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Fell on my back, lot of pain, not sure what to do
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By Gold Plated Rocket Pony
From Boulder, CO
Nov 4, 2010
yep

I fell last night while bouldering and landed pretty squarely on the middle to upper part of my back. The fall wasn't all that far, maybe 3 feet but I landed on a hardwood floor (home climbing wall with a poorly placed pad). It was pretty painful but I was able to get up and walk around right after it happened. So I went to bed hoping that in the morning all would be ok but it's not and I'm not sure what to do now.

The pain is in the upper part of my back near the base of my neck. It's a mild pain while I'm sitting or standing with my head slightly tilted down looking straight ahead but when I try and look right or left the pain is much much worse. It also feels like doing any real pulling or pushing with my arm really hurts.

Any advice on what I should do?????


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By KevinCO
From Loveland, CO
Nov 4, 2010

Go to a chiropractor...he should do an xray before adjustment. Also, go to Vitamin Cottage and buy Peaceful Mtn brand Back and Neck Rescue. Massage that in 2-3 times/day.

Bromelain on an empty stomach works like ibuprofen. Valerian is a natural anti-spasmotic.


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By Erik W
From Bay Area, CA
Nov 4, 2010
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Kongma La.

Agree with johnL, standard is go to doc. Realize that with the location of the injury and the incident that caused it that they will guaranteed order xrays. (If you have good health insurance, no sweat, if you have crappy insurance, xrays COST. Just saying.)

Having had a host of back injuries and currently waiting for fusion surgery, I can give you my estimate as to what they'll do when you come in. First, they'll check for dizziness, loss of balance, loss of bladder/bowel control, shortness of breath, etc. Second, they'll inquire if you have any tingling or numbness anywhere, specifically neck, arms, torso, legs. The doc will likely use a gadget like a toothpick to confirm this, basically pricking you with it up and down your arms (top and bottom), along your torso, and possibly along your leg (although maybe not that far down) - she/he will be testing to see if the prick from the toothpick feels "different" anywhere, or you can't feel it in a certain spot. Next they will check for strength problems and bilateral symmetry. They will hold your L-arm by your side while you try to raise it, then right. Then w/arm up, you will be asked to lower it and they will press against it. Forward, backward, etc. These are all neurological tests to see if you bumped anything (disc, vertebra) against the spinal cord or against an exiting nerve root.

If the above show no sign of neural trauma, then doc will likely do range of motion test on your torso and neck - having you rotate/pivot it in different directions to the point of discomfort (doc will have you do this on your own, no resistance). It will be stiff in the directions you mentioned, so doc will likely palpate (gently push and feel around) the back of your neck and upper back to confirm that the muscles there are indeed pissed off, locked up, and consequently keeping you from moving your neck freely. She/he will also likely palpate the spinous processes of the vertebrae in the area (spinous process is the boney part of each vertebrae that sticks out and makes you look like a dinosaur when you round your back over... the spinous process on your C7 is the large bump at the base of your neck, I've smacked that sucker a couple times and it hurts like sin). Anyway, so they'll palpate those to try to localize the trauma and get an idea of where the issue is.

After all the above, they'll likely still send you to xray. If xrays look good, they'll put you on a heavy ibuprofen regimen for 7-10 days to see if it improves. Key is don't test it during that time, let it heal properly (don't forget to ice).

Anyway, I'm not a doc, so don't listen to me, I'm just a frequent-flyer patient when it comes to spine issues so I'm passing along what I've observed to be standard protocol for when you come in complaining of spine-related pain. I cowboy'd my way through several early back injuries and it just sent me down a bad path. Doc is good way to go (good to err on cautious side) when dealing with spine issues. Good luck.


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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov 4, 2010

Spine injuries are not the kind of thing you should tough-out. Go see a doctor. Talk to a care management specialist if you need help paying for it.


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By JPVallone
Nov 4, 2010

It's your back man, I would go to a doctor, A buddy o f mine was hurt skiing in La Grave, insisted on skiing down, then waited 3 or 4 days for pain to go away and had broken vertabrae when he finally went to a doctor and was x rayed,

Its not worth the gamble, your not gonna find the answer on Mountain Project, go to a professional ASAP


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By Erik W
From Bay Area, CA
Nov 4, 2010
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Kongma La.

edit to add: from 18 yrs of experience with back problems, having tried everything and being an absolute uber-nerd about learning and researching how the spine works, gets injured, and gets fixed... and researching and experiencing who knows what and who doesn't, my advice is to NOT (read: never) let a chiropractor touch or manipulate your back, or diagnose your injury. Ever. That profession is not qualified to deal with it (no matter what they themselves claim they are qualified at). Read up on the history of the profession, how it came to be, their refusal to answer objections by science-based medicine regarding their practices.... you will be shocked beyond belief that people trust their spines to chiropractors. The spine is serious shit, man.


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By Gold Plated Rocket Pony
From Boulder, CO
Nov 4, 2010
yep

Thanks for all the replies. I just got an appointment to see the doc this afternoon.


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Nov 4, 2010

From what I've heard and read recently, the current trend in treating injured backs is that, unless it's really a serious injury, the best thing can be to just keep doing what you're doing.

I heard an ortho surgeon on NPR who said his wife threw out her back and he told her to just get out and exercise. Her attitude was your a back doctor and you can't help me with this pain?! One of the more uncomfortable days in his marriage he said.

Given that your injury was due to a sudden trauma, none of this may apply to you, so caveat emptor. Probably good you're seeing an MD. Good luck.


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By Evan S
From Erie, CO
Nov 4, 2010
Me, of course

Erik W wrote:
my advice is to NOT (read: never) let a chiropractor touch or manipulate your back, or diagnose your injury. Ever. That profession is not qualified to deal with it (no matter what they themselves claim they are qualified at).


I've known a number of people who have said a chiropractor helped them, but personally, I have never been anything but HURT BADYLY by every sigle one I have ever seen. No matter how recommended or qualified they are, they HURT ME WORSE than I was before I saw them. So yeah, I would stay away. You can actually become your own adjuster with a little practice, a foam roller and an inversion table (~$100 at Walmart).

Don't play with your back, get it checked in a couple days if it doesn't get better. From what you're describing it's possible you bruised/pulled some of your little muscles under/near your shoulder blades, which can feel like it's happening in the dead center of your back and makes everything, particularly turning your head or push/pulling very painful. I hope that's all it is, good luck.


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By Evan1984
Nov 4, 2010

D.O's can be trained in Osteopathic Manipulation. I'd seek out a DO who either has training in or will reffer out to Osteopathic Maniupaltion Therapy.

Chiropractors can be good and they can be downright dangerous. The problem is that the industry has been taken over by thwack and crack quacks. If you do choose this route, I have a good one in Lakewood. PM if interested.

evan


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By Evan S
From Erie, CO
Nov 4, 2010
Me, of course

Evan Horvath aka Evan1984 wrote:
D.O's can be trained in Osteopathic Manipulation. I'd seek out a DO who either has training in or will reffer out to Osteopathic Maniupaltion Therapy.


I've been hurt by a D.O. before too. Maybe it's just my luck but anyone who touches my back wrecks me for days or weeks.

Also, as a side note, just like it has been mentioned above, certain types of back injuries/problems get better the more active you are. If I sit around for a few days I'm in pain 24/7, as soon as I start lifting or climbing it gets 50% better or more. I know this is particular to my exact damage and issues, but I hear it more and more that activity is the best remedy for chronic back pain.


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By TheBirdman
Nov 4, 2010

Sleep on the floor. A piece of plywood if you can stand it. Try to sleep on your back or your stomach.


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By JPVallone
Nov 4, 2010

I got messed up at the chiropracter, and then he asked me to come back,

Go see a doctor, before you let a chiropractor manipulate you and cause more damage

Good on you for making an appointment, its your back man


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By Gold Plated Rocket Pony
From Boulder, CO
Nov 4, 2010
yep

I saw the doctor and they took x-rays and nothing is broken or out of place and they could tell that I have whiplash. They prescribed a bunch of pills but didn't give any real recommendations on the healing process. I'm heading out on a 2 week climbing trip in a few weeks and would like to be close to normal by then. If you have any suggestions on how to speed up the recovery I'd love to hear them.


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By Dave Hurst
From Boulder CO
Nov 4, 2010

michael.repsher wrote:
I saw the doctor and they took x-rays and nothing is broken or out of place If you have any suggestions on how to speed up the recovery I'd love to hear them.


Skip the pain meds, check out the house margs at the Rio Grande.


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By KevinCO
From Loveland, CO
Nov 4, 2010

1- Dont' use NSAIDs such as ibuprofen. Aside from being really hard on your kidneys and liver, they can slow healing. Bromelain is an enzyme that comes from pineapples. When taken on an empty stomach, it is a very effective anti-inflammatory. Get one with a strength of 2400 GDU in a 500mg capsule. Also, ice is a great way to control inflammation (don't ice for too long or it will increase inflammation).

2- Most whiplash is from strained ligaments. A good therapeutic massage will speed healing.

3- Use a topical arnica gel. Arnica works wonders for sprains. One of the best is made in Boulder by Peaceful Mtn. They have different formulas...try Back and Neck Rescue. This formula will have some anti-spasmodic herbs. Tendon Rescue is also great but without the antispasmodics.

4-Try this recipe:

1 scoop-Collagen powder Type I & III by Neocell. (if taken on an empty stomach, it is a poweful building block for tissue repair)
1-2 capsules of bromelain (open the capcules)
500 mg of Vit C (cofactor of collagen)
12 oz water
Dash cayenne (whatever you can tolerate (catalyst and opens capillaries))
A little frozen concentrated fruit juice w/o sugar(undiluted)

Mix very gently to avoid foaming. Take ONLY on an empty stomach, such as appx 1 hour before breakfast.

I recently discovered that this drink ia a great recovery drink. When I sprained my ankle I could still ride my bike hard. After training on hills for a few days and taking this drink once or twice a day, I noticed that I was getting stronger a lot faster than usual.


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By Mike Larson
From Los Angeles, CA
Nov 4, 2010
Weeping Wall Central Pillar

michael.repsher wrote:
If you have any suggestions on how to speed up the recovery I'd love to hear them.


Take it easy, then slowly work your way back into things. Backs are finicky; the last thing you want to do is reinjure it. I knew a guy (me) who threw out his back and tried getting active again too soon. Reinjured it and was dealing with pain for a few months rather than a few weeks. Backs reinjure *very* easily. Something to remember.


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By Gold Plated Rocket Pony
From Boulder, CO
Nov 4, 2010
yep

Thanks for all the info Kevin, I'll definitely give your suggestions a try.


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By ErikaNW
Nov 4, 2010
Rapping off the Matron October, 2010

It always surprises me that physical therapy is not one of the first recommendations that comes to people's minds.... (full disclosure, I am a physical therapist and professor of physical therapy with a specialty in spine biomechanics.)

At any rate, a good physical therapist would be able to answer a lot of your questions about healing time, what you can/should and can't/shouldn't do, and they might even be able to help you with some immediate pain relief and help you prevent losing fitness.

Just a thought..... if you would like a recommendation for someone good in your area, PM me and I can probably help you find someone.

Erika


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By Mike Storeim
From Evergreen, CO
Nov 4, 2010

I'm always truly amazed when poeple ask for medical advice on the internet and even more amazed when people dispense the same.

Go to Vitamin Cottage??
Take Valerian??
Keep on doing what you are doing??
Arnica??
Home brew recipies??

You have to be kidding.

A few years ago, I fell three feet while skiing and fractured two vertebrae. Being the big macho man, I skied to the bottom but then decided that it would be a good idea to get things checked out. The Ortho guy told me I was lucky to be walking, much less skiing. Literally, 1/16" either way and I would have been in a wheel chair for life.I spent six months in a body cast/brace and now have 90+% recovery. Had I taken the advice dispensed in this thread, I am 1000% sure I would either be in a lot of pain or perhaps far worse.

It's your back, guys. You have one and only one and if you screw it up, you will pay for the rest of your life.

Don't be stupid - seek professional help, even though you have to pay for it. Internet "doctors" and advice are worth exactly what you paid for them.

BTW, Michael, glad to hear you are OK. Don't rush the recovery and don't buy into the holistic remedies as being the cure - it takes time also. Take it easy, listen to your body, follow the doctors / therapists orders and you will know when it feels right. I know it would suck to cancel your trip , but if you are not healed up, think about doing so. Heck of a lot better to miss out on two weeks of fun than to live your life in pain.


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By Buff Johnson
Nov 5, 2010
smiley face

chocolate chip ice cream!


oh, sorry; thought we were floating out valid medical stuff.

well, it couldn't make it any worse


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By KevinCO
From Loveland, CO
Nov 5, 2010

Mike Storeim wrote:
I'm always truly amazed when poeple ask for medical advice on the internet and even more amazed when people dispense the same. Go to Vitamin Cottage?? Take Valerian?? Keep on doing what you are doing?? Arnica?? Home brew recipies?? You have to be kidding. A few years ago, I fell three feet while skiing and fractured two vertebrae. Being the big macho man, I skied to the bottom but then decided that it would be a good idea to get things checked out. The Ortho guy told me I was lucky to be walking, much less skiing. Literally, 1/16" either way and I would have been in a wheel chair for life.I spent six months in a body cast/brace and now have 90+% recovery. Had I taken the advice dispensed in this thread, I am 1000% sure I would either be in a lot of pain or perhaps far worse. It's your back, guys. You have one and only one and if you screw it up, you will pay for the rest of your life. Don't be stupid - seek professional help, even though you have to pay for it. Internet "doctors" and advice are worth exactly what you paid for them. BTW, Michael, glad to hear you are OK. Don't rush the recovery and don't buy into the holistic remedies as being the cure - it takes time also. Take it easy, listen to your body, follow the doctors / therapists orders and you will know when it feels right. I know it would suck to cancel your trip , but if you are not healed up, think about doing so. Heck of a lot better to miss out on two weeks of fun than to live your life in pain.



When i have a serious injury or medical condition, I run to the doctor.

For years, I have battled overuse injuries that have put me on the sideline. Doctor after doctor never helped...they just wasted my money and time.

These modalities (and others...I forgot to mention the importance of eliminating free radical sources and adding powerful antioxidants) that I reccommended have worked miracles for me and others.

Furthermore, they are safe, as oppposed to some pharmaceuticals which cause many injuries and deaths each year.

Also, ErikaNW's treatment is important and safe for overuse injuries. I am always open to discovering new professionaol healers.


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By Evan S
From Erie, CO
Nov 5, 2010
Me, of course

Everything Kevin said, and maybee add in some turmeric, which acts alot like ibuprofin. Hydrotherapy is also key, for your back it's gonna have to be in the shower, 2 or 3 minutes under hot water, 30 seconds under cold, alternate a few times and end on cold. This flushes the area with blood and speeds healing time. As an alternative, use a heat pad on one side of your body, and an ice pack on the other and alternate.

I work in the alternative health industry and am trained and have worked in western medicine, there are quacks and prodigies in both. But I've seen too many doctors ignore serious issues, give up prematurely, prescribe anti-biotics for the flu, etc, so I tend to use a combination of both worlds.


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By darryn
Nov 5, 2010

whiskey until you're out of the acute stage. it will help numb the pain and help keep you loose. go see a DC in a couple weeks when bruising and swelling has gone down but do get xrays just in case your spineous processes were cracked during the fall.


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By JSH
Administrator
Nov 5, 2010
JSH @ home <br /> <br />photo courtesy of Gabe Ostriker

Now that you've been cleared by a real doctor - the next real step is what Erika said: physical therapist. This - how your body moves and heals - is exactly what they are trained in.

I've learned a ton from mine, after various injuries. Even learned how to keep my own lower-back pain in check: it's tightness in my groin from cycling, that pulls on my back.

Followed by chocolate chip ice cream, *then* whiskey.


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By Step hen
From Fort Collins, CO
Nov 5, 2010
Boulder Canyon <br /> <br />photo by Curt

Kevin Friesen wrote:
1 scoop-Collagen powder Type I & III by Neocell...


Maybe add a tablespoon of snake oil, too.


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