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About six months ago, I hurt my lower back doing deadlifts. On the last repetition of one of my sets, I felt some mild discomfort in my lower back, but was still able to finish my workout (including a couple more deadlift sets). However, after the the workout (walking back from the gym), the discomfort turned into a sharp, local pain in my lower back. Standing up, walking and going about my day was painful, but doable. The same goes for the next day, where going to school was just about all I managed to do. Some of you might argue that I should have stayed in bed entirely for these two days, but in accordance with general recommendations, I decided to get my body moving again as quickly as possible without stressing my lower back too much. Obviously, I took some time off the gym, and within a few days, the sharp back pain had disappeared almost completely. All I was left with was a slight feeling of soreness and weakness, which was barely noticeable unless I was sitting for long periods or bending over and flexing my lower back. Standing upright or lying down, I felt no abnormalities whatsoever.
After a few more days, I eased my way back in to the gym determined to strengthen my lower back without stressing it too much. I did some pull-ups, gentle back extensions and chest-supported rows, and it all felt great until I went home and felt the soreness flaring up. The discomfort was by no means excessive, but still annoying. The soreness went back to the pre-workout state after a couple of days, but would flare up again every time my lower back was put in a position of tension greater than that from regular walking.
Long story short (or shorter, at least), I still feel the mild soreness/weakness/pain to this day, and it still flares up every time my lower back experiences increasing stress from running, sitting for too long, playing football, jumping etc. Neither the initial pain, nor the flare-up is excessive, but it is still incredibly annoying, because it constrains me and limits my opportunities to do the things I love, i.e. playing football, lifting weights and running, in fear of worsening my condition.
Due to the discomfort being chronic, I believe that I may have herniated a lumbar disc. However, the fact that
- the sharp pain started after I finished my workout and was located in both sides of my lower back
- the pain improved within a few days
- the pain has been local and has never affected my buttocks or legs (sciatica)
makes me believe that I might suffer from a lumbar strain in the form of a complete ligament tear.
My GP is not much help and will not let me have an MRI as of yet. I am going to have an x-ray soon (to see the distance between the vertebrae, I guess). I have tried RICE, spinal decompression, McKenzie exercises, hip flexor, glute and hamstring stretches, exercises and stretches for piriformis syndrome and strengthening of the core and erector spinae. Nothing has helped, and so I still feel the same discomfort that I felt a couple of days after the day of my injury. I am a 21 years old male, who is in decent shape (relatively lean, good posture, relatively strong back, legs and core). I want my lower back to improve so badly, and I really hope that I do not have to deal with this my entire life. All I want right now is to be able to play football without having to worry about my back.
Do you think that it might be a herniated disc or a ligament tear? Does anyone have any advice on what I can do and how I should deal with my GP, my discomfort, my loss of hope and my limited opportunities to take part in different activities? Being this restricted at 21 years of age is getting depressing.
Any advice is greatly appreciated. Sorry for the long post.