How many of us suffer from severe back pain.......?

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Forum topic by Rick Dennington posted 04-10-2010 08:41 PM 3332 views 1 time favorited 74 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rick Dennington

7156 posts in 4247 days

04-10-2010 08:41 PM

Greetings guys and gals: I’m not talking about just a sore back from a muscle strain or a pulled muscle, or anything that you’ll get over in a couple of days. I’m talking real back pain from a ruptured disk or a bulging disk, or siatic nerve than ran down the back of your leg and into a foot causing it to go numb because it was “twisted” and pinched in the vertabre? It happened to me in 1990, and after 3 back surgeries, it didn’t help a bit. I think I ruptured mine bowling 2 nights a week on leagues with my wife back then. When it hits that leg, you talk about HURT….. you can’t stand, walk, sit, lay down, and every move you make is a killer. It affected my working the wood terribly. I actually need another surgery, but after the last ones, I realized that surgery is not the “cure-all” for back trouble. I’ve had cortizon shots, a nerve block, streching in theropy, etc.
All of it to no avail… once you have it, you never get over it. At least in my case that’s how it is…. So…. you just have to learn to live with it, and make adjustments, especially in your woodshop like I did. When I built my new shop here in Arkansas, I built ALL my workbenches, cabinets, router tables, tablesaw, outfeeds, etc. about
40- 42 ” high, so I wouldn’t have to bend over or stoop any lower than necessary. I do no work where I have to hand plane, scrape, or crouch or stoop… it’s a killer. I do no scrolling on a stool. As some of you know ( the ones with back trouble), you make no sudden moves where you might rip or tear something, but it still happens to me quite often… the more I try to avoid it, the more it happens. Some days are better than others, especially if I take good drugs….. lol. Some days I can piddle in the shop for several hours, and others for a short time. I have to take breaks real often, and just sit and have a cup of joe and a smoke till I can move again, and by 2:00 I’m down for a nap to rest my back. So….. I want to hear from you LJs out there that suffer the same thing I do… hopefully not any worse. I know I’m not the only one, so give us a full report on your back condition, as I’m real curious….. Bring it on. I’m setting here now resting my back waiting…........

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

74 replies so far

View lew's profile


13332 posts in 4808 days

#1 posted 04-10-2010 08:59 PM

I pinched a nerve in my back this past winter (wrestling with the dog in a snow drift). I was lucky, the doctor hit it with some type of meds and after about a month of what you described, I was up and moving again. So I feel your “pain”- no pun intended.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 4765 days

#2 posted 04-10-2010 09:11 PM

i used to work construction until i had a double sliding glass door dropped on my back. needless to say i don’t work on job sites anymore. i have 1 inch thick mates all over my shop but there are some days when it just hurts to much to work. the one thing that i have found that does help alot is yoga, i know some of you will laugh about this , but give it a shot. i now stand up straighter and have days when it doesn’t hurt, which is nice.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View Bothus's profile


443 posts in 4229 days

#3 posted 04-10-2010 09:12 PM

Hi Rick,

I don’t have serious back problems but everything you discribed sounds exactly like what my wife goes through everyday.

We have tried everything. She gets so discouraged. I try to keep her spirits up but it doesn’t always work.

Hang in there and thanks for posting.


-- Jerry Boshear, Professional Kitchen Designer, amature woodworker.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4322 days

#4 posted 04-10-2010 09:16 PM

Being another of the ones with disc problems…..I have not had the surgeries but opted for more conservative treatments. Time will be the judge as to whether these will or are working…as far as I am concerned….once you hurt your back worse then the aches and pain of muscle sprains….you will never have a “normal” back.

With that said….(and not going in depth to the how and what of my problem)....I spend a lot of time planning ahead for tasks so that I insure the least stress to my back as possible. First of all is shoes/boots….I insure that I have a good fitting pair with full support (the feet are your body’s support – don’t forget to consider this). I also have and use floor mats around tools that I will be standing at for any extended periods of time….they keep the floor flat and add a bit of extra impact dampening.

I wear a good back support belt and stretch a bit each morning prior to starting my day. Even with a bad back…excercise is one of the best therapies – and that is excercise not abuse….when the body says ouch…stop…the pain is a very good warning system. Use good judgement, always!

Always pay attention to where the stress will be when lifting or moving. Try to keep your back out of the equation by shifting the body or by using an assistant (including mechanical). Try to turn the whole body not just the back. Don’t carry items extended from the body….i.e. at arms length…always carry close to the body.

Remember to take breaks….and on a rough day… up at night….heat up in the morning prior to work…other then that….remember you only got one back and it needs to last a while…treat it that way.

I also have a personal TENS (do a search on this for info) unit (Amazon or other physical health providers have these at really reasonable prices) just can’t beat the relief these give.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4226 days

#5 posted 04-10-2010 09:19 PM

I sure know a person or two—including a LumberJock or two (whose choice it is whether or not he or she wants to chime in, here) who suffer—and I DO MEAN suffer—from back issues.

I’ve come to believe that we weren’t really built to walk upright [insert smiley emoticon … or seriously sad emoticon … here].

In fact, within my family, I’m only the SECOND generation to walk upright. Grandpa was a tree-swinger.

Mine’s my eyes—as I always mention.

Among a hundred other things … they get cramps … charley horses … when I try to focus.

Then … just LIKE a charley horse … it can knock me down, knock me out, and take me out of commission for the rest of the day … or longer.

I know just about all the things that trigger it, but … avoiding ALL of those doesn’t automatically mean I’m okay.

Four other factors can always get me: stress, fatigue, illness, or intoxication.

For lots of people with back issues … some of the above can do them in … even if they avoid all of THEIR usual triggers like the plague.

In my case, I’m an ongoing science project—seeking to find some balance of pain meds that relieves an adequate measure of the pain, but WITHOUT rendering me non-functional, dangerous, a zombie, or a guy who just goes into the shop every day to vacuum up dust, and admire his pretty tools :-/

Pain meds, themselves, are a hugely mixed bag of good and evil—as you may well know.

This SORT of thread lends itself really well to being broadened, Rick to a “How do you maintain your woodworking in the face of a serious physical issue/condition/limitation?” .... thread … IF you’re interested in that.

-- -- Neil

View swoper's profile


59 posts in 4277 days

#6 posted 04-10-2010 09:50 PM

Hey Rick I know just what your feeling, I had a Expedition hit me from behind while i was stopped at a light, it messed up my hips real bad causing constant pain and I made my living delivering steel so for 4 years i went to chiropractors just to be able to work and last year when benefits ran out in oct. I started rehabbing my whole body in the gym, it was hard in the beginning but in about 3 months I was able to stop taking meds and was able to work without any trouble now I do anything I want as far as hard labor gos just as long as I take it a little easier now and am so glad I over all the pain good luck with your problem hope it turns out good by the way I’m 51 years young

-- Harry, Jackson Mi

View dmorrison's profile


152 posts in 4314 days

#7 posted 04-10-2010 09:50 PM

I have suffered back pain for years. Actually since 1985. Threw it out a couple of times in High School gymnastics ( 1972 graduate) and then it did not bother me until 1985 or so. It would “catch” and I would drop to my knees and be out of commission for a week minimum if not 2.
Been going to the same chiropractic office since 1988. Started with my current Chiropractors father and then move on to her when her father entered retirement.
A few thing I have learned and read over the years. Yes some doctors recommended surgery, and I refused.

Over the last 10 years or so my back has not bothered me, and for some really strange reasons.

I read a book called “Healing Back Pain” by Dr John Sarno. A neurosurgeon and back pain sufferer.
He worked with psychologists with his patients and realized 90% of the time, back pain is a way for the mind to release stress. I know it seems strange but he’s the neurosurgeon who did the study realizing that 90% of his operations did not show the “pinched nerve” or the ruptured disc that seemed to interfere with the nerves.

When my back is acting up I usually try to figure out what is stressing me.

Now another finding that my Chiropractor/nutritionist found was a soy sensitivity.
When I eat soy, and it is hidden everywhere, it does 2 things to my. First it runs through me ( tried figuring this out for 10 years. Did a simple saliva test. Cut out the soy and the diarrhea and lower back pain disappeared. ) and second it causes a very particular lower back pain. I can now tell if I eat some soy unintentionally. I get a very specific lower back pain and tightness.

The second thing my wife and I have done is a food sensitivity test. .

My doctor used Immunolabs. I found out that I was sensitive to 42 different foods, my wife 38.
We went into a rotation diet eating only the foods we test OK with. Over the last 6 months I have lost 50Lbs, my wife has lost over 50Lbs, our joint ache is gone and actually, Ive’ started running again, I’m 55. And with the rotation diet you can eat all you want. Removing the sensitive foods from you diet eliminates toxins from you body that can result in various types of pain and inflammation.

So consider the book by Dr. Sarno and getting a food sensitivity test. I’m amazed at the results of these 2 things. I know this seems quasi medicine to some, it’s not, it’s holistic medicine which really has a better understanding of the mind/body/spirit concept. My experience is that it works and has produce dramatic results for me and my wife.


View IrishWoodworker's profile


159 posts in 5130 days

#8 posted 04-10-2010 09:59 PM

Hello friends, I do not have sever back problems like some of you have described. I am however active duty in the Army, Paratrooper that has hurt my back before on jumps. The Army doctors aren’t the best but they do their best, and one thing that they tell us is to strengthen an injury (after it has healed of course). I messed my back up pretty bad on one jump and was on my back for weeks. After the Docs verified there was no permanent spinal damage like bulged disk and alike they prescribed me stretching and exercises. I am fully aware that this is not possible for everyone, but I do challenge you to see a sports doctor about ANY injury pertaining to the spine. These people are paid to rehabilitate professional athletes putting them back to full strength. (I also know that pro athletes are also very strong when they do get injured and that helps speed their recovery.) I now make sure that I work my lower back and upper back with resistance weight training three times a week and it honestly helps me out so much. I DO NOT want anyone here going to the gym tomorrow to start working out their pain, just a humble suggestion to talk to your doctor about next time. I will pray for you my friends for your pain to be healed.

-- Dont just dream it, get up and live it!

View Dukegijoe's profile


55 posts in 4101 days

#9 posted 04-10-2010 10:32 PM

Got mine from the Army too… herniated disks, pinched syatic, lots of fun… and I just turned 30… really looking forward to the next 30 years. Saw a sports doctor when I got out, told me I had three options: exercise, meds, and surgery. So far exercise is helping… but I am pretty sure I will be messed up until a new medical marvel comes along.

Had a podiatrist look at my feet, was told I never should have been running those Army Ten Milers and ruck marches in the first place… glad to hear it after the fact. He said that performing those activities probably contributed to the back and knee pain. I really can’t argue with him.

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsmen can hide his mistakes! - Walter Blodgett

View canadianchips's profile


2632 posts in 4049 days

#10 posted 04-10-2010 10:48 PM

I suffered back pain 10 years ago, I changed jobs and decided to drive truck for a living. SITTING, Sitting and sitting some more. My back kept getting sorer and sorer. When I would walk down a sidewalk and not see a drop in the concrete the sudden jar would drop me to my knees with pain. I ended up in hospital emerg. Dr. Xrayed and gave me the good news. Bottom two discs are GONE ! He asked what I did for living, shovelling, lifting, carrying heavy things. He told me they were wore out. I was told you can live without disc. You need to build the muscle in your back. I quit driving truck, am careful what I lift, NEVER jump off 8ft roof anymore. As long as I do some excercise for the back, I am okay. (Can’t over do it either) I am same as above comments when I get tired, stressed, or drink to many favorite refreshments I am fine. Getting older and GAINING all this weight is NOT a good thing either !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7156 posts in 4247 days

#11 posted 04-11-2010 12:42 AM

Greetings guys: Thanks for all the comments and sugesstions. Let me explain a little more in details I didn’t go into on my post. This is what I really think started my trouble: When I was in VietNam I stepped on a boobytrap landmine and was shot twice. I spent many years in and out of the hospital, surgery after surgery, etc. It shattered my ankles, broke both my legs in 6-7 places, and a whole lot of shrapnel. That was in 1967, and it left one of my legs shorter than the other about 1/2”... I have total loss of use of my right leg (I still have it, thank goodness), all the nerves are damaged and gone, and a slight drop-foot when I walk. I really think this is where it all started with the back problems. It changed up completely how I walk. I had to wear leg braces for years until I finally had the right surgery to get out of those. So now we’ve kinda caught up to where my post started. And, I afraid it’s getting worse. It KILLS me to wash dishes( yes, you macho men, I do that) and making a bed is murder…. it’s that half stooping over is the real killer. It takes me about an hour to get motoring in the morning, cause I do have to streach and twist and turn to get loosened up, and bend over
setting in a chair to reach the floor, etc. So I do what I can to keep loose…..

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View JuniorJoiner's profile


497 posts in 4492 days

#12 posted 04-11-2010 01:52 AM

military service, buldged discs, torn muscles. a jagged hole that i lost use of a kidney through, and a syringo Mialia. fancy word for damage in the spinal colum that develops into a sac of fluid that never goes away.(ie. inoperable).
lots of pain and drugs, but now I get to woodwork fulltime.
I have done the whole physio, pain managment, chiro, accumpuncture, anything you can think of regime. I find what works best for me is to just not stop. When I first had trouble, and the military sent me home, I spent some time with other veterans who had been released, the recurring theme from everyone, is that if you let the pain stop you, you may never start again. So many fall into the trap of doing nothing because they hurt. before you know it, you are single, full of self pity , and caught up on daytime TV. Scares the hell out of me.
I woodwork to keep my mind busy, and hands off the remote.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7156 posts in 4247 days

#13 posted 04-11-2010 03:03 AM

Greetings Junior: I agree with you 100% on the keep on going. There are days when I don’t think I can’t get out of the rack, but I force myself to in order to keep on keeping on. I don’t stop, because I might not ever start again if I did. You just haver to force yourself and make due with what you have…... severe pain…....
I’m not a t.v person hardly at all, and I’ve had it so long, I’m used to it, or do you ever get used to it?.....

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 4750 days

#14 posted 04-11-2010 03:20 AM

I have lower back problem had it for many years I can bend down and work for an hour but boy it is getting back up it hurts like hell so now I am seeing a chiropractor had three visits up to now and it seems to help, she has the latest techniques something call a little hammer that hits all damaged vertebrates but it is not free I don’t know how long it will be before she brakes my budgets.

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile


338 posts in 4065 days

#15 posted 04-11-2010 03:40 AM

Wow, I can’t imagine the pain. I fell off a defective ladder a few years ago and ended up with facets syndrom and subluxated discs, but it’s been slowly getting better. Crazy thing is it didn’t cause any issues until last summer. It put an end to exercise, walking, laying on my back and more, but reading some of the stories above (Junior’s and Rick’s especially), I think I’ll stop complaining as I do have a light at the end of the tunnel … so my chiropractor tells me.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs

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