I am new to the forum, and am just trying to get some possible feedback before I go to my doctor for further diagnosis. I am a 41 year old male, relatively good shape. I try to regularly work out doing some cardio (jogging & walking on treadmill, stairclimber, etc) and some light weight training. I'm 5'-11" 210 lbs, a little overweight, but I don't think too major (wear size 38 pants) and I haven't gained much weight in recent years. I was maybe 5 to 10 lbs lighter 2+ years ago, so I don't think weight is the underlying issue.
Anyway, it seems my back pain stems from an incident about 2 years ago. I was doing some work on my car. I was replacing the audio system, so I had to confine myself to some tight quarters while doing the work. I did a lot of bending over, squatting in the rear seat compartment, and squeezing myself sideways in the trunk. After doing this 2 to 3 hour job, my lower back hasn't been the same since. It started out as just some tightness in the lower back whenever I would sleep at night or sit for a time. In a pretty short time, it progressed to the point where I was experiencing sharp and agonizing pain in my lower back at night whenever I laid flat or rolled over (I started sleeping with a pillow under my legs to help alleviate the discomfort). And when I got out of bed in the morning, my lower back was extremely tight and painful. It hurt to try and stand up straight right out of bed.
After a few months of this, I went to my doctor and he prescribed me to visit a physical therapist. I went to the physical therapist early last year. She showed me some good lower back stretches and core strengthening stretches. I did these as prescribed, and they initially helped. But it seemed not to "cure" the lower back pain, just help alleviate the discomfort temporarily. As time passed, I still occasionally did some of the stretches if I'd go to the gym before going on a treadmill or stairclimber which seemed to help a little before the cardio exercises.
Within the last several months, it seems the pain has become more isolated to my lower back right side of my spine, a few inches above the buttocks around the waistline. With the warmer weather, I recently went outside for a light jog, and the pain intensified as I ran on the pavement. I have become increasingly less confident in my lower back and my movements. There have been times when I have had to bend over to pick up my 2 year old son or pick something up, and I get a piercing, sharp pain resonate through my lower back, and it literally freezes me where I can't rise. I've been pretty obstinate about following through with having it looked at again, but it's getting to the point of frustration and it's beginning to limit some of my motions or confidence in motions. A few of the specific symptoms I've noticed lately are: (1) Some mornings the tightness and pain in my back are bad; and other mornings, I have none of the tightness or pain, and I can't put my finger on why it varies. (2) Working out, like jogging, seems to exacerbate the pain in my back. (3) When getting out of my car, I have to make sure both feet are planted on the ground before rising out of the car seat. There's been times when I've quickly tried to exit my car with one foot on the ground, and I receive the piercing sharp pain in my lower back. (4) Sometimes after a big meal, I'll feel pressure and sensitivity in my lower back. (5) And some bowel movements have caused a sharp discomfort in my lower back, almost like a severe cramp.
I've seen some posts here about herniated discs, sciatica, and piriformis syndrome, so has anyone else here experienced similar symptoms. And if I go back to my doctor, what should I ask him? Request an mri, or back to the physical therapist? I'm to the point where I just want the chronic discomfort and uneasy feeling of confidence in my motion to go away. Thanks for reading my long post and any input! I appreciate it.