Lower back exercises after surgery

by Joel
(Webb City, MO)

Do enquire whether you have a short leg; it greatly complicates any back.

Do enquire whether you have a short leg; it greatly complicates any back.

Doctor, we have communicated many times via this site. You have always given me sage advice. Unfortunately I have not been able to avoid the knife. Anyway, I feel silly asking such a simple question, but I am nothing if not humble. You often refer to the exercises you should do in bed every morning before getting out of bed. Apparently due to my lack of navigational skills I am unable to find them. Could you reply with the direct link?

Help wouuld be most appreciated,


Hello Joel,
I'm sorry, but sometimes, despite the best will in the world it's unavoidable.

Most, very important, now give the tissues time to heal, otherwise you're in for failed back surgery, as it is known. Follow your surgeon's advice to the letter.

I'm convinced that failed surgery, like failed chiropractic for the serious lower back, is because we start sitting, bending, lifting far too soon.

Frequent lie downs, with the exercises, but please first ask your surgeon if they are appropriate.

Good luck, and hang in.

Dr B

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Jun 28, 2017
Ongoing leg pain
by: Joel Howard

Hello doctor! It's been a while since I have sought out your great advice. Hopefully you remember or can see my history of surgeries and issues, etc. so we won't have to rehash all of them. Anyway, my saga continues. For all of the last 2 years I have been blaming all of my leg pain on my lower back. However, based on symptoms and some recent testing I/we are not so sure that is the case. I mean, I have my bouts of sciatica that I know is coming from my back. Hate it, but I can handle it. I recently had a very thorough exam and EMG from a respected physiatrist. EMG was mostly normal, but based on his exam and my symptoms he feels I may have a neuromuscular or mitochondrial disorder. Let me tell you what is happening as briefly as I can.

1. Constant leg pain, but especially in my thighs.
2. I always assumed this was nerve pain from my back.
3. But this is really more muscular pain. Extreme, like take your breath away pain. Mostly in my thighs.
4. It is more commonly in the quadricep area and the inside of my thighs, but can also be in the hamstrings and calves.
5. This is greatly exacerbated by any sort of exercise. And I mean just walking across the house on a bad day will cause this.
6. It's like my muscles reaction to being used is completely out of proportion. During bad days, I could have slept all night and just going across the house in the morning to get my son up will causing extreme pain and cramping.
7. Sometimes it feels like cramping, sometimes it is just pain.
8. Sometimes they feel incredibly weak, like they are going to give out on me.
9. Climbing stairs or any sort of slope is nearly impossible.
10. I also have significant nerve pain in my calves, ankles and feet.
11. When the nerve pain is really flared up the tiny muscles in my ankles and feet just go crazy. I can sit and watch them twitch, spasm, etc. This is not always painful, but often results in cramps in the arch of my feet.
12. Rest helps to some extent, but not that much. Sometimes I could have stayed off of my feet for an entire day and it does no good.
13. Occasionally I will have a few "good" days where I am able to do some things around the yard, go to my kid's games or whatever. I immediately think I am on the road to recovery from whatever is going on. But it never, ever lasts. Plus I end up paying for it for days.

I could go on and on, but I am sure you have had enough!

I know this might be outside your area of expertise but I was just interested in what you had to say.

Do you know much about muscular disorders?

Just any thoughts you have is better than what I have now.

As you can imagine this is really weighing on me!

Thanks as always!

Hello Joel,
You are right; I have no idea what a mitochondrial disorder is.

It seems that you might have neurogenic claudication and perhaps even an arachnoiditis, neither of which I think I can comment on.

Just to be sure, this isn't also perhaps hip pain; often radiates down the front of the thighs. Lying on your back, and pulling the knee to the chest, is it particularly stiff and sore in the groin and around the hip?

My best thoughts are a deep sports massage of the lower back, buttocks and all of the legs; very important, lie on a thick cushion to lift the buttocks up and put you in slight flexion.

Find out if the local gym has an inversion traction device; or a friend. Quite expensive to purchase on the off chance that it might help.

Keep doing those back exercises, and a swimming pool would be great. Keep active as you can. How old are you?

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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