I found the cure for low back pain! True story!
Last summer, while I was visiting my family in Canada, I threw my back out for the first time in my life. “Throwing your back out” or “wrenching your back” means that you’ve injured your back. We don’t use this expression for breaking your spine though. Throwing out your back is something that typically occurs when you twist or bend in a certain way that causes your back to start aching.
Most people who have never thrown out their back think that it’s something that happens by improperly lifting something heavy. Maybe it does happen like that too but if you look online, you’ll see many stories of people throwing out their back by doing very simple movements such as reaching for a pencil, picking up a tissue or even just sneezing or coughing.
For me, it happened when I was filling a gas can with diesel fuel. At first, I just felt a weird sensation in my lower back. It’s hard to explain but it was like something in my lower back had burst and liquid flowed out of it. There was no pain at that moment. I just though, “what was that?”
I only realized what had happened a few seconds later when I tried to stand up straight again. My muscles didn’t want to move. I forced myself to stand up straight and pushed through the pain. It took a while, but I was able to stand straight, pay for the fuel and get back in the truck.
For the first couple of days, the pain was tolerable if I didn’t try to bend over or twist into funny positions. I thought it wasn’t so bad as long as I stood straight when I got up. Lying down helped too. Unfortunately, the pain got progressively worse and by the third or fourth day, there was as constant dull ache no matter what position I sat, stood or lay in. But even though there was a bit of pain, it was the constancy of it that bothered more than the pain itself. It didn’t hurt a lot yet but it hurt all the time. There was no respite from the ache in my back. I started taking painkillers, which helped quite a bit.
Unfortunately, I was still only in the beginning stages of my journey through hell.
After a week of this, instead of getting better, it got even worse. I tried heat packs, stretching, lying down, sitting down… I tried everything. Nothing worked to get rid of the pain or stop its progression. The pain started to get more intense but even worse, it started to spread to other parts of my back. It was no longer confined to the lower back. I was pulling muscles in my upper back and neck now too!
Some days would be better than others but it was like someone up there just wanted to give me false hope. Just as I thought things were starting to improve, one slight move in the wrong direction would give me such a jolt of pain that I would snap back so hard, another muscle would start hurting. It was hell and it was getting worse. Hell is supposed to be the epitome of suffering, isn’t it? Well, we need to review that common wisdom because I found a place beyond hell and it needs a name. Maybe we can call it Superhell. And I was heading toward it at full speed.
Why wasn’t my back getting better? By this time it had been three weeks and there was NO sign of improvement. It just kept getting worse and worse. Painkillers, even the ones with codeine, were barely touching the pain. They were supposed to be good for six hours but I wanted to take more after just three. (Actually, I wanted to take more right away because they weren’t super-effective.) I went to a chiropractor and that didn’t help at all either. More wasted money.
Finally, after nearly a full month of living with this intense pain, I heard about a thing called a TENS unit. TENS stands for Trans-cutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulator. I’m not sure if there’s any difference between these and EMS (Electric Muscle Stimulation). They seem to be the same thing to me. You put electrode pads on different parts of a muscle group such as your leg or your arm or your back and it sends mild shocks through your body to force a contraction of the muscle. I have to say that this really seemed to help. The day I found out about it was the worst my back had been. I didn’t sleep the entire night before because the muscles in my back were so tightly contracted and the pain was indescribable. If you’ve ever had a leg cramp, you understand how painful that can be. Now imagine that pain throughout your entire back. And now think about how your back is used for nearly every single movement your body makes. That’s what I was feeling that day. But after using the TENS unit for a couple of hours, my pain went from “Oh my God I want to die! Take me now!” to “OK, I don’t want to die anymore.” It was still very painful but it had been dialed down from “giving birth” type pain to “I think I’ve been shot” pain. Let’s say it went from about a 10 down to about 8. That’s pretty good progress after things only getting worse every day for the previous month!
Unfortunately, the TENS unit belonged to my sister and my flight back to Japan was just three days later. With the improvement I felt in such a short time, I needed to get my own TENS unit! I jumped on Amazon, bought one for about $50 and paid a little extra to have shipped the next day. (You can get your own TENS unit on Amazon by clicking here.)
I kept using the TENS unit and I felt things improve a little more day by day. By the time I boarded the plane back to Japan, my pain had come down to about a 4 or so. Unfortunately, I forgot the device on the plane when I arrived in Tokyo! Lucky for me, I was already on the road to recovery and I continued to improve. About a week later, I was back to my normal self again.
Given this experience, you can imagine the horrific visions that went through my head as I realized that my back was giving out on my again a couple of weeks ago. Once again, it started with just a bit of discomfort but, just like last time, it got progressively worse day-by-day. By the third day, it had advanced to the “constantly aching” point and the impending doom I felt was gripping me with terror. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have a torturous month ahead of me and went to the pharmacy to buy some painkillers.
But on my way home, it occurred to me that my back pain was not due to a slipped disc or a fracture. My back pain, like many people’s, was due to spasmed muscles, just like a leg cramp that won’t let go. I started thinking that if spasmed muscles are causing the pain, then I should try to cure the problem (spasms), not the symptoms (pain). I turned around and went back to the drug store and asked them if they had any muscle relaxants. She said yes and get me something called Myonal. The generic name for this drug is Eperisone.
I went home, hopeful that this would help more than just painkillers alone. I did a search on the net to see what I could find about this medication. There wasn’t much but luckily I did find a couple of studies that said the medication is generally regarded as quite safe with few side effects and that most people in the studies found at least some relief. This eased my mind about taking the new drug and I took one.
All I can say is, WOW! No… Let me try again… WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!
It was AMAZING. Within only TWO hours, yes TWO!!!!, about 80% of my mobility came back and my pain was reduced by about the same percentage. Unless I bent over or stretched into some very unusual positions, I didn’t feel any pain at all! This was, to me, nothing short of a miracle cure. I am so impressed with how well it worked, I literally have an emotional response when I think about it. I feel giddy. Seriously.
Of course, I am not a doctor so if you decide to try Eperisone for your back ache, be sure to check with a medical professional first. And if you can’t get your hands on some, or if you do and you find it doesn’t work well, then I’d recommend you try getting a TENS unit. It’s definitely my first choice of treatment after Eperisone.