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  • Writer's pictureDayna Culwell

Spinal Fractures-ouch

Vertebral compression fractures:

Have you or anyone you know experienced a knife-like pain in the spine that can often be described as so painful that it is disabling? It takes weeks or months to go away? If yes, let me ask you a few more questions.

Did the back pain start slowly?

Did or does it worsen with walking?

Did or does it subside at rest?

Have you suffered a loss of height?

Do you now have a stooped over posture?

I have a wonderful client, Jane, who was building strength and resilience in her yoga practice with me once a week. One day, she called and canceled all future sessions due to a bizarre incident that hurt her back. “I am not really sure what happened.”, said Jane. I was helping my nephew with his school project. We were lifting some boxes to bring them outside on the back patio. The door is rather heavy. I opened the door with one hand and carried the boxes in another. I guess it was awkward but the boxes were not even that heavy.” Next thing she knew, she was stopped in her tracks by pain and cried out. The poor nephew called his mom to come over right away. He was scared because Jane was suddenly in so much pain.

The symptoms described here point to a vertebral compression, and they are nothing to sneeze at. In fact, sneezing is quite painful with a spinal fracture. In Jane’s case, she had suffered an earlier fall on her back, some 5 years ago. She also had a hint of osteopenia. But why does something like this occur? Some of you have already shared your personal stories of fracturing a vertebrae, seemingly out of the blue. Does it just happen or do these fractures result from something more subtle and sneaky? Yes and yes.

Jane’s doctor suggested surgery to fuse the spine. That is, he permanently connected two vertebrae in her spine. This would eliminate motion between them.

Spinal fusions are often done for broken vertebrae, as well as spondylolisthesis, herniated discs, chronic low back pain, and spinal instability. Once Jane went through the procedure, she wasn’t sure what she’d be allowed to do. She’d made such progress and now felt stuck.

The good news is, once the surgical site is allowed to recover and the patient follows up with physical therapy, she can once again restart her program with someone who is certified to work in this area. Jane and I are back in business and we are taking time to slowly rebuild the muscles that support these key vertebrae. An especially helpful new tool has been the CoreFirst system. These are brilliantly designed bands that can be taken anywhere! Unlike weights, which take up plenty of room and must include different sizes in order to facilitate muscle strength, the bands simply require you, the patient, to walk further away from where the bands are attached, in order to increase resistance. Jane enjoys her yoga practice as before with additional strength building. It is so exciting to see her up and getting stronger again. It’s amazing how her confidence and self-esteem continue to grow too.

Always listen to your body. The more awareness you have of your body’s quirks and qualities, the faster you can confidently respond and rebuild.

One last note: This weekend, Bill and I traveled to Fort Worth for a CULWELL family reunion. We gathered with Bill's cousins and their kids and our kids, and so on. We all met at Billy Bob's for the entire afternoon. How much fun it was to display poster boards I had hand drawn to represent each of the 3 kids from William Culwell and Ida Snearly. We enjoyed perusing old pictures and guessing who was who! Meanwhile, the kids and their kids ran around the "Guitar Room", getting to know each other, as we got to know the kids.

I'm so grateful to all those who traveled many miles to get there, including my son that lives in Tennessee and my sis' in law who lives in Connecticut.

What did I learn? That family is so important. And, just like our quirky backs, we have quirky relatives that we know, love, and appreciate. We kicked off the event to recognize my daughter Simone and her fiancé Sam. They will be married Sept 17th. Stay tuned for more adventures. Please.... share your own adventures. Even when things are bad, there is still adventure. Perspective is everything.


It's the start of a new month. Have you completed your monthly goals and intentions?

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