Lower back pain and problems standing up straight

by Tracey Smith

I was diagnosed with pretty significant scoliosis in 1996 at the age of 16. At that time my worst curve was already 58 degrees so we opted for surgery as my doctor thought my scoliosis was progressing fairly fast and I was already having problems breathing. I had surgery the same year, 1996, just before Christmas.

I have had lower back pain and stiffness for years. I almost feel like the lower vertebra are all pinched and it usually hurts to bend forward and I get a good amount of sciatic.

This past weekend I really relaxed because whatever I did really screwed something up and it is really hard for me to stand up straight because when I do I have what feels like unbelievable pressure on my lower back and tailbone.

I'm actually walking kind of bent over. Trying to get approved by my insurance to have a myelogram. I'm pretty concerned about not being able to stand up straight. That isn't part of my normal everyday scoliosis pain.

Hello Tracy,
It is a nasty scoliosis, and you were probably given the right advice. It's not clear whether the rods extend right down to the sacrum.

What you describe sounds very like what's known as an "antalgia". Leaning to the side, or forwards, to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve, and possibly the femoral n. It's also called a functional scoliosis as it's a temporary feature, compared with your structural scoliosis.

Do you also have pain with coughing or sneezing, and bearing down on the toilet? Sitting in a conventional chair, does straightening first one and then the other leg cause pain in the lower back, and possibly also the lower limb or buttock? You need to discount the normal tightness of the hamstrings, but comparing right and left.

The problem can also be in the sacroiliac joints.

I would start doing some gentle lower back exercises every morning before getting out of bed, and perhaps several times a day, sit less and don't bend; no housework.

Meantime start hunting for an experienced local chiropractor who has a McManis traction unit. Your case is not for an inexperienced young person.

Be careful, this could be construed as a fairly serious development. Don't go lifting heavy things and "playing silly buggers."

Ask also if you have a short right leg; a simple inexpensive insert in your shoe could make a huge difference.

I hope this contributes, Tracey. The National College of Chiropractic can be found in Lombard. You may find help there; it's arguably the best institute in the world. I spent four happy years there back in the last millenium. I still have a mug stating, I survived the blizzard of '79.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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