This is something that I find myself thinking about a lot.

It’s not a complicated thing.

Difference between good soreness and bad pain which indicates injury

It’s about the difference between:

1. The very real and good and necessary soreness that results from a smart-sized dose of physical exercise. For instance, I play some basketball and exercise a bit every day. And, then I feel a very general and diffused type of soreness across the lumbar region sometimes. This is usually when I back off the exercise for a few days. In the past, when things were very sore, I’d get a course of a steroid to reduce inflammation.

2. The sensation of pain that indicates that there’s an injury: that something’s wrong. In my experience, this is often a very centralized type of stabbing pain: like getting stuck in a particular spot with a big needle or something similar.

Quotation about good pain/bad pain from Everyday Health

In the article, How to Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Pain, there’s some good bits, such as:

The most common type of good pain is clinically referred to as “delayed onset muscle soreness,” or DOMS for short… One to two days after exercising a soreness will be felt in the belly of the muscle. It can be quite tender to touch and tends to be spread out over a large area…With this type of soreness the muscles actually remodel and become stronger and more efficient.

“Bad pain” comes in many forms. The most common type of bad pain that I see in the clinic involves joint pain. When pain occurs in a joint (such as the knee) rather than in muscle (the quadriceps), it is the body trying to tell us that something is not right. Do not try to work through joint pain while working out…Another type of pain that should be brought to the attention of a health care professional is radicular pain, or pain that shoots from one area to another.

So, as you can see in those quotations above, if the pain is in the joint or shooting around from one area to another: it is bad pain. And, the thing to not worry about is DOMS…I’ve experienced DOMS many times, and I suppose that I also experience DOMS in the core muscles (core muscles includes lower back/lumbar muscles).

I think, at this point, the best thing for me to do would be radical honesty: I have a weak fucking core! I need to really work on that!

I live in terror of the pain returning

If it’s truth time and I’m being completely honest: I live in terror of my back reverting to its original state. I’m literally terrified of that pain returning. It’s the stuff of my worst nightmares. It scares the Goddamn hell out of me.

And, I’ll do anything to prevent that outcome. Truth be told, my whole very involved rehabilitation that involved a MAJOR surgery; complex, daily, time-consuming exercise program; a complete alteration of my eating/nutrition program; an alteration of my sleeping; quitting smoking; and an array of other “lifestyle” type changes…

…truth be told, the biggest motivation behind all of that is a fear that if I don’t do these things I’m going to end up on the table getting cut open again. I’m just telling you the truth. And, the step before all of that is the fear that the pain will come back.

This prospect fucking terrifies me.

When’s the other shoe going to drop?

I’m going through life…I just realized this the other day on a fully conscious level when I was talking to the spine surgeon…I told him, “I’m going through life terrified of when the other shoe’s going to drop.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I’m scared the back pain’s going to come back.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” he said.

But, I can’t stop being worried.

So, as most everyone knows, exercise results in some good pain: what is probably better called “soreness.” And, this “soreness” scares the hell out of me. Right now I’ve got the lumbar ouchies from the exercise. And, there’s always the fear that I damaged the fusion. I know I didn’t. Hell, I was just X-rayed a couple days ago!

But, that fear is very hard to eliminate.

Maybe it will just take time. I mean if I make it to five years post-fusion and I’m still feeling pretty good, I imagine I’ll no longer be quite so worried? I don’t know. We’ll see.