No doctors take my back pain seriously because I'm "only 29"

by Lauren
(Columbia, sc USA )

No doctors take my back pain seriously because I'm "only 29"

Hi there. I had a hyper extension injury to my lower back over 10 years ago performing a gymnastics skill. I went to a doctor right after and because nothing was broken, they couldn't do anything but tell me to rest and ice. In working with a chiropractor, I was able to return to some sports, but never at 100 percent function.

Since the injury, it has always hurt to arch my back. It has been nagging for a very long time and causes pain all over my back and hips. The last chiropractor I went to did not help very much. I finally went to a back surgeon, but my back wasn't severe enough for him to do anything, I received a neck MRI after telling him I hd fallen on it numerous times in gymnastics, but I still do not know what is causing my pain. The back surgeon just told me I "wasn't 18 anymore", which upset me greatly.

I never have gotten an MRI on my lower or upper back. I know this is a horrible x-ray because it is the picture I took while in the back surgeon's office, but thought there may be a slim chance you may be able to give me some insight or advice. Thank you.

Hello Lauren,
It's a sad tale of woe, but honestly there's light at the end of this tunnel.

First two big questions? I'm sure you've been told you have a mild scoliosis, but has anyone told you the most likely cause is a short leg?

But deciding how thick the insert in your shoe should be, and whether it goes under just the heel, or the whole shoe takes patience and skill. Don't buy into the hugely expensive orthotics, at least not initially.

It's not clear if the X-ray was taken standing, but my guess would be a short left leg.

Obviously I can't examine you, but from both the initial injury and the fact that you get pain whilst arching your back points to a lumbar facet joint injury. This is normally bread and butter to a chiropractor, so the question is: why hasn't it responded to chiropractic help? I'm not sure. That short leg may be part of the problem.

Sometimes a scoliosis is caused by a fall on the sacrum that has shifted it within the pelvis, or you may have an anomaly at L5. Do you have an X-ray report for me?

The lumbar facet syndrome is not usually problematic, so I'm assuming there's a complicating factor. Like the short leg. Crazy as it may seem, perhaps even a problem in your foot or neck.

The second important question: Are you doing a disciplined set of
lower back exercises ... every single day? That can make the difference after a month or two.

You make no mention of leg pain which is a good sign, but I'm afraid it's coming if this isn't resolved. Those facet joints will become arthritic if the subluxation is not reduced, and then the proverbial stuff really hits the fan.

Perhaps the time has come to look for another chiropractor. Do your homework carefully, someone who is thorough and comes well recommended by family and friends.

I'm afraid the "only 29" brigade are only showing their ignorance. Back pain is usually worse in younger people for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that if the disc has been injured, it's under much more pressure in your age group. I would far rather treatment a slipped disc of someone of 55 than someone of 29.

Other factors. Your diet? Don't underestimate the aggravating affect of a poor diet, obesity, smoking. A sitting job too.

Let me have that report, attach to this same thread.

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I hope this has contributed.

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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