Chronic back pain. Just hearing that phrase gives some people the shivers. If you have never experienced back pain, be thankful. If you suffer from chronic back pain, here is a personal story we would like to share with you. Meet April Crosby. She is a personal trainer here at PROMATx Health Club and she suffers from chronic back pain. Here's her story.
I have been active all of my life...softball, basketball, volleyball, and dance team in high school; intramural sports in college; running, hiking, mountain biking, group exercise instructor, personal trainer, yoga, and soccer as an adult. It has always been unusual for me to be sedentary. Approximately three years ago, however, that changed. I experience what some would call "the straw that broke the camel's back". After years of wear and tear on my body, I began to experience low back pain. It started out as manageable discomfort. My back was stiff in the morning and occasionally I had pain when lifting objects. It slowly progressed over the course of a few months into daily pain where it was difficult for me to sit or stand for more than 5 minutes at a time; I couldn't seem to get comfortable. Then I noticed I had shooting pain that traveled from my low back down through my left leg and into my foot. I felt as if I constantly had to move my left leg to keep the shooting pain "under control". At this time, I was running and playing soccer. Both of these became difficult if not impossible to participate in. It would take me days to recover from a soccer game...most of those days were spent lying on the floor on an ice pack with my feet propped up on the couch. My chiropractor was helping to provide a little relief but it was short-lived.
At this point I knew I needed medical intervention. I went to a physical medicine physician and was "prescribed" a course of physical therapy and pain medication. I'm not one to take medicine...I'd rather take the holistic approach to healing. Now it was time to start physical therapy. After unsuccessful attempts to "cure" my back pain, my therapist recommended I get an MRI. That's what I did. The results...3 herniated discs in my low back (L1/L2, L2/L3, and L4/L5). Physical therapy was not working; pain medication was only a "band-aid" to my problem. Where do I go from here? My physical medicine physician recommended stronger pain management with epidural injections. That wasn't the answer I was looking for so I decided to do a little research on my own.
Next came a discussion with my chiropractor about spinal decompression. Although he did not have the proper equipment at his office, he felt it would be a very good option for me to explore. After meeting with another chiropractor who offered this service, I was hooked. I told him "let's try it...what do I have to lose?". I liked this non-invasive approach...no needles, no surgery, just gentle "traction" to allow the discs to heal and return to their original position between the vertebrae where they belong. After the first session, the shooting pains in my left leg lessened. After the complete course of treatment (approximately 2 months), I was pain free and ready to get back to my physically active lifestyle.
I'm not telling this story to promote spinal decompression (although it worked wonders for me!!), I do want people to know that it is possible to overcome physical limitations. I couldn't participate in the activities I enjoyed (soccer, yoga, running) and every day activities like sitting and standing were excruciatingly painful. Although I will continue to have problems with my lower spine the rest of my life, I do know how to manage my life through stretching, yoga, and physical activity to keep my body strong and healthy. The discs in my lumbar area will continue to bulge/herniate due to the weakened ligaments; however, I am still active in soccer and compete in half-marathons and I take care of my body to keep "flare-ups" to a minimum.
My advice to you...find what works for you and don't give up. Explore all of your options if you seek medical help. Talk to those around you for support and advice. Most importantly, take care of your body...it's the only one you get!