One night, I woke with sudden pain in my lower back and could not move for some time. Eventually I was able to get up and walk around, but had a nagging pain in my calf, ankle and heel not to speak of the pain in the butt that was so very irritating. I found it very difficult to even sit down for some time irrespective of how I adjusted myself on the couch and if I stood for more than five minutes, my leg would start paining. Soon my visits to the mall became less frequent. Two months after suffering the pain, hoping each day that it would soon go away, I lost patience and decided to see the orthopedic surgeon.
The surgeon suggested an MRI scan to rule out “lumbar stenosis”. I was curious about the new term and decided to Google and read up about it.Lumbar stenosis seemed a pretty common problem…..so many links had been thrown up.
A couple of pages later , I was sweating profusely .I read and re-read what "stenosis" meant and went through numerous blogs where so many affected people had vented their frustrations. Good God! This was not some cold or flu that would go away soon; this was like literally tying a rope round my spinal cord! The condition had no cure, no surgery could be done to correct it and no medications would help. I thought of what would happen to me - me so young with so much to do in life. A child to raise and educate. A marriage that was still young. What would I do if I could not walk for more than 10 minutes, sit for more than 10 minutes or even sleep in peace. This was something that people over seventy experienced not me!! Okay, so that is what the doctor "suspected" and I had no reason to panic till the MRI was done, but I just could not resist reading those pages again and again. Sleepless nights and silent crying into the pillows did not help either. I lost a few pounds.
The MRI was done. The doctor saw it and said "No stenosis”! He even ignored the "disc bulge" the radiologist had mentioned. He said it was nothing. Too much of stress or trauma to that region had caused the symptoms aided by the fact that the muscle tone was poor. He said I had "age-related” changes, which was all. He advised exercise and a weeks' prescription of Celebrex and Neurontin.The pain disappeared within the period. What a relief! I had gone through a period of acute fear and depression after reading about "lumbar stenosis”, "disc bulges" and "herniated discs”, not to mention the two month period of pain. I suddenly felt alive - most importantly, felt thankful for whatever God had given me and for the life that I had lived so far.
Most of the time we take life for granted. We complain about small aches and pains, about troubles and unfulfilled desires. Instead, we have to thank God for being able to walk, sit, talk, eat and sleep in peace. It’s enough if we can have a painless life, a family to love and a roof over our heads - most importantly, good health. Only a person who suffers chronic problems will be able to tell you how good it feels to be ache-free and healthy. In those two months, I realized that there are people out there enduring much more than us and we need to be thankful for what we have. Also, the fact that it’s us and not any of our loved ones, suffering in front of us, is actually comforting! It is necessary for us to keep ourselves fit. Not exercising regularly, adopting poor postures while doing our daily work, not eating nutritious food can cause us health deficits that can have long term implications. The quality of life we lead matters. We should be in good shape through our lives and a well toned set of muscles is the prerequisite for that. That apart, we should take signs and symptoms indicated by our bodies seriously and see a doctor before things get complicated.
The knowledge I gleaned when I went through innumerable articles on the vertebral column cannot be lost! Let me share some of it with you - especially for those readers like me who may be surfing for information regarding lower lumbar back pain. Best relief for sudden back pain is rest and an ice pack. A day after rest, hot pack must be alternated with hot water bottle/pack. Slowly start some back exercises which should give relief from the back pain. If the pain persists try some over the counter pain medication. Even if after all these treatments the back pain persists and is making sleeping/walking very difficult, then you must see a doctor.
1. Drink a lot of water. Keeping your body well-hydrated is the key to overcoming many health-related problems. The disc especially is made up of nearly 80% water and even though this reduces as we age, drinking lots of water keeps the water content balanced and stops any herniation or bulging.
2. Do a lot of abdominal and back strengthening exercises. Strong abdominal muscles help keep the lower back in good working condition.
3. Even if you do get a back pain, first thing to do is to rest for a day or two. This will straightaway reduce the pain.
4. Start doing strengthening exercises for the back - slowly and carefully, stopping if there is pain.
5. Pain is generally due to inflammation of muscles - so an NSAID will help.
6. An ice pack is the best to reduce pain, followed by a heat pack. Keep them on for at least 10 minutes.
7. Have a positive outlook. Orthopedic pains generally take time to reduce, but eventually will reduce.
8. By age 35 - 50, most people experience some degree of back pain or neck pain, so you are not alone.
9. Severe problems can arise if and only if you do not follow an exercise regime, don't take good nutritious food, do not follow proper techniques of sitting, standing, sleeping and lifting
10. Do not lift heavy objects without bending at the knees.
11. Only congenital and accident related problems are severe, others go away on their own or can be managed conservatively.
12. You can keep a portable TENS Unit (Nerve stimulator Unit) and a portable Ultrasound Massage Unit at home in case you have recurrent back pain. A combination of ultrasound, tens and a heat pack will give relief from pain.
I have added a few images that show what care must be taken while bending,sitting,lifting etc which will help to keep you out of trouble in the long run.