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 B

» Lower back pain and problems standing up straight

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Chiropractic help Questions (Low back pain).

Did you find this page useful? Then perhaps forward it to a suffering friend. Better still, Tweet or Face Book it.

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.

Do you have a problem that is not getting better?

Are you looking for a different slant on your pain?

Do you want to pose a question?

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.