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My timeline starts in November of 2015. I started having a stiff lower back where it
was hard to stand up straight after sitting. I thought my back was ‘out’ and
tried to rest it the best I could, but I am a mother of my then 5 month
old. The pain and stiffness came and
went for about 8 weeks. In January, my back hurt really badly if I tried to
bend forward, I could hardly set my daughter on the floor or unload the dish
washer. One night in January it was so bad
that my back started having spasms and there was shooting pains down my legs. I
woke up and my spine was curved, and I was standing hunched and slanted. I saw a chiropractor the next day and I could
barely stand. He took xrays and used a tens unit on my back that day. I saw him 3 times a week for about three
weeks. He suggested that I take it easy, lay in bed, use ice and not heat, and
not stretch my back. This was the worst
advice I received. The last time I saw him I left in so much pain that I was in
tears and went to an afterhours clinic.
There was a large spasm bulging from my back and the doctor injected cortisone
directly into the spasm. This helped a
great deal but it was a week before I could stand up straight.
I swore off all chiropractors and felt stupid for not seeing
a medical doctor at this point, but the chiro was very convincing that the medical
doctors would just push pills and not help me fix the issue.
I went to a few D.O. doctors who looked puzzled, and was
referred to a spinal specialist. I ended
up seeing five spine specialists, because after the chiropractor I learned my
lesson about not getting opinions for more than one person! Everyone was telling me I have scoliosis and
it must have been there slightly all along.
No one was listening that I had x-rays from a few years prior with no
indication of scoliosis and I just woke up slanted one day. Finally, after an
MRI they found my L5 S1 disc herniation.
The doctor explained that my back was protecting itself so it was
pushing me away from the disc causing the curve in my spine. They said to take pain meds and do physical therapy. Pain medication was not an option for me as I
was breast feeding my daughter. Physical
therapy was helpful but in the end it didn’t get me far enough. Also, I purchased an inexpensive inversion
table, which helps me now more than it did then. At this point it was March, and I had been in
pain for months. It was downright
depressing and discouraging. I tried an epidural steroid injection, which
helped but once again I was still in pain all day every day. I decided my only
option was to do surgery even though 4 of the 5 doctors didn’t recommend it and
the one that did recommend spinal fusion.
I was planning to get the surgery in October.
I ran into a friend that I hadn’t seen in almost a
year. I told him about my problem and he
also has a disc herniation at the same level and had a similar experience as I
did. He urged me to try Pilates before
my surgery. He gave me the name of his
trainer. I decided that I may as well
try it because after the surgery I would have to go through core strengthening
anyway, so I may as well give it a shot now.
Going to Pilates sessions one on one is expensive and I have
to admit, at this point my mind was made up that surgery was my only option. I’m
only 30 and don’t want to live in pain and want to have another baby. But, even
though it’s expensive (and honestly, we could barely afford it), I had to give
it a shot because surgery is a permanent choice.
I signed up for 10 one on one sessions, by the 6th
session I could really feel a difference in my pain level. I signed up for
another 10, by the 14th session I was almost pain free. I was still stiff in the mornings and after
car rides and tender after busy days in my lower back. I also want to note that
driving for more than 20 minutes was extremely uncomfortable. I would have pain
in my leg, hip, butt and low back. I bought one of those fancy pillows with the
cut out for the tail bone. It did help but didn’t solve the problem. I still
use it sometimes. I have been working
with the Pilates instructor for about six months now and I get stiff but I have
little to NO pain, and car rides are no longer uncomfortable.
As I worked with the instructor we took baby steps and
started with the very basics. We found
that my pain was coming from tightness in my muscles and weakness. Tightness not only in my back but my legs,
and psoas as well was leading to the lumbar pain. My theory (I’m not a doctor), is that my disc
injury caused my body to work in ways that it shouldn’t have to help compensate
for the injury which lead to muscles getting tight and other muscles that were
getting weak because I wasn’t using them correctly. Taking the advice of the chiropractor actually
hurt my recovery for two reasons. One,
not using the muscles caused them to become very weak and anyone with a disc
injury needs a strong core to help with the pain; and two my body purposely pushed
itself out of alignment to protect the disc so when I allowed him to push me
back into alignment it caused more harm than good for my body. (I am not saying
that is correct for everyone’s body, but for my situation).