Personal Clinical History

In January of 1999 I was pursuing a regular routine of two balanced workouts a day, focussed upon the martial arts. I was 41 years old with no overt history of problems, disease, allergies or issues other than astigmatism in the left eye. Pulse is better than average. Weight was low at the time at about 168, height 6"1".

In January of 1999 I began working unusual nighttime hours after the holidays. I work as a IT contractor and in that capacity had to travel to a different site every night to work on computers in sometimes cramped, dimly lit and poor ergonomic situations. I was in fact lucky to have a chair available. Workouts became more sporadic although I tried to maintain the pace with a friend who works out intensely 6 hours a day for martial arts competition (full contact). During one weight session I noticed a "tweak" in the lower back during the military press, but otherwise noticed nothing unusual afterward other than some stiffness. The following day, a slight pain began, which I ignored.

Into February and march, my work schedule severely curtailed the workout schedule, ending in a three week travel fest in the rainy Pacific Northwest that had me flying far from home and visiting a different city each day. With daily travel and constant telephone exchange, workouts became virtually rudimentary affairs grabbed between flights. Different bed situations and high stress certainly added to what came later.

The day I returned to Oakland I did two hard workouts followed by two more without warming up or stretching. I felt stiff that day when I met with my workout partner who had been competition training for all those months I had been up in the Pacific Northwest. We practiced advanced jiu jitsu techniques for three hours that day after an hour of aerobic exercise, involving full body standing throws to the mat.

The following day I could not move for the most excruciating pain. My lower back felt as if stabbed with a sword. My right hip fell sheared by a machete. Pain shot down my leg, front AND back to below the knee. The thigh muscles began all convulsing at once as if an electric shock was passing through. No position was comfortable. I could not sleep for the pain for at least three days. Even then it was only when I downed a pint of raw whiskey I got a few hours. Then the pain started right up again when I awoke.

I won't go on, as the essential causitive elements are related as such above

What I Did and Did Not Do

I saw a chiropractor. I saw a second chiropractor. I drank a lot. I got irritable and short-tempered. I learned to take iboprofen at well beyond the safe dosage. I tried valerian, dong quoi, arnica, tylenol, aspirin, percoset, darvoset, and glucosamine sulfate plus a couple things I donít even remember. I got x-rays. Eventually I saw an acupuncturist. I did not get surgery and I thank my lucky stars I did not. I made a lot of mistakes and I found a lot of useful things by pure chance. Eventually, I developed a personal program of rehab involving aerobic conditioning, abdominal development, dry heat, ice, and muscle specific back exercise. I will detail this program later, with the caveat that due to the wide differences in possible body types and pathologies, much of it might not work for you without modification.

Condition Update: 01/09/00

As of August 15, 1999 is that of 90% recuperation with some persistant myofascitis in the lower back. There is some "hot" pain in the later part of the day. I employ a swimming regimen of at least 3x a week and do rigorous aerobic exercise on the other days. I stretch every single day.

As of 01/01/00, I had substantial recovery. I do experience an unusual "achiness" at times in the lower back, as well as exhaustion after a long day, which lying down for a spell seems to help. I make an effort to swim as often as possible, and I find that the achiness does not occur as much when I am able to get to the pool. Sometimes there is a noticeable un-kinking sensation after a few laps. There appears to be some loss of mobility doing certain gymnastic motions characteristic of the martial arts; I note that after about 10 good roundhouse kicks I am pretty much done for as I can feel the lower back going out -- as opposed to being able to throw some 400 or so against a target as previously.

Condition Update: 5/29/05

As of this date, recurrent episodes of lower back stiffness and pain persist, usually associated with long periods of standing -- at a concert for example, or with long work hours. A new condition, perhaps related, developed in the upper back, right shoulder and is causing radiating pain through the shoulder, down the arm to the fingertips.

When we halted workouts, the back problems resumed.

We have taken several other meds, which we will report on in the appropriate section.

Condition Update: 07/09/08

Age: 50 Weight: c.195 lbs BP reading 132/89/88 (after attentive changes in diet, exercise, ITOH reduction in reaction to a reading of 161/110/91) Not taking any meds.

Standing for long periods causes pain. "New condition" described above diagnosed by physician as severe lateral epicondylitis. Treatment involved cessation of keyboard use. Prescribed physical regimen with weights, alternating ice and heat, cold laser treatment. Numbness in fingertips remains.

Resumed bicycling exercise.

CONDITION UPDATE (modified 08/24/10)

Age: 52
Weight: c.194 lbs
BP reading 128 / 75 / 72 (Taking Atenolol and Hydroclorothiazide)

Resumption of periodic weekly exercise resulted in reduction of both back pain and the unexpected benefit of easing pain from medial epicondylitis (tennis elbow). Excercise features 30 minutes of cardio pushing pulse rate above 145, thorough stretching, ab work and some weights ending with mild cario on the stairmaster.


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