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Extremely tight low back

Hi! Newbie here!
I'm just trying to figure out what the exact cause of my back pain could be. I have disc degeneration at L4/L5 and L5/S1 with no nerve compression according to my latest MRI. I had 4 facet joint injections last week and told by my PM doctor that all my pain would go away. But it didn't.

My question is, how do I know what is causing my pain, the discs or the facets? My pain is mostly like an extreme tightness and stiffness. I can't stand for more that about 10 minutes and when I bend over I have to go slowly and almost force my back to stretch. It's like if I could just bend really far forward and crack my spine all my pain would go away. I have trouble rolling over in bed, also.

Is this something that all of you feel? I'm just trying to figure out what it is and what else I want to do about it. If the facet joint injections didn't work, no need to do that again. I follow up with the PM on 5 days, just thought I'd join in here.

I will say I have really tight hamstrings that won't stretch no matter how much stretching I do.


  • So I can't explain all that, but you will get some responses, likely from one of the mods who can help with that.

    What I can say is that sometimes it takes awhile to get relief from injections. It may not work for you, but if it's only been a few days I wouldn't give up just yet. There's a whole separate topic on injections, so you may want to take a look at it.

    I had extreme tightness in my back last night from doing a ton of sittings all day. And my reward? A serious migraine headache this morning.

    Turning over in bed has been a problem for awhile for me. In part because my husband insists on a stupid memory foam topper, & in part because of the wonderful leg pain I have.

    I hope you feel better soon

    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • Tired of the painTTired of the pain Posts: 197
    edited 04/02/2014 - 4:29 PM
    I have trouble rolling over in bed especially in our conventional bed. I started sleeping in our old waterbed and I am having a much better time in the morning. No stiffness and a much easier sleeping.
  • So many different spinal issues cause tight back muscles and tight hamstrings, it's not really possible to work out the cause based on that. Basically when your spine is compromised in some way, the muscles tense up and sometimes spasm to try to protect and stabilise. Have you got any stretching type exercises you do at home? It is good to do gentle stretching a few times a day especially the problem areas that get tight. This can reduce pain and stiffness to a degree.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I too have extremely tight hamstrings, probably from not stretching enough after exercising for many years. I'm paying the price now; my physical therapist is showing me stretching and exercise that won't cause anymore damage to my back. Have you gone to physical therapy?
  • My understanding is that facet joint injections can be done for two reasons: diagnosing the problem and/or providing short term relief. If the injection was just analgesics (pain meds), then you should feel immediate relief whether they inject into the medial nerve or the facet joint itself. That's a diagnostic injection - if you feel better, then you facet problems are what is causing at least some of your pain.

    They can also use corticosteroids in the injection if it goes into the facet joint itself. Those might provide longer relief (weeks or, for some lucky people, months), but it can take up almost a week before that injection kicks in and the inflammation reduces enough to feel better.

    They can also do a combination of meds into the facet joint itself - immediate relief pain killers for a diagnosis and some corticosteroids to give you longer relief.

    The fact that you didn't feel any better might mean that facet joint problems aren't the source of your pain, or it might mean that your doc used corticosteroids that haven't kicked in yet. Or maybe something else is the problem. I'm not a doc, just someone who is going in for my first injections next month. (Fingers crossed it works, even for a little while!)
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