Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The "Back Mouse" or Back Mice

I've started my yearly ritual of strength training ala the Morris way. Currently, the transition lifting is proceeding fairly well. This is the phase where I gradually introduce weights starting with extremely light weights and 8-10 reps. Typically, I start with 2 sets the first week, then 3, then up to 4 sets of 12 reps with increasing weight week to week. The goal is to enter into the Hypertrophy phase with connective tissue that is strong enough to take on the new load from the weight lifting. The problem of just jumping into Hypertrophy isn't the muscles as they could probably take the load except with some pretty tender soreness the next few days. However, it is the connective tissue that would probably be the weak link in the chain. My strength training focuses on quads, hips, hamstrings. Squats are a core aspect as is stiff legged dead lift. One thing I've noticed over the years as I increase weight are these small nodules in my lower back. At first they might seem like a typical trigger point. Trigger points live inside my shoulders, upper back, mid back, piriformis, hip flexors like they are bad house guests. I've experienced some relief using trigger point massage balls which allow you to get deep into the belly of the muscle to break up the knot. It is considered a hurts so good technology and can literally take my breath away, however the relief is noticeable. However, these 'knots' in the lower back are different. They are much smaller, and more raised like a nodule. Their shape is more defined and are almost round about 1-2cm and hard. They move slightly yet, deep palpitation or pressure does not dissipate them. I've been searching for information about them and thought that it might be because lower back muscles wrap around the waist as opposed to being longer like a typical mid back or upper back muscle. The ever ending googling has identified a phenomena known as the "Back Mouse". Reading this was fascinating, as it described these nodules that I experience very well. I had upped my squat and dead lift weight recently, and noticed these. They are interesting in that deep massage don't have much affect on them, nor does stretching and they typical cat-back, arching or bird-dog lower back work affect them. This leads me to agree with the supposition that they are these are episacroiliac lipoma or lumbar fascia fat herniation. They seem to go away slowly and don't cause me too much pain. Deep pressure does not provide relief as is the case with other trigger points and usually increase pain focal to the area of the nodule. Other experience pain that is speculated to be the nodule impinging on nerve endings. If it is causing pain, a diagnostic to determine whether this is the root is to inject it with an anesthetic. This targeted injection isolates the treatment to that tiny region. I have also heard of Dry Needling as an alternative to an injection of pain reliever. Dry needling is where they push an acupuncture needle into the trigger point and then move it up and down. You might also come across the drama around dry needling between certified acupuncturists and chiropractors. Supposedly, dry needling is a trendy term and a certificate can be obtained from weekend courses. However a certified acupuncturist requires years of training and oversight from the health department. They have been doing this technique as part of their typical toolset however it wasn't tagged with a hot up and coming name. I've been interested in dry needling for trigger point therapy as well.


At 5:38 PM, Blogger Lance Davis said...

I think I have back mice, too. I've discovered what they were recently when scouring the net, and your the only one I've seen talk about them in relation to weight training.

For me they showed up the next day, after heavy squats. Deadlifts don't seem to aggravate them, surprisingly.

I hate not squatting, but that's what I've been forced to do of late.

Did the dry needling fix your issue or did that just help diagnose? If just a diagnostic tool, did you find anything to fix or relieve symptoms?

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Ashwin Amanna said...

hi, I didn't pursue 'dry needling'. My feeling is that these back mice will not respond to typical strategies for muscle knots, such as deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, dry needling. It's because I think these things aren't muscle at all but are fibrous hernias.

They do go away for me when I back off. This last round of lifting they didn't bother me too much because I tried very hard to work on my form. To maintain form, I had to drop weight compared to what I've done in the past which was the right thing to do.

My suggestions include finding a certified olympic lifting coach or certified strength and conditioning expert to help you with your squat form.

Additionally, I have become a big fan of the Foundation Training:

This program focuses on teaching proper hip hinge and teaching how to move load off of the smaller muscles in the lower back, and muscles the run alongside the spine. Poor form puts strain on these muscles when the glutes/hamstrings/quads should be taking the load.

I think poor form strains the lower back muscles which contributes to the fiber nodules pushing through.

At 1:36 PM, Blogger Lance Davis said...

Thanks. Good to know they went away with rest and you could get back to it.

I'm always striving for correct form - now I'm even more motivated.

At 5:13 AM, Anonymous Sibbs Singh said...

I have been directed at you as a last ditch effort to get some help! The email string shows how frustrating this has been to get treated in the UK. Can you help or suggest where I can go next. I am convinced that I have two back mice exactly as the attached synopsis describes. I cannot get my. Consultants x 4, Chiropracters, Physio's in the UK to recognise the condition at all,

At 5:14 AM, Anonymous Sibbs Singh said...

Hope U r well? Thank you so much for offering to help. I am really frustrated at the moment. Seen 4 Consultants over 2.5 years and NEVER had proper diagnosis, or ANY treatment yet! I am now experiencing pain all the time and have only had pain management Ibuprofen which is a major concern.

I found out about "Back Mice" or Episacroiliac Lipoma myself online and this absolutely describes ALL of my symptom. The problem is that whoever I have been referred to in Hampshire and Dorset in the UK do not know the condition and regard mine as a "Google Analysis" Very frustrating and i'm getting nowhere and my condition has worsened considerably.

Hope you can help or suggest someone I can contact.

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