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Greetings and welcome to my Lyme disease blog, a comfy cozy (and sometimes crazy!) place for cutting-edge information, encouragement and insight into the fastest-growing epidemic disease in the United States. In this blog you will find everything from bug-killing strategies to immune system and hormone help, as well as lifestyle and spiritual suggestions for healing from chronic illness involving Lyme disease. The information contained within this blog is based upon my own healing journey and what I have learned over the past eight years as I have been diligently digging and researching my way back to a better state of health. May you find it to be a source of hope, inspiration and wisdom in your own journey towards wellness.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Treatments for Disk Problems and Back Pain In Lyme Disease

Forgive me the paucity of blog posts lately, but between relentless sciatica pain that has been screaming for my undivided attention and trying to settle back into life in Costa Rica after six weeks in the States, my free moments have been sucked up as if into a time vacuum.

As with all things in my healing journey, however, I have learned a lot from this recent intrusion of pain into my life. So since I haven't had time to research anything else, and because sciatica and other back problems just happen to go hand-in-hand with Lyme, I'll share here what the past month or so of chiropractor-osteopath-Lyme board hopping has taught me.

First, folks with Lyme disease can experience back pain for any number of reasons. A lack of important minerals, such as magnesium, is one, since magnesium plays an important role in functions such as the generation of energy in the muscle and the conduction of nerve impulses. B-12 is a nutrient deficient in many Lyme sufferers, and it too plays an important role in the nervous system. I learned recently that supplementing the body with B-12 can help to stop nerve pain.

Another reason why people with Lyme suffer from back pain is due to hormone deficiencies. Those with adrenal insufficiency, for instance, often have weak ligaments, which help to hold the spine in place. This may be one reason why chiropractic adjustments often fail in those with Lyme disease.

Also, the bugs are fond of destroying cartilaginous tissue, which covers the bones and supports the spine and body in a number of ways. Taking a product with MSM and glucosamine (a non-shellfish source may be preferred, due to the potential for mercury toxicity found in fish)can help to rebuild cartilage.

That Lyme generates neurotoxins and causes inflammation may be another contributing factor to back pain. I am just starting to understand musculoskeletal problems in Lyme, so please consider what I offer here as a rudimentary introduction to this area of study.

During the first couple of years in which I had Lyme disease, I found that keeping inflammatory foods out of my diet, as well as taking an abundance of vitamins and minerals as I killed bugs, helped to keep my upper back and shoulder pain at bay. Practicing good biomechanics, by sitting and standing and lifting properly, also helped.

I got a little lazy when it came to my lower back, however, since I had never experienced pain there until last October. I spent most of last year working on my computer with my lower back slouched into the sofa. That probably wasn't a good idea. Sudden leg and lower back pain in October finally compelled me to get an MRI in December, which revealed two bulging disks.

I refused the cortisone injection offered by my Denver osteopath, but accepted a mild dose of oral steroids. You can now count me among those who believe that steroids don't help those with Lyme, and can, in fact, make a person worse.

As can chiropractic adjustments. The three that I received from my osteopath in Denver only served to transfer the bulk of my pain from my legs to my lower back and hips. Well, I guess you gotta choose where you want your pain, right?
I think I had tolerated the leg pain better, to be honest.

In my quest for healing, I began incorporating Yamuna body rolling into my regimen. So far, the effects have been minimal, but I admit, rolling your back over a ball gives a nice massage to the body. I yet think that this therapy might be worth continuing, and while pain has put my impatience meter into the red, I am trying to stick with it, because, can you say it with me? Healing takes time!

I've also started taking a product by Solgar that includes vegetarian glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin sulfate, hydrolyzed collagen and hyaluronic acid. Lyme destroys cartilaginous tissue, and these ingredients support its production. Hello? McFly? (If you remember that line from the movie, Back To The Future). Why didn't I start taking this from the beginning of my healing journey? Ah well, live and learn. You can only stuff so many pills down your throat, can't you? And taking these vital nutrients may not have prevented my problem, anyway.

Some have recommended decompression-type techniques for disk problems. Decompression stretches out the spine, providing greater space between the disks, which then allows the disks to return to their normal position, thereby alleviating the pain caused by disk pressure on the sciatica nerve. And while proponents claim an 86% success rate, it is a pricey therapy whose results may be uncertain for Lyme sufferers, again, due perhaps in part to ligament laxity.

Others have proposed performing a body cleanse with nutrients and abundant anti-oxidants, as doing so can relieve inflammation. This may be a good option for some Lyme sufferers. Ozone injections into the spine can do the same, and may also be a decent option, especially for those with herniated disks.

Currently, and in addition to my little rubber ball rolls, I have begun treatment with an osteopath who is somewhat famous in the middle part of Latin America. This guy, who is originally from Germany, has formulated a technique for restoring the spine to its original position. It has nothing to do with chiropractic crunching and everything to do with tissue manipulation and proper biomechanics.

When I walked into his office, he took one look at me and said, "I know why your back hurts."

Okay, doc, I thought. Convince me because I'm skeptical that there's much that anyone can do to help a Lymie with pain that keeps her vertical all day!.

He then pointed out that my right leg was about four centimeters shorter than my left one, that my right shoulder was drooping, that my upper back was bound by minor scoliosis, and my cervical spine was like twisted like a country road. In other words, my skeleton was a mess.

I think I'll thank borrelia for this one, too. For weakening my ligaments and destroying the tissue that helps to hold me in place.

"I can fix you in three or four treatments." The doc said.

Like permanently? Yes. Permanently.

"This is a cure, not a Band-Aid." He said.

Had my massage therapist not given me his name along with raving reviews from her massage patients, I might have said, "Yeah, right."

So I allowed a flicker of hope to dance in my spirit, albeit briefly, because it's hard to stop that tape in my brain that sings, "You have Lyme, remember? It ain't going to be easy for you, because nothing in this stupid game is!"

So as the hope danced, I remembered my god, and my belief that all things in life are under His sovereign control. Yes, god often uses the simplest of things to heal, and here was a guy with a simple, and painless technique. Who knows if He would use it, a $300 protocol, over decompression, which costs $3,000 and involves twenty or more visits to the chiropractor? Agh. (oh, and by the way, that's half the price of decompression in the States).

I marveled as the osteopath, aided by a physiatrist, pushed on my leg as he moved it about this way and that, and then did the same for my neck and lower back.

He then noticed that my ligaments were, "Older than your thirty-four years."


But that I shouldn't despair, because the therapy would still work. It just might take a session or two longer. (So that quote of three sessions was given before he had a chance to feel my flimsy ligaments).

So here I sit today on my rubber ball. I've been here for three hours today, and the pain is tolerable. My right leg is now only two centimeters longer than the left, instead of four, and next week, I hope to get them even. Along with the rest of me.

As I sat in the doctor's office, I realized another truth. Getting the spine in order is important, not only to fix searing pain in the hips, leg and back. The activity of the nervous system is affected by skeletal problems, which can lead to exacerbation of other symptoms and perhaps a delay in healing from Lyme disease.

Yes, treating back pain and spinal issues in Lyme is a daunting task. But I'm determined to find a solution, beyond having to take medication for nerve and muscle pain. There just has to be a better way. Maybe I've stumbled upon one of those ways.

Stay tuned.


Clark said...

Oooh Connie, Man oh man do I know where you are coming from. My lyme symptoms started in my lower back and have since made a homesteading tour of my entire body. Nowdays, home base is in my right lower back and halfway up my spine. When I first started on this journey I went to a chiropractor. He did some very violent adjustments on me that put me in the bed for about 12 days. uggg.

Nowdays I am doing a lot of stretching and strengthening exercises. My back is much stronger but it really hurts. I roll my back out on the 'aligning rolling pin' which seems to help.

The problem for me is, "Is this exercise helping me or hurting me?" So hard to guage.

One positive improvement I have seen in the past 6 months is that when I first started treatment my knees were just spontaneously popping out of joint (2 or 3 times a day), but this hasn't happened in about a half a year. So, I'm hoping that's healing.

Get to feeling better Connie. You have been such a help for me and I want this to pass for you.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried cranial sacral therapy? I go for occasional sessions. I would go more often but the therapist that I trust doesn't take my insurance. When she started my last session she just stood there and said "I don't even know where to start with you, your spine is a mess."
I am still amazed to find that alot of my problems come right back to the lyme disease. I have learned so much by reading your blog. Thank you so much.
My most frustrating problem is my memory. It is very upsetting to me to have forgotten so many moments in my childrens lives.

Connie Strasheim (aka Killabugger) said...

Hey Clark,

Ouch. That chiropractor visit sounds like it was simply awful!

I pray that you would continue to find healing. I sympathize with your pain and pray that a treatment will be put in your path to get rid of it, permanently!

Thanks so much for your kind wishes. I am praying and believing in the Almighty for healing!


Connie Strasheim (aka Killabugger) said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for the suggestion. I have done cranial sacral and found it to be helpful for other issues. This one, however, I think, probably needs to be handled differently, in my case.

Sorry to hear about your memory issues. I know how frustrating that can be! I would recommend taking as much brain nutrition as possible. Omega 3's for building, lithium orotate to reduce the impact of neurotoxins, and resveratrol for increased circulation. Ginko might be good, too.

I pray you find greater healing in this area, as well as with your spine, too. It's amazing how Lyme impacts so many different body systems!


Anonymous said...

What helps me most with lyme related body pains, fatigue and detox is doing Bikram yoga. Sometimes I even feel symptom-free after a class! There are two Bikram studios in Costa Rica- Playa Jaco and San Pedro. You should definately give it a try. It is what has been getting me through my long road to recovery.

Blake said...

I feel your pain. I have been stuck in bed for 3 months now due to SEVERE Sciatic nerve pain.

I too had a mri that showed some mild bulging, however I did not do anything to aggrevate this-- except getting bicillian shots for Lyme.

The only relief I have found is ICE ICE baby.

Anyway I will read more of your blog etc. I do have your book, and about 20 others Lyme books I have yet to read. I will grab yours and start.

Anyway please feel free to join me on www.lymefriends.com

You can replicate your blogs there using RSS on your page and can promote your books if you like. Take Care


Connie Strasheim (aka Killabugger) said...

Hi Blake,

I'm sorry you've had such terrible back pain. It is no fun, is it?

Just a thought-you might consider B-12 injections. These strengthen the sciatica nerve so that it doesn't get weak and rub against the vertebra. My pastor did 25 injections and it cured him of a sciatica problem that kept him bed bound. (Of course he didn't have Lyme!)

If you can afford it, you might also look into ozone injections into the disk. These can reduce the bulging (though if your bulges aren't severe, you might try some other stuff first).

Hang in there! If it means anything, I'll say a prayer for your healing.



Stacey said...

Hey Connie

The back pain is off the charts!!!

Have even given into considering back operation (5 herniated stenosis in two) last three weeks have been tough.

Have been doing Vit-C Ivs for a years with magnusium and have found some improvements!

Sorry for the spelling errors as I'm trying to get comfortable!



Jenni said...

Over the last 100 years, chiropractic medicine has been leading the field as the most natural and non-invasive approaches to treating chronic spinal pain conditions. Chiropractic care focuses on relieving the tension or inflammation to the delicate nerves of the spine. This irritation to spinal nerves is the chief cause of spinal pain. When chiropractic adjustments are given to relieve the pressure placed on the nerves of the spine, relief is noticed almost instantly. This relationship between the spine and nervous system is the main focus of chiropractic treatment. With Chiropractic care, patients not only respond fast to spine pain conditions, but also to conditions of the entire body as well.
chiropractors duluth ga

George William said...

Our specially trained staff of physical therapists, massage therapists and spinal rehabilitation specialists come together to help improve the function and the movement of your body. They focus on the rehabilitation of your balance, posture and physical mobility and concentrate on techniques to take the pain and fatigue away. perimeter spine and rehabilitation center

Anonymous said...

Ah...what a bullshit blog. To be able to walk, take care of yourself, manoeuvre airports, travel, write, YOU have a serious mental illness, NOT Lyme. Or I suppose you're like that loser reality TV loser...smh.

J. Whitman said...

Does anyone in the comments have information on Spondylosis? I love reading about back conditions and learning more about what causes them. Another one that I don’t see much written on is lumbar radiculopathy, so if anyone knows where to direct me for treatments related to Cervical Fusion or a herniated disc, let me know!

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jacqueline Play more Bendy and the ink machine said...

Hi how are yous all I got Lyme disease four years ago after that a year later broke my tailbone barely fell then the year after I got bell palsy and now these year I have a herniated disk in my L5 c1 and I was a very healthy person but every sense Lyme my body and immune system hasn’t been the same I do not know what to do no more I do not want to get the injections or do surgery when I feel it could be the Lyme and that is the issue that needs to be handled please someone help me out I live in ct I’m 29 and I can not take the pain going thorough my left side hip though legs lower back

Mike Bacher said...

At Advanced Pain Centre we provide effective treatment for slipped disc, slip disc symptoms, pinch nerve lower back, treatment or surgery for bulging disc, spinal disc prolapse, spinal disc bulge, hand or leg numbness, treatment for low back pain, spinal decompression, treatment for sciatic nerve, sciatic pain. We use non-surgical decompression as part of our treatment for effective relief of slipped disc conditions.

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