How I Dealt with the Worst Back Pain in My Life

3D Illustration of Human Vertebral Column Anatomy

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3D Illustration of Human Vertebral Column Anatomy

Thomas Yoon, Staff Writer

Ever since I entered Tenafly High School in September of 2019, I’ve enjoyed all the courses I’ve taken. However, some classes require extra persistence, forcing me to remain in my seat and read textbooks for several hours. I usually put my textbook or other materials in front of my laptop and bend my head 90 degrees to read and take notes. But after doing that for the past four months, I’ve started to occasionally feel an unpleasant feeling, as if my backbone were being pulled out by a pair of pincers. Sometimes, the feeling faded within seconds, while other times, it lasted for minutes. But several weeks ago, I made the mistake of cracking my neck when the pain hit. At the moment, it seemed as if the pain was fading away as usual, but hours later, I noticed there was something very wrong. While I was taking notes from the textbook non-stop for nearly four hours, desperately trying to finish the last chapter, my back was struck by intense pain and was paralyzed. The distorted muscles hardened and began to twitch uncontrollably. I had to stay in the same awkward position for nearly half an hour until the pain was relieved a bit. The worst part was that this was all happening at 2 A.M. To put it simply, it was the most intense and vexatious pain I’ve ever experienced. 

The pain lasted for several weeks. If I walked a lot or if I read textbooks with my head bent down for longer than 10 minutes, the pain persisting in my back doubled. I could feel a portion of my back muscle suddenly hardening and the pain spreading throughout my body. Last week, I could no longer stand it and I visited the doctor, worrying if the damage had been done to my backbone. Fortunately, the doctor told me that my back pain was just a severe form of a back spasm. He recommended that I do a backstretch against a straight wall every 10 minutes and try heat therapy. Before I left, he informed me that some people can suffer up to a year from constant back spasms due to posture/neck-grinding. However, when he said that the pain would continue to last for a week, I was frustrated because I was self-aware that I wouldn’t be able to bear such intense pain for another week.

The week passed and now my back pain has almost disappeared. Some may think this was just a rare occasion, but I highly recommend taking it seriously. Bad posture may not necessarily cause severe spasms unless accompanied by other factors such as neck cracking. However, you might occasionally feel muscles involuntarily twitching with light but constant pain, which can easily distract you from focusing on your work. If this happens during the test, the score will likely be lower than usual and all efforts from the night before will become a waste.

To avoid back pain, try stretching frequently while studying or simply stand up and move around. After this disturbing experience, I began stretching every 10-20 minutes. Sometimes, I just stand up and go to the kitchen to make myself some coffee or tea. My last piece of advice is to avoid cracking your neck too often. According to Healthline, cracking your neck too forcefully may pinch the nerves in your neck, which can be “extremely painful” and make it “difficult or impossible to move your neck.”

As students, it is important for us to study diligently, but that does not necessarily mean we should compromise our health in the process. Having good posture and stretching frequently can help us perform better in school while simultaneously maintaining our health.