Extreme back pain, Femoral nerve pain, numbness

by Frank
(Toledo, Ohio USA)

I have had back problems since 1999 but with the exception of a few very bad flare ups I have seemed to manage to live a somewhat normal but careful life.

Last summer I woke up one morning with middle and lower back pain. As the day progressed the pain had become so severe that I was unable to walk. The front of my my thigh was on fire and totally numb. To make a long story short I ended up getting an MRI and the results were devastating. My family doctor jokingly said that there was nothing they could do for me short of putting in a new spine, (I didn't find this funny at all).

The MRI read, degenerative disc, spinal stenosis, multiple old fractured discs, herniated discs, a severe bulge at S1-L5, and others that I can't think of now.

I found a chiropractor that worked on me VERY GENTLY which seemed to eventually help with the pain. It took months for the thigh pain and numbness to ease up some.

Now it seems I moved, bent over or somehow did something to aggravate it again. My lower and middle back is killing me and the thigh pain and numbness has returned. I'm afraid to go back to the chiropractor because my spine is so bad I'm afraid of what manipulation could do to it. I've had injections years ago that actually made things worse so I won't do that again. I don't want to be on pain medication and have refrained from anything besides Ibuprofen through this whole ordeal but the quality of my life is beyond terrible and I am thinking about pain management.

I am a recovering opiate addict and have been clean for 16 years. The thought of opiates for pain terrifies me. I'm LOST and need some advice on what I can do.

Hello Frank,
It's obviously not easy, but my advice is to go back immediately to the same chiropractor who helped you before? Why the fear? S/he obviously really helped you. You yourself said how gentle the treatment was, and the likelihood of making it worse are not high. In any case, what other option do you have?

You make no mention of exercises. My experience is that every patient with chronic back pain absolutely shall do daily back exercises before getting out of bed. You'll find the lower back exercises in the navigation bar at C-H. But first, I'd see you chiropractor, and get some direction on which exercises would be best for your back.

Yes, it's not easy, Frank. I sense your pain, and panic. This too will probably pass... I too have back problems and never miss those exercises before getting out of bed. They take less than two minutes. Right now, I'd be doing them every half an hour...

Using ice for pain control?

I hope this has contributed.

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 have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is 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 is 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 pain-free. 

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 is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has 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 stroll 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; he has a short leg.

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. X-rays 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 few months 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 is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year 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 could not 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 should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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