Not So Fast

May 03, 2010

In the summer of 2006 I joined a kendo club in Overland Park, partly out of a long standing interest in kendo and partly out of a need to workout and lose some weight. In early August I pulled a groin muscle in my left leg. Badly. Well, the original injury wasn't that bad perhaps, but I foolishly tried to workout anyway and ended up with a nasty pull.

The resulting limp was so bad that I developed some compensation injuries elsewhere. The worst of these was in my lower back. The pain was unlike anything I had felt before. One night it was so intense that not only did it wake me up, I could move - I was unable to roll over or get out bed.

A long sequence of events followed culminating in a visit to my regular physician. She ordered a set of x-rays and pronounced me as having severe degenerative disk disease or arthritis. We all lose some height as we age as the disks in our spines compress and collapse with age, this is known as degenerative disk disease even though it isn't really a disease. Severe just means it happens sooner than normal or in a more accelerated fashion.

A month or so of physical therapy followed leaving me with a set of about 15 stretching and strengthening exercises to perform on a daily basis. I followed the prescribed routine for about a year, laying on my yoga pad nightly, and my back, on the whole, was much better.

However, having words like "severe" and "arthritis" banded about with regards to ones back make you timid about lifting and worrisome about anything that might cause you pain. An ill-considered lower back massage that left me on the floor in agony, and a brief muscle spasm for no apparent reason one other time, have left me cautious around my back.

On Friday last week I saw a new chiropractor, Dr. Mike. After hearing my story he took a couple of x-rays of my lower back and then went over them with me. The spacing between my lumbar vertebrae all look uniform and good. There are one or two small bone spur indications, but no evidence of severe anything, much less degenerative disk disease.

Having lived through two or three really bad episodes of lower back pain I know that I need to be careful about my back, but hearing, and seeing, that my back is mechanically in better shape than I previously thought was nice. My hope is that once the chiropractor gets me tuned up that the bicycle riding and walking we do will help to keep my properly aligned .

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.