Shopping bag injuries

How is it possible that the mere act of lifting a grocery bag can result in a days-long, or even months-long muscle or joint injury? It's called myofascial pain -- trigger points in one muscle can cause pain in another. Just moving the wrong way, even several days before the pain is felt, can result in this.

I had a guest staying in our cottage this week, and had bought her some staple groceries, such as milk, bread, butter, coffee. When she left this morning, I decided I'd go retrieve the stuff, saving me a trip to the grocery store, since I'd very inconveniently run out of milk and had resorted to mixing vanilla ice cream into my coffee! I gathered up all the items in a paper grocery bag with handles, the kind you'd get at Trader Joe's. In fact, that's exactly where the bag, and the groceries, came from. Carefully, I packed the paper bag, and carried it in one hand down at my side. In the other hand I carried a half-gallon of OJ. On the way back to my house, walking slowly to avoid slipping on the melting ice, I picked up one of the dogs' toys and carried it in the same hand as the paper bag. Arriving in the kitchen at home, I very carefully hoisted the bag up onto the counter, and wham! promptly threw my back out. Now, when this happens to me, it always happens in the same spot. Oh no, not the lower back, like most people. This is the upper back, just between the shoulder blades. The pain is excruciating, and literally takes my breath away. Afterwards, I am down for the count. If I'm lucky, the pain will last hours, but I'm usually not so lucky, and it will last days.

This afternoon, I re-typed and posted a story on my web site, and dredged up a comment or two about a wrist injury I sustained early on in my fibromyalgia experience. The wrist was injured when I hoisted a six-pack of bottled water into the hatchback of my Subaru in a hasty maneuver, designed to hurry me into the car. I paid for that hasty move for months after, the aching wrist a constant reminder -- the regrettable souvenir (along with an unresolved credit card bill) of a weekend getaway that went bad. Read about it if you wish at

I've been doing a lot of reading about chronic myofascial pain lately. And, of course, with all the various injuries I've sustained in car accidents and minor spills walking the hounds, sitting at my desk for hours on end, or watching TV curled up on the couch, I know my posture and musculoskeletal system is completely out of whack. A few years back, at the onset of my chronic pain, I went to a doctor of osteopathy once a week for about six months. She'd do "adjustments" to my body, in much the same way as a chiropractor, minus the cracking. It would do me good, but a week later, I'd be out of sync again. The osteopath told me that my hips were twisted -- one higher than the other, and one in front of the other. She would readjust them periodically, and I would even have a different gait afterwards. Eventually, they'd fall back into their twisted place, only to have to be adjusted again. She did the same for my neck, a useless cause since it was so badly injured in the infamous 1980 car crash. The osteopath prescribed yoga, which I still practice as often as possible. It helps because it forces me to align my spine correctly, something I previously had no clue how to do. "Shoulders down!" I'm constantly telling myself!

Earlier this week, I broke down and called my PCP and requested pain medication. I didn't want to do this, and have been putting it off for years. In fact, I filled the prescription (Vicodin) but still have not taken any, even with this horrific pain in my back. I'm scared to take it because of my body's over-reaction to drugs in general, and the fact that I am a recovering alchy and shouldn't take narcotic drugs to begin with. My fear holds me back from getting pain relief. But I have it there, just in case.

Another thing I got this week, while I was waiting for the doctor to get back to me was some MSM I picked up at the health food store. I remember giving Timba MSM when she was about 14 years old. At that point, Timba was in agony and pain constantly, and was basically unable to move at all. She could no longer take walks with me, and I had to pick her up to put her into the car. A co-worker who is also a horse handler brought in a big plastic tub of MSM and told me to sprinkle the powdered substance on Timba's food. This resulted, eventually, in Timba being able to actually run again -- and I truly believe added four years to her life, bringing her to the ripe, old age of 18. The only drawback was a urinary incontinence, apparently brought on by the MSM.

I had stopped at the health food store this week on a whim. Not knowing really what I would buy, if anything, I happened to see MSM on the shelf. I remembered Timba's situation, and bought a bottle of MSM tablets immediately. It will take a while to see results, which haven't occurred yet.