Since my high school years I have suffered with chronic lower back pain. For the most part the pain was manageable and of moderate intensity. At times it would become severe and debilitating for five to seven day periods; although, these episodes were infrequent.
Throughout my chiropractic education and years of practicing in the chiropractic profession I had access to many colleagues’ care and received regular chiropractic adjustments. This care would afford relief however it never resulted in substantial or long-term relief. There was always some degree of annoying pain and discomfort.
I have always managed my weight; keeping it between 170-187 pounds. I have lifted weights regularly for over 30 years and engaged in a fairly consistent walking routine.
Then, one day while working out at the local YMCA and having a rare flare up of considerable lower back pain for almost a week or so with the pain increasing in intensity, I noticed that my left hip was significantly lower than the right and my right shoulder was lower than the left. It was not just a slight difference it was… big-time.
I assumed it was mostly due to the muscle spasm in my lower back.
That same day, while leaving the office and walking across the parking lot, I was unable to walk normally without my left foot slapping down on the parking lot pavement.
Attempting heel walking was impossible on my left foot.
I was stunned.
Being a chiropractor, I knew what this meant and new of the possible outcome.
I had a pinched nerve in my lower back, most probably from a bulging or herniated disc. My nerve was not working causing paralysis in my leg (foot drop). I was probably not only going to need surgery right away, I was also worried that the paralysis would be permanent.
My career was in jeopardy, my health and lifestyle was going to be negatively impacted and my life was in danger due to impending surgery.
I immediately went to my chiropractor friend and this is what we discovered:
He recommended I consider surgery.
"Surgery! No way!", I said.
This was not even an option for me.
So we took action.
Action that had to be taken immediately... to possibly reverse the damage and restore normal function.
Action that had to be taken immediately... to prevent the need for surgery.
Action that had to be taken immediately... to save my career and allow me to be able to live the lifestyle I wanted.
Here was our lower back pain remedy plan:
1. Chiropractic adjustments--three times per week.
2. Traction decompression--three times per week.
3. Trigger point therapy--three times per week.
4. Continue wearing custom made orthotics (arch supports).
5. Install a heel lift in left shoe for short leg.
6. Walk daily.
7. Continue exercising--avoiding lower back exercises and any exercise that I noticed caused strain or irritation to my low back.
8. Sleep on my back or right side--left side exaggerated by lumbar scoliosis (curvature) while lying on my right side reduced it.
Almost immediately the lower back started to improve. By 7 to 10 days strength improvement was significant and within three weeks there was absence of foot drop when walking; although, some weakness was still evident. Reflexes were normal by the end of the first month.
Now, some 18 years later, I have no evidence of foot drop or muscular weakness. Occasionally I will suffer with acute flare-ups if I lift wrong or over-do-it. I do have some occasional lower back pain that requires management with trigger point therapy and periodic chiropractic adjustments.
I engage in regular weightlifting and walking. I have no limitations and I do not avoid heavy lifting, activities or hobbies such as mountain trail bike riding, gardening, landscaping, or any other activity I wish to do.
If I would not have been a chiropractor and armed with the knowledge and experience that comes with it, I probably would have done what most people would have done... submitted to surgery. This would have, most likely, left me with some permanency and disability. It may also have been the end of my career and lifestyle that I enjoy.
Keep in mind, not everyone with similar low back conditions will respond as favorably as I did to my lower back pain remedy. But, I do believe that most can.
The lessons to take away are:
Finally, pain is a gift. Do not ignore the pain alarm that something is wrong and delay seeking needed care. Your pain may never fully go away. Learn to manage it, but…
...do not become obsessed with your pain.
Rather... become too busy with life to have time to think of pain.