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Back pain question -- possible TMI

I've been having lower back pain for over a month. It isn't sharp, but more like an ache, a perpetual distraction rather than a disability. It feels a bit like the ache I used to get before my period -- it's in that area of the back, below the waist but just above the hips -- except that it's not correlated with my cycle.

I went to the doctor (not about that specifically, but mentioned it) and she said it was probably musculoskeletal, but didn't give me any recommendations besides heavy doses of ibuprofen and moist heat.

So: has anyone else had experience with something like this? Would exercise help? Can anyone refer me to anything that would? I know there are a lot of self-help back pain materials out there, but since this isn't the acute back pain that drives people to chiropractors and PTs, I've been unsure whether the standard exercises would help.

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
kalleah
Dec. 20th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
I've never had anything like that but it seems like gentle stretching and exercise couldn't hurt.
np_complete
Dec. 22nd, 2009 01:56 am (UTC)
Yes, I'm sure you're right.
postynotedreams
Dec. 20th, 2009 05:44 am (UTC)
I have "mild" scoliosis (ie it only affects two vertebra) so back pain is my default setting.

I'd agree with Kalleah on the stretching. But the stretching should feel good not bad. A small amount of pain is ok, but on the whole it should make you feel better. If not, stop and try to get in to see a physical therapist or back to your GP.

You should also use the standard preventative stuff: make sure your chair at work fits you properly, never bending at the waist and lifting things correctly (or avoiding lifting), etc.
np_complete
Dec. 22nd, 2009 01:56 am (UTC)
You've given me an idea: I experience it a lot at home, when I'm sitting in straight-backed dining chairs (even at my desk). Maybe I need to invest in a proper desk chair to use at home.
glory_jean
Dec. 22nd, 2009 02:05 am (UTC)
Ooh, yes. Ergonomics are important. Dining room chairs are not good for long term sitting. I finally got the right desk chair after using one that didn't fit me correctly for years and it's made a huge difference.
np_complete
Dec. 22nd, 2009 02:08 am (UTC)
I realized recently that I tend to curl up in my chair with one leg under me, partly for height, and partly to get close enough to the keyboard. Those seem like classic signs that I need a new chair!
glory_jean
Dec. 22nd, 2009 03:28 am (UTC)
Should also read this before you shop. Helped me out.
platypus
Dec. 20th, 2009 07:18 am (UTC)
I had a pretty good experience with the various recommended exercises, and my pain wasn't really subsequent to an injury or anything. Well, I always suspected that I'd overdone it somewhere between cleaning the house and hauling away last year's Christmas tree, but there was never a sudden 'ow' moment of strain or awkward bending or whatever. I went to the doctor after a month or so of pain, and he said that walking was good for it, even if I couldn't go very far or fast. I mostly did that and the really easy stuff recommended online (stuff like ankle flexing and slight leg lifts while lying down -- nothing very impact-y at all).

Ken's mom happened to give us a vibrating heat/massage back rest thing that Christmas, and I have to say, it felt pretty good :).
np_complete
Dec. 22nd, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion! I'll probably make another doctor appointment, bringing up the fact that it hasn't got better in the past month, as well as try some of the gentler exercises. Thanks very much!
capemaynuts
Dec. 21st, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
Please! Please! Get this checked out immediately! My best friend's mother passed away last year from pancreatic cancer. Her only symptom for the first 9 months was a dull back ache right where you describe. Because she was tall, and in her mid 50's, her doctors wrote it off as menopause and athritis. She went to one doctor after another as the pain got worse and worse and they just wrote her pain pill prescriptions. Then she collapsed. She died 5 weeks later. If only she'd had a doctor take an X-ray at the beginning or a blood test, it might have been found in time to save her life. I don't want to scare you, but I just lost one on line friend today to cancer. I don't want to lose another.
np_complete
Dec. 22nd, 2009 02:07 am (UTC)
Goodness! I'm so sorry for your loss! And for your friend's loss! That's such a shame!

I will be going to the doctor again, and if gentle exercise and/or a proper desk chair don't help, I'll be insistent that the possibility of something more serious be investigated. Thank you very much for the information and the warning!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )