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  • Back problems

    Donít really know where to post this so... I was hit by a drunk driver July 7th, I was standing outside of my car when I was hit by a car on the freeway (auto pedestrian accident), while I did not end up with anything broken I had multiple soft tissue injures. The biggest issue being my back which even with physical therapy Iím still having constant lower back pain, which is located in the L5 region from the spine to the left side. Even after 6 years of USMC and 4 years at my current law enforcement job, Iíve never had issues with my back. My goal is to get back to work, but Iím concerned with my injury and constant pain (constant 1-2 no matter what I do during the day up to a 4-5 depending on activity, none of which involves any heavy weight or repetition, also aggravated by prolonged sitting) that it will prevent me from being able to return to full duty(I wear 20-25lbs worth of gear and my office is a patrol car, working 10 hour shifts). Since Itís a work related injury which makes itís workers compensation (ie pain in the ass) itís hard to get things approved.

    Has anyone else had back issues due to injury which took a long time to heal? And did anything aid you in getting your back to a functional state? Any advice related to back injuries.

    thanks,
    Sgt Keebler (USMC/LEO)

    Is this a hippo or a lion? Well I think it's a lion. This lion tastes like a hippo.

  • #2
    Multiple Back Injuries, soft tissue, disc, and vertebrae in the L4 to S1 region, due to a number of events through my MIL & LE careers.

    Back injuries can take 6-12 months to heal. Probably not what you want to hear, but the good news is there should be light at the end of the tunnel, it just takes longer than you want to get there.

    Make sure you have a good MD. The type of Doc you need will be related to your type of injury. Donít hesitate to work with, or try, different ones. My Neurosurgeon was great for the Disc & Nerve Issues, but I also used a Sports Medicine Ortho Doctor to deal with the soft tissue issues. Be very careful dealing with Back Crackers (Chiropractors). Some of them are credible, and can help to some degree with some issues, but they are also well known for providing temporary relief with ďadjustmentsĒ, but never actually solve the root cause of the problem (they donít have the capability to address it). Their best patients are the ones that come back non-stop every week for treatment, guaranteed stream of income! The Insurance Companies/Workers Comp can be a real pain in the ass to deal with, so you can either fight with them, or if need be get out your wallet and pay for the help you need. I actually did some of both.

    Once the Docs have done what they can, you will need a really good Physical Therapy team. Like the Docs, make sure you have the right ones. Some of them are Rock Stars, some of them are going through the motions to collect a pay check. You really need to trust them and communicate well with them, because they will have to push you harder than you want, but they also have to know when to push and when to back off. Whatever they tell you to do, DO IT RELIGIOUSLY! PT will really suck at some points, but you have to work through it.

    I found my Docs and PT through talking to a lot of people and doing a lot of online research. If you do your due diligence, you can figure out who you really want to work with. Watch, Insurance Companies/Workers Comp as they are well known for using whoever will cost them the least, not necessarily who are the best.

    CORE STRENGTH & FLEXIBILITY! Having come from having neither, to now having both, they are the ultimate key to having a healthy back. Watch, donít put an over emphasis on your back. You will need to strengthen it, but without Core Strength, you will never have the proper balance, and your back will always suffer. Flexibility is also a key, it is amazing how much it impacts everything without you realizing it.

    If you are going back on the street, and riding a mobile desk, make sure you do whatever you need to make the seat in your car as comfortable and supportive as you can. I went through a bunch of cusions and pads until I fond something that worked well. You will also have to make sure that you are constantly getting out and stretching. Sitting is actually the worst thing that you can do for your back! As such you will need to manage your seat time as best as you can.

    Trust Me! It is a process that you have to work through. I have gone from having 75% paralysis in one leg, and pain that would not let me get out of bed, to being about 98% strong and doing just about anything I want. Watch Out! Just when you think you are good, DO NOT do something stupid and reinjure yourself!

    Any questions feel free to PM me. Best of Luck!
    US Army Sniper Assoc Life Member / American Sniper Assoc Member
    NRA Instructor / High Power & Long Range Shooter

    Support our Troops & Snipers!
    http://www.specialops.org / http://www.armysniper.org/fallen-sniper-fund
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    • #3
      Thanks for all the information, it definitely helps as I am only 4 years into my career and donít want it to be cut short due to this injury. I have talked with other officers for doctor recommendations who had similar injuries.

      My physical therapist team has explained that they wil work on building core strength along with working on improving entire back strength and flexibility.

      It is is just very annoying and worrisome when your not doing anything that would be considered strenuous and it causes back pain. The other day I was just folding some laundry and it caused back pain.

      I will definitely look into back support cushions for the car, I canít sit longer than about 20-25 mins without it start hurting. I am also looking into uniform options to help remove the weight from my duty belt off lower back and hips and better distribute the weight.
      Is this a hippo or a lion? Well I think it's a lion. This lion tastes like a hippo.

      Comment


      • #4
        As posted above need to strengthen your core and maintain as much flexibility as possible without overdoing it. Worst thing people do when their back hurts is become inactive. You have to work through the pain. Degenerative condition in L4 through T12 from injuries causing curvature of spine which results in muscle spasms due to imbalance. Orthopedic doc recommended avoiding certain types of exercises such as squats and dead lifts due to spinal compression and those which require rotation of the lower back. Had a back episode a couple of years ago which put some serious hurt on me and took quite a few visits to the PT and several months for it to get better. They wanted to put me on muscle relaxers and wouldn't have anything to do with it. Just worked my way through it with some ibuprofen. Give it time.
        "Emergencies have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded" - F.A. Hayek

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        • #5
          I have also been injured several times 30 years in le I have a collapsed degenerative disk c4 c5 I was off work and the pain was so bad I was ready to have surgery. It's where they take bone from your hip and replace the disk. I went to a pain doctor and he gave me a dose pack of pregnazone, the pain went away for a long time went back to work and now once I a long time I take pregnazone, Ibuprofen is the best anti inflammatory I have taken I know more than likely I will have to have surgery but I am in no hurry. Working out does really help but you have to do it right I have been to physical therapist that don't know what the fuck they are doing just like some doctors it's your body let it tell you. And for your duty belt try the suspenders they make now they really help disapate the weight.

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          • #6
            a lot of good advice here, but something I may have missed is did you get an MRI? If not, go get one ASAP. You're just guessing at what's wrong or not until you see it on the screen.

            This is timely, as I'm probably going in for another partial discectomy/laminectomy in the next month or so. This will be lower back surgery #4. I gutted it out for years with lower back pain but when it ruptured out onto the cyatic there is mistaking it, or escaping the pain. I've had L3 down to S1 worked on multiple times each now and a T11 I just let go as it comes and goes. Once they go, if you're unlucky like me and don't reabsorb, there are almost no options except surgery, which works wonderfully. At least for me.

            Hopefully you'll reabsorb but you need to know if it is ruptured the disc never heals, it will leak until it's fully collapsed. Best case is you collapse strait down and reabsorb and never know it, but no matter what go get an MRI and make sure. Last thing you want is to go down with 9/10 pains at the wrong time and get yourself or someone else killed, or do permanent nerve damage (I have two different sized calves from this) and spend the next two years retraining a leg to move properly.

            Also, be careful with the dose packs, cortisone injections and epidural. They weaken your bones badly. I was basically told Monday, no more epi's, if this don't work you're getting cut. Healing from a tiny incision is a much safer "side effect" than what you'll face on long term meds.

            I hope you don't need surgery, but if you do non-fusion surgery really is not bad. Outpatient if you get in early. A week off work and a couple months light duty to heal up and you're good.
            Happiness is One Ragged Hole, or A Bucket of Fried Chicken ;-)

            Chris Hayes
            Nashville, TN

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            • #7
              Back is my number one problem, it's caused others. Been dealing with it for years, could write a book on it.

              Best advice is to NOT work through pain that is either spreading or getting worse. STOP when it does that. Painkillers and muscle relaxers help a lot in the beginning and a good NSAID will go a long way during and after the initial phase.

              It can take a long time to heal. But don't push it, you'll only end up worse off.

              If it becomes chronic, and you have to carry gear, tight cummerbunds inside and out help tremendously. Not wearing it at all works even better. My carry pistol can sometimes be enough to cause my back to hurt even worse, some days are worse than others, and it takes on average about 3 months laying on the floor on blankets for me to heal from a serious episode and a year to achieve a new "normal". I never go all the way back, I always wind up worse off with each episode so I'm very careful to not have them.

              Good luck, I feel for 'ya!

              Comment


              • #8
                Get a lawyer, don't try to deal with work comp alone. By now a doctor should have asked for an MRI if you have had months of continues back pain. You need representation to help keep the ball rolling. It took years to regain a relatively pain free lifestyle after my L4 L5 herniation. You could have also sustained an SI joint injury. It is in the same region and has some of the same symptoms.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Iíve had a CT and X-ray done the day of the incident, the pain continued and got worse so I took myself back to the ER and got an MRI done. Nothing was broken nor giving any indication besides soft tissue injury to the doctors.

                  Physical therapy is helping and my pain during the day is typically a steady dull 1-2, and I do have some time at 0 when I take extra care to not do anything. Sitting for more than 20-25 min in most chairs or office chairs aggravates my back as does standing for more than 90min.

                  Ibuprofen does not seem to do much, Vicodin helps but I hold off on it till the pain is a 5-6. I just started on gabapentin so hopefully that will help.

                  Got a follow up with a different doctor this week, hopefully we can figure out the exact problem so we can deal with it better.
                  Is this a hippo or a lion? Well I think it's a lion. This lion tastes like a hippo.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    First of all sorry to hear about your accident. I'm 5 months out of my second surgery and doing fine now but, I know how limiting a back injury is. Others posted a lot of good advice; I'd just like to add that advil and tylenol together, make the best pain killer I've used. None of the side effects of the narcotics with much better pain relief. If you want to know more about it, check out the film prescription thugs. The directors brother died of an opiate overdose which, is how he got onto this cocktail. Good luck and recover soon brother.

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                    • #11
                      So the gabapentin has been working great, my back has been feeling a lot better and is less aggravated throughout the day. Gabapentin targets problems with nerves. Certain movements will still make it mad. The new doctor believes that it is issue with the nerves and the small joints of the spine causing the issues, which if only a minor issue donít show up on scans. They are going to do a nerve block and injectiont to help the nerve, just got to wait for workers comp to approve.
                      Last edited by sgtkeebler; 10-18-2017, 09:50 AM.
                      Is this a hippo or a lion? Well I think it's a lion. This lion tastes like a hippo.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have had back problems that took years to heal. My brother had a friend whose back was injured in a machine shop accident a few years before I hurt my back, let's call him Mike. Mike had lots of surgery on both the front and back of his spine, he was always on narcotic pain pills given by the docs and paid by his comp. His life went down hill and spiraled into addiction, depression and eventually death. I sure Mikes pain was worse than mine was, but mine seemed like a 10 to me. I went to the Dr and got an MRI there were some pinched nerves, The pinching caused inflammation, leading to pain. Surgery was recommended, drugs offered. having seen the opening acts of what was in the process of happening to Mike I backed away from the doctors.

                        I just took the minimum amount of Tylenol and Ibuprofen that I needed to just knock a bit of the edge off the pain. Avoiding the motions, and postures that made the pain worse Allowed my back to slowly get better. I would say that my pain was reduced by about half each year for the next five years.

                        Some things to keep in mind:

                        1) If your back has more damage than a couple of pinched nerves what I did probably will not work for you.
                        2) What the doctors can successfully do has come a long way from when Mike and I had our issues.

                        Regardless of if you choose surgery (and only you should make that choice) use just enough pain meds to take the worst of the edge off. Let the pain be a guide to what you can do without aggravating your injury. If you use the meds to make the pain go away so that you can continue with life----then some of the things you normally do will make your injury worse.....So choose carefully, but there may be a period of time where you can not do everything you would like to do.

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                        • #13
                          im right around 4 years after my back surgery. i had a L5-S1 rupture. the doc said it is like when you stomp on a jelly doughnut and all the goo comes out. i was floor ridden for 2 years (1 year before surgery, 1 year after surgery), put on 50lbs and felt pretty bad about myself. i went from being the guy that everyone else counted on to the guy that now has to count on everyone else, straight from bad ass to fat ass. i also lost my business from the back injury. i owned a tree service, but since i can't climb anymore i had to give that up. it sucks. i refused the pain killers they wanted to put me on. i just drank a lot of beer. i was a 30 pack every 2 days to dull the pain which is probably why i put on 50lbs lol. i went from 180lbs; fit, lean, super strong for my size, in great shape to flabby and puffy at 230lbs. being a professional tree climber, you basically have a 10hr full body workout 7 days a week.

                          the first few years were pretty bad as far as residual pain. i could hardly do anything without nerve pain and back pain. perfect example about feeling like less of man, my wife has to split wood when we have camp fires. makes you feel pretty pathetic. but it is what it is. i also had to learn the hard way that i can't do the shit i used to do.

                          i started watching my diet, going to the gym and doing the yoga type exercises and quick drinking a few months ago. i'm feeling a lot better now. the thing that helps me the most is i just have to keep moving and keep the muscles loose i guess. if i sit around for what ever reason i get pretty stiff and if i try and be a hero and do shit i shouldn't then i pay for it for a few weeks.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Corey,

                            what did they do for you? This isn't typical results for anyone I know. Did you crush the nerves pre-surgery?

                            You touched on an important point(s) attitude. Attitude is everything when it comes to recovery. Learning what you can't do, much harder. Probably why I'm going in for #4. BUT, I live life and enjoy every fucking day. When I'm called up and my days are over I hope I have used up 99% of this body. Why leave anything on the table, life's to short.

                            Chris
                            Happiness is One Ragged Hole, or A Bucket of Fried Chicken ;-)

                            Chris Hayes
                            Nashville, TN

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              i had a microdiscectomy. the doc said there is a good chance that i might have nerve damage since it was so long i had to wait for surgery. i had the original injury aug 2011, but the pain was doable. i am guessing i just had a slight bulge or herniation, i never went to get checked. i had some nerve pain, but i was able to work and climb. just every once in awhile i would get a twinge in my back that felt like electricity. then a year later, aug 2012, we were on the front porch after work having a beer and i made the comment that my back felt funny. the next morning my left leg was dead and i had the crippling sciatica nerve pain from my butt to my toes. then the insurance company took 9 months to make up their fucking minds, and i finally had the surgery in april 2013. he said that it might take awhile for the nerves to wake up, or i might have permanent nerve damage since it was almost 2 years before i got fixed, which is why i'm guessing i still have some residual pain.

                              it sucks, but i'm back on a motorcycle and am thinking of trying to get my racing license next year, i am able to play with my boy, i'm back to playing ice hockey. i still can't sit for long periods, maybe 45 minutes. i really don't hunt much anymore because by 7:30am, i have to get down from the tree stand and walk around, which is counter productive lol. but the more i do my yoga shit, loss weight, and strengthen my core, the more shit i can do.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                This may or may not help you, but it may benefit another reader. One thing to consider, if it is not due to disc or spine injury, would be to see an Upper Cervical Center. They use a process called NUCCA. From my centers website:
                                NUCCA is a unique form of chiropractic spinal health care that uses a specific procedure focused on correcting a small misalignment of the upper neck known as the Atlas Subluxation Complex. This subtle correction ultimately restores optimal balance to the entire spinal column. Because the spinal column protects the central nervous system that controls and coordinates all body functions, good spinal balance is critical to good health.

                                I can tell you it has worked wonders for me. The only adjustment they make is to the atlas (where the skull sits) and you hardly feel it. My buddy and I call her the witch doctor because it is so minimal it must be voodoo (he had suffered for years from motocross injuries and he is also doing extremely well). I have had back issues since my late teens (am now 57). I went to chiropractors at least 20 visits per year. Last winter someone told me about this lady in Madison, WI and how she had helped them. I had my first adjustment in late Dec. after x-rays confirmed my atlas was turned and tipped, and had been for about 40 years due to the buildup of calcium on my vertebrae. I remember her saying that I was out 4 degrees and at 6 degrees you stop breathing. For the next two weeks after the adjustment, I felt like I was 15 again! The last 9 months have seen it slip out a few times so that another adjustment was needed, but overall I feel 90% better. I have not seen a chiropractor in over a year. She said it takes about 1 month for every two years you have been out of alignment, to get fully back to normal.

                                I could go on an on about the process and the results. PM me if you want more info.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by corey4 View Post
                                  i had a microdiscectomy. the doc said there is a good chance that i might have nerve damage since it was so long i had to wait for surgery. i had the original injury aug 2011, but the pain was doable. i am guessing i just had a slight bulge or herniation, i never went to get checked. i had some nerve pain, but i was able to work and climb. just every once in awhile i would get a twinge in my back that felt like electricity. then a year later, aug 2012, we were on the front porch after work having a beer and i made the comment that my back felt funny. the next morning my left leg was dead and i had the crippling sciatica nerve pain from my butt to my toes. then the insurance company took 9 months to make up their fucking minds, and i finally had the surgery in april 2013. he said that it might take awhile for the nerves to wake up, or i might have permanent nerve damage since it was almost 2 years before i got fixed, which is why i'm guessing i still have some residual pain.

                                  it sucks, but i'm back on a motorcycle and am thinking of trying to get my racing license next year, i am able to play with my boy, i'm back to playing ice hockey. i still can't sit for long periods, maybe 45 minutes. i really don't hunt much anymore because by 7:30am, i have to get down from the tree stand and walk around, which is counter productive lol. but the more i do my yoga shit, loss weight, and strengthen my core, the more shit i can do.

                                  That's a LONG time to wait with pressure on a nerve. I bet the pain was regeneration. It took 2 years for me to built my left calve up enough that I could lift my weight, and I still get horrible ham string and calve cramps from time to time. I put off the surgery#3 and it blew out on a cell site one day, crippling pain and then numbness until surgery. I'm glad you're coming along.

                                  I hate that anyone has to deal with this kind of pain and aggregation but if you think you need, or you're told, you need surgery to correct it don't fuck around and wait. You stand a really good chance of messing yourself up long term, maybe forever.
                                  Happiness is One Ragged Hole, or A Bucket of Fried Chicken ;-)

                                  Chris Hayes
                                  Nashville, TN

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    SgtKeebler
                                    the medical side of this was part of my work in neurosurgery for almost 4 years as a nurse.
                                    Do find a good neurosurgeon that does spine worto check out your back. The guys I worked with were better than the ortho guys who did the same work. The best are conservative with surgery unless its the only option. There are a lot you can do with the right team to help.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by corey4 View Post
                                      im right around 4 years after my back surgery. i had a L5-S1 rupture. the doc said it is like when you stomp on a jelly doughnut and all the goo comes out. i was floor ridden for 2 years (1 year before surgery, 1 year after surgery), put on 50lbs and felt pretty bad about myself. i went from being the guy that everyone else counted on to the guy that now has to count on everyone else, straight from bad ass to fat ass. i also lost my business from the back injury. i owned a tree service, but since i can't climb anymore i had to give that up. it sucks. i refused the pain killers they wanted to put me on. i just drank a lot of beer. i was a 30 pack every 2 days to dull the pain which is probably why i put on 50lbs lol. i went from 180lbs; fit, lean, super strong for my size, in great shape to flabby and puffy at 230lbs. being a professional tree climber, you basically have a 10hr full body workout 7 days a week.

                                      the first few years were pretty bad as far as residual pain. i could hardly do anything without nerve pain and back pain. perfect example about feeling like less of man, my wife has to split wood when we have camp fires. makes you feel pretty pathetic. but it is what it is. i also had to learn the hard way that i can't do the shit i used to do.

                                      i started watching my diet, going to the gym and doing the yoga type exercises and quick drinking a few months ago. i'm feeling a lot better now. the thing that helps me the most is i just have to keep moving and keep the muscles loose i guess. if i sit around for what ever reason i get pretty stiff and if i try and be a hero and do shit i shouldn't then i pay for it for a few weeks.
                                      I know what you mean. I used to be the guy who would go move someones fridge or whatever. I would just pick it up and move. Some what comically I guess, people would say it looked like I was caring a foam movie prop. Now when people see my wife lifting stuff for me, that look at like I am a piece of shit. I quit drinking as soon as I got hurt but still ballooned from 290 to 350. Luckily my disc remained contained, and surgery was never done. My physical therapist was adamant that thinning the disc by removing the bulge was not a good long term fix, if my ridiculer pain was gone already. I am a lot luckier than some. I refused all the pain killers i was offered.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Pm me an email. I want to send you some good reading material. I was in the same situation

                                        Comment


                                        • #21
                                          Used to get back pain a lot, and don't anymore. Get your back stronger, it works. And for God's sake, don't do sit ups (still trying to figure out how compressing vertebrae to "build core" strength makes any sense at all). Haven't had back pain in three years now, but then again, I can deadlift 300+ lbs these days... Deadlifts and squats build the core gradually as weight is increased, without having to push the spine out of alignment (like situps and some of the other retarded PT exercises).

                                          https://startingstrength.com/article...-back-strength

                                          Comment


                                          • #22
                                            Dead lifts and squats are no-no for people with back injuries. Core exercises like planking, are the got to. Injuries happen when a muscles become to strong and not flexible enough. Stretching is so often overlooked as a cure for back pain. Glutes, hip flexers, and ham strings are the big offenders for lumbar, and SI joint problems. I never had a physical therapist suggest sit ups. All of the exercises I was given were modified to protect my back. Finding a good physical therapist was key. I had a couple of physical therapists that spent all their time, making me exercise. Burned my entire year of TTD. I went to a physical therapist that worked with me in high school when I dislocated my shoulder. He asked me about my previous PT, then laughed and said you don't need to get any stronger. I am pretty well known by people from the area for breaking all the weight lifting records at a couple of different high schools. He gave me a very good stretching routine, and suggested I did yoga or something of the sort.


                                            Waiting for approval. That is why you need a lawyer. The doctor prescribes, the insurance company pays for it. You are at their doctor. The only way for them to scrutinize the doctors orders, is to change your doctor. There are very complex rules surrounding all of this. If I had the same guidance in the begging, I did in the end from my lawyer. I would have been finished in less than a year and had my settlement. As it ended i spent two years in PT, and had to live off my settlement, while I was still not allowed to work, for the second year. While they were still trying to "fix" my back.

                                            Comment


                                            • #23
                                              I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

                                              The OP has already stated that the PT is not alleviating his pain. All the planking and stretching in the world is not going to increase his back strength (which will, and has been proven, to relieve back pain), since a person's body weight is constant. His back will never be stronger than the weight (stress) applied to it. If stretching/planking were the wonder solution to back pain (which is what is generally prescribed by PT's and such), then why is chronic back pain still the number one reason for missed work?

                                              Beyond basic recovery from an injury (which the OP has already been through), deadlifts and squats are exactly what people with previously injured backs need. They need a stronger back, not a more flexible one. Flexibility (or more accurately, the inability to correctly stabilize the back via the soft tissue/muscles) is exactly what causes the pain.

                                              The OP is carrying additional weight while working (as he stated). His back muscles are not being trained with that additional weight, by performing body weight planks and stretching. It should not come as a huge surprise, that when he carries said additional weight, that his back hurts, since he isn't strengthening his back for that additional weight.

                                              Look, there's no "easy" answer/way to fix a weak back. No amount of bosu ball balancing, "core" centric body weight movements involving isometric muscle contraction is going to make it stronger. Planking, yoga, calisthenics; none of it will improve strength past the first six weeks of performing those movements. The body will adapt to them, and yes, get stronger, but not beyond that. It sounds like he has already done that. It's time to move beyond PT of the injury, and into making the back strong enough to resist further/future injury.

                                              I'm not suggesting he start by deadlifting his body weight. What I am saying is, he needs to progressively build his back strength to better stablize his spinal column (especially in the lower left area where the injury occurred). The best way to do this, is with weighted movements, than can be gradually increased over time.

                                              Most people see a marked improvement in 6 weeks of this type of program. I'd say to him, "It's 6 weeks of effort, and it may relieve your pain. Why wouldn't you try it?" If it relieves his pain, he can decide how much stronger (beyond the strength needed to relieve the pain) he wants to go.
                                              Last edited by MarinePMI; 11-18-2017, 09:52 AM.

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