Back pain in everyday life: topic of relapse


We are happy that we are with Louise Walther another author for the Parkinson Journal, who deals intensively with the topic of functional neurology and neuronal movement training. Today's contribution deals with the topic of back pain and relapse.

Back pain: recurrence

while I'm writing the post, I'm sitting on the roof terrace in Barcelona. The Spanish traffic is bustling around me. It is incredible for me to be sitting here today writing this post. Because two weeks ago I had mine four year anniversary: At the end of August 2018 I had mine second disc surgery. I can still remember damn well how intense that time was. How frustrated I am that after my first operation in 2016 I now have all this Pain, movement restrictions and fears had to go through again. I'll never forget lying on the floor and having to call my sister to take me to the doctor because I couldn't stand up on my own, let alone walk four flights of stairs down. I will not forget the statement of my colleagues at the time: “I have never seen a herniated disc like that, who do these pictures belong to?”, unaware that I was lying in the next cubicle and still hoping to avoid an operation. 

Long story short: I couldn't avoid a second operation. After three weeks of getting neither the pain nor the sensory deficits under control, the motor skills also became more and more problematic. Not being able to move your own leg, not being able to trigger reflexes and this dull feeling that your legs didn't belong to your body were the low point. A quick emergency operation followed when other areas failed sensory and motor (including saddlebags syndrome).  

I don't want to beat around the bush: That was the most frustrating time of my life. I had changed a lot in my life after the first operation. More exercise, more balance, less stress, different work, more passion, less frustration and resignation. And yet I had one Ruckfall – Mass reprolapse, as they say. So the entire intervertebral disc tissue distributed over two floors in the spinal canal - also explained why painkillers and injections didn't help. 

And despite all that – it was probably my most instructive time. 
Not only because I fully focused on the topic from day one after the operation Neurocentric training have focused. It's because I have a lot learn about me, my body and my expectations could and had to. 

A few insights and practical tips on how to deal with relapses can be found in this newsletter. Clearly this time persönlicher than usual.  

And now a lot of curiosity while reading and trying out!

Best regards,
Your Luise Walther

Since back pain has multimodal causes, you cannot change one thing in life and thereby get the pain under control. 

  • exercise can help. 
  • Nutrition can help. 
  • Stress management can help. 
  • Improved sleep can help. 
  • Social contacts can help. 
  • Satisfactory work can help. 
  • Economic stability can help.

However, there is usually not one screw that you can turn and the pain is gone. Everything in the body is connected. This often makes it challenging, but at the same time offers different approaches that everyone can try for themselves. 

In my case it was a combination: new professional challenges and passions, my own business, more and more varied exercise and strength building, more balanced nutrition, focus on selected social contacts. 

And yet I had a relapse and accordingly still had a lot to do and learn. 

What is a relapse?

The recurrence of an illness that seems to have been overcome or the relapse into a past, worse condition is a relapse. Many associate this with addictive behavior in particular, but it can also be transferred to other areas of life, for example criminal law or, in psychological terms, relapse into often problematic thought and behavior patterns.
In my case, and I'm certainly in good company there, it goes hand in hand with a high level of frustration.

What is frustration?

When we are frustrated, we experience an involuntary failure to fulfill an expectation or desire. For me it was the expectation that after the first operation and my corresponding adjustments in my life, my body would function without restrictions. That's the challenge of health: we only appreciate it when it's gone and we're struggling with illness.
The crucial question is how you deal with your frustration and the resulting resistance.

What is frustration tolerance?

Enduring a frustrating experience is a learnable skill. We have the ability from the moment we are born. This competence is then further developed individually and according to the level of development. Especially with regard to one's own health, it is challenging to maintain this tolerance, especially in the event of relapses. It can therefore help to have a safe space to talk about what is bothering you, where your frustration lies and what can be done proactively.
A high frustration tolerance enables you to tackle obstacles in the long term and be ready to make changes. That means not giving up so easily and not giving up easily.

What is Resiliency?

Resilience is psychological resistance. Many describe it as a person's stand-up mode. So it says something about how well a crisis can be managed, a relapse tolerated and individual and social resources used. Ideally, you will emerge stronger from a relapse. As simple or trite as it may sound, my second disc surgery has made my life more fulfilling and conscious. That doesn't mean the surgery is the best thing that could have happened to me. I would have loved to have done without it. But since I can't undo that, I look ahead and approach the whole issue in a solution-oriented manner. And that can be learned and practiced.

How do I train resilience?

The basis for this is neuroplasticity, i.e. the ability of the nervous system to change both the structure and the functions. The brain is constantly remodeling with the aim of reacting ideally to influences and requirements. Building on this ability to restructure and restructure, you can learn new things over and over again until you die and change your brain and thus your body.
It is therefore crucial to establish new behavioral patterns. For example, I had to learn to walk again. And get used to not being able to stay in one position much longer. I have built a lot more movement and variety into my everyday life. After the operation, I was able to accept that I had to build up muscles step by step, for example to be able to carry my bike out of the basement.
You can consider the following points if you want to train your resilience to better deal with relapses:

  1. acceptance
    frustration is ok. anger too. All emotions are allowed. Accept your feelings that come with relapsing. It's ok to be frustrated, angry, sad, annoyed, disappointed or whatever.
    Tip: Take a deep breath and consciously perceive your feelings. Try to describe the feeling. This is extremely helpful in sorting out your own emotional world.  
  2. realism
    Set realistic and achievable goals. Frustration increases when your expectations are unrealistic and just too high.
    Tip: What would you do on your worst day? Use that as a guide for your expectations.  
  3. self esteem
    you are a human with human reactions and limitations. You only have one life and one body. So value it and make the best of it.
    Tip: Ask yourself every morning while brushing your teeth: How much do you appreciate yourself? What are you worth to yourself? It's best to reward yourself with a smile for answering the question.  
  4. Optimism
    Instead of looking to the past for relapse blame and seeding self-doubt, look to the future with optimism.
    Tip: Ask yourself what can you do today to make yourself feel better tomorrow? And then do it! It doesn't matter whether it's more exercise, less stress, more sleep, a different diet, a clarifying conversation, some relaxation or distraction. Do it!  
  5. Language
    The way you talk about yourself and your relapse can either catastrophize or normalize. The language and choice of words can trigger powerlessness, fear and excessive demands or encourage and point out solutions.
    Tip: Describe your relapse, preferably write it down. And then look at your language and tone it down, change it to something encouraging and positive!  
  6. Keep going
    As with any workout, regularity and routine pays off. So keep at it, even if a setback throws you back in frustration on your way.
    Tip: Set yourself weekly or monthly goals so you stay focused and motivated on this task.

exercise of the month 

All posts on the subject of mobility


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