whom I love and who is very knowledgeable and able to treat my case and all its complexities.
She is a physiotherapist with many modalities including: manual therapy, active release massage, and acupuncture as well as traditional (good old fashioned) physio therapy skills. I see her once a week and find that manual therapy works the best for my situation.
6. I see a pain psychologist every couple of months in order to discuss my strategies and tweak them when needed.
7. I am presently seeing an occupational therapist who has given me the task of writing a daily journal where I list my activities for the day. We are trying to find a pattern with regards to flare ups. I have been journaling for the past 5 weeks and am looking forward to discovering if my flare ups indeed have a pattern.
8. When going to a theatre (soft seaters), I sit on the aisle so that I can sit and stand as needed. I also bring cushions and wedges to make sure my sitting posture is “ergonomic”.
9. I try to plan the work that I am doing with new opera so that I am super ready for the first rehearsal and make sure my physio therapist can come to a rehearsal to make sure any movements I am doing are safe for my back.
10. At parties or functions I stand with my back to the wall so that no one can bump into me. (May sound silly, but I am very protective of my lower back)
11. Having had pain for so long, I am also aware that my nervous system is hyper sensitive, therefore I avoid big crowds and noise, they simply make me nervous and edgy.
12. I try not to talk about it too much and turn off my dear friends. My husband listens to me everyday and is very patient. I am grateful for that.
13. I try to remember how bad I was before my last surgery and focus on what I can do, rather than what I cannot do.
14. When I have good days (like in the past several weeks) I celebrate them and take moments to remind myself how far I have come.
What does not work for me?
7. Too much activity
Sometimes, even the most benign examination flares me up. This is why I love my physiotherapist. She understands this and treats me with a gentle soft touch.
What I do know? My back is a full time job, therefore the pace of my life has slowed down to accommodate this new situation and I am making peace with that.
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