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Back Pain How to Get Rid of It. When to See a Doctor.

Updated on March 21, 2015
nancynurse profile image

I am a wife, mother, Nana and Christian first. I graduated from UNCC with a BSN in Nursing and a minor in Psychology.

Low back pain is more common than you may think.
Low back pain is more common than you may think. | Source
Image of an injection of hydrocortisone into the pack to relieve disk pain
Image of an injection of hydrocortisone into the pack to relieve disk pain | Source

My Experience with Sciatica

I seem to do things the hard way!! It was not enough to be living with lupus. It's as if I needed more going on to keep me on my game!!! You know add a little more "spice" to your life. I had been recovering from a severe lupus flare. Settling back into a good routine, mothering my 3 children, working "PRN" or on call as a nurse in the hospital and juggling as many balls as I thought I could.

Having been diagnosed with Lupus several years earlier may have been a major contributor to my back problems as I was on high dosages of prednisone to get it into remission and that can cause bone loss and weakness. Also I had gained about 40 pounds while on the prednisone and the extra weight was also a contributing factor.

My husband's job had begun adding travel so I was quickly learning the in's and out's of lawn care and home improvement. It started small enough. A little twinge in my back started one day and I passed it off. At the time we were also fostering high-risk newborn infants. So I needed to stay well. I lived with the pain for several months continuing to do aerobic exercises (step aerobics at the local YMCA). Core muscle exercises had not yet been brought to the mainstream at the time. I knew all about good body mechanics being a nurse.

I had given birth to full term twins 12 years earlier. At the time of my pregnancy I did not yet have lupus and had a normal pregnancy. My husband and I would ride bikes 30 miles every weekend for fun up until the middle of my second trimester. I still managed to gain 60 pounds of water weight and baby weight. I had also been taking regular jazzercise classes so I was no stranger to good health habits.

I tried to ignore the back pain. Remember core muscle strength training and yoga was not big in 1998 when my back troubles began. I think I felt like if I kept up my daily routine and tried to ignore the pain I could wish it into remission but this became a very ineffective cure. I was limping severely and by the time I saw my rheumatologist about it she sent me straight to a neurosurgeon.Within about 6 months of therapy I had developed severe foot drop and began to feel tingling and numbness in my last 3 right toes. Walking had become almost impossible without a severe limp and I had long since thrown out any high heels. Still I was in recovery from the Systemic Lupus and did not want to be sick again. When the neurosurgeon recommended physical therapy and rest I was glad to avoid surgery.

I continued to keep the newborn infants and worked every other week at a pediatric clinic. I rested whenever I could and went to physical therapy on my lunch hour. Other days I went to the YMCA and used their hot tub to soak my sore back. I am not sure how I actually managed to keep going. Weekly massage therapy was a huge muscle relaxant.

When I saw the surgeon again he sent me to a pain center where anesthesiologists would inject hydrocortisone into the affected area of my spinal core trying to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. This went on for several months.

My surgeon still did not seem too concerned when my foot drop became severe and I had lost most of my right calf muscle. We continued on the same course with pain medication, muscle relaxants and physical therapy.

I was at my breaking point when a neighbor,r also a neurosurgeon agreed to look at my records. After several months we scheduled surgery and my relief became in sight.

When he operated he found a severely ruptured disk with many broken disk fragments and the disk just above was bulging significantly.. He cleaned up the area well and repaired my disk. I knew then I would have to live differently.

The relief was not immediate. My nerves had learned to feel constant pain and it took months of more physical therapy, visits to a chiropractor and patience for me to begin to feel somewhat normal again. As I look back I remember a massage therapist that knew exactly where and how to massage the sciatic nerve where my pain was most severe. This brought a great deal of relief.

I am still not 100%. I had to stop work and fostering during my back problems and now my limp remains as does the numb foot. I do get questioned about the loss of muscle when I where shorts but it does not bother me too much especially when I cover it up with a fake suntan or where long skirts and pants.

I am learning core muscle strengthening exercises and have also learned to stop when I am in pain and rest. I ask for help much more frequently. I miss nursing and would love to one day return to work. Although how to find that flexible a job seems difficult.

I know that as I travel through this life the Lord is slowly but surely teaching me perseverance, strength, kindness and patience and more than anything how to trust Him for everything. I have been blessed with a wonderful family three beautiful children, a son and daughter-in-law , a new baby granddaughter, good friends that truly love me and a wonderful church for support.

I still have chronic pain but I am learning to live more patiently.

Back Surgery

Back pain is often felt in the neck and upper back as well as the lower back
Back pain is often felt in the neck and upper back as well as the lower back | Source

To learn more about chronic pain read more about Nancy's walk with a chronic illness..

Herniated disks

Herniated disks are becoming more frequent in our society for various reasons. We need to learn to lift more with our legs and less with our backs but even with that as we age the jelly substance between the disks becomes thinner and the disks start to press on each other and irritate various nerves. With the lower back the nerve effected will show up with weakness in the legs and/or buttocks where the sciatic nerve moves down to our legs. In the upper back it is manifested with arm or high back or neck pain.

Many people can be treated effectively on an out-patient basis with cortisone injections in the back to calm down the inflammation of the affected disk and nerves to physical therapy to learn ways to take the pressure off the disks. If someone is severely overweight often weight loss may help tremendously. Back pain takes a strong toll on the work force and thus our economy. People in healthcare fields (myself) or those involved in much bending and lifting are more often affected. Correct body mechanics are a must.

Studies are being done to find ways to replace the disk itself with an artificial one. Sometimes a surgeon will remove the offending disk and fuse the two unaffected ones and the patient may be quickly pain free. Acting quickly is important, as the nerves can undergo permanent damage. This was such in my situation.

Drugs used for the pain are often prednisone, muscle relaxants and pain medication such as Ultram, Percocet or an anti-inflammatory painkiller or any combination of them all. Finding the correct anti inflammatory pain reliever can be a process of trial and error. I have found or generic naproxen works well for me. It has been said on the nightly news that studies have shown naproxen has some protective properties against heart disease

Home Therapy and Prevention

You can try some things at home when you first notice back pain. Rest, Ice and later mild heat. Relaxation and stress relief are key to both prevention and cure. Stress can always make pain seem worse. Learn your limitations and stop and acknowledge your pain

Learn ways to keep your body weight down. Lift with your legs and not your back and finally learn core strengthening exercises. You can take yoga classes that help strengthen your core and relax you and also take some classes that work to help you specifically strengthen your core muscles. Practice them regularly at home. Learn correct posture.

Massage can help to loosen tense muscles and help with your pain. Anything that keeps you from tensing your muscles will actually help.

Know when to seek immediate medical attention. If your pain becomes completely unbearable, you develop incontinence or any other bowel or bladder problems or you find you are unable to move or lift an extremity.

I am particularly a proponent of positive thinking as anything that helps us to take our minds off pain and makes jus feel good about ourselves is helpful for effective pain control.

Thanks to Mayo Clinic for new research and Important information concerning Disk Pain


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    • mackyi profile image

      I.W. McFarlane 3 years ago from Philadelphia

      Very informative hub on back pain. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Pharma686 5 years ago

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    • profile image

      Pharma290 5 years ago

      Hello! ekkgacb interesting ekkgacb site! I'm really like it! Very, very ekkgacb good!

    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 5 years ago from Southeast USA

      Exercise is so important. Unfortunately when I was diagnosed core muscle strength training was not in vogue So happy for you. Thanks so much for your comments

    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 5 years ago from Southeast USA

      Thanks so much for reading . I appreciate your input. I waited almost 3 years and it wasn't until my foot drop developed and I lost most of my right calf muscle wasted away that I agreed to surgery. I have no regrets and pray you continue to improve.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      I have 3 herniated disks, and my neurosurgeon told me that I could walk, or have surgery. The outcome would be the same. Off and on pain. I chose walking, and have been pain free for 4 years! Walking also helped me lose 75 pounds! Strengthening your core is the key to helping reduce back pain and injury.

      Hope you feel better.

    • Eric Calderwood profile image

      Eric Calderwood 5 years ago from USA

      I'm sorry to hear of your health problems, but thank you for your informative advice. I've been having low back pain for a while now and have started seeing a chiropractor and doing core exercises (not yoga, but from a reliable expert) and have seen some improvement. Exercising also seems to help my mood quite a bit. I'm hoping to avoid getting to the nerve damage and surgery stages of back pain. Hope you feel better.