Left side pain starting from middle of back that radiates down to my big toes. Numbness from knee down.

by Joanna

I am 27, and was an active, on the go kind of person until I had my daughter in October 2011, and my back was never the same. I ended up having surgery in July of 2013 for a L5-S1 fusion. Then I had left side pain that continued and worsened.

So I had another surgery in November 2013 for bolts and screws and rods.

After awaking from surgery, I had extreme left side pain. They found that one of the screws was slightly touching my spinal canal. They went back in and screwed the screw back properly.

I still have left side pain and it has gotten worse as time has went on. My femoral nerve is very painful and swollen. My left side is so tense and sensitive. I can not perform any activities without being down for several days following, even simple activities such as vacuuming.

MRI's and CAT scans have shown SI joint deterioration, and unremarkable fusion hardware. EMG study shows L5 nerve damage. Pain medicine helps a little bit but I continue to be in such extreme pain all the time.

Please help if you have any advice or things I could do to make things better. Thank you.

Your desperate writer

Hello Joanna,
A sad tale, FBS or Failed Back Surgery is a recognised diagnosis.

What can I suggest? A few thoughts.

1. Accept that the days of vacuuming and perhaps sweeping are over. Your daughter too, I'm afraid.

2. At Chiropractic Help, in the menu bar, you'll find a page leading you to some YouTube basic back exercises. You WILL do them every day, before getting out of bed, for the rest of your days. In fact, I'd do them several times a day. They take only one minute. Because of the severity of your case, it might be an idea to get professional help as which are the best exercises for your. There's not thing such as one size fits all.

Then there are more advanced exercises that you would need to try, slowly and carefully, in about a month's time.

3. Get into the habit of going down on one knee when you need to pick things off the floor. Bend much less.

4. Choose your chairs carefully. Listen to your back. Perch or lie down instead of sitting when you can. For example when watching TV.

5. Get someone to evaluate whether you have a short leg. Even a small lift in your shoe of a couple millimetres can make a big difference.

6. Now for the difficult part. Is there a place for chiropractic treatment for a back like yours. The answer is yes, but you need to find the right person. Someone gentle and unrushed. The activator technique might be the best.

Good luck, Joanna, say your prayers, things can be done. I'm right now treating an older woman who was where you are until four months ago. Astonishing improvement despite all those screws and plates.

Be careful. Avoid falls, and obviously no heavy lifting, difficult when you have a small child.

Let us know in a couple months 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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