Back, buttock, and leg pain since 16 yo

by Ryan
(Alberta, Canada)

I've had an L5-S1 disc extrusion since the age of 16. Pain always in the left lower back/top of the buttocks (one spot). Also, pain and chronic muscle tightness in the buttocks every day. Left leg is weaker than right with dull pain that radiates down to ankle.

Most recent MRI shows:

L1-L2: small right foramina disc extrusion w/ annular tear, resulting in mild right neural foramina narrowing
L4-L5: broad based disc bulge
L5-S1 subligamentous disc extrusion

I'm really at a loss here; I've been dealing with this every day since I was 16, I'm now 31. It's rare to happen so young and every young person I've come across has acute back injuries and they either recover within a short time or get back surgery and they're done with it. Their pain is excrutiating, but it's short lived.

I was an athlete when the injury happened. It's been 15 years since I have jogged or played any kind of sport. I've seen numerous specialists. They keep saying the same thing, "you're too young to get surgery". Well, I'm not young anymore!

I can't tell how much I would appreciate your advice.

Thanks very much

X-Rays normal.

Hello Ryan,
There's no magic wand, so I'm not going to tell that chiropractic can fix this problem without a lot of blood sweat and tears. Nevertheless, you make no mention of having consulted a chiropractor.

There's oodles of research now concluding that a combination of manipulation and exercise is the best way forward.

Both have their problems; chiropractic is an art, and some of us have better hands than others. Start talking to friends, family and your family doctor and seek out a chiropractor who is experienced, thorough and conscientious; he's there, you just have to find him.

And secondly, the research points to exercises for the abdominal muscles, the deep pelvic muscles and the small back muscles called the multifidi. Finding the right combination of exercises for your back may take hard work on your part. You'll find plenty of exercises in the navigation bar at Chiropractic Help.

For me, what's important, is that you do them every single morning before getting out of bed. Without fail.

Then, choose your chairs carefully and in general sit less. Instead of bending over, go down on ONE knee.

Surgery isn't a simple solution, nor is chiropractic; if you can avoid an operation, you'll be better off in the long run.

One last thought; have your spouse stand behind you, and place both hands on your iliac crests. Are they level? Sometimes a simple inexpensive insert in your shoe can make a huge difference. To be certain, you need an xray of your pelvis taken standing.

Good luck, I hope this contributes; let us know how you get on.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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