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Back issues...getting old sucks

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by fishtx, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. fishtx

    fishtx Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Genzler Amplification/Spector Basses/Mojo Hand FX
    OK, I'm 53 now, and it's gotten to the point that I'm in big time pain from about the middle of the first set for the rest of the night. I get some relief during breaks, and I have started carrying a fold up stool with me and sit down for ballads, just to get a break...It's in the lower/middle part of my back, and it starts as just a dull, slow growing ache...until it just gets so uncomfortable, I'm constantly looking at the clock to see how much longer before the break...this sucks...

    Back doctor told me I have mild Scoliosis, and spurs between the two bottom vertebrae. He said it's not bad enough for surgery yet, and that there's not much I can do about the Scoliosis (not bad enough for anything major)...so, I suffer and trudge on.

    I know there have been some threads about heavy gear and basses, but I wanted to see how many other players out there are dealing with back pain.
  2. I'm with ya, brother.

    Back in 2008 while working at a GC, I was unloading a shipment of amps.

    A box labeled "Crate". First thought: lightweight, combo amp, brain registered it weighing about 20lbs.

    It ended up weighing much more. Everyone in a 15 foot radius heard the pop.

    L5/S1, torn in half. Countless injections, then a failed fusion, now five surgeries later. On disability now, done working for life, 42 with a handicap placard on my van. I've got a Spinal Cord Stimulator implant now to interrupt the pain signals in my spine. I get about two hours each day that I can move somewhat well, then the rest of the day is pain pills and butt in the recliner.
  3. BigOkie


    Nov 28, 2010
    Oklahoma City
    Stabilizing the back means strengthening the abdominal muscles, hips, thighs, chest, and learning to make posture and body mechanics (how you lift, push, pull, carry) a natural part of your movements. If you can afford it, get your doctor to hook you up with a physical therapist. If not, any number of books and Internet resources are available on the subject.

    In my day career I have been a registered nurse for 28 years. Most of that time I worked in the operating room. We have a saying: surgery is to do, not to have done. Back surgeries are dicey, as our friend Rip, posted above, can attest. Do everything you can conservatively before you choose surgery.
  4. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    I'm 57 in almost exactly one month's time, and yes, there are aspects of getting old that really suck.

    On the other hand, getting older is better than the alternative - because you're only going to stop getting older on the day you die.

    For now I know which I prefer
  5. Definitely "dicey", lol. Every consult that the surgeon gave a percentage of failure, I fell into that percentage. Granted, I'm an extreme case, but I agree. Surgery should only be considered as a LAST resort.

    Someone once told me that once you start with back surgeries, you're never done. At least for me that seems true.
  6. The OP has discomfort standing through a gig. I have found Earth Shoes help reduce back discomfort when I have to play a few sets.
  7. Here's something that helped me a bit after my last surgery.

    I had started researching wider straps to help ease the stress on my back and came across WideRides straps. Really helped using a wider strap.

    The Velcro adjustment is really cool, too.

    Of course, no strap is going to fix the issue. But when faced with a problem that isn't going away, you start looking for any little thing to help.
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    OPs situation sounds a little different than Rip's. OP is attributing his problems to age, Rip has an injury.

    My $.02. I'm not a fan of doctors. I had problems about 20 years ago and got diagnosed with a few things that I both didn't want to hear, and wasn't too sure I agreed with. I'm pretty certain one of those was mild Sciolosis, I'm sure they said I had the start of arthritis, and I think they threw TMJ in there for fun. They even had X-rays to prove it all, and point to exactly what they were telling me. I didn't listen to them. I learned to listen to my body, learned to relax it, learned to strenghten it, and 20 years later I'm in 20X better shape than I was then.

    My adrenaline gets going when I hear people say we're getting older it goes with the territory. Yes, there are some things that absolutely do, and which we have no control over (eyes get dryer, skin starts sagging a bit, certain hormones slow down, etc.), but physical strength and stamina don't have to start deteriorating. I've been on a mission since I stared nearing forty to grow stronger and be more fit every year, and thus far I'm succeeding. I've had to change my exercise routines and listen closely to my body, but it's absolutely doable. I feel strongly that once we start listening to the labels that doctors throw out at us, we mentally begin to cripple ourselves. We have justified medical proof why we shouldn't be using a gym, running, swimming, whatever. And we get medications, and we get surgeries, we complain, and we get depressed because our lives aren't what they used to be....

    I believe we need to get an education outside of the doctor's office and learn to really tune in and listen to our bodies. Find out what's really causing our problems (usually things diet and stress related), start exercising a little more, and start living differently. I don't have any of the things today that I was diagnosed with 20 years ago. Including a middle finger on my right hand that I couldn't play with because of the "arthritis" I was diagnosed with. My finger is 100% fine now. I'd say 110%. The finger was just a small part of the problems I was having.

    One of the things I keep reminding myself as far as my fitness and age is concerned is that if I were asked to run a marathon next week, I couldn't do it. If the desire was strong enough and I wanted to do it next year, at age 52, or if I set a goal to do that at 60 (barring any tragic mishap), I'm absolutely certain I could train and get in the right kind of shape to do it. I refuse to buy into the fact that our bodies keep getting weaker. There are countless others who feel/felt the same way. 2 that come to mind quickest are Jack LaLane, and Mick Jagger.

    I'd advise you to do some research on holistic care, get away from the doctors, and listen closely to everything your body is trying to tell you.
  9. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    Getting old definitely sucks and my sympathies go out to anyone suffering as a result. I'm 61 and realise that I should take more care of myself, I should have started years ago!

    I have to be ultra careful with my shoulders and never lift bass or PA cabs (or anything heavy) if I don't need to. I use a sack truck to move them and only lift them when absolutely necessary. I have recently switch from a 96lb Trace Elliot combo (on wheels) to a 44lb fEARful and a racked pre and lightweight class D PA amp. For the weight reduction alone it was well worth it.

    I also carry the band PA in my car and have persuaded them to invest in one that is about 2/3 the weight of our old one. I say persuaded, it was more like blackmail either buy a lighter one or someone else carry it. No-one wanted to take it on.

    I suffered with back pain several years, it was worst when I got out of bed and it eased as the day wore on but never actually went away completely. I was on meds for it and was urged by my doctor to see about having surgery but my late wife (herself a nurse) insisted that I didn't, in her words "stay out of hospitals as much as possible, you can go in with a stubbed toe and come out in a box". Then one morning I got up and realised that I was pain free, it has never bothered me again since but I am now very mindful of what I lift just in case (as well as trying to protect my shoulders).
  10. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    In 1998, I broke my spine in two places due to a motorcycle accident, and didn't know it. As I got older, and added weight around the middle, those injuries came back to haunt me. I got a lot of injections, and eventually got the spinal fusion of my first vertabrae to my tailbone.

    The guy talking about core exercises is dead on right. I have shed a lot of that weight, (still have a little to go,) and have been working those muscles hard. I started with a physical therapist, to make sure I was doing exercises I could do. Now I can do just about anything; crunches, ab roller, planks, you name it. It is very, very important to build core strength, and not have any kind of "spare tire" weight around there.

    It's a great place to start! There are lots of benefits, including feeling better about yourself, (more confidence!) having more energy, and reducing the risk of heart attack, as well as the obvious benefits of not making your spine do all the work of holding up your body. Let those muscles do the job.
  11. KwinS

    KwinS Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    Dallas/Ft. Worth
    Hey, Fish.
    I put the micro version of my back story on here somewhere. It's kind of long, and I'm on my phone right now, so it would take forever to type. I will try to PM you later this evening. I'm still dealing with it, and part of it is similar to what you have going on. Sorry I missed you at the Dallas show this year!
    Avoiding hospitals/surgery, and strengthening the core are good places to start. I agree with most of the stuff said do far. Some I don't!
  12. KwinS

    KwinS Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    Dallas/Ft. Worth
    Oh yeah, check out MBrace stands, too.
  13. jarrydee


    Oct 22, 2011
    wow, I am so sorry for you guys, I thought I had it bad...guess I should stop complaining, I have had back problems for a long time , I am 38 and have advanced arthritis in my lower spine and my sciatic nerve acts up daily witch effects my back right down through my leg to the tip of my toe, but I will take this over the pain you guys have to deal with...
  14. The thing about back pain is that it takes over. What I mean is that when when your back hurts, it makes it impossible to think about ANYTHING else.

    Granted, my case is an extreme one. But most will agree. My kids give me crap sometimes because they just don't understand.

    My injury permanently disabled me, but even less serious cases can be so painful that you just can't function.

    There are days that I get around pretty well, and can work in my woodshop for about 30 minutes before I have to stop. There are other days where I literally cannot even walk.

    I'm well medicated for it. Between the OxyContin (around 100mg a day. I made the doctor wean me down from almost 200mg) and the Gabapentin (180mg daily), I'm in a constant state of fog. I get a nice little two hour window each day that it is safe for me to drive, after that I'm parked unless I have a chauffeur.

    Even with the drugs, I still have a constant stabbing feeling down both legs, and it feels like a vice grips is tightening around my lower back. This is constant, so as you can imagine there are times that it wears me down and I'm not the most pleasant person to be around.

    Unfortunately I don't live in a state that allows medical marijuana.

    I agree about avoiding surgery. If I knew then....
  15. I have had muscle spasms causing debiliating pain; more Over- Working related than hauling bass cabs IMHO.

    After years of suffering, I sought treatment beyond pain killers. Due to insurance issues initially not recognizing Chiropractic, I was sent to an Osteopath. After 3 -4 visits, I was actually able to touch my palms to the floor when he asked how far I could bend without pain. AMAZING BUT TRUE.

    A year later when spasms re-developed,he was out of business, so, again I asked for Chiropractic and was sent to 10 treatments of Sports Therapy; mostly electro stimulation; worked great.

    Spasms recurred and Kaiser insurance acknowleged Chiropractic. 10 visits... and fine. This went on year after year.

    Over time, I also developed a groin hernia; figured I better learn flute..LOL.. Amazingly after hernia repair surgery, I no longer have lower back muscle spasms..no treatment in years.

    I now have a sedentary office job. As for yard work, etcetera, I AM ALWAYS COGIZENT that I can cause myself RE-injury whether lower back or hernias. I work as hard as needed wherever, but I work smarter; more smaller loads than fewer; larger loads.
    I still play my basses with no fear of their weight and although I can carfefully handle my cabs or combo, my wife stands at the ready to assist whenever needed. ALWAYS ASK FOR ASSISTANCE IN LIFTING ANYTHING OVER 40-50 POUNDS I know you younger folk are invensible as I once was, but you are setting yourself up for future damage.
  16. That is very good advise. There's no shame in asking for help. Our gear is heavy. No need to try to show off by lifting more than you should.
  17. fishtx

    fishtx Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Genzler Amplification/Spector Basses/Mojo Hand FX
    Earth shoes huh?...hmmm, I may have to try a pair...what the hell...

    Yeah I've thought about physical therapy, and had a back doctor recommed one. I actually met with this guy, but the dude was about 5'7" and weighed about 280lbs and smelled like cigarettes...I was so put off by him, I told him "nah...I'm good" and left his office.

    I know they are not all like that, but I haven't followed up.

    Someone else told me that these machines that you hang upside down in work great (stretch and decompress your back). Anyone have any experience with these?
  18. Bert Slide

    Bert Slide

    May 16, 2012
    Louisville KY
    I always bring 4 squares of that snap together foam flooring material you can get at a hardware store and put it on the stage behind my mic stand. It's way better on my lower back which I have issues with and keeps my feet from hurting after standing all night on a hard stage floor.
  19. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    When my back was bad (about 20 years ago) my doctor was big on "natural traction", hanging by your hands from a bar. He had me doing this for 2 mins 3 times a day (IIRC).

    My back certainly felt better but it played havoc with my shoulders. Pushing my wife in a wheelchair was probably the final straw for them (but I don't regret it for a minute).
  20. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    PLaying on a stool or a chair, better strap, better playing position and of course if you don't already do it ... it may be time to go to the gym.

    I had minor back pain few years ago due to playing my 6 strings and only go to the gym took care of that problem.

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