Do You Have Back Pain Too?

Updated on May 01, 2014
L.M. asks from Chicago, IL
8 answers

I've recently been diagnosed with some back pain issues. A herniated disc started it (you may have seen a previous post of mine), and some pretty serious pre-arthritic stuff has come to the surface. Bottom line - I'm going to be battling back pain for the rest of my life, and I'm only 38.

I've gotten all the medical attention needed - consult with ortho surgeon, getting a cortizone shot next week, seeing a chiropractor regularly. Using meds if needed. I'm also seeking the consultation of a therapist. My husband has been my rock and is totally there for me as I cry or share my fears.

In this moment, my back pain is manageable, achy and uncomfortable, but tolerable. I know it's going to get worse. Unfortunately, I've seen the MRI report.

I'm feeling pretty alone in this. Feeling young to have this going on and worrying (a lot!) about my future pain issues and my chances of crippling pain. I think I'm getting depressed and I can't hardly focus on anything besides the worst case scenario. In fact, I've realized I haven't eaten today when I started making dinner. I'm spending more time on the computer looking for a silver lining than with my kids :(

I'm wondering if anyone else out there is in my same shoes and how you are handling it. No horror stories please! :)

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Thank you all so much for your stories! It's inspirational!

More Answers


answers from Indianapolis on

Last year I had a neck and spinal scan at the age of twenty-six.

Since pregnancy I had been dealing with awful sciatic nerve pain. It was to the point that I couldn't walk. My whole leg would go numb or pain would be shooting down the nerve. My neck was also hurting me a lot.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis in my lower back and severe neck damage caused by the spinal issues. My neck still hurts pretty constantly, and my range of motion is small. It hurts a lot if I lean my head back, forward, or to the right.

Scoliosis has a lifetime deterioration effect. So it will only get worse for me. And since mine is "lumbar" (lower back) it affects my sciatic nerve and ability to walk. My sciatic nerve is constantly pinched. Because of my spine twisting, my left hip is lower and further back than my right. So it also causes my left leg to appear longer than my right. My whole body is slightly off balance.

I'm twenty-seven now. And it will only get worse.

I was pretty depressed about it for weeks after I found out. But then I realized that no amount of crying or feeling sorry tor myself would improve my back.

If I do yoga regularly my back doesn't bother me too much. In fact it may not hurt at all as long as I'm taking care of myself. But if I sit too long it hurts. I also have to sleep with extra cushion to take the pressure off my spine.

My advice to you:

Stop worrying and educate yourself on how to deal with your issues. The pain may never go away, but I'm sure you can find something that keeps it at bay or manageable.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Hi, don't give up yet! I wrecked my back lifting heavy things setting up a field camp in my late 20s. It took a year to stop being in chronic pain. After each child my back goes out again once they get heavy and I am lifting them all the time. When my daughter was 2 it was really bad - I could not get out of bed for a week and friends had to come help me. I ended up getting an MRI and I have severe arthritis, severe degenerative disc disease, bulging disks and sciatia. Once I healed a bit I started seeing a physical therapist regularly. This was EXTREMELY helpful and I highly recommend it. Then about 3 months later I started gentle yoga (now I'm in regular yoga). So...for the last 3 years I have been doing yoga religiously and it is amazing. I went from being in pain all the time, not sleeping, not able to move certain ways or do many yoga moves to being a whole, normal person again. I don't push it. I keep it easy and don't do anything too strenuous (some yoga classes are crazy). It makes my back feel so good and it is amazing how I have a full range of motion again. It also keeps my core and back strong which is very helpful. Don't let it get you too are at the low point right now and things will get better. The thing with your MRI is this is not permanent...your back changes with time and things that are bad now will heal and get better. I strongly recommend a physical therapist and then when you can handle it start with gentle yoga. Tell your teacher beforehand about your back and don't push it. I lived for so long with chronic pain and it was awful. It took time for my back to slowly get better....many easy yoga moves I could not do at first. I just did what I could and over time (a year) I could do everything. If I skip yoga for a week or two I start feeling my back getting weak again. let you know...there is a silver lining and it is time. Doing PT and yoga are a great help as well. I still try to do my PT exercises daily even though my back feels good now. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lancaster on

You're not alone. My back pain/problems started in my early 20s. Herniated disk, sciatica, spasms - on and off through my 20s and 30s. At 40, I had a fall and the disk almost ruptured. I had a VERY successful back surgery (micro surgery, really). My back isn't perfect, but I've managed my whole life with it all (I have a slight abnormality in the bones of my lower back so that caused the disk problem).

My advice to you is to NOT PANIC. There are all kinds of options now that weren't available even 10 years ago. The best information I ever got was from a book "Mind over back pain". I think the author's last name is Sarno? So much of the pain comes from us tensing up without even realizing it. I promise the book will change your life. I just came across it again as I was cleaning the other day and I'm going to re-read it. Best of luck to you.

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answers from Boston on

I had sciatica for years - a lot of pain, especially shooting pains down the leg, and some very scary moments when my leg would just give out without warning. It was particularly bad when I on stairs or when I was driving (the pain was always down my right leg, which meant I wasn't very accurate with the gas or brake pedals. I also got stuck out in the ocean one time and didn't think I'd be able to swim in because I couldn't kick effectively.

Like you, I had lots of chiropractic and some massage, lots of meds. I did the prescribed exercises, strengthened my ab muscles, and just rested a lot. And I had depression too - I felt unable to participate fully in life, I avoided a lot of activities because I couldn't do them reliably (such as hiking in the nature areas around here) or swimming even in gentle waters. Long drives were impossible.

I thought I'd be stuck with it for the rest of my life, like you feel. I'd had it since high school, and my parents just wrote it off like it was a part of life and I should just suck it up. But I got rid of it 5 years ago, take no medications, work out at the gym, do anything I want. I also got off my anti-depressants. I have a new life.

I think the depression is very much behind your not eating and your focus problems. I understand because I have been there. But what I've learned through my own experience and my work as an educator in nutritional epigenetics is that these things we think we are stuck with, aren't necessarily permanent. I know it feels that way when you are in the depths. But there are some amazing new studies done and some pretty phenomenal anti-inflammatory foods and supplements with no side effects (not like the typical NSAIDs which are now linked to all kinds of digestive issues, allergies and liver problems). I work with a ton of people with degenerative disk disease. A lot of the initial work was done by a microbiologist with the World Health Organization who himself had degenerative disk problems plus excruciating pain and who was in a wheelchair. He solved his own problem and that work has continued with new science. If you are only pursuing medical solutions and getting freaked out (understandably) by some of those test results and MRIs, maybe you want to switch gears and try something else. The silver lining is definitely here for anyone who wants to look at it!

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answers from Atlanta on

I've been dealing with severe back pain and nerve pain, leg/hip pain, neck issues too and bad headaches for over 30 years. I've been through it. Plus I deal with other issues as well. A good chiropractor helps a lot but it's not enough. I refuse to go to pain killers as doctors have offered. I do what I can. Attitude is everything. The right supplements make a huge difference like certain herbs. I use essential oils too which help a lot. Finding the right ones for you will help. Do some research. Also look into glyconutrients. Hard to get information on this but now that I've found this newly researched knowledge and have used it (making my own capsules) What a Difference in my life. Between the essential oils and this and the chiropractor it's becoming more manageable.

Believe me I know how bad it can get and you really don't want to let yourself spiral into a bad place with this. For me prayer and meditation is everything.

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answers from Grand Forks on

I have had back pain for years. I have scoliosis (double curve) and arthritis in my lower back. I manage the pain quite well with a combination of chiropractic, physiotherapy, massage, Advil, Naproxen and exercise. My husband got me a Tens machine for Christmas, and that help a lot too. The pain is not constant, it comes and goes, depending on the weather and my activity. When I have the pain it can be anywhere from annoying to severe. It has never been bad enough to prevent me from my regular activities.

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answers from Boston on

Back pain is very common and usually starts in one's 30s. You are by no means alone. I read a stat somewhere that by a certain age (I forget which) 8 out of 10 people will experience recurring back pain.

My first bout of back pain was when I was 21 and wrenched my back putting a heavy box away at work. It was treated with pain killers, muscle relaxers, and when I was still not 100% after many months, a few sessions of PT. I then had regular back pain throughout all of my pregnancies, some which was treated with PT and some that I just lived with, using heat and ice and Tylenol to get through my days, and then would get flare-ups every now and again from either over-activity or moving the wrong way.

Two years ago, I had a flare-up when I was stripping wall paper where I was barely able to walk over the weekend. It was really bad. That Monday I went to a chiropractor for the first time. I do have some disc deterioration and misalignment in my lower spine and neck but luckily, chiropractic has been able to re-open those space and give the discs room to sit properly and, hopefully, get stronger. I was feeling back to normal within 10 days and completed a triathlon 6 weeks after my injury. I wish that I had known about chiropractic 15 years earlier, with that first injury.

Anyway...I still get flare-ups every now and again and I go to the chiro for a few visits and am back to myself without steroid shots or pain killers. I also now get a massage once a month as part of my regular self care. Another big help for me has been dietary changes. I didn't really link back pain - which seemed mechanical to me - with diet. I did a detox in February and have kept most of those clean eating routines gluten or grain, no dairy, no sugar or artificial sweeteners, limited alcohol and caffeine, and eating mostly veggies, meats, nuts and seeds. I had some chronic joint pain prior to the detox that disappeared...I had issues with my feet, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, neck, and tingling and numbness in my arms and hands that went away within a week or two. Well over Easter weekend we celebrated Passover and Easter back to back. I was careful with what I ate but not careful enough and did have quite a few sugary treats...last week I had a flare up of pain that felt Iike I had injured myself but I know that I hadn't done anything. I went back on my strict detox regimen, did some yoga on Wednesday (what I could manage), and planned on seeing the chiro on Friday. Well by the end of day on Thursday, the pain was gone. Could be coincidence, but to me it was pretty strong evidence that diet can trigger inflammation and pain in the spine just like it can any other joint.

Anyway...there are lots of ways to treat chronic back pain and practice self care to prevent or minimize flare-ups. I'm 38 and am far more active than I was at 21. Lots of people our age deal with a sensitive back and still manage to stay active and healthy. Focus on the positives and know that what you're going through is really, really common and by no means a death sentence that means you'll be miserable and in pain for the rest of your life. The herniated disc is a mechanical problem that can be treated and managed. The pre-arthritis is something that diet has a HUGE role in. If you can reduce your exposure to food and substances that trigger inflammation in your body, you can go a long way towards halting the progression of arthritis and can even reverse some of that damage. There are supplements that help with this as well. Most chiropractors are well-versed in the nutritional/supplemental side of managing chronic pain and inflammation so she or he might be a good person to talk to.

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answers from Rochester on

Don't forget to look at your own shoes. No joking. I have a lot of back pain and probably 80% of it is related to my feet and the shoes I was wearing. Go to a podiatrist to have an evaluation. They will look at your arches, gait, if your feet are turning in or out, etc. It is amazing how much less my back pain is when I'm wearing the right shoes. It won't fix everything, but it will help.

If you have muscle pain, try massage too. That helps my back pain a lot. I also did physical therapy for awhile. My therapist had me doing mainly arm and shoulder stretches. Strengthening those muscles and your core muscles will improve your posture and that will help lessen your pain too. My therapist also gave me electrical muscle stimulation treatments. Electrodes are put on your back and give little shocks. You have control over the intensity of the shocks. Just 2-3 treatments really helped too.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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