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Re: [RC] Back Pain - Bruce Weary

Okay, Nancy, we'll start with you. A compression fracture is a fracture of the front part of a vertebra, which is block shaped and built for weight bearing. There is a loss of vertical height of that vertebra, and they can be simple fractures, or involve much fragmentation, but those are rare. They are usually uncomplicated, with no usual danger of paralysis. They usually heal to varying degrees, and most younger patients go on to live normal lives.The rear part of the vertebra is basically made of the "gliding" joints which allow and steer movement, and aren't so much built to carry weight. The two components work together to provide stability and the ability to bear the weight of carrying us upright all day, as well as provide flexibility and movement. Compression fractures usually happen in the mid-back or low back, depending on the mechanism of injury. You would think that a "straight down" force would have to be involved in order to compress the vertebrae, like falling on your fanny, but they can be caused by lifting or even an auto accident where the victim is struck from the front OR the rear. And, in the case of significant osteoporosis, can happen spontaneously or from a sneeze or other sudden movement. That's why it's important to take your calcium (calcium citrate) and your vitamin D. You have to add some sunlight exposure to activate the vitamin D so that the calcium can even be absorbed and utilized. Exercise (and the literature says good ol' walking is still the best) that gently "jars" your bones will tell the body to fortify those old bones. Those who choose not to eat dairy are at greater risk, as it is hard to get enough in your diet without it. You can eat lactose free products if you are lactose intolerant, or you can take lactase, which is an enzyme that will help you to digest lactose, and thus tolerate dairy. Vitamin D is gaining much attention these days, and many of you may not be getting enough of it. It is not a regulated vitamin like vitamin A is, so there may or may not be adequate amounts in your milk even though the label says it's in there. There is some strong evidence that vitamin D may help with fibromayalgia. It's cheap and I take it every day. Interesting side note-- after the age of 60, there is a 30-50% mortality rate from a hip fracture within six months!
As far as your "sore spots" they are probably muscle lesions that have formed as a result of your injuries. The muscles have to contract differently now, since the structures of the vertebrae have changed, and the neurologic "conversation" between the spinal cord and the muscle has changed, possibly sending too much signal, and increasing the activity of certain muscle fibers. This causes increased metabolism of those fibers, leading to more rapid fatigue, and more metabolic by-products or "sewage" that can collect when congested and cause increased pain. You mentioned that heat, electro-stim, posture changes and riding all improve your symptoms. This is because these all either increase local circulation or relieve tension. You may have also formed some microscopic scar tissue in those muscles, making them less elastic than they used to be. After the fractures have healed, in many patients manipulation can still be used to help free up that area and offset some of the post-fracture stiffening that wants to set into any joint that is near a fracture Incidentally, scoliosis is largely viewed as a symptomless condition, unless it is very severe. If you have back pain, and are also told you have scoliosis, look further for the cause of your pain.
I don't want to overstay my welcome here. I hope this answers some questions. Bruce Weary


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