> The Beesley Buzz: Backache versus backpain

Backache versus backpain

I have backache everyday. It isn't pleasant but it isn't unbearable. Maybe I've grown used to it. The morning stiffness. The constant niggle knowing things aren't right. The mechanics of my back not aligning as they should. Relying on medication every single day to keep the pain at bay and to ease the inflammation and stiffness. 

Back Pain is different. Backpain isn't an annoyance - it is agony. 

Backpain robs you of joy, changes your personality. Feeling beyond grumpy because the constant intense pain makes it too much effort to smile or make small talk. 

Everything is difficult. In some cases impossible. Things normally taken for granted - sleeping, walking, preparing a meal, sitting and watching TV. All unbearable. 

It's unbearable to lie down to rest, it's unbearable to sit up, it's impossible to find a comfortable position. 

I've had back ache for the best part of 30 years since being diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at the age of ten. But backpain has come and gone in intense flare ups at varying intervals. 

Sometimes the simplest thing can trigger it - attempting to do my shoelace up, helping strap one of the kids into their car seat, walking a little too far or a little too fast. 

This time it was swimming. I'd taken my rheumatologist's advice to swim more instead of just doing my usual stretches and movement exercises at the hydrotherapy pool. I did have my reservations because I have spent 30 years getting to know my body's limitations. Often the hard way. But the promise of the possibility of one day being able to reduce the daily pain relief medication was enough of a lure to try. 

Swimming is often recommended as a great form of exercise for arthritis sufferers. Doesn't have the stress of joint impact the way other exercise does. It is considered to be a gentle form of exercise. Particularly in a hydrotherapy pool where the warmth of the water can help. 

But when my hip joint is worn and warped and distorted, when it is my hip joint being misshapen that has taken its toll on my back in the first place, then swimming with my hip movements being not as they should be puts strain and stress on my back. 

For the past two days I have been housebound. Living off freezer food and unable to keep on top of even the most basic of chores - putting the washing machine on, doing the washing up, preparing any food - all causes too much pain to even attempt. 

I feel so frustrated and helpless not being able to look after my family. 

I can now understand why the elderly sometimes have that characteristic penguin shuffle when walking along. It is not (as I had previously surmised) fear of falling, it is back pain as I have only been able to move around the house with that same penguin shuffle movement. 

My family have had to help me get dressed. They've had to tuck my chair in at the table. Brushing teeth has been agony. Any movement requiring even the slightest lean leaves me crying out in pain. 

And when I'm like this, I can't imagine a future where I'm better. I think that this is it now for life. I clear my diary knowing there are things I now cannot do. The words from an arthritis advert I saw many years ago ring out in my mind ...arthritis won't kill you but it can take your life. 

But I need to remind myself, I've been here before. I will probably be here again at some point. But I will get back to being my own kind of normal. Where I can have my own normal life back, albeit full of limitations compared to someone else's. But give me backache rather than backpain anyday. 


  1. So well written. I too suffer but not anywhere near as much as I suspect you do. Daily I have aches and three or four times a year for some silly reason or other it becomes pain. This time, it was slipping on black ice. It was my knee that twisted (and is still very painful - may have to see the doc if it continues) but moving carefully in bed because of my knee, my back suddenly went ping and that was it. As you said, any sort of lean is a pain. Putting on socks is an exercise in patience, slow movement and letting pride go and asking for help. However, although it is easing slowly I shall keep in mind your very last paragraph. Well said and it should be a mantra. I have only ever commented on one or two blogs in my life (unless it was a competition - I'm a sucker for those) but this piece really spoke to me and I am so pleased that I stopped to read it. I hope that your pain eases soon x

    1. thank you so much Debbie for your words - it really means a lot to me. I often feel torn about writing about the difficult times on the blog because it is generally my 'happy place' but knowing you've taken the time to read and comment and that it has resonated with you really does mean a lot - thank you. This week the pain is easing and i hope yours is too.

  2. I think that the difficult things are the ones that resonate with people more. We all have struggles with one thing or another. After all we don't live in Disneyland or as Stepford Wives where everything is perfect. Reading that others are dealing with the same things (or even different ones when it comes down to it) helps me put things in to perspective and I am sure it does others. As a blogger it is your decision as to what you share with your readers. You got it spot on here. I will be delving in to your blog more often (for cheery stuff too :-) )

    1. so true! thanks again for your words of encouragement x

  3. I couldn't have put it better Rebecca. I've been struggling to do the simplest of things for two years and it feels like a life time. Back surgery only made it worse and I am now having to consider spinal fusion. I really hope it improves for you soon xx

  4. I'm so sorry you are suffering but it's good to share, to let others know. I really hope it eases up for you very soon. I know back pain, but it's quite recent for me and it's really not nice at all. Sending many healing thoughts your way xx

  5. 😢 sorry I'm not there to help out. Hope it soon calms down x

    1. thank you - has been worst flare up in a long time! Can't remember what a good day is like at the moment. x

  6. That much agony sounds utterly unbearable. I can't even begin to imagine it. You must have had such inner strength to even sit at the computer and write this post. I do hope that it has eased now.

    1. It wrote it up on the ipad whilst sat in bed at the time. THings slowly improving. although new pain in right hip lately :-(

    2. Oh no. That really has been a long while to suffer so. Has it ruined any half term plans too?

  7. You are so right that chronic back pain can make the simple things that people take for granted so difficult. Mine has gotten more bearable in that respect since my last operation, but I can remember before not being able to stand for too long, sit for too long or lie down for too long without being in pain. It just makes it impossible to relax and switch off and you end up constantly stressed and short tempered. It's no wonder our personalities can change when you are dealing with the right?

    Good for you for trying swimming at least, but I think as you said no-one knows the limitations of our own bodies more than we do. So even highly qualified people can recommend stuff they think will help but they can't know how it will affect us.

    But the important thing is to keep trying. The worst thing you can do is stop looking for things that can help and slip into a funk.

    Hope it improves for you soon.



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