lower back, outer hip and leg pain.

by Desri
(Charente France)

Only an xray will determine if there are bony changes occuring.

Only an xray will determine if there are bony changes occuring.


I have had lower back problems which have been helped by a Kiné but he couldn't help the pains in my outer hips that go down my leg (not continuously but hip, through thigh, misses the knee, into upper calf, lower calf/ankle) right to my ankle.
This has got progressively worse, I sometimes can't pick up things from the floor as I bend legs the pain through hips and legs is so intense. I have been a dancer, gym and yoga instructor so very active all my life. I'm 55. If I lift one leg the pain can cross and intensify in the other.
I can't stretch to get things out of a low cupboard without back pain.
The last few days I have started to have tingling in my right calf and foot in certain positions, this is a new development. Walking is no problem. Sometimes with legs straight I can touch the floor but sometimes not. Raising a leg whilst lying down, to the ceiling causes the pain and even with leg bend I don't get far; much less flexible than I was 6 months ago. I started about a year ago an intensive exercise program (Tracey Anderson) and worked 6 days a week for an hour plus swimming, gardening, labouring on our renovation (daughter's wedding, vanity, etc!)... I think I could have pushed too hard!! How do I come back from this, any help will be most gratefully received!

Hello Desri,
What's really needed is a diagnosis and that means a thorough examination, an xray, and possibly a scan.

What you describe sounds like a fairly typical sciatica; forward bending and a straight leg raise while lying on the back provoking pain in your lower limb sounds very much like a pinched nerve root in your lower back. Does it go to the little toe, or big toe side of your foot?

What's to be done. Firstly stop trying to touch your toes; research shows it's not helpful and the same can be achieved by lying on your back and pulling your knees to the chest, without the strain on the lower back.

Secondly, instead of your intensive hour per day, start our simple lower back exercises; they take less than two minutes, but do them several times a day. Continue with the swimming.

Chronic lower back pain is tough, Desri. There are no simple answers, but I hope this contributes. Oh, ask if you have a short leg too.

» lower back, outer hip and leg pain.

Dr B

Thirdly start looking for a local chiropractor who is thorough and well recommended by the community.

Fourthly, accept that there are some things you probably shouldn't do. You have to work them out, but the probably all involve bending and twisting.

Fifthly, if you need to pick something off the floor, or work in the garden at ground level, go down on one knee rather than bend.

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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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