A History of Back Pain

I started having low back pain in high school. I was a volleyball player and then, the sports medicine therapist believed it to be muscular. I received some treatment, and continued playing sports.

My back pain did not fair up again for many years. The first major incident was during a camping trip when I was about 29 years old. I had mild tightness in my back and was lying on the floor trying to "stretch it out." I heard a pop in my back and was immediately in immense spasm pain. It took my husband and a friend nearly an hour to get me off of the floor. With no pain medication in sight, we improvised. I had about 5 shots of whiskey and only then was able to make it into the car.

We drove home, and eventually went to the Emergency Room. The ER staff gave me several pain shots and sent me home, even though I was still in drastic pain and could hardly get in the car. Using cortisone injections, physical therapy, and exercise, I recovered in about 6 weeks. These episodes happened about once per year, for 5 years. I was careful, but even a small event like a sneeze, could trigger a major back event. It continued like this, until...

When I was 35, Labor Day weekend, I was in the shower getting ready for the weekend festivities. I bent over to shave my legs, heard the familiar pop in my back, and screamed for help. This time, the pain was so unbearable, I blacked out. This time in the ER, the staff there could not control my pain. They insisted on doing an x-ray for which I had to lay flat, and was screaming at the top of my lungs. The poor girl in x-ray, she didn't know what to do. Anyway, the pain was so uncontrollable that I was admitted. Again, once the pain was controlled, I went home. For weeks, my right leg was dragging. Physical therapy, exercise, nothing worked. Finally, I decided to have a microdiscectomy, 12 weeks after the episode in the shower. Recovery from surgery was more work than I had expected, but my pain was gone and I made a full pain-free recovery. Until...

Now. I am currently laying in bed having severe muscle spasms. This is what happened. I got a sinus infection and was coughing for about 3 weeks. It didn't dawn on me how all that coughing was causing major stress to my back. I have not had another MRI (yet) but I believe that either I have another herniated disk at L5/S1, or that I re-injured the L4/L5 where I had the surgery 4 years prior. Every time I cough, it's like someone is taking a sledgehammer to my back. Here we go again. - Tracy

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