When I left physical therapy yesterday afternoon, I was asked to get as much bed rest as possible during the next couple of days.
During most of my life, I’ve had problems (unrelated to RA) with a weak lower back. If you combine this with upper back muscles that were being pulled and stretched apart as a result of the inflammation in my shoulders, and with the fact that I probably slept in a wrong position the night before (when I tossed and turned until 4:00 in the morning due to all the pain), then it should come as no surprise that my entire back was/is a complete wreck.
And the cold weather that we’ve been experiencing recently hasn’t been making things any better, either.
This is not the first time this has happened. Last time this occurred, my physical therapist confided in me that with these back problems on top of my usual arthritic joints, she had absolutely no idea how it was that I was still able to move and walk.
The medical term for this condition is “contracture.” According to Wikipedia, this is when “the muscle and its tendons shorten, resulting in reduced flexibility.” Imagine that, your entire back from the waist to the neck is one big knot, that only continues to grow tighter and tighter. What’s the treatment, you might be asking? Well, at this point, taking a simple muscle relaxer really wouldn’t help. It would be like someone telling you to take aspirin to fix your RA…and we all know that would never happen, right?
Back to fixing my back, though. A series of 8-10 large electrodes are attached along my back, and then a special electrotherapy current is applied up to the point where I can stand it no more. This in turn makes the muscles contract even more!
All of this might sound tortuous, and in a way it sort of is. Who would have know that one day I was actually going to be reenacting scenes from Fox’s hit show ’24′? (My physical therapist tells me that I am allowed to shout anything I want, with one exception: I cannot call her any bad names!) But the further tightening of the back muscles, followed by their immediate release, does provide some immediate relief. And the hope is that this will gradually give way to additional relief, which will be followed by complete relief. Hence, the bed rest between sessions.
So I’m making the best of my prescribed bed rest. Last evening I started a mini-marathon viewing of Mad Men Season 2, and this morning I working away on my laptop computer that is propped up on my chest. I’ll probably do some reading in a while, or listen to some music or a podcast. I’ll continue to make the most out of my situation, in the hopes of having my back return to “normal” within the next few days.
Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!