Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Health Update

I'm just going to post it all here since people will ask and I don't want to repeat myself a gazillion times :P

All right, so those in the know know that I've been having some crazy back pain over the past month. Those not in the know... well, now you know. I don't exactly know what caused it, seeing as it just kind of popped up, and its occurrence just grew over time. I suspect it's the unfamiliar exercises in dance class, because that's the only thing I can pinpoint being any different from everything else I do.

Anyway, I got a referral for physical therapy from my physician.
My appointment was this morning.

I went in and it's unlike most medical offices I've been in: the door opened up not to a small waiting room with a door leading to more rooms, but a big room filled with exercise equipment. For a while I just stood there, thumbing the straps of my backpack as I looked around and smiled at everyone. The desk was on the right—oh. I went over, checked in, filled out some forms, waited for the therapist. Doot dee doo.

The therapist's name is Corey—young, fit, blonde. Her presence was calming, somehow, like oh, she looks like she takes care of herself, which means she must be able to take care of me. Or maybe I was just happy to finally be there. We went into a small room by the back with a sort of massage-table-bed-thing while I told her all about my pain, how it is, how it's gotten worse, etc. She guided me through a series of positions and movements, trying to pinpoint where the pain's coming from. I normally feel better in the morning, so I don't think we were terribly accurate... like it gets worse as the day goes on. I know that right now, about 7 hours after the appointment, I'm feeling a lot of pain, and can pinpoint exactly what movements and positions hurt it.

Nonetheless, we were able to progress, and she told me about the things she observed about my body that could be contributing to the pain:
  1. Scoliosis. Can't say I didn't see it coming, but it's weird that it never hurt before. You'd think the muscles would get used to the fact that my spine has an S-curve, but whatever.

  2. The top half of my spine is "like a flat board." If you view the spine from the side (see image below), you'll notice that the top is supposed to arch out a little bit. This is normal. Mine is completely straight: that is not normal.
    • I'm assuming both of these things mean that the muscles are whacking out over the fact that the spine isn't normal.

  3. She observed that I breathe mostly from my diaphragm (like, my stomach moves, not my chest). She said for most people it's 50/50 between chest-breathing and diaphragm-breathing, and while diaphragm breathing is a good thing, my doing it more means that my chest hasn't been expanding. So in the event that it does expand, it irritates the ribs, which rub all weirdly against the spine and all the nerves and muscles knotted up beside it (thanks, weirdo-spine), causing pain.
    • This would make sense, seeing as the main and biggest pain feels like something's pushing out from inside, and that it occurs when I cough/sneeze/laugh/breathe.

In response to point #2 above, she actually told me not to sit up so straight.
She said since my spine is straighter than normal in that way, I naturally sit up straighter. But that actually forces my muscles to work harder, so she recommended "adding a bit of slouch" to my posture. My mom totally didn't believe me the first time I told her :P I also have to lean against the backs of chairs whenever I can.

During my next appointments she's going to be introducing me to some strengthening exercises to stabilize my back (especially around the shoulder blades), and some stretches to relax the muscles. Today she left me with 15 minutes on the bed doing electrical stimulation therapy and a heat pack. I was afraid of the electrical stim, but it actually wasn't that bad: just a few pads down my back that pulsed and tingled and gave me funny feelings. It tickled, I kept giggling.

Well, that's about it. My back hurts like hell right now, but it's not bothering me as much mentally, now that I finally know I'm gonna get stuff done about it.

I'll keep ya'll posted... not with big updates like this, but probably as little side-note accompaniments to future blogs.

Which will include some Watchmen fanart.

Oh, did I just say that?


Lauren Ashley said...

I'll read all of this, I promise. I have to go, but I'll come home and read it. :P

Lauren Ashley said...

Well, there you go. You're a freak with a super straight spine and a strangely straight posture, who freakily breathes only from her diaphragm.

Your back hurts cuz you're a freak. I coulda seen that coming. :P

The most difficult thing about that for me would be the slouching part. I've been trained to sit up straight and will autocorrect myself... I would constantly tell myself to slouch, zone out, realize I'm slouching, and straighten up, then remember I should be slouching, and it would just be one HUGE problem!!!