Welcome to back injury-ville.
May 16, 2008 12:43 PM   Subscribe

A friend has a serious back injury and I want to help him negotiate the maze of advice he will face.

I'm asking for an acquaintance who is too hopped up on Oxycontin right now to use the interwebs.

So my friend hurt his back while working at a big box store.

1) they are not paying for more than minimum physical therapy

2) he has permanent nerve damage (and maybe pain)

I'm just looking for resources to help him deal with the injury and negotiate the maze of therapy, advice and life changes he will encounter.

Have you recovered from a serious back injury?

Are there forums that discuss this that are better than others?

Are there any books that were especially helpful?

Thanks for any help.
posted by mecran01 to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Has he spoken to a worker's comp attorney in case he needs more than minimum therapy?
posted by pointystick at 12:50 PM on May 16, 2008

2) he has permanent nerve damage (and maybe pain)

How do you know this? Is the injury more than a year old?
posted by docpops at 1:16 PM on May 16, 2008

Response by poster: He told me that the doctor told him he had permanent nerve damage.
posted by mecran01 at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2008

Tell him to be 100% prepared to prove that the injury was sustained while at work, on the clock. This will mean defending any and all sports, strenuous activities, helping a buddy move, etc that will be gone over with a fine tooth comb. That being said, make sure that the injury actually was work related/caused, and how his actions were not part of a preventable or self-caused injury.

In all honesty, tell him to prepare to defend himself, because in the eyes of the company, he is guilty until proven innocent.
posted by banannafish at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2008

Oh, also, I almost forgot - tell him to stay the hell away from the Chiropractor until his BWC claims adjuster/work rep releases him to "non-traditional therapy" because that is one way a lot of employers (depending on the state and their WC policies) get out of paying claims, stating that the non-traditional doctor, or a doctor they did not approve of, did not give them the treatment needed, or, actually, in some cases, can claim the doctor made the problem worse.
posted by banannafish at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2008

Is the nerve damage due to spinal disc damage? A rupture or herniation? If so, stay the hell away from a Chiropractor, period, if he does, in fact, have serious nerve damage. Chiropractic can't cure nerve damage. And it certainly can't cure disc damage.

I blew-out a lower disc about 20 years ago while playing volleyball. That was some true, epic pain. Eventually, I had to have surgery. My orthopedic man performed a Chemonucleosis, rather than a traditional fusion. Worked like a charm. I was walking pain-free the next day. Unfortunately, it isn't practiced much anymore.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:42 PM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am NOT your doctor. I don't know if your friend's injuries are even remotely similar to the ones I sustained. Please take all of this advice with a grain of salt.

I broke eight vertebrae just under five years ago.

I was eighteen when I broke my back, and I still have moderate to severe back pain every day. I have a lifetime of back pain ahead of me. I don't know how old your friend is, but I can only imagine it gets worse as one ages. The one thing that truly helps with the pain? Working the muscles in my back. I started out *very* slowly. As in, I didn't attempt lateral pull downs until a year after the injury, and I didn't do any sort of free weights (bench press, dumbbells) until 30 months after the injury. Slow.

If only "minimal physical therapy" is being provided, I'd advise your friend to ask as many questions of the therapist as possible. E.g. "What muscles are these exercises targetting?", "What are we trying to accomplish with this exercise?", "How long until I can increase the weights for this particular exercise?", etc. Then, I'd tell your friend to get to the gym every day. Every day. When he's in the gym, he should follow as closely as possible the regimen that his therapist had him do.

After the natural healing process has completed, leaving the injured muscles and bones inert is probably the worst thing to do. Keep active! When I don't have the chance to get to the gym for even a few days, the pain in my back increases drastically. After a day or two in the gym, it subsides.

I also take glucosamine and chondroitin, but that is because I broke actual bone. I'm not sure that joint therapy would help a disc injury.

I wish your friend the best of luck in recovery. Perhaps we could be of more help to your friend if we knew a bit more about the specifics of his injury. And remember, I am not your doctor.
posted by Third at 4:20 PM on May 16, 2008

Response by poster: I pointed him to this thread but he went through a brief period where he didn't sleep for three days and was a bit out of it and not in a position to use the interwebs. If I were to post another askme on his behalf I would aim it more towards soliciting tips on dealing with pain meds.
posted by mecran01 at 11:38 PM on May 24, 2008

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