What radicular pain can I ignore?

by SJ

Where is the radicular pain?

Where is the radicular pain?

What pain is fine to ignore?

For example, my chiropractor says he ignores his own mild low back pain. Is intermittent radiculopathy also OK to ignore? Intermittent or transient pain that is moderate or sometimes severe? Pain that is only manifested when moving a particular way, but absent most of the time?

My chiro said the pain I am dealing with might be my "new normal," which implies there isn't much to be done about it, so I may as well get used to it and try to ignore it.

If I knew exactly what was causing my pain, and that by ignoring it I was not too likely to cause any more damage, then I suppose getting used to it or ignoring it could be viable (though unsatisfactory) options.

However, could I be ignoring symptoms that might get worse, if untreated?

A secondary question might be, how can I articulate exactly what I am feeling to my chiropractor, in words that both of us understand in the same way? I find my vocabulary is amazingly deficient when it comes to describing the location and nature of pain that I feel.

These are big and important questions, SJ. Firstly, pain is notoriously difficult to describe and quantify, so don't feel all alone.

Secondly radiating pain should always be taken more seriously than localised lower back pain.

And then a lot depends on your age and history. For example, I myself am nearly seventy and had a very serious slipped disc four years ago. A surgical job for what we call a sequestered disc in the jargon. I was saved by some very skilled chiropractic care, but I now have fairly regularly a numbness in the foot; that is fine to ignore at my age and with that history.

Likewise, a pain that you recognise and have had many times before, which has resolved with time or treatment, you'd treat a lot less seriously, and may choose to ignore.

On the other hand, if you are much younger, and this is something new, then my recommendation is that you don't ignore it; the likelihood of it progressing is relatively great.

Are you doing your part, like exercising your lower back every day, and being reasonably careful with bending, lifting and twisting?

Your chiropractor knows and understands his LBP; it's not unreasonable to ignore it. But it sounds like you don't understand yours; does he? For example, if you have a bad scoliosis, or advanced degenerative change and both you and he have an understanding of what's happening, then it might be reasonable to accept this is a new normal.

I hope this contributes; a difficult question to answer frankly. Follow your instincts.

Dr B

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