Still trying to adapt

Lcc86 Member Posts: 30

Hi all

Have already made one post on here but haven't introduced myself properly. Started having low back pain over 3 years ago, went to various different private and NHS physios and received all manner of answers, but none of the treatments or exercises helped.

Recently was diagnosed with facet joint syndrome, paid for a radiofrequency nerve ablation but 8 weeks on unfortunately the pain has returned.

Pretty bummed out if I'm honest as I did pin a lot on it and hoped it would at least provide significant relief, which it initially seemed to do. Am plugging away with physio still twice daily and have relented with prescription codeine. I have a weird aversion to prescription medicine, I think it comes from my dad as he's the same, but I've realised that actually there are times when I need extra help and shouldn't be so stubborn!

I'm 34, sedentary job but I like exercise a lot, used to go to the gym a lot and like lifting weights (although now know that might not be the best for my back!), I like swimming and cannot WAIT for the pools to open soon. I like walking and recently discovered pilates too. I also horse ride which probably isn't the best for my back but no one can really tell me for certain, sometimes I ride and I'm fine, sometimes I ride and I'm in pain.

I've tried cutting out meat and other inflammatory foods, I'm vegetarian but have recently started taking collagen and cod liver oil as I've heard these may help, even though it means I'm not strictly a vegetarian any more! Trying to lose about a stone as am at the top end of a healthy BMI.

I also use a CBD vape, I know some of the research is contradictory on the benefits of CBD but I find it provides pretty quick relief, although doesn't last too long. I also use my TENS machine which I love, and use heat therapy as needed. Not sure what more I can realistically do but open to any and all ideas people may have on top of what I'm already doing!

Just happy to have found a community of helpful people and somewhere I can offload from time to time. Unfortunately my family aren't massively supportive and just expect me to get on with it, and I also tend to have that mindset myself too because I think I'm relatively young and that's what I should be able to do, and I don't always listen to my body. Anyway, I'm rambling now, thanks for reading if you got this far!


  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,992

    I have had two lots of radiofrequency nerve ablation and each time it only lasted a couple of weeks, the consultant explained that "nerves are funny things" and apparently if one route is killed off they will find another route to transmit the pain signals.

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 28,312

    Hi @Lcc86

    Nice to meet you πŸ™‚

    Backs are indeed funny things as are nerves as Mike1 saysπŸ™„

    I do have a friend (an old forum member) who has nerve ablation on a rolling programme. He swears by it though even for him it wears off.

    You do sound very active and yes I suppose weights and horse riding are dubious! Swimming (not breast stroke though - I was told it arches your back?) is fabulous. I believe your 'core' is key to as strong a back as possible so pilates should be good too.

    I am vegan (an ex veggie of many many years) so only take vegan multivits now but make sure I eat healthy oils and as many anti-inflammatory foods as possible .

    I hope you decide to hang about this community is lovely.

    Take care

  • Lcc86
    Lcc86 Member Posts: 30
    edited 27. Mar 2021, 08:02

    Haha mine definitely must have done that then! Perhaps I need them all done! I think because it seemed to have a big impact initially I was hopeful it would last at least a few months but I guess it's just one of those things.

  • Lcc86
    Lcc86 Member Posts: 30

    Nice to meet you too! With the horse riding, I've really struggled to find any definitive sort of info about whether it aggravates things, I've stopped for a while previously and found no change in symptoms so I started again. Horses themselves get facet joint problems so when I try to find info online all the results tend to be about horses with back issues - very interesting to read about but ultimately not what I'm looking for lol.

  • crinkly
    crinkly Member Posts: 125

    Some years ago I attended an Equine Therapy international conference in France as a delegate of RDA. Among many other fascinating presentations I attended one delivered by an East European back specialist on riding for adult patients with chronic spinal problems. As a piece of research he had started a riding group especially for his own patients who were unable to find lasting solutions to their lower back pain.

    Over time the outcomes were incredibly positive with the vast majority reporting improvement in their pain levels. Whether this was medically or psychologically achieved wasn't entirely clear but enhancement to quality of life was undisputed - particularly for patients who had ridden previously.

    The main issues were for the riding to be specifically tailored for each individual dependent on facilities for easy mounting and dismounting. a horse with reliable temperament, a suitably smooth and rhythmic gait and a back that was neither too wide nor too narrow. A confidence-giving assistant/instructor was essential at first and the rider must be free to decide when enough was enough - even if only 10mins at the start. The usual rule of how long any resulting increase in pain lasted was applicable and inevitably it is not an activity for everyone.

    I successfully applied these criteria to myself and was able to transfer the knowledge to others as an RDA instructor. There is no claim of a 'cure' but neither is there any evidence of harm. For those who enjoy it the benefits are vast and I managed to hack out and take part in lower level dressage competitions into my mid-sixties. By then I was unable to care for my own horse as she deserved and had no desire to ride horses other than ones I knew well and trusted. I called 'time' and live with amazing memories of the unique connections that exist for some of us with horses and the outdoors.

    Look for possible local disabled activity grants and if you have the necessary funds and accessibility an RDA group or a qualified Riding Therapist could provide the ideal introduction/reintroduction. When you find the right equine and facilities do continue to enjoy riding at whatever pace and level is beneficial to you. It's not for everyone but in my experience nothing is better for keeping the head straight!!


  • Lcc86
    Lcc86 Member Posts: 30

    That's absolutely fascinating, thank you for sharing! I have volunteered with my local RDA for a few years (recently called time as found it brought on too much pain being on my feet for so long) so I find this really interesting! I have a horse I share who luckily is of great temperament, very trustworthy but he is rather wide. Sometimes I will ride for 20 minutes, sometimes an hour just depending on how I'm feeling. I have often thought of asking one of the physios at RDA if I could have some sessions with them on my share horse, perhaps I should push forward with it. Thank you for this, it's really helpful.

  • Lcc86
    Lcc86 Member Posts: 30

    That's absolutely fascinating, thank you for sharing! I volunteered with my local RDA until recently (stopped due to the back pain) so I find this really interesting! I'm lucky I have a horse I share who is very easy-going, trustworthy but is rather wide. I have often thought of asking one of the RDA physios for some sessions on my share horse, perhaps I should take this forward! Thanks again, really interesting to hear about research in this area.

  • Saira
    Saira Member Posts: 3

    Have you tried using arnica gel or drinking a herbal tea like turmeric or ginger. Have you also considered massage or acupuncture or gentle yoga as ways forward. I have recently started to feel the pain of arthritis and for some time was told that I have mild arthritis. I have arthritis in the left knee and the right leg will eventually follow as I suffered two falls in 2019 and recently fell in the house and landed on my knees. Whilst this has knocked my confidence I have tried to continue with exercise online and keeping myself busy with all the workshops available on Eventbrite at present.

    I hope what I have said is helpful and gives you some hope.

  • crinkly
    crinkly Member Posts: 125

    Hello Lcc86. I've been without internet access for a while so have only just found your message.

    Treating yourself to a private lesson on your own horse with either an experienced RDA Instructor or specialist Physiotherapist sounds a good idea and could be a very worthwhile investment. You do need someone knowledgeable on the ground from time to time to check that you are sitting straight, are in the best sort of saddle and aware of any tack adaptations that might be helpful.

    In relation to your horse's width - if it doesn't increase or prolong your pain then it is probably not an issue. A wider base means less risk of a fall, which it's important to avoid. We are all different and are the experts on knowing our own bodies so trust your judgement and try things out, being prepared to stop when your body says 'enough' even if your head says 'more'!

    Not everyone understands the relationship some of us enjoy with equines and I hope you find ways to enhance your quality of life with continued riding for a long time to come. I shall be interested in your progress.

    Be realistic and listen to your body since no-one else can tell you how it feels on any given day. Even if it doesn't work out for you, you will have no regrets that you could have tried harder!