Severe episodic lower back pain - Underdeveloped disc/vertebrae

by clinton
(Bakersfield, CA, USA)

A number of years ago, after numerous visits to the doctor and various x-rays and scans of my lower back, an MRI indicated (based on what the doctor or medical professional related to me) that I have an under or undeveloped vertebrae or disc in my lumbar spine. It sounds very similar in some respects to your L5 Lumbarization/Sacralization situation. Unfortunately, I don't recall any name they may have provided, if any. I do recall he said it was rare but not unheard of. Additionally, he stated that as a result of the underdeveloped condition, the disc or vertebrae (I apologize. While i understand they are very different, I don't recall which) was prone to slip out of alignment. This being a source of unbelievable and at times leg buckling pain.

This slippage or condition doesn't generally require any obvious trama or antagonism. It can come out of seemingly nowhere. For example, it has random causes such as driving for 60-90 minutes. With no prior symptom, I step out of the car and somewhere in the process of getting out and putting pressure on a my leg there is a pain hard to describe but feels like a knife in my lower back, lightning shooting down my leg that buckles at my knee then retreats, waiting for a wrong step. It can last days, up to weeks.

On the other hand, an episode can have a gradual onset starting with a general weakness and less severe pain as if its partially out. These naturally seem to go one of two ways. This past year one of these gradual scenarios lasted several weeks and fluctuated between severe and mild during this time and was (re)aggravated by physical activity during this time. I wish I knew the location of a scan image but its a number of moves make it difficult to recall.

As you may imagine this has an association with other lower back trauma and symptoms in which the exact nature of of the relationship is unclear. I don't know what I am hoping for. Maybe hope, that you have some idea what I'm talking about and can tell me something can help slow, improve, stop this situation, experience, condition, etc. I am in my early 40s and at this rate, well 50s and 60s don't hold much promise in respect to pain, physical activity and mobility. Any thoughts, ideas, recommendation, light at the end of the tunnel? Am I in a tunnel?

Hello Clinton,
Yes, I suspect you have a lumbarisation, and it's certainly not rare. The first step to go back to the hospital where you had that scan done; get a copy, it's an important part of your medical records.

Sitting is the greatest enemy of the lower back, and it comes as no surprise that after driving you have a problem.

Then my best suggestion is to start doing our lower back exercises, every single morning before getting out of bed; I do them myself. Never miss, not ever.

These lower back anomalies are always tricky, and a chiropractor would have to work out which treatment would be most effective for you; he or she would have to be a thinking practitioner as a quick click is likely to be useless.

Good luck, let me know in a month or two how much the exercises have helped; find them in the navigation bar at Chiropractic Help.

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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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.

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