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    Dr. Corenman, I was in ahead-on collision in 1971 (no seat belt or airbags back then.) On impact I tried to hold onto the steering wheel but inertia flung me towards the passenger side and ad I gripped tightly with my right hand my body whipped backwards and my buttocks crushed the glove box on my 57 Chev. My lower back impacted the curved dashboard so hard that the dash (metal was bent inward and where it molded into to the side of the vehicle the metal tore loose. My upper back/head hit the windshield cracking it. I ended up sitting in the passenger seat facing towards the driver’s window. My back was on fire and spasms were so bad I couldn’t lay myself down. I have less painful spasms today.

    The emergency room found nothing wrong with me and I was released…several people had to place me in the car. The police had to carry me from the car to my home where I laid for three days and my stomach swelled. I have no memory of this…but my wife found a doctor to admit me and he diagnosed a broken 5th lumbar vertebrae. two broken ribs (right side), and a damaged 6th intercostal nerve. I wore a “corset” for some time and after “recovery” continued to have spasms in my lower back, upper back, and when I lifted my right arm to shave I had terrible sharp pains in my ribs (from front to back).

    A second doctor performed a “milligram” and found a herniated disc. A chiropractor showed me an x-ray clearly displaying fully formed “6th lumbar vertebra”. (I have a long torso). Twenty years ago a young orthopedic surgeon showed me little white specs on back x-ray declaring I had arthritis and should stops skiing, riding my mountain bike, and roller blading. I changed doctors and today, at age 65 I still bike ride 15 miles a day and roller blade twenty miles once a week in the summer.

    Back then I turned down surgery for the disc but ask for surgery on the 6th intercostal nerve. The surgeon passed saying he would not know where to cut. I’ve lived with the pain. At its worst I was in the floor and couldn’t move because of muscle spasm and sharp pain. Over the years the pain has subsided tremendously but today I still have that chronic dull pain in my lower back which s more bothersome if I am inactive. When I sit for hours my mid back “fatigues and it’s hard to sit with good posture. I slouch to be comfortable and relieve the aches.

    I don’t feel pain going down my leg..it’s a dull ach in my lower back right at my hips. I feel if I could stretch that area I’d get relief! I do get relief hanging from my inversion boots but nothing relieves the muscle fatigue I get in my middle spine. I recall sending a MRI to a specialist in CA who did minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery and when he phoned he was surprised my mid/upper back wasn’t causing as much pain as my lower!

    I stretch/move from side to side (in my chair) to crack my back and that gives some relief but the fatigued/aching feeling doesn’t leave.

    My layman’s opinion is that in addition to the injuries diagnosed, I hyperextended by vertebra and the total damage was not diagnosed or treated. Except for having some arthritis at every joint I’ve broken in my life (no debilitating pain from arthritis and no meds for arthritis). Today the pain is not as bad as years ago but I am older so want to correct any injury I can so it’s not an issue as I age. I plan to build a “reverse hyper” machine that lets me exercise my back/hips/hamstrings by swinging my legs. the movement stretches and strengthens. I lift weights but don’t do any training that compresses my spine. For example I do “belt squats” where the weight is supported by my hips…not my spinal column.

    Based on the nature of my accident and the symptoms over the years, do you believe there is anything medical I should consider for treatment at this late date? Also, would you recommend any type of corset/brace to hold my back and provide support so I don’t “fatigue” from sitting? I though a corset type back support might be beneficial while working out.

    Oh, on rainy/chilly days I also get muscle spasms moving around in bed.

    Thank you.

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
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    You symptoms could be generated by disc pathology, facet pathology, unhealed fracture (pars or facet fracture) or by chronic radiculopathic pain (rare). You need a good workup by a spine surgeon to determine what can be treated with conservative management or by surgical intervention.

    Dr. Corenman

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