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Ow, my back.

McGibsMcGibs TorontoRegistered User regular
edited February 2014 in Help / Advice Forum
So, over the last year or so my back has been getting progressively shittier, to the point where it's probably safe to call it chronic back pain. Not surprisingly, this probably resulted from sitting in a computer chair for the majority of every day for the last decade and a half. The pain is located in my lower back, right above my sacrum, and is really effecting my ability to walk (if I had to say, run out of the way of an oncoming car, I'd probably just collapse). Putting weight on my feet at certain angles twinges some deep-tissue nerve and feels like I'm getting stabbed in the pelvis. While I sleep the pain seems to... gather strength... spreading to the muscles in my lower back, and I usually have to wake up early, and walk around a bit until it subsides during the day.

I've been to a chiropractor, who seemed like a quack, a local doctor, and a podiatrist. Both the real doctors essentially said that, yeah, I was spending too much time sitting down. I should stop doing that so much, and also try to do some stretches. I also got some prescription orthotics for my shoes, which seem to help a little bit, at least with the leg/hip pain, if not the root back problem itself. The list of suggested stretches doesn't seem to help too much, as my pain seems to be more of a nerve issue, than a muscle issue (specifically, the nerves that are running through my hip bones), and I can't really get a stretch that hits that spot.

My question to H/A is where can I go from here? I'd rather not be a hunched, cane wielding, hobbilite before I'm thirty. Does anyone else have similar experiences and found solutions? I'm considering buying a standing desk to work at, but any suggestions would be much appreciated!

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McGibs on

Posts

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Physical Therapy. I threw my back out, and do exercises nearly every day to strengthen. It's more a gradual process, as you need to strengthen everything around the nerves so you get the proper support. Also make sure you have a good chair and your desk is setup properly for ergonomics both at home and at work.
    In terms of general behavior - do as much walking and upright stuff as you can, as plopping in front of the TV or computer after working a desk all day is bad.

    alltheoliveXaquinShadowfire
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    blunt question, how much 'extra you' is your back supporting. I have an uncle who has major back issues(like 5-6 fused vertebrae done in 3 different surgeries), and even losing like 20 or 30 of the extra pounds helped him a ton. Especially if the weight is more in your upper body than in your ass.

    How do you spell Justice?B D S Non-Violent Resistance to Israel Apartheid & Occupation.
  • McGibsMcGibs TorontoRegistered User regular
    edited February 2014
    I'm squarely in the middle of 'average' in terms of weight. Around 200lb at 5'10".
    I go to the gym three times a week, are there any specific back/ab exercises I should start including?

    McGibs on
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  • DerrickDerrick Registered User regular
    edited February 2014
    This hit me a few months ago. I would wake up and my back was just in terrible pain. Like, couldn't stand up straight at all kind of pain. I was also around your weight class then. So bad that I missed work because of it. But, as the day went on I got better until around the end of the afternoon, when I was fine.

    For me, it was 80% the way I was sleeping and 20% the way I was sitting. I had gotten into the habit of staying up too late, and dozing off in my chair. Bad things happen with posture when you do that. Anyway, the fix for me was to sleep on my back (rather than my side) with my legs elevated. I used a pillow under my feet, kicked the dog off the bed, and made the lady scoot over when it was time to sleep. Because I go to sleep later and my GF goes to sleep ridiculously early, I used to just try to get in where I fit in. Well, that doesn't work for me anymore and my old man bones, apparently.

    So, I would take a strong look at your sleeping situation. If your mattress is too firm and you sleep on your side, your hips could be out of joint with your back and that's bad news if you're a heavy sleeper. That's mostly what got me, I think. I haven't had the problem since I changed my sleeping up, but I've also lost significant weight since then, which I'm sure helps.

    Good luck!

    Derrick on
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    alltheolive
  • alltheolivealltheolive Registered User regular
    edited February 2014
    Everything I know about anatomy I learned on Wikipedia, but do you maybe mean your sacrum and not your scapula?

    Don't give up on the stretching- you may not feel like you're reaching the right spot, but sometimes improving the condition of everything around the right spot really does help. Especially leg stretches for the muscles that reach your pelvis.

    I use a problem called "Workrave" to remind me to stretch and get up from my desk regularly. The program is a little dopey-looking, but it basically just pops up and tells me to stretch at my desk every 10 minutes and get up and take a break every hour. It doesn't disturb my mental flow too badly. It's hard to be sure, but I think it has reduced the severity of locking-up-neck-muscles-with-horrible-neck-pain events in my life. I highly recommend using something, even a quiet phone alarm, to interrupt the pattern of being so absorbed by what you're doing on the computer that you lock up all your muscles for three hours without realizing it.

    It sounds like walking is mostly helping you, rather than making things worse, so if you can walk a little more (park further from everything you drive to, say, if you drive), that might be a workable lifestyle change.

    alltheolive on
    Derrick
  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    I second Physical Therapy. I recently slipped a disk and had a lot of referred pain in my leg from the impinged nerve. Fortunately, my situation has resolved pain wise, however I have been gong to see a Physical Therapist to work on range of motion and strengthening my core to take the strain off my skeletal system, and ensure it does not happen again.

    I would say that if you have chronic pain, that is not resolving like you say. You should get to a doctor and start a plan of action. It seems like you have gone to a couple doctors and they each tried 1 thing and then the collaboration was over between you two.

    When I talked to my Ortho specialist, it was if this doesn't work whats next, then what and what after that. All the way up to replacing the disks or fusing the vertebrae. Fortunately PT has helped for me. But there is no way I would have just dealt with it and hoped it went away. Life is to short to suffer in silence.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    DO NOT TAKE AN CHANCES WITH YOUR SPINE.

    Go see a doctor.

    Now.

  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    I had the exact same feeling in the exact same area.

    I went to physical therapy for about 3 weeks (though I really only needed one.

    They showed me a bunch of stretches to do and exercises for when the pain went away.

    Took maybe a month and a half of seriously doing them till I felt 100% again.

    alltheolive
  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    2nd the losing weight advice. The lighter you are the less (or less often) it'll hurt. If the issue comes from flying a deskjob for too long then most likely your hamstrings, hip flexors, and pecs are all shortened and underdeveloped (cause you're sitting for long periods of time and likely hunched over). Stretches targeting lengthening and strengthening those muscle groups along with general core strengthening will help a lot.

  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    I am in the same boat, but not as bad yet. I'm thinking of switching to a standing desk. I hear those can be good.

  • El SkidEl Skid The frozen white northRegistered User regular
    Yeah, from my experience and those I've talked to, back pain can happen for a number of reasons.

    - My own personal experience was carrying my backpack full of school books over only one shoulder. This led to back spasms, which were hugely painful but subsided quickly with some therapy and wearing the second strap on my backpack always. So basically if you are carrying heavy loads at all just try to even them out as much as possible.

    - Sleeping can be a big one- if you have the wrong mattress you can be doing harm to your back. I can't give you specifics other than "firmer mattresses can be better for your back generally", but really if you try out a new mattress for a few days you might find the pain goes away a bit.

    - if you're exercising your back at the gym, make sure you spend an equal time on your abs/core. Bodies are funny that way- if two sides of the body are very different in muscle tone you can definitely get pain as a result.

    - Obviously sitting for long periods is bad. They have newfangled stand up desks you can work at, and if those aren't available just get up and walk occasionally.

    Hope that helps!

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  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    I've also had that same back pain. Here are some of the easy things that have helped me:
    • Sleeping so that I'm not in an awkward position for my back and also don't stay locked in the same position all night.
    • Exercise - the best exercise for me has been an upright stationary bike. It can be a little painful at first, but after the first 30 minutes, I start to feel my lower back really loosen up with the bonus of slowly strengthening those muscles.
    • Stretching - For stretching, I try to do a really good stretch before and after I exercise and any time I start to feel any tightness in my legs or my back. Putting it off just means more pain later.
    • Awareness - I find that I always have to sit in a good position which means, I have to be extremely careful sitting on floors, couches, or beds. Anything besides a supporting (not soft) chair can cause me to have issues if my muscles are weakened.

  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    edited February 2014
    I went with a standing desk about 3 years ago. Yes, it helps, in that I stopped having back pains, but it helps because you build lower back muscles, which took me about a month to do. Instead of lower back pain, like you get from sitting, you get an ache as if you were lifting weights, and it was on and off for about a month before it disappeared.

    The big tricks of the trade, for a standing desk, are...
    - get a bar height chair for when you want to sit; I thought I'd use this a lot, but in reality, I rarely sit; studies on standing classrooms show that about 70% of the kids prefer standing all the time, while 30% of kids like to sit about a third of the time
    - get a foot rest, about 6" high, so you can shift your weight whilst standing
    - get thin, firm, padding for your floor; padding that is too thick or too soft actually hurts your feet
    - make sure your monitors are eye level; you end up tilting your head when looking down, giving you neck aches, so I ended up using books to raise up my monitors

    My standing desk and bar chair came from IKEA, about $300 total. My foot rest is just a random piece of 6" pine that I had lying around, that I sanded the edges off of.

    hsu on
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  • taliosfalcontaliosfalcon Registered User regular
    Taking up weight training was the only thing that helped with my chronic bad IT back pain, after years of my GP and physical therapist telling me i needed do it as apparently muscles keep all your bones and tendons and whatnot in place anyway and three months later i've gone from days where i couldn't bend my back or use my right shoulder to completely pain free.

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