How to treat pervasive pain from various untreated injuries over time

by Jon
(Long Island, NY)


I feel like more and more of my joints are losing function and need to figure out a comprehensive course of treatment but at this point I don't know what to do first, after better diet and exercise:

I am a 44 yo male. Here's a brief chronology of what I think are relevant causes:

When I was 10 or 12 I sprained my right ankle pretty badly, no fracture, and have been susceptible to sprains and falls ever since; more so after 18 years old and then periodically since then; it's not uncommon for it to give out and I fall if my foot hits uneven ground; maybe a few times a year these days. It affected both ankles when I was younger but mainly the right now.

The outside part of my right ankle (the bulging bone) bulges much more than normal and much more than the left.

At about 13 years old, I was "knee knocked" by an adult while playing basketball so hard that I felt it in my stomach and it knocked the wind out of me. His knee hit my right knee and I had to sit down to catch my breath and I kind of 'walked it off' but it was never treated.

At about 18 I had two jarring injuries that went untreated - one I went to do a flip 'over' a gymnastic horse only to land on it square on my lower back, perpendicular to it, I guess hyper extending my whole spine.

Not long before or after that, I got my head caught between a heavy swinging metal carnival ride car and the steel bar that was supporting it, kind of hitting on the right side and "crushing" my head and neck to the left - I saw a flash or 'stars' - I sought treatment for the 'tear' in my skin on my head; it only took four stitches, but I was never treated for the trauma or likely neck damage.

Fast forward 10 years, (with no intervening major injuries) I had weakness in my right arm and leg - to the point that I was dragging my right leg as I walked and I went to an orthopedist who ordered an immediate mri and surgery that night - herniated disks and spinal cord protrusion - I had one disc removed and a plate put in; that was in 1999 or so.

I always have stiffness in many joints; I don't get enough or proper exercise, my right side has been weaker since that surgery.

Then after a long drive I developed a pain in my lower back/buttocks area; I was treated by a chiropractor who wanted to treat my whole spine, and on my second visit he twisted my neck in a way where i saw stars again and a few months later after increasing to excruciating pain (and decreasing nerve function in my left extremities this time ) later i was diagnosed with additional herniation in the neck and disc matter migrating in the canal. So I had my second discectomy, they removed the hardware from the first and now I have a 'double' bracket.

Then a year or two ago walking down the steps I slipped with my socks on the carpet, and landed on my lower spine / hip more to the left side... at first it felt like it actually 'loosened' up some of my other tightness in my lower back, but I let it heal on its own and since that and the prior surgery my left side never regained full nerve function; tingling in the edge of the palm of my hand and pinky on that side, tightness in the elbow shoulder.

Since now my knees both - but more so the right don't let me get up after squatting down, total weakness and they were painful to lean on a few months ago but not so much now.

Lower back pain and stiffness is getting worse, and - that's where I'm at now. Like the tin man without oil. I'm pretty sure I need a lot of things like pins in my ankle to chiropractic or reflexology - but again I don't even know where would be best to start in order to get a comprehensive treatment, not just a band aid.

Hello Jon,
Thank you for a very explicit history; keep it somewhere, perhaps print it out for future use when consulting a new doctor.

Firstly accept there are going to be no miracles wherever you go, and whatever you do. Each of these problems is difficult in itself.

Secondly, don't expect any doctor to address all of them immediately; his or her energy is so diluted. They need to focus on one of these areas at a time; then when it's improving nicely, it's time to start the next.

I'd do two things. Firstly start an exercise programme for each of these areas and spend ten minutes a day working your ankles, your quads, the lower back and neck. Take your time; you aren't going to be selected for the next Olympics! So don't rush it; careful not to overstrain. There are exercises at Chiropractic Help for of them. Be disciplined and do them daily like you brush your teeth.

Then secondly start looking for a doctor, perhaps a chiropractor if you feel inclined to risk it! after your bad previous experience who specialises in feet and ankles. Someone with a FICS qualification; that's sports chiropractic. Improving your gait can only help everything higher up.

Incidently, remember it's YOUR body. Never allow any doctor of any ilk to bully you into having a procedure that you aren't comfortable with. Manipulating your neck like that was plain dumb and I bet he never even saw the xrays first. It's easy to say with hindsight, but you should not have allowed him to do it. Do your homework carefully and thoroughly before chosing another chiropractor.

That's just the start. I hope these thoughts contribute. Incidently I have doubts about very expensive orthotics for the shoes. Certainly they help sometimes.

Let us know in a couple months how you get on.

Dr B


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