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First time posting...Looking to see what others do for their problems...Frustrated with doctors!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello folks. This is my first post to any forum regarding my back. I'll start out with why I'm really here in case you don't want to read the full thing. I'm looking for what to do next. I do have a history of back problems which is below so this is not my first time dealing with this. For my recent problem, I have been to my primary care doctor who gave me medicine and told me to come back in two weeks. My chiropractor shows me stretching exercises which are great but I'm trying to find out what others have done for relief. I feel like I get the same old from my primary care doctor with the pills and "take it easy". My chiropracter's advice is helpful but I'm looking for more permanent solutions. I mean should my primary care doctor being doing more for me or is this it? I asked them if I should get an MRI and they said no which I feel isn't a bad idea but I don't know how else I could go about getting approved for them because last time it took me getting really hurt before they sent me for one which I feel is unacceptable. Should I go see my back specialist? What do I do? Accupuncture? What do others do? I feel like no one is really interested in getting me better othan than me even though the people that are supposed to (my doctors) don't care. My current pain seems to respond well to my TENS unit and heat so I'm guessing that means it's muscle related but I'm not a doctor obviously. Anyway, I'm just trying to find the best way to go about more permanent solutions to my problem and pain that goes along with it.

In April 2007 I was diagnosed with a disk herniation in my lower back. I went through PT for a few months and felt pretty good until September 2007. I went on a camping trip and carried a bunch of gear when I guess I shouldn't have. I didn't feel too bad when I came home but over the next 2 weeks, things started to creep in and 2 weeks later I was having a lot of problems moving around. I continued to work for a few weeks. On October 10 I was working at a client and got up out of a chair without thinking about my problem and both of my legs went numb/pins and needles. I had an MRI and was told I had herniated disks L3-L5. From the MRI I can tell that one of the disks appears to be completely broken as the center appears gone and there is a huge bulge out the back of it. I went to PT and got working with a chiropracter and not until about May or so did I feel almost 100% again. I have been goign to the chiropractor once a week since November 2007 and do daily stretching activities.
About 2 weeks ago I did an office move at work and a few days later I worked out on an elliptical machine for about 10 minutes for the first time. 2 days later I was having problems getting around. My back felt really tight and I had decreased movement. It feels different than it did when I hurt my disks so I'm hoping it is muscular this time. That pain felt more structural before when I had my apparent disk problems, if that makes sense. This feels more muscular related as it responds to heat and the TENS unit quite well.
The last few days I have been doing better although sitting for more than about 15 minutes causes me pain when I get up from sitting. It doesn't really hurt when I sit, just after I get up and try to move around. I have been taking Motrin, doing regular heat applications, along with TENS unit applications. That is where I'm at now. I'm definitely doing better but I want to know ways to prevent this from happening and find a "cure" to my ailments. I know that my back will never completely heal but there has to be more that I can do than what my stupid primary care doctor tells me. Looking for information or suggestions about what other people do for their problems and what they have found works. I appreciate anyone who has taken the time to read this or will write back. Cheers.


  • Welcome to Spine Health. Well the cool thing is that you don't have to worry about "going it alone" here. We are all behind you every step of the way.

    One of the things I found out early on when I hurt my lower back, was that I have to stay away from the eliptical machines!!! All the docs and PT's were telling me how great they are and I should try them etc ...

    So I did, and I wound up hurting bad again! In fact it was only a few minutes into the workout that I knew inside that this was not going to work for me.

    So instead I do a combination of riding the bike and walking on the treadmill for cardio. I do a lot of core stretching and strengthening exercises. It saves my butt, and "knock on wood" I've not had any issues or bad flares with my lower back for 3 years now!

    A TENS unit can help with both muscle and nerve pain, depending on where it is placed and the pattern it is set to.

    Hope you can find some answers.

  • Hello there. First let me thank you for your post. Really nice to see that someone posted back! I'm guessing the elliptical machine is a really bad idea for me aside from everyone telling me that it is good for me to try. A lot of finding out what bothers me has been through trial and error so I guess this is just another thing I have to stay away from. If you don't mind me asking, is there a website that you go to for the stretching techniques you use? I feel that I have spoken to different people about this and different people tell me different things and I find out later that what I am doing is apparently the wrong stuff! I have a general routine every day that I do but sometimes I question some of it and would like to know what other do as far as stretching that have herniated/ruptured disks. Also, if you don't mind me asking, what is your official diagnosis/problem? Have you ever had surgery? Just curious. Thanks again for writing. I hope more people write back. Take care and thank you.
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  • Hi and welcome,

    How long has it been since you had a MRI or other tests?

    It sounds like you need to be re-evaluated and a plan set up for your condition.

    Exercising is great, the stretching and building your core is a good idea but only if your condition is at a level it can tolerate those motions. I would not being going to a Chiro or PT until a complete diagnosis and health plan was made for me. This could cause permanent nerve damage or other complications down the road.

    I would go to your back specialist if your PCP is not going to run tests to give you a definite diagnosis of your current condition. Once diagnosed even if surgery is not the answer (should be last resort) the back specialist should be able to give you a plan or refer you to the next step in pain management.
  • Hi reets, no problem on posting back. Anytime!

    Well like "O" says and those knucklehead commercials say "before you start any exercise program, check with your physician". It's smart.

    As far as what all I do, I have been looking for a good link that encompasses it all and haven't found one I like yet. When I do I'll post it for you.

    My diagnosis? Hahaha, well that's a good one. Just suffice to say, that my NS started calling me his "science project". I have had 7 surgeries on my lower back, as well as a week in ICU with a lumbar drain to measure CSF production and also add 9 weeks of open wound healing. What started it all ... I stood up wrong wearing 120lbs of wet dive gear while climbing out of the water. Fortunately or unfortunately a simple surgery to fix a blown disc uncovered genetic issues as well as a CSF leak from a punture years before that was slowly leaking and took 2 years to find. Not too mention a fractured back when a foolish intern did something he shouldn't have the morning after I had my 6th surgery. Hence the 7th surgery.

    That's my lower back. My c-spine is an entirely different nightmare. Right now I have a spinal cord stimulator in my c-spine to control the pain until the docs figure out if they can fix what broke after 2 previous c-spine surgeries.

    I'm a fitness freak who refuses to give in or give up. I was released from post op restrictions on 22 July and have been carefully starting back into my workouts. It's a bit challenging since I have a battery pack and wires that change the way I have to do things. However everything is still the same simple basics.

    I really rely heavily on being able to walk on the treadmill and ride the stationary bike. I normally do 30 to 45 minutes of cardio on one or both. Then I do 30 minutes of stretching, always basics for core and then particular for the body area I plan to work. Then it's to the weights, both machines and free weights. I usually work there for about an hour or so, depending on how much I work.

    Right now since I am starting over, I can only do 30 minutes of cardio, followed by 30 minutes of stretching, followed by 30 minutes of really really light weights. On the days I can't hit the gym I have a treadmill at home that I do 45 minutes of heavy walking. I also walk my dog 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. Not a leisurely stroll, because he needs his exercise too.

    Wow, sorry didn't mean to make this so long. I'll get you those links as soon as I have the time to find the right ones. Spine Health does have some good articles on stretching and strengthening the lower back. So if you go to the home page you should be able to find those.

  • Not that you and I share the same diagnosis, and I am no doc, but what I have found has helped my lower back problems the most is consistent recumbent exercise bike use (for cardio, weight maintenance, and leg strength), lots of different back exercises I was given by my chiropractor, and core training exercises (i.e. strengthening the abdominal muscles). For this, I use a wobble board and some basic balancing techniques on it to keep my core strong.

    My goal is to keep away from the fusion surgery for as long as possible. Luckily, I have a great ortho spine specialist who completely agrees with my plan (of course he thinks eventually my pain will get too intense and I will have to go under the knife), a great chiropractor to get me through rough patches when the pain gets overwhelming, and most important a great wife who is supportive and understanding of the issues surrounding chronic pain.

    I hope some of this helps you a little.
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  • If as you surmise surgery is the last option they delay as much as possible, the inference is that you pain and the flare up can be managed more effectively, the chronic pain cycle would be in excess of where most single treatments would be effective and a multi-faceted approach is academically deemed to work better.

    If our road to even easing the pain was as prescriptive as you seem to think we would have all been able to continue more effectively that we used to. It may well be effective and you should try all that you can, your condition itself could determine the future and we all had similar aspirations as you when in your condition.

    Good luck one stage at a time and not many shortcuts are possible.

    Take care John.

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