Extreme lower back pain and legs giving out

by Liss
(Rock Creek Oh )

Are you looking like the Tower of Pisa? It's called an antalgia.

Are you looking like the Tower of Pisa? It's called an antalgia.

I woke up Tuesday morning and couldn't get out of bed; the pain was like none I've ever experienced before.

I called the chiropractor and got in as soon as they opened at 9 am; he aligned me and suggested a back brace and ice; as well as a natural anti inflammatory.

By the early afternoon I was at the local emergency room; a CT SCAN shows some arthritis around the sciatic nerve.

This is day 3 and I can still hardly move; the pain is horrific and now my legs are completely giving out trying to walk at all.

Dear Liss,
I'm sorry this has taken a few days to get to. Don't panic; this too will pass, but you have to take some stringent steps which you can find at our slipped disc rules page.

Firstly, think back to what you had been doing earlier in the week; there is a cause; see if you can locate it, so as not to repeat.

Mostly, but I'm guessing, I'll admit, an attack like hasn't come out of the blue; have you been getting some warning signs? That arthritic change didn't suddenly arrive on Monday night; actually it's probably not very significant, and the problem is often elsewhere; a red herring.

Firstly, and this is controversial, just put yourself to bed, but not continuous rest. Twice a day put an ice pack on your back, followed by some warmth for a shorter period.

Then do the gentle slipped disc exercises that you'll find in the navigation bar at Chiropractic Help; every fifteen minutes during the day, and if you are wakened at night, which you probably will be.

During the day, make yourself get up by rolling out of bed onto your knees and go for a short walk around the house; sweet pee, cup of tea, sandwich and so on; absolutely no house work, and no sitting.

It's time to call in friends and family; shopping, getting the children to school and so on; if you have a job, tell the boss you're going to be away for at least three weeks and possibly longer.

It's a scary time, I know. I've treated thousands like you. Then you are going to need gentle chiropractic care several times a week, and perhaps daily initially. It's going to cost you, alas.

That's why I stress prevention, prevention, prevention. This hurts a lot, in the back, and in the pocket. Those exercises, and some more difficult in a few weeks, stay with you for the rest of your life before getting out of bed every morning; like you brush your teeth. It's a simple but important discipline, or else this will return.

Don't be bullied into an operation; this will pass. The only serious thing to look out for is inability to urinate; if you can't empty your bladder, you need to be catheterized immediately.

See your chiropractor again; ask him to be gentle! This is a serious problem, and riding over your back, rough shod is not what you need. Someone must drive you; lie on the back seat.

Pity they didn't rather do an MRI; shows a lot more.

Try not to cough or sneeze, eat plenty of fibre to keep the bowels loose, don't sit, and don't bend. Say your prayers, usually you'll get over this; it will take at least six weeks to heal, and often several months to settle completely.

Good luck; let me know how you get on.

Dr B

» Extreme lower back pain and legs giving out

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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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Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.

You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong. Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what a DC does.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my eBooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful from the life and work of a chiropractor, you will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.