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Back Pain Advice from My Mom!

Many of you with back pain have most likely scoured the internet for ways to relieve your pain, possible reasons for your pain and maybe you’ve found a bunch of solutions you can do right at home. It’s true that while the experts will be able to give the specific diagnosis (usually) for your back issues, often the search for relief continues after you leave the doctor’s office.

In my 3rd Back Pain Article, I wanted to talk to someone who is an expert on back pain. My mom. She is not unlike many of you who suffer day in and day out with some form of real chronic pain. On her recent visit this past week, I sat down and asked her a few questions about what she’s doing to deal with the ongoing saga of her lower back pain.

The Facts:

Degenerative Disc Disease in lower back – near tailbone.
Also has signs of arthritis and spinal stenosis in her back.
Osteoporosis as well in her cervical spine.

What the Doctors Told Her:

Take medications prescribed.
Go To A Specialist.

What the Specialist Said:

Surgery was probably the course to take – this would entail removing bone pressing on nerves.
Take these medications.
Do these exercises/stretches.
Come back in 14 days.
*The experience at this office was less than positive for my mom. She has an appointment with a new person tomorrow. So we’ll see how that goes.

*Keep in mind that this is what my mom chose to do for herself. Nothing in this article is a replacement for seeing your own doctor and getting your own diagnosis.  If you do any of the exercises listed in this article, you do them at your own risk.

The Story in a Nutshell

*It’s very summarized but you’ll get a basic picture of what’s going on:

Last October (ish), my mom fell at work and hurt her elbow. She suffered for more than a full year without seeing a doctor or trying to find out what was wrong. Sitting was painful, laying down was painful, working was painful. Finally, she started a series of tests with her General Doctor and then with a more specialized spine center. This is when they diagnosed her with the conditions I’ve listed above.

My mom decided to try the medications and do the exercises. At the beginning walking wasn’t an option yet — it hurt too much. Now, she’s added that back into her routine. My mom was not interested in doing surgery at all – so decided to find another specialist who could give her more information and additional options for pain management.

Q & A

Instead of having her rehash the last year of pain, I decided to ask her questions that I thought might be important for other people suffering with lower back pain. Even though everyone’s condition is slightly different, it’s always good to know other people’s experience.

Q: What exercises given to you by you physician have been the most beneficial?
A: Cat helps the most, even though I don’t feel coordinated when I do it.

Q: What is your favorite exercise prescribed by the physician?
A: Laying On Back, Stretching Knee to Chest. 1 leg is straight. Bring 1 knee gently in toward chest.

Q: What movements cause you the most pain — even if it happens later as a result of a type of movement?
A: Twisting & Reaching (mostly to above her head, but sometimes will cause pain to twist and reach below her waist) This is even without holding anything – just the act of reaching is uncomfortable.

Q: Since you spends the majority of your day on your feet, what do you do on a typical day to manage your pain and get through it with the least amount of strain?

1. Takes Motrin every 4 hours.
2. Stretches in the morning before work and in the evening after work.
3. Does lower back stretch where you sit in a chair, open legs to side and let hands reach to floor (as often as she can while at work)
4. Takes walks during all breaks during the day
5. Takes her time during the day – paces herself.
6. Tries to not get worked up about random issues at work – the stress of work often makes her back hurt more than reaching/twisting.
7. Pays attention to her body.
8. Limits reaching & picking up things out of her reach

Q: What advice does she have for others dealing with chronic/daily pain?

1. Figure it out for yourself
2. See a doctor but get ready to be a part of your own treatment. Meds don’t always work the way doctors expect and you need to be aware of this. Also, understand the issues with back surgery and that many people continue to have problems after. That said, your condition can also improve after surgery.
3. Find ways to change how you do everyday activities.
4. Drink More Water – try to eat as healthy as possible.

It seems pretty simple, but she has done a lot of experimenting to find the things that work for her. She gave the anti-inflammatory medicines a chance. She even took Prednisone – with side effects that she did not like at all. She was even taking a muscle relaxant called Flexeril for awhile. She didn’t feel any relief from these medications and only suffered side effects.

Looking forward, my mom is seeing a new doctor tomorrow. Hopefully, they will give her some additional options, maybe even suggest some physical therapy to help her do the exercises correctly.

If you have any questions or advice based on your personal experience, please email me directly or comment below!

Also, check out these other recent back pain posts:

Pilates Solutions for Back Pain Review

Pilates for Lower Back Pain ?

Last Word: Take Charge of your health. You have to the push the doctors to help you sometimes. Don’t take no for an answer. Be open to new solutions that don’t involve surgery.

Pain-free Thanksgiving!

Hey everyone! I recently had a review published on about Pilates Solutions for Back Pain. I know that many of you have different conditions from simple strained backs to overstretched or tight muscles.

No matter what your problem, no one wants to be dealing with back or body pain of any kind during the holidays. When I found Lynda Lippins Pilates for Back Pain 30 minute audio class, I immediately wanted to share with as many of my pilates students as possible. Now, I’m passing the information on to you!

Check out my Pilates Solutions for Back Pain review and consider making this part of your holiday workout program.

Your Healthy Thanksgiving!

Ok, I need your help on TWO THINGS for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

FIRST, I am determined to make a really healthy but yummy Thanksgiving dinner with some unique dishes and of course the yummy turkey this year. Our daughter can enjoy the food now (to some extent) and it would be a great challenge to put together a menu that satisfies the whole family.

I want to hear from you! What are your favorite traditional Thanksgiving recipes and how did you alter them to be just a little bit more healthy? If you are stuck for ideas, click on the cover of this month’s issue of Clean Eating magazine.

I’m starting my own list right now, so in a few days I’ll reveal my Clean Eating Thanksgiving Menu…and oh yes, it will definitely include dessert. No one stands in the way of me and pumpkin pie. I’ve got a great recipe up my sleeve for that one.

SECOND, I’m planning a weekend of activity to keep everyone in my household active and out of the usual food coma. Some ideas coming to mind are a hike, maybe a nice walk on the beach. maybe a little frisbee, and some pilates for me! What are you planning to do to keep yourself moving, motivated, and energetic. I know it’s tempting to veg out on your days off, but think about it. What activities can you and your family & friends do?

Email me your ideas and leave your comments below. I’ll post some of the responses in a few days.

Have a great week!

Do You Suffer From Lower Back Pain?

(Read This Before you Start Pilates or Yoga or Any Other Exercise Program)

You may have heard pilates is good for many afflictions including lower back pain. In many cases, this is true. Work your way through the pilates fundamental exercises. Slowly build your core strength, flexibility and body awareness often does help relieve many nagging back pains.

However, if you have an undiagnosed or serious condition, it is very important for you to understand what types of movement are good and bad for you. For instance, if you have Osteoporosis, you need to avoid most forward bending/flexion movements and rotation exercises. Herniated disc? Depends on the location and type of herniation, but generally, you should also avoid forward bending movements and twisting as well!

What about even more serious conditions like Degenerative Disc Disease? This is one that I haven’t encountered in my clients but recently became aware of because my mom was diagnosed, along with osteoporosis. The DDD is mostly in her lower spine near the tailbone and the osteo is mostly in her cervical (neck) spine. She experiences a lot of pain every single day and still hasn’t found the exact right movements & medication to help relieve her pain.

If you think your lower back pain might be DDD, here are some things you need to do immediately (and I’ve harped on my mom about these same things!):

1. See your doctor. Your general doctor will probably send you to a specialist. Get Diagnosed ASAP.

2. Ask if you can also see a physical therapist, so that you can understand what movements will aggravate your condition and also which movements are good for you!  Also, the PT or specialist will probably give you some exercises. Make sure you know exactly how to do them before you leave their office. This is crucial!

3. Ask your PT and doctors about doing pilates. Most PT’s use pilates-similar methods and should be fully aware of treatment options. I have had several clients who also went to PTs — I always followed the protocol set up by their treatment.  My clients always bring the list of exercises from the Physical Therapist as well.  In some cases I’ve even spoken directly to the PT to get advice and more detail on the person’s condition.

4. Make sure your diet is in check. Some research I’ve come across points to the ability of a good diet to help your spine regain some of its health by eating healthy foods, limiting caffeine, making sure to take calcium/d supplements when over 50. Keep yourself hydrated.  These are all basic good clean eating.

5. Do the exercises/stretches given to you by your doctor.  This may seem simple, but one most people get lazy with.  If you can’t manage to do the exercises as directed, then what’s the point to going in the first place!

6. Don’t suffer in silence. Go to the doctor. If your medication or exercises are not working, keep digging for answers.  Don’t just “deal” with the pain.

7. Try “alternative” healing like acupuncture or chinese medicine.

8. If and when you can start pilates, do so slowly.  Pilates can be extremely helpful, but you need to remember that you are not in a race.  Take things slowly. Do the movements precisely and with control.

Here are some additional resources for you to consider:

1. Lower Back Pain Audio Exercises – Lynda Lippin recorded this extremely clear and easy to follow audio “workout”.

2. Download the Free Back Pain Relief Report – This a short report which provides some suggestions for relieving certain types of back pain without medication.

3. Check out: Pilates for the Fragile Back. I bought the book to help some of my pilates clients and re-read it recently before I give it to my mom next week when she visits. If you go through my link I will get a very very very small percentage of the sale.

As always, please see a doctor. I can only give you my personal experience working with clients who have back pain. I tell all my clients to get treated or at least diagnosed by a doctor prior to starting pilates. Don’t self diagnose…just push the doctors to give you a complete check up.