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I need advice, please help.

Johnny ShannonJJohnny Shannon Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello everyone. I've been experiencing back problems for quite some time now. A few years ago a had a Discectomy on my L4-L5. The surgery was a success, however I did not do physical therapy afterwards. About 9 months went by without a hitch and I decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. I started running and exercising, and I had little bouts of back stiffness and a slight ache that would occur from just sitting for a long time. It would be resolved by a quick stretch and then I would be on my merry way. By the time I swore into the Army, I was running 5 miles 5 times a week, lifting weights, riding my bicycle, and staying very active. My back had been holding up just fine. I had even started physical therapy just to be sure I was in good shape. Unfortunately, I received a stress fracture in my right foot from the over training and had to wear a walking boot for 3 weeks. During these 3 weeks my lower back started to hurt very badly. Stretching did not help. After I got out of the boot the back pain subsided, then came back, then left again. So I decided to see a chiropractor. Apparently the boot caused my hips to go out of alignment which started my back pain.
Now, here is my dilemma. I leave for Army basic training on January 31. I've been seeing a chiropractor about getting my hips back in alignment, and I have been stretching and doing strengthening exercises. However, the pain has been coming back. It will feel like my back is better and I will go running one day, and running the next day even, and then I will have back pain for a few days. I really don't understand what exactly the problem is. My back won't hurt during a run, or even right after. But a few days later it will act up. I suppose I never really gave it much time to heal while my hips were in better alignment. I was just fine until I wore the walking boot. How do I get back to the way I was so I can be okay for the Army? Do I need to just rest my back and not do any strenuous exercises for a few weeks to let the disc heal and then it will be okay? please help!!

(I have a full range of motion without increased pain. I can touch my toes, bend side to side and it doesn't increase the pain. Also, what I find really odd is that sitting relieves the pain during the bout of back pain. I also have no sciatic pain. Could it just be my back muscles tightening around the disc and irritating it?)



  • I am not sure of the answer to this post, but I just wanted to tell you that back pain sure is a pain in the butt!
  • i want to welcome you to this site. there are a lot of people here who want to help you!
    this is very puzzling. you need to get more info. you are in the dark as far as the condition of the disc. if i were you i would want an mri to find out what's happening internally.
    in the mean time i would work out by doing things that dont hurt. only you will be able to determine that. i used to get good results by running backwards. give it a try. walking sideways may also help you. do it to both sides if sitting isnt painful then do more bike riding. by the way pain sitting usually is a symptom of disc trouble. so maybe the disc is ok...i hope so. try strengthening quads by getting in a sitting position and placing your back against a wall. see how you feel with that exercise. if an exercise hurts dont do it.
    there is a great set of back conditioning exercises listed in an article on this site. do those but like i say if it hurts dont do it.
    i hope this info helps...let us know how you progress.
  • If you haven't been to the doc for a real evaluation of your back pain, it might be wise to do so before you head to boot camp. It is very common for people to be med boarded out of the Army for back problems and it certainly wouldn't bode well if you went in knowing you possibly have an issue. Not to mention the fact that you would have a heck of a time trying to even make it through boot camp if your back started hurting. Chiropractors are good for certain things, but it really is a good idea to find out whether or not you have something wrong with more than just muscles.

    Welcome to Spine Health. Please keep us up to date on what you decide to do and what if anything you find out.

  • "C" Brings a very valid point here. I joined the Army in 79, and even then, the medical evaluation questionnaire had something about spine or back issues?

    I would get with either an Orthopedist or Neurologist that are trained in spinal issues to see truly what is going on. If they say the "boot camp" activities will aggravate or increase the chance of damage, you would be ill advised to try to make it through basic. Or, on the flip side, they might have a way to get your back under control again depending on what is going on.

    You have to be an advocate for YOUR health and well being. Please let us know how it goes.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hey, and thank you! I actually did get an MRI in July, that was when I was just seeing where it was at to be safe. I have degenerative disc disease in my L4-L5. Perhaps that is the culprit. I just don't understand how just wearing a simple walking cast throws it out THIS badly. Plus, my symptoms are so sporadic. I know it couldn't be a bulging or ruptured disc, I know how that feels (especially if it's in the same area). I have no sciatic pain and I get the most relief sitting. The thing I find encouraging yet odd is that (lets take this week for example) since Friday I've had a steady achey and tight back, it will probably go away within the next few days and by next week I will feel good as new. In the past I was was foolish enough to start running as soon as I felt better, after a few days of running the pain would come back again. Perhaps I just irritated it with the boot and my hips being out of line, then never really gave it the chance to heal (with my hips being IN line again). Lord knows. My gameplan is going to be no more running or strenuous activity for at least a month with lots of ice and ibuprofen.
  • Hey John, Good for you joining the Army, hope it works out great for you.
    I just wanted to let you know this because I wore casts and boots during recovery after 7 foot operations, and yeah, wearing those can throw your entire skeletal structure off. From the ankles, knees, hips, entire spine, and even shoulders. I mean, the boot is higher than your shoe, so causes you to walk wrong. Did you go to PT after your Dr. released you from wearing the boot? This can make a big difference, and the therapist should be able to pick up on whether wearing the boot caused any other damage. Generally it can be caught early and resolved, though not always. Maybe this has nothing to do with what is causing your pain, but just thought I would let you know from my own experiences.
  • My back pain is pretty much gone! I'm not too surprised because (as I had mentioned above^) it had done this before. At this point (last time) I went running a few times which threw it right back out I suppose. I do have some SI joint an acheyness though, but there is a definite improvement from a few days ago. This shows the disc is not ruptured or bulging, it would be a constant irritation that wouldn't be solved by ice and ibuprofen if that were the case (correct me if I'm wrong). Hopefully all it was was just an irritated disc due to hip imbalances, and lack of proper healing. I hope it will heal back to where it was. Should it?
  • John,

    None of us are doctors, so we are going on what we've gone through. Disks being pliable, and constantly changing based on support need; change even more when they are failing. For instance when I herniated my first level, my pain wasn't the same day to day. As for anti-inflammatory medication, you can definitely feel changes, and some relief if you had swelling in and around the area. Ice also reduces swelling, reduces blood flow, and too can ease pain - especially mechanical pain.

    As we have suggested, you really should see a spine specialist before you sign on the dotted line. My nephew had knee problems that he thought he had under control. Shortly after basic training (and he struggled to get through), they had their yearly fitness test at his new unit assignment. He failed the agility and the run. They examined his knee, and since they could tell it was an "old" injury, they are presently processing him OUT on a medical discharge! His dreams were crushed. I'd hate to see you go through that. Try and get to a spine specialist, okay? I am glad your pain is down though.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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