Four years ago, I had a pinched nerve. Or a muscle spasm. The ER doctor really couldn’t tell what it was. My back seized up one morning, after I had been out on a jog. I felt it grab, and decided I would ice the area, but first, I tried getting out of my sweaty clothes. That’s when it happened. I yelled out to my wife, and she helped me get into bed. I could not put one foot in front of the other; but, I could move side to side. I wound up lying in bed for about three hours, with either a heat pack or an ice pack on the affected area. After three hours, I was able to move under my own power, and my wife assisted me into the car. We proceeded to the ER.
After one X-ray, three ER visits, two cortisone injections, an MRI, several chiropractor visits, a surgical consult, and two different physical therapists, all over the span of two years, the last PT revealed that, while I did have a bulging disc in my lower back, and degenerative disc disease (also known as osteoarthritis), the majority of my back issues were tight muscles. That’s why I wrote the post recently on the importance of stretching, especially after working out and DEFINITELY as you get older!
How was the pain disguising itself as joint pain? According to my PT, she said the tight muscle fibers were restricting the ligaments and tendons in my muscles. I told her I would hear a pop every now and then, and she said that sometimes that is tendons releasing pressure, because the muscle was being stretched out. Hmmm….Made sense to me, even though I’d never heard it put that way. Normally, chiropractors will tell you that popping noise, or adjustment, is the spinal column coming into alignment, when in fact, it’s probably a combination of the two. To me, it made sense! I also spoke to a massage therapist that told me the pain that I was experiencing in my lower back was due to tight muscles. She said a great way to tell is to take a tennis ball, place it on the muscle, and lean into it against a wall or door frame. If you feel that you want to swear and yell, it’s a tight muscle. When a muscle spasms, the nerves around the muscle go into defensive mode and lock down, causing minimal-to-no movement of the affected area and a lot of pain. You never realize just how much you use your back when walking!
The best way to determine whether you’re dealing with joint pain or muscle tightness, is to consult with a physician, and have them refer you to a physical therapist. They should do a battery of range of motion tests to determine whether it’s joints or muscles. From their determination, they will order up various exercises and stretches to help alleviate the pain and discomfort. It’s important to do them at home or the gym (I’m guilty of not doing all of them. Bad Rog!) to keep the therapy going forward. There are a few stretches I love to do for my back, and they really make me feel better!
The other day, I was on Facebook, in the fitness group I’m a member of, and one of the members posted a picture of what he called a Fire Shot. It’s supposed to promote gut health (bloating, digestion) and inflammation. The ingredients are as follows:
3 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric (I take turmeric supplements)
I add about 1/8 tsp of black pepper as well, for it’s anti-inflammatory properties.
Mix together, and take the shot…..all at once! Just one shot per day will do. Please make sure you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients!
Since I’ve been drinking this, the discomfort in my hip and back have subsided! I have a little better range of motion, and I was able to jog a little the other day with minimal pain and discomfort, aside from the obvious discomfort that comes from jogging for the first time in a long time. For me, it has helped a lot!
Have you heard of a variation of this fire shot?
Do you suffer from pain/discomfort? Have you had it evaluated by a physician?
If you’re wondering if the pain and/or discomfort you’re experiencing is joints or muscles, please get them checked out!