I injured my back and have no insurance.
December 17, 2005 5:18 PM   Subscribe

I fell on slipper stairs and hurt my back. ouch!

Sorry to do one of these "see a doctor" questions but here goes:

My gf's stairs on her porch are wood and during this time of the year in Seattle it gets pretty icy. So leaving the house one night about a week ago i fell and my butt landed on the sidewalk and my back hit the bottom step. It seems to be one of the lower vertebra that I hit. The pain has gotten better but still noticable.

I still feel that it's just a bad bruise. there's no discoloration or swelling. Just pain when I sit or bend over. It's not unbearable but still painful. Getting in and out of the drivers seat hurts, sitting at the computer for long periods of my time (my job and hobby) hurts as well.

I don't have health insurance but don't feel that anything is broken. So my question is: Is there anything I should be or shouldn't be doing? Exercise? Stretches? Meds?

I think we will be throwing some kitty litter on the steps soon. And if I can I may try and see a doctor. The floor is open. thanks!
posted by freudianslipper to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
Best answer: I am so not a doctor. Like this disclaimer will make a difference (taking advice off the internet?)


Alternate heat and ice. 15-20 min.

Stretch after heat, ice after. Under no circumstances should you stretch through pain
Ibuprophen (advil) not acetomiaphen (tylenol).

The heat + stretching will promote bloodflow in the area.
The ice will reduce the inflammation.

7-10 days to reduce most of the discomfort.

If you get pain in parts not your back (asscheck, leg, toes)...you've impinged on a nerve...which obviously can be serious.
posted by filmgeek at 6:08 PM on December 17, 2005

And for cold packs, you'll find that frozen peas are way cheaper than typical cold packs, form your body pretty well and can be refrozen about a dozen times.
posted by plinth at 6:29 PM on December 17, 2005

I fractured my radial neck (elbow) a while back. It didn't feel broken, but it also clearly wasn't right somehow. Went to the doctor, did the x-ray, there was no surgery or anything; basically all they did was put me in a cast and send me off to physical therapy after a couple weeks, where I did some stretches.

What I did learn, however, was that most people who have a radial neck or head fracture end up with a reduced range of motion in that elbow. Mine is essentially perfect now, likely because I moved it and didn't move it at the right times and in the right ways.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that by leaving this completely undiagnosed, you are taking a very real risk of having a fucked up back for life. I know that the state of medical care in the US is also pretty fucked up, but remember that you don't have to accept any care. I would really want to get that x-ray done, though.

And unless you have some sort of uninsurable quality, get the cheapest insurance you can ASAP. Even if it doesn't actually cover anything, it means that you'll be paying the much better contract rates instead of the crazy off-the-street rates for care.
posted by trevyn at 6:42 PM on December 17, 2005

A chiropractor can do an X-Ray and you'll be able to see if it's broken that way.

Back pain is definetly not something you want to mess around with, but at the same time it's probably not something you need to see a doctor right away. Its not like cancer or something. If you don't want to see a chiropractor you can wait a week or so to see if it continues to improve.

A lot of people seem to have an irrational fear of chiropractors, however, I think they're fine. And probably cheaper then a doctor for X-Rays at least.
posted by delmoi at 6:59 PM on December 17, 2005

Response by poster: filmgeek and plinth thank you! it's the simple things that I knew I wasn't thinking of to help reduce the pain. Stretching through pain is something I didn't know and will make sure NOT to do now. Ok time to get a heat pad!

and yes, trevyn, you make a good point. i do want to look into cheapo insurance soon and I think this is a good time to do it.
posted by freudianslipper at 7:01 PM on December 17, 2005

If you're going to get insurance anyway, get insurance and then go to the doctor. Claim the injury happened after you were insured.
posted by malp at 7:26 PM on December 17, 2005

Freudianslipper - the ice will make more of a difference, generally than heat.
posted by filmgeek at 7:33 PM on December 17, 2005

- shooting pain!
- numbness!
- weakness!
- loss of bowel or bladder continence!

any shooting pain? pain that goes zzzZZAP and radiates around the belly, up or down the back, down the legs?

any pins n needles? fuzzy feelings in yr legs, butt, wee-wee or anywhere else?

can't seem to walk right? can't walk around on tiptoes or yr heel anymore? can't get up from a chair or a squat?

OTHERWISE: stretching & strengthening exercises, and anti-inflammatories are in order.

i don't know how big you are, but you'll want to take some motrin (ibuprofen) around the clock: summin safe is 400mg every 8 hours, with food. the point isn't pain relief, it's to decrease inflammation. take it regularly for a couple o weeks. if you're really a small person, take less (200mg). if you're tremendously huge and yr last name starts with a "P" and ends with "aulson," take 600mg. if you've got a history of ulcers or have bleeding problems, then throw this paragraph out the window.

you'll want to avoid wimping out and sitting on yr ass all day and night. get up. move around. exercise. seriously. your back may feel crummy, but stick to yr regular routine. note: if you experience any of the symptoms listed up top, abandon shit! if you don't experience sudden, severe, sharp pain, or an instantaneous "POW!" pain on top of a regular ache, and you don't have the above symptoms, and the pain you describe when sitting or bending over is in the same place, doesn't shoot anywhere, and is located in the spot where you hit yr back, then you prolly'll be ok.

finally: do not try to solo molten core.
posted by herrdoktor at 7:43 PM on December 17, 2005

WRT financial issues: does she have homeowner's insurance? I posted this earlier today on another thread:

If you have homeowner's insurance, you undoubtedly have a "medical pay" provision that will pay up to a specified amount ($1,000 or $5,000 is common) for such things as out-of-pocket medical expenses for anyone hurt on your property without consideration of fault - that is, without worrying about the permission issue or the defect issue. This is good protection because it provides a quick and relatively painless way to pay such expenses and remove an irritant that might in a marginal case lead someone to visit a lawyer.
posted by yclipse at 8:28 PM on December 17, 2005

Best answer: Also, you can get a check up at the 45th Street Clinic in Wallingford and/or the Country Doctor in the Central District fairly quickly and cheaply [sliding scale I believe] with or without insurance. More contact info and more listings here.
posted by jessamyn at 8:35 PM on December 17, 2005

freudianslipper, allow me to point out your aptronym.
Recently discussed at MetaChat.
posted by dhartung at 8:55 PM on December 17, 2005

On a related subject, I think rock salt is MUCH better than kitty litter. I don't know if "ice melter" type products are available in Seattle. Check your local hardware store.
posted by faceonmars at 11:04 PM on December 17, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, i'm not as worried anymore as I don't have shooting pain or numbness. So I'll make sure to apply the cooling and heating technique.

Special bonus points to jessamyn, I didn't know about those listings!

and lastly: lol @ dhartung. thanks for that link.
posted by freudianslipper at 8:02 AM on December 18, 2005

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