Severe pain in left lower back.

by Steve
(Eddy, TX)

I've been to see numerous chiropractors, general physicians, neuro-surgeons and others. I spotted a picture online of a fellow with a "crooked back" like mine...I lean to the left though. I'm having terrible pain in my left lower back and left hip and leg.

This is probably the 10th episode I've had in the last 23 years. It began as a football injury and has progressed to a life altering problem. I'm basically at the point of complete disability of doing everyday things. Work is out of the question and keeping up with my two small boys is even further from being a possibility.

I've recently had an MRI done and was told that my problems are at L1 through L4. I feel that I've tried everything shy of surgery (chiro, therapy, bed-rest and even spinal injections to control the pain). Being uninsured, surgery seems to be out of the question. I'm just looking everywhere I can for any advice that may be able to help. I live near Waco, TX. I'd appreciate any ideas you might have.

Thanks - Steve

Hello Steve,

You have the classic "Pisa sign" - in medical language, an "antalgia". The posture the body takes to protect the nerve root from a bulging or prolapsed disc.

What part of your leg hurts the most? That will tell us which disc is probably the spanner in the works.

The fact that you lean to the left, and the pain is on the left, tells a vital part of the story. It means the disc is bulging on the medial (inner) side of the nerve root. The condition is called a "Postero-medial" herniation.

Oddly, I love to treat the PM herniation, because it gets better quickly, but get this, it comes back quickly too if you don't go through the six weeks for the disc to heal. In other words, the pain goes away, you stand up straight, faster than the actual disc heals. So, if you play silly buggers inside of that six weeks, it just herniates again. And again. And again... until you end up where you are.

Three strong recommendations: Ask your chiropractor if you have a short left leg - use a small insert in your left shoe. He'll tell you how much, probably 3-5 mm. Is so, wear it for the rest of your life. Even in your slippers, and maybe don't go barefoot if it's that bad.

Start doing a few basic - BASIC - exercises EVERY morning BEFORE getting out of bed. In bed. At go to Lower Back Exercises. Don't pull both knees together onto the chest if you have severe pain on forward flexion. In fact, when my patients are acute I have them do these exercises every half an hour.

Thirdly, start sitting a lot less. Perch on the edge of a desk, watch TV lying down on your back with pillows under your head and shoulders (do the exercises whilst you are there).

Fourthly, don't bend. Go down on ONE knee if you need to pick something off the floor.

Fifth, start icing your back for half an hour, twice a day.

Sixth, lying on your tum on a pile of cushions, ask your wife to use some cream on the back of your thigh and calf, and massage from the left achilles tendon UP towards your buttock. Daily. Not too hard in the calf muscle.

Well, that's a bit more than three! Do that for three weeks, and then report back at this site.

Take digis of your X-rays, and send them to me.

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