In my previous post I shared why I started to see a chiropractor. Last year I started to have lower back pain and my most recent episode in May did not go away within a few days like the other incidents. It scared me and I went to Urgent Care. They sent me home with a prescription for muscle relaxers which didn't really seem to do much for me.
So today I want to share some of the things to pay attention to if you have lower back pain. I've learned apparently once a person experiences lower back pain, it is common to recur.
Dr. Karen Lee, a holistic chiropractor physician says,
“There are many causes for low back pain (LBP) and unfortunately, if you have had one episode, the chances are, you will have another. And to avoid a re-occurrence, you have to treat the cause. But more importantly, you have to be proactive and take preventive steps.”
My new chiropractor set me up on a five month plan. She wanted me to come in three times a week initially, but I am only in town four days a week, so we settled on twice a week. After a month, she told me to come in once a week.
Every time she adjusted me, my back felt quite a bit better. But it kept feeling off, like it was threatening to go out again. I was feeling very frustrated that I was still having stiffness and discomfort. I was starting to wonder if I was just going to have to put up with it. It wasn't really very bad, it was just making my life difficult at times. For example, bending over to look in the refrigerator, or picking something off the floor was a challenge. Five years ago I would have chalked it up to “old age” but now I know better.
One of the first things my chiropractor did was ask me how I sleep. I usually sleep halfway on my side and partly on my stomach with one leg drawn up. She told me that I needed to cut that out and sleep on either my back or my side. I cannot sleep on my back, I've never been comfortable that way, so I've been trying to train myself to sleep on my side. Just a couple weeks earlier I'd read on OraWellness that it's bad to sleep on your stomach because you could be making your teeth crooked! So, two reasons to train myself to sleep on my side.
Worn out or Bad Shoes
I've been wearing the same pair of shoes to work, and at home when I need to have shoes on, for probably three years. The brand was Isotoner, so they were probably good supportive shoes at one time. I've been telling myself that I need a new pair of shoes. I did get a pair from Ross Dress for Less, but they hurt my feet so I donated them to Savers (I'd worn them too many days to return them). I asked a friend if she would come shoe shopping with me and we went after work to one of the outlet malls.
While trying on shoes, I noticed just how bad my Isotoner's had gotten. I knew there were worn spots where my toes touch, but I had not realized how badly the left side of the left shoe heel had been worn. I found a pair of Clark's sandals and wore them out of the mall. It seemed like right away my back was feeling better. By the way, I found them at Famous Footwear for $41.99. I don't know if I've ever paid that much for a pair of shoes in my entire life!
I thought it was a good call on my chiropractor's part to look to my shoes. If she were the kind of chiropractor who has clients coming in three times a week, maybe she wouldn't have done that kind of troubleshooting.
Walking and Exercise
When my chiropractor told me to buy myself a new pair of shoes, she also told me I needed to get more exercise. She said she wanted me walking at least 10-15 minutes every day. I told her I was pretty sure I was getting that much walking in at work, and she asked me to get an app for my smart phone and just be sure. I downloaded an app but it was kind of a pain because it wouldn't work unless my phone screen was active. My sister really wanted me to get into FitBit but I decided to get just a simple pedometer that I could wear in my pocket. It was much cheaper and so far I'm happy with it. On the days I'm at work, I am walking from 2 to 4 miles so I was kind of impressed to see that!
My chiropractor also gave me an exercise to do that is supposed to help my back become stronger. I think she'll give me more exercises as time goes by. I've also been trying to remember to do leg lifts while in bed since I think those help the lower back.
I knew there was another possible culprit for my lower back pain. Our bed. My husband brought home a memory foam topper that was three inches thick. It seemed really comfortable, but at the same time it seemed to hold onto my body as I would try to turn in bed – we were also using a flannel sheet. I couldn't tell if it was the flannel sheet causing the problem, or the memory foam topper. I kept thinking it seemed to be having a deleterious effect on my lower back, but I couldn't tell for sure. My husband kept saying he really liked the mattress topper, so I was a little reluctant to tell him I thought it was affecting my back.
When I finally mentioned it to him, he admitted the topper actually made it difficult to change the sheets. So we removed it and the very next day my back felt better. Now having slept without it for three nights, my back feels back to normal. No weird stiffness or tightness. I'm really glad that my back feels so much better, especially since my chiropractor will be out of town this week. I'm thinking she'll put me on an every other week schedule once she gets back.
I did some searching on the Internet and found some sites that describe the feeling of sleeping on a memory foam bed as not being able to move on the bed, of feeling as if one is “sunk in wet sand”. That is a good description. There is also talk about hip pain along with the lower back pain, and hip pain was a component in my lower back pain. I can't remember how long we've been sleeping on the memory foam topper – I don't think it has been too long. This article is one that I read which warns that memory foam mattresses or toppers are not the best for someone with lower back pain.
I decided to start trying to take Glucosamine Chondrotin with MSM (this is one of Dr. Karen Lee's recommendations) on a regular basis to see if that would help. My mom gave me a bottle a few months ago when my hands were bothering me and it did help. I also take the herbal calcium my sister recommends, although I can't take it every single day or I end up with joint pain. I haven't researched it, but I'm pretty sure some of the herbs are high in oxalates. I can tolerate taking it a couple times a week. I am still off dairy and readily admit I don't make broth as often as I should. That would be a source of calcium if I made a point to do that.
So I did a few things to help my lower back pain. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping it won't “go out” again, but if it does, I'm glad I have a chiropractor in my corner to help me figure things out.
I'm really glad she's helping me to troubleshoot instead of just having me come in three times a week for the rest of my life. It really does seem to be a better solution to figure out if there is anything contributing to the problem, instead of having to just keep fixing and adjusting week after week.
Do you suffer from lower back pain? I hope you can eliminate the cause by trying some of these troubleshooting tips that worked for me.