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Unrelenting muscle tightness

supmanssupman Posts: 1
edited 04/10/2015 - 10:11 PM in Lower Back Pain
Greetings Fellow Sufferers of Spinal Maladies,

I am new to the forum and have recently had my very first bout with back pain. About 6 weeks ago I was having issues with my SI joint going out of alignment frequently. Things continued to go wrong no matter what I tried until 3 weeks ago. While going for a walk I felt an intense zap in my buttocks followed by my hip adductors tightening so hard that it inhibited my glute function. Over the next 4 day I experienced muscle tightness in my legs and back like I have never felt before. The tightness in my back finally calmed down, but the tightness in my legs did not and still has not. Instead of solely my adductors, the tightness has "equalized" itself between my hamstrings, quads and various smaller muscles (my gracilis is terrible!). After another 3 weeks of not knowing what was going on I finally went and had an MRI. The results were as follows:

L4-5 Broad based disc protrusion with mild facet and ligament flavum hypertophy. Mild bilateral foraminal stenosis
L5-S1 Broad based disc protrusion with uncovering the disc related to the 5mm of retrolisthesis along with spondylosis. The disc abuts the right S1 nerve root with partial effacement. Moderate to severe bilateral foraminal encroachment greater on the right.

My chiro gave me a summary on what all this meant, which I understood fairly well. I have developed a keen sense of due diligence when it comes to understanding injuries as I have gotten older and have found that the more you know the better you can heal and help prevent further incidents.

I plan on seeing a spinal specialist or neurosurgeon about whether surgery may be something needed in the future, but more so because of the issues Im experiencing with the muscle tightness. I am remaining positive about this issue and want to save the knife for the absolute last resort. I have currently experienced little to no pain during this ordeal, other than the initial episode of extreme muscle tightness. Certain movements do aggravate the low back, but only when I try to internally rotate my legs to get into a squat position, which is nearly impossible anyway due to the tight hams/adductors/quads. Stretching does absolutely nothing, the muscles feel intensely contracted when taken through any range of motion that may threaten the low back. I can only assume this is either a trauma reflex or the result of the bilateral foraminal encroachment in the L5-S1.

I am currently doing 20 minutes of elliptical per day along with another 30 - 45 minutes of work trying to strengthen my spinal erectors (especially in the lumbar), core work, and various other movements to try and stimulate the glutes (flutter kicks lying on the stomach, single leg raises and holds, glute bridges, etc...). Exercising makes me feel great much better. I will also add in 30 minutes of swimming within the week. My symptoms have remained roughly the same, except that my glutes have become more inhibited than they were after the initial bout. Exercising does seem to get more activation from them, but I have to be careful not to try and push the range of motion or everything will clamp back down. Occasionally I feel a tingling in the buttocks area or some dull pain in the low back and my feet will sometimes feel like they are falling asleep (not that bad, just slightly). These symptoms are usually only at the very end of the day or after sitting/driving for too long.

This brings me to my question. Has anyone experienced anything similar as to the muscle tightness in the legs? Im sure it is just part of the process, but it is extremely aggravating and it does put pressure on my knee (especially the tight gracilis). In addition to the tightness in my legs I am also experiencing a return of old forward head postural habits (tightened SCM, Levator scap), rounded shoulders (tight pec minor, ant. delt, subscap, lats) which are issues I recently have been rehabbing and had improved upon greatly before this incident. Im sure the upper body issues are more a result of the loss of core stability as well as a regression to old neuromuscular firing patterns from the trauma. If there is any insight anyone can provide or recommendations of things I can do in addition to what Im doing I am all ears! I really just want to get the tightness gone and get my glutes back online so I can continue strengthening the area around the injury and hopefully avoid surgery at all costs!

Much appreciated in advance to any and all who can offer some words of wisdom and guidance!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Hopefully you found some answers from the info given to you by Liz, above.
    I personally have nothing I can add...mainly because your activity level is so beyond mine and the muscle strengthening you are doing...well let's say I don't even know where to locate those muscles on my body anymore. :)

    Hopefully someone will happen along and better able to share.
    It would be good to hear the guidance you get from your doctor and how you are doing. We are here to share our journeys .
    Best of luck!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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