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Funky vertebrae in lower thoracic after supremely stupid injury at Climb Smart.


Original Post
Kat H · · San Diego · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

Aloha forumers. Attended Climb Smart in JTree this October, and the Nomad Ventures guys held a super fun competition with sweet prizes, which turned out to be my undoing. Here goes: One person does a high plank while the other uses their planking buddy as a bridge to move across and place a bottle as far forward as possible past a line in the sand. Big congrats to the enormous man and tiny woman who won a brand new rope! I was somehow convinced by a very new acquaintance to let her use my body as a bridge. She put all her weight into her knee, and placed that knee on one of my lower thoracic vertebrae. I fell to the ground, felt a strange thump in my back, and ever since this one vertebrae is sore, sticking out past the rest of my spine, and I have extremely limited movement in my thoracic spine -- especially if I try to bend backwards. 

All pain and "stuckness" is limited to this one vertebrae. Before this fated October night I could hold wheel pose forever, but now I have dull aches and a stuck spine. I rested for a few weeks, then started doing yoga again, but still feels blocked and painful. Not keep-me-up-at-night painful, but worrying nonetheless. I did a couple climbs over the holidays, and seems okay. I'm more bothered by the constant "off" feeling rather than the pain itself, as well as the inability to bend backwards.

Saw a chiropractor a week later, which offered little help, and today I finally saw an osteopath. He told me I'd likely fractured a vertebrae slightly, and that I'd probably never heal, but could keep the pain in check and maintain mobility with exercise, PT, yoga and therapy. While he was relatively optimistic about reducing my symptoms, his verdict made me a little blue. Anyone else had a similar compression fracture/injury? With a poky vertebrae and painful backwards movement? I have to find a therapist in San Diego, and any leads/tips/experience would help immensely. I've had injured shoulders and knees galore, but until that dumbass competition I'd never had any back pain. I'm 27 years old, so I was hoping for a few more years of physical functionality before retiring into acquired complacent crippledom.

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5

See a Doctor. Get an X-ray. Your spine and spinal cord are not things to mess around with. You need to find out what the damage is, and the plan to fix it may require more than rest and wait and then try some yoga. You may need surgery. (Or you may not!) That's scary and a bummer - but if that's what will give you the best outcome it will be better to get it done than live with healing wrong and the "feeling wrong" and loss of full function being permanent. 

I broke my back once, in 5 places. I didn't need surgery, but I did need 4 months in a back brace before starting physical therapy was a good idea. PT is great, but if it's not the right treatment at the right time it's not going to help. 

Worst case scenario, you could have an unstable injury in your vertebra that is a ticking time bomb waiting for you to move just the wrong way and cause permanent loss of function. Probably unlikely? I don't know. Worth the risk? Your call...

Find out what's going on in your back and what the best treatment will be - this isn't the kind of thing where you just give random exercises and manipulations a try and hope for the best. 

Hope this doesn't come across as harsh, I want you to heal and heal well and heal quickly, and have a soft spot for back injuries. Good luck and get well!

Nils Gram · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 2

You're young and the way the injury happened doesn't seem like it could have done any real damage. You'll probably be alright so, don't stress out about it. But Cos is right. Find a good spine specialist ASAP. Get some film, you might need an MRI. The stretching and Yoga and light aerobics is a good idea. But don't push it. You might just try totally peeling it on the couch for a couple days and see what happens. 

I've had three surgeries on my lumbar spine and my climbing days are over. I can't be too bitter, I've had a lot of fun. But having a fucked-up back sucks. Get your injury sorted out. You'll be climbing again soon.

rob.calm · · Loveland, CO · Joined May 2002 · Points: 630
kkh wrote:

Aloha forumers. Attended Climb Smart in JTree this October, and the Nomad Ventures guys held a super fun competition with sweet prizes

This doesn't sound like "climbing smart". Seems very hazardous.

 Nine years ago, I had compression fractures of 4 vertebrae (T7, T8, T10, C7) from a fall in a gym. Lost 2.5 inches in height but otherwise have recovered with little loss of function and little pain. My backbone is bumpy if you run your hands over it. Ditto on what's been said before: see an orthopedist now rather than later. Don't let "alternative healers" do anything to your back. 

rob.calm

Kat H · · San Diego · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

Hi again, and thank you to everyone for great replies and advice. As per the advice of my doctor and therapists, I am working on strengthening the muscle tissue surrounding the troublesome vertebrae, and increasing flexibility around it, and in the past two weeks or so of regular daily exercise and PT I have regained a lot of movement and reduced any pain to a barely noticeable discomfort. I'll come back and report if anything changes. 

Thanks again,

Kat 

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
kkh wrote:

Hi again, and thank you to everyone for great replies and advice. As per the advice of my doctor and therapists, I am working on strengthening the muscle tissue surrounding the troublesome vertebrae, and increasing flexibility around it, and in the past two weeks or so of regular daily exercise and PT I have regained a lot of movement and reduced any pain to a barely noticeable discomfort. I'll come back and report if anything changes. 

Thanks again,

Kat 

That's great to hear, Kat! Glad you're on your way to healing!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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