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27 w/ Mysterious Extreme Back Pain

alvincrespoaalvincrespo Posts: 3
edited 11/16/2014 - 8:30 PM in New Member Introductions
Hey Everyone!

My name is Alvin - I'm 27 years old and have begun this unfortunate adventure into lower back pain. I thought I would start getting out there and getting support from other individuals who are in the same position. My goal here is to learn and grow as a person so that I may help myself and other who are also experiencing such issues.

Here is some background information of what's happened:

In 2007, at the age 20, I started my first internship in Maryland. I am a software engineer so most of my day is spent sitting at a desk programming away, for many hours on end. This was the first time I started working 8+ hours a day with minimal breaks and sitting at a desk. After 3 months, I felt a weakness and numbness in my lower back - that made me basically drop to the floor and not want to get back up. My boss saw me and called his own chiropractor to help me out. I drove to the chiropractor, which I have no idea how I did that, and the doctor basically used some sort of electro-therapy on me. This helped out, but it took about 3 days for me to get back on my feet.

Forward to July of 2013 and I experience the same exact feeling and issue. Prior to this experience, I had done tons of outside work. I mean, I cut the grass, cut bushes, moved some heavy equipment and more. Either way, I was knocked out on the floor. Same exact weakness, numbness and pain. I called a chiropractor, he came over and used the same electo-therapy stuff - which made me feel better, but I was in no way ready to stand and move around. It took about a couple of days for me to get back on my feet.

After my back went out in July of 2013, my chiropractor ordered an MRI to see what was up. The MRI came up with a mild form of spinal stenosis with narrowing between l3 and l4 and no sign of spondylothesis. So I began going to the chiropractor 2 to 3 times a month to get an alignment. But I started no therapy or exercise regimen.

In July of 2014, I experienced the same weakness, pain and numbness. This time I had done some light yard work. But, for s several weeks I built a stone wall and raised garden and moved many things around in my lawn. What can I say, I love gardening :) Either way, I was on the floor for the whole day in severe pain. I couldn't go to the bathroom without my wifes help and it was the most painful and embarrassing experience of my life. I had to go the hospital, dialed 911, and they pumped me up with so many meds I couldn't feel anything.

This time my recovery has taken months, I feel like I'm still recovering now. My primary care physician ordered X-Rays which showed a slight pars defect on the left side of l4 and narrowing between l3 and l4. The doctor decided to go down the conservative route, which I prefer, so we started physical therapy. So the past three months have been strengthening my core, which I've continued and has helped me a bunch.

However, now I am 100% ready to tackle what might be going on here. I've changed my life a bunch since this past July. Including getting a firmer mattress, a couch that helps me and other sit straight with proper posture. I've bought a lumbar support pillow for the car. Every day I do my stretches and exercises for my core. And I take one or two aleves a day in order to keep pain controlled.

This past week I've scheduled an evaluation at a Spine Center for December and I'm ready to figure out what I have and what I need to do.

So thats why I'm here, and I'm hoping to get some encouragement and pointers on what I can do moving forward. Any recommendations would be awesome. And thanks for reading through the above, very long, introduction :)


  • janejjane Posts: 1
    edited 11/20/2014 - 4:51 AM
    I'm so sorry to hear so many of us all in Pain Alvin!
  • Hi Alvin. I wish I'd been as smart & proactive about my spine problems when they started. GREAT approach!! You're doing the right things. Understanding our condition, seeing the right specialists & being dedicated to therapy & treatments is very wise. I hope you get lots of tips for managing your spine ongoing & learn the 'tricks' for reducing flares from this site. It's all about developing the best 'Blend' of treatments to stop your spine taking over your life.

    I'm really not a big fan of chiropractors. They're not spine specialists & can cause some terrible problems with their 'adjustments' particularly if you have spine damage. Please be careful. By "Electro Therapy" do you mean the pads they put on you & 'zap'? I have my own TENs unit. If you find that helps you could get your own. I got mine from the pain clinic many years ago on insurance but now you can purchase them from pharmacies or online. I like reading all the reviews of things on Amazon even if I don't buy from there.

    All the best. I look forward to seeing you on the forums.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Hey everyone!

    Thanks so much for your kind words. I wanted to give an update on what I've been going through to help others out there as well.

    So heres whats been up the last couple of months.

    In January of 2015 I decided to quit the downward spiral I was on and do something about my condition. I decided to do a couple of things. One, start visiting a psychologist that specialized in chronic pain. Two, find the best physical therapists who actually focused on lower back pain improvements. Three, make some lifestyle changes - including losing weight, standing more often and walking more.

    None of these goals were easy to start, but I did them anyways. So Ill give some more details now about each of the the goals above.

    The Psychologist

    I decided after much research that I needed to see someone to help change the way that I think. This might sound strange at first, but it really isn't. I have a condition, as much as I hate saying that and having to accept it, its true and it means that I need help. Until now, I thought I was Superman and I had no idea what it meant to have pain. In December 2014 I was somebody completely different. I didn't want to see anyone, go anywhere and I became a really negative person obsessed with my spinal condition.

    I recognized that things were bad and I had no idea how to work around this kind of stuff. I also knew that family and friends wouldn't be able to help me with this. Yes they might have some inspirational words, but I need someone to train me to see the issues that I have as something that I can manage. So I found a psychologist, and she is amazing.

    Since January I've been working on different techniques to manage my pain, life and career. After going to the psychologist I realized that there was alot more than physical pain that was affecting me. There was emotional pain and history that accompanied where I was at when I had my injury in July of 2014. In fact, 2014 was a shitty year for me personally. I discovered through my therapy sessions that the emotional pain I was under caused me to overwork myself physically and that essentially led me to my injury.

    I am happy to say that after 5 months of going to the psychologist, I am much better. I have developed coping mechanisms for my pain. I understand where my pain comes from and how to handle it. I've also become a much better person as well - as I have really developed a deep sympathy for those in pain. Overall, I believe my emotional health concerning my physical pain is in good standing and I am continuing to work on it with weekly visits with my psychologist.

    Physical Therapy

    In January I found and excellent physical therapist who has helped me developed great techniques for managing my pain. I went to physical therapy from January to March of this year and it was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

    At my PT we focused on building out my core, proper lifting techniques and alternative exercises for lower back pain sufferers. I had no idea how weak my core was until I started going to Rebound Physical Therapy. They started me out with Squats, Lunges and simple stretches for my legs. Surprisingly, deep squats have gone a long way for me. This excercise engages my glutes, thighs, abs and calfs. So much so that within a week I was not afraid to pick things up anymore.

    Along with core excercises we went through proper lifting techniques. When we first started these it seemed so weird to me, in fact - it felt unnatural. I was always used to bending forward, and I guess alot of people are. But after 5 months, bending actually feels super weird and is definitely unnatural. This was something we never covered in my previous PT (in original post).

    The last thing I would like to point out with physical therapy is that a good physical therapist is one who will take their time to understand your problem. Jeff, my PT at Rebound Therapy took his time to ask "Was there anything weird about that last excersice?" and I would answer him truthfully, and then he would recommend an alternative position or let me know to not do it again or try it again another time. Jeff was great in that he helped me understand that everyone is different, and it really is up to us (chronic pain sufferers) to really understand our limitations in order to better ourselves.

    Ultimately physical therapy combined with a psychologist has helped me become stronger this year.

    Lifestyle Changes

    This last one is super important, especially given my careers nature. I'm a software engineer, and I used to sit all day long with minimal amount of activity - I mean it was pathetic how little I moved, I don't even thing sedentary is the right term for it. Either way, I adjusted my lifestyle in two ways. One, walk more during the day (goal is 10k steps). Two, drink lots of water (to the point that when you piss, its clear). Three, eat healthy.

    My first goal was to walk more during the day. This was hard. Really hard. Ultimately I had no idea how many steps I was taking a day. Apparently a typical American walks 10k steps a day, I was walking barely 2k. When I found that out - I definitely needed to change this. So I started walking close to 10k a day, my average is 9,200 now after 5 months. This was hard to do, but it has helped me quite a bit. Not only do I now sit less, but I get to go outside and enjoy the weather, breathe in the air and soothe my mind. I know that not everyone will be able to do this, but if you have the ability to do it - do it, it is well worth it.

    The second goal of drinking water is kind of strange. I admit it, it was weird. But I decided to do this because of my research concerning Degenerative Disc Disease, in that a collapsed disc basically has less water. So I thought, heck - I guess drinking more water wouldn't hurt. And it didn't, its actually been a great improvement. I am now hydrated all the time, and the interesting part about this is that I am in more pain when am dehydrated. As soon as I start drinking more water again, I feel much better and my back pain seems to go down. I don't understand all of the technicalities here, but from what I understand - the more water you drink the easier and faster blood travels through your body, getting to the areas your body needs to repair itself quickly. In my case, I assume that would be my problematic disc.

    The third goal of eating healthy is on everyone's lists. However, on mine - this was serious. Before the injury I was at 172lbs. After the injury I was at 197lbs. I'm guessing this was due to depression and other factors. This hasn't been easy. Its May now and I'm at 190lbs. 7lbs in 5 months isn't so bad, but I would like to go back down to 170 and put less stress on back. In this case, I'm still working on it.

    So where am I now?

    Well I'm still trying to fight the good fight. My back is doing considerably well after taking the steps above. However I do have flareups every once in a while. I'm having one today in fact, thats probably why I'm writing this. But its not so bad and every flare up seems to be getting wider apart - so thats good. Chronic lower back pain sucks, its debilitating and super frustrating. I am 28 years old and this is not what I envisioned my life to be. And....thats ok.

    This is what I need to work with, I've gotten a short end of the stick. But damnit, I'm not going to let it stop me. Not now, never. Its hard to think that way, its hard to accomplish - and I have in no way accomplished that. But I won't let it. I will continue to get stronger, I will continue to share my story. And I will try to help others.

    Hopefully in a couple of months Ill have some more updates - but feel free to ask any questions. I'll be more than happy to answer.
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