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Ugh...low back stuff. Any insight/tips/tricks?

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  • Ugh...low back stuff. Any insight/tips/tricks?

    I had my left sacroiliac injected and there is a thread about that here.

    It turns out that wasn't really the issue (or at least not the ONLY issue) and I'm waiting on an MRI. My doctor expects that there is something going on in L5 with how my pain is referring.

    Since the SI injection, my pain has been far worse. It's quite different than before the SI injection. I don't know if that's the result of the injection, or if it's the result of actually admitting there's a problem, or if it's because I got a new job and have been sitting a LOT more since I started on Monday.

    Most of my pain is VERY low--nearly tailbone--on both sides (which is new) and down my left leg. I'm on gabapentin and vicodin and aleve, which works alright if I can remember to take it all in the morning before work. When I forget (which is ... um ... every day this week. Yes, I KNOW. Gah.) I come home just SO SORE and it takes a lot of all of the above to even start to get a handle on it, because I am so behind the pain.

    I'm working with a doc that specializes in pain and am just waiting for the call to schedule the MRI, and from what I understand, am facing more injections (facet or epidural) depending on the results. I am really, really hoping whatever we wind up doing will help, because I can't keep going like this.

    I know we have at least a few posters that are familiar with this type of problem/pain. Do you have any tips and tricks for functioning? What helps for you?

    I'm really bummed because I thought this was a "simple" SI and we would inject and I would be better. It's obviously far more complex and I think the SI pain may have been masking some other more severe issues.
  • Original Poster

    Bumping this thread up to fix the display issues on the front page.

    No idea from anyone? Today was significantly better since I remembered to take my drugs in the AM.


    • #3
      Degenerative Disc Disease sufferer here...moderate in L3-L4...severe in L4-L5 and L5-S1. Pain down left leg most of the time. At my worst, IV morphine & delaudid cocktail. My best (now) 50mg Tramadol morning and night, acetaminophen morning & night for inflammation. Started on larger dose of Tramadol (which has a different name as 100mg, but don't remember it), Celebrex anti-inflammatory, Valium, and Percocet. I just don't do well on narcotics, though...nausea, faint feeling, sweats, dizziness...so the Percocet had to go. After a few years, I switched from Celebrex (risk of cardiac complications) to acetaminophen.

      I had a difficult time accepting that I was going to take medicine long term. But, once I realized it was just going to have to do it, I learned quickly how important it is to take the meds regularly. If you let the pain get ahold of you, it is hard to overcome it.

      Tips? I sleep on my side with a pillow between my knees, a pillow wedged lengthwise behind my back, and a pillow wedged under my neck, all which help keep my spine aligned, which relieves pressure on the discs (which helps to reduce inflammation, which helps prevent nerve irritation, which helps prevent pain down the leg). Also, my recliner is my favorite place to sit. I put two pillows in the seat like this \/ so that when I sit on the chair, my tailbone is elevated and in the channel of the "v" and there is no pressure on it. Also, I put moist heat on it. I wet a towel, wring it out, and then heat it in the microwave for a minute or two. Then I wrap it in another towel to prevent it from burning and sit on it.

      An MRI will be a lifesaver. It will reveal exactly what you're dealing with. As time goes on, you will figure out how to live without aggravating it unnecessarily. Be patient and allow yourself time to feel better on bad days. Don't push when you're really hurting. Let it get better.

      Best wishes! Hope you get a good pain management plan worked out!
      "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch


      • #4
        I ended up doing a laminectomy/discotomy after going thru a year long series of injections, manipulations, PT rounds, and two MRIs so I'm a bad person to consult, but hang in there, take your pain meds and pray that you get some relief.

        Mine started as a simple SI too...but the MRI showed a bulging disk. I had to lie down on the floor during the day in my classroom to get some relief. It sucked. I'm so sorry you are gong through this. Hugs (gently!) to you. I used robaxin, too, as I'd get terrible muscle spasm due to the nerve 'zings'.

        Now, after surgery a few years ago, I occasionally get PODS (pissed off disc syndrome, according to my PT!), and use core exercises and vicodin to get relief.
        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


        • #5
          No advice, only sympathy Back pain really stinks.

          My back pain is mostly SI related, so the injections really help for a little while at least.

          Interestingly, my back feels pretty darn good right now. I've fallen off more than a few times over the years, onto my right buttock more often than not, and my PT had a theory that I'd bumped something off-kilter with the cumulative impacts. Maybe he was onto something, because a couple of weeks ago I fell off and landed on my left side. Hard. Put a whole lot of hurt onto many other body parts, but my lower back/SI area feels better than it has in years. Go figure.

          I don't really recommend that course of action, though. Hopefully you can find relief soon. Without all the extraneous blunt force trauma
          "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
          -Edward Hoagland


          • #6
            You can try a cushion like this http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/1/1/...t-cushion.html or substituting an exercise ball for your office chair. Periodically throughout the day, bend your knee and put your foot across the thigh of your other leg and lean forward with a straight back. That really stretches your hiney. I can walk pretty much all day but standing kills me after a few minutes and sitting kills me after an hour or so.
            McDowell Racing Stables

            Home Away From Home


            • #7
              I have a number of back/shoulder issues -- mostly from accidents. My lower back had sciatica (had 2 epidurals - which helped immensely). But then I had severe lower back pain to the point I was limping, couldn't lift much of anything or bend very well without hurting. Riding was not an option. Had another MRI, which revealed the number of injuries I knew about, but also that I had significant arthritis in my lower back. I also take Tramadol, ibuprofen, etc -- don't do narcotics either. I started taking Boswellia after watching a Dr. Oz show about how it would help significant arthritis to a large degree and you would know within a couple of weeks if it helped yours. I found it a HUGE find and was more pain free from lower back issues than I had been in years. Don't know if it will help you - but wish you luck! Having carpal tunnel surgery tomorrow --we all need a parts department!


              • #8
                Having severe problems from L-1 down to S-1 including obliterating the lower back muscle. I can sympathize with your pain. Stay ahead of the pain as much as possible. When I go to bed I pull all my covers to the foot of bed I stack two pillows on top each other and then I pull the covers up and over the stacked up pillows, when I get in bed I put the balls of my feet against the edge of the pillows. The pillows form a small tent which takes the blanket weight off my feet relieving the pull of muscle in my legs and back and I can sleep. Also during the day stick an ice pack in the top of your jeans. When you have the nerve spasms or muscle spasms try to relax as much as possible and take nice long breaths through them.


                • #9
                  Many lower back problems......myofascial body works helps me the most.....BUT it has to be with someone who Knows what they are doing and not just says they do :-)
                  I am fortunate I have a professional well educated in helping, plus stretching and tramadol as/when needed.
                  Of course insurance doesn't help because anything that has helped me is not covered.
                  Happily retired but used to be:


                  • #10
                    I haven't ridden for almost 2 months now due to my lower back, but I feel like I should be ready in a week or so - fingers crossed!

                    I also have DDD at L-5 S-1 and have a terrible time with my SI joints and hip. Sitting at work was absolute torture! I took meds when it was (really!) bad but am now comfortable with just Naproxen twice a day.

                    Have you done a Medrol (steroid) dose pack? I ended up doing 3 about 2 weeks apart each. I don't recommend that much, but the initial pack helps TONS with the inflammation and pain. I was also constantly icing it - CVS sells these wonderful huge ice packs and I just rotated them in and out of the freezer. They were a life saver for work!

                    I have an amazing physical therapist as well who does manual manipulations and dry needling. I'm not a fan of the needling, but it works SO well for me. I've had an MRI and my next option is injections. However I don't want to go there unless it's absolutely necessary. I've had mixed results in the past plus I'm really trying to avoid more steroids.

                    Are you doing any core strengthening excersizes? I finally had to get really serious about it. It does make a difference in the pain and can keep it from happening again.

                    Let me know if you have any questions. I could write a novel about everything I've done.


                    • #11
                      I found out I have a herniated disc and DDD at L5 S1 a couple of months ago. Pain started in February just as a tightness in my right hip, and I went to my chiropractor while I was home on a break from school. It helped a bit but then would be in pain again later in the day. I went back to school and started having severe pain in my right hip and all the way down that leg. After class it would take me a couple of minutes to be able to stand up straight because of the pain. Went home a month later for spring break, went to the chiropractor again who sent me for an MRI the next day. Figured out it was a herniated disc, she adjusted me, and the pain immediately went away.

                      She recommended Boswellia 3x a day for the inflamation around the nerve and that stuff has been a life saver! I felt a difference the first day I took it. I tried riding my horse for the first time this week but I had a lot of pain in my hip for a couple of days after, so I'm going to wait a little longer before I try again. I'm hoping I won't need injections and can manage it with regular adjustments and the Boswellia. If you can find a good chiro who helps, they are worth their weight in gold! Mine uses a method called Applied Kinesiology which seems kind of out there but it works!


                      • #12
                        I had a bulging disc L5-S1 years ago due to a car accident. Did 9 months PT, then 9 chiro. Felt better.

                        Another accident years later, disc now herniated. Went right to chiro, helped, but not "holding". Facet injections L4-L5-S1, 3 times 3 weeks apart. Ok for a few years.

                        Last year, back started bothering me. Went in for Chiari Surgery in February, hoped increased CSF flow would help lower back. It didn't. Repeat MRI, disc bulging and no height maintained. Basically bone on bone. I go for a fusion 6/20.

                        The first 2 times my back hurt, but I wanted to gnaw my leg off - the sciatica was mind boggling. This time, my back just hurts to the point that I don't do anything. I cannot tolerate painkillers (Tramadol, Percoset, Vicodin, Fentnyl, etc), so that's out for me. I do (did!) core strengthening and I know how to/how not to lift and such.

                        Pillows under/between knees is a given. I have a desk job but try to get up and move reqularly, which helps too.

                        Best of luck to you. Back pain sucks.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks for all the input, and I'm sorry to hear of all of your various issues

                          My lumbar MRI came back beautiful. Nada wrong on it. Doc is now looking at the hip, and thinks I might have a labral tear there. Going in for an MRI and arthrogram of that next week.

                          Sigh. So the search continues. Of course today my butt just hurts like crazy, despite the drugs. My tailbone just ACHES, like when you fall on it hard. Not sure how that could be HIP, you know?


                          • #14
                            I don't think this would address your issues Simkie, but maybe it will help someone else. After years of lower back problems, I went to a physical therapist who recommended a sacroiliac belt. It was a life saver. When I start to have back pain/weakness in my legs, I wear it overnight at a minimum and have almost immediate relief. The PT explained it to me as stabilizing the unstable area long enough to diminish the inflammation and take pressure off the affected nerves. Whatever the rationale, I can certainly attest that it works for my particular issues.
                            If you believe everything you read, better not read. -- Japanese Proverb


                            • #15
                              I spent four years with sacroiliac pain - until I found a physio who, with a couple of tweaks of the legs, got it all better.
                              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                                I spent four years with sacroiliac pain - until I found a physio who, with a couple of tweaks of the legs, got it all better.
                                I've been to a physical therapist, who taught me some things that kept this manageable for years, but starting to ride again this spring *really* pissed it off. I also came off the horse in February or March which might have exacerbated things, even though it wasn't a bad fall (my girth was too loose, she zigged and I zagged.) I didn't think anything of it at the time, but I guess I don't bounce like I used to :P

                                Is a physio different?


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Wayside View Post
                                  No advice, only sympathy Back pain really stinks.

                                  My back pain is mostly SI related, so the injections really help for a little while at least.

                                  Interestingly, my back feels pretty darn good right now. I've fallen off more than a few times over the years, onto my right buttock more often than not, and my PT had a theory that I'd bumped something off-kilter with the cumulative impacts. Maybe he was onto something, because a couple of weeks ago I fell off and landed on my left side. Hard. Put a whole lot of hurt onto many other body parts, but my lower back/SI area feels better than it has in years. Go figure.

                                  I don't really recommend that course of action, though. Hopefully you can find relief soon. Without all the extraneous blunt force trauma
                                  Not to rain on your parade but I've had a similar experience with aches and pains. They seem to go away when something more painful happens. Unfortunately in my case they are usually just "hiding" until the other, newer issue heals. It's like I feel pain only at the worse spot.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Just have to vent: showed up for my MRI and arthrogram today and they couldn't do it, as I've got an iodine allergy and have had previous reactions to CT contrast material. Asked my doc's assistant multiple times about this and was told only MRI contrast was used.

                                    Super frustrating. Took half a day off of work.

                                    Called the doctor's office and they couldn't figure out the protocol for the steroid prep for contrast. I googled it and gave them the info.

                                    I LOVE the doc here, but her support staff is ... lacking.

                                    (Although I also found this in my googling. If I'd read that beforehand, I would have had them go ahead, anyway, prep be damned :P)


                                    • #19
                                      I know this feels simplistic, but I see a huge difference in my own lower back issues when I'm going to a chiropractor regularly. It takes a little while with regular adjustments for me to get back to baseline if I haven't been in a while, but it makes a HUGE difference. My problems started with a partially slipped disc after a horse fall my lower back has been NQR ever since.
                                      life + horses


                                      • #20
                                        This is probably going to sound WAY out there..... but, oh well.

                                        I've recently started dieting. I have cut all sugar, wheat, soy and GMO type products out of my diet. I have noticed a HUGE difference in my pain. I broke my back nearly a year ago and I was taking Percocet several times a week just so I could sleep at night. I haven't taken any pain meds for weeks since removing a lot of toxins out of my body. It could be worth a shot.

                                        ON a side note - I am terrified of chiropractors and haven't seen one, but I know a lot of people who feel better from seeing a neuro-chiropractor. But then again I believe that chiropractors don't actually fix the problem, they just make symptoms tolerable.
                                        Eventers of the West
                                        A Facebook group I created for Eventers in the West Region of the U.S.
                                        Remy - My OTTB Gelding! Love him to pieces!