Sunday, April 27, 2008

Oh My Back

The Stumbler has been having a lower back pain on and off over the past few months. Suddenly, this week the pain was so strong I had to go visit the doctor. In the past, this back ache would bother me at night and in the morning, but during the day either it went away completely, or at least the pain was so small that I forgot about it. Well, that changed. I could NOT forget about the pain during the day, and it was making me really tired and grumpy.

So, CH took me to a nearby doctor's office which specialized in bones and muscles. The doctor took a couple of X-rays, and bent my legs around. "Does THIS hurt? How about THIS?" Finally he announced that there was nothing seriously wrong, but I had a lumbar sprain. Gave me some medicine, and sentenced me to recommended 1 hour of physical therapy. All that for $25 doctors fee and $7 pharmacist's fee.

CH left me to go to the drugstore, while I stayed behind for the therapy. First, they had me lay down on my back, with a heating pack under my lower back. I think because I have poor posture, my back doesn't like laying in that position. I was a little bit uncomfortable for the first few minutes, but soon it actually became pleasant. After about 20 or so minutes of that, they came and changed to electro-shock therapy! Two electropads were positioned on my lower back, and the machine shocked me. It was a very weird feeling, kind of like a strong vibrator. In fact, the feeling was so strong, I called them back to lower the setting. That went on for about 15 minutes - the machine went through a progammed cycle of various shock patterns. Next came the ultrasound treatment. Some kind of ultrasound probe was rubbed around my back for 5 minutes. Finally, I received infrared treatment - basically they shined an infrared lamp on my back for 5 minutes.

For all that treatment, you'd think my back would be in perfect shape. I can't say it was, however. For the rest of the day, my back felt pretty much the same. The only improvement I have noticed is that it didn't hurt as much during the night, so I have been able to sleep better. The medicine they gave me consisted of a muscle relaxant, an anti-inflammatory drug, and something for "gastric distress" which the other pill causes. So I can't say if the therapy or the medicine was helping.

I'll have to decide tomorrow whether or not to get more therapy. They only give medicine for 3 days here in Korea, so you have to return. I'll have to decide whether to get more "treatment" or not. I am inclined to say no. My friend JI told me his brother worked at physical therapy hospital, and could give me free treatment if I wanted it. Also, he recommended I try accupuncture first, before returning for more therapy. Finally, I read this quote on the internet about lumbar sprains: "Physical therapy and spinal manipulation are of limited benefit in most patients"

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