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  • Lower Back Pain

    I know this is a pretty common thing in LE. It bothers me off and on and I usually cannot pinpoint a specific event that triggers it. It seems to hit me very randomly. Instead of hurting after a work out, it hits me when I get out of my computer chair. I almost can't stand up and the pain will be very intense. I try to rest it and eventually it goes away...or at least decreases to the point that I can function. I went to the doctor yesterday. I found out that the last time I was at the doctor was just over a year ago, for the same thing.

    I was impressed when this doctor actually examined my back. Some doctors will listen to your symptoms and write out two quick scripts for a muscle relaxer and pain med and send you out the door. Granted, I left with those scripts after this visit as well. This doctor, however, scheduled me an appointment for physical therapy. He mentioned some stretches they will show me, along with massage and some sort of electric stimulation. It was nice that he actually seemed interested in getting to the root of the problem and did not just try to medicate the problem.

    Does anyone else have chronic back pain and have you tried any of these treatment methods? How did they help you?
    Last edited by jebtcop; 11-15-2008, 10:57 AM.

  • #2
    Sounds like disk problems. Most of us get disk problems especially if you are at least in your 30's and have led a life of athletics and tactical stuff like LE or Military.

    X-rays usually won't point out disk trouble other than a slight narrowing of the spinal column which is normal for men who are athletic and in their 30's.

    The disk itsself is soft tissue and will slide out of those narrowings. And it usually hits you when doing innocuos stuff like standing up from a chair, bending over to pick something small up, etc.

    The only way to really see if its disk tissue is to get an MRI. The thing about disks is they come and go depending on the severity of the displacement/slip.
    They shrink over time and cause much less pain or no pain whatsoever but then one day you can be doing something as extreme as an Olympic lift or small as standing up from a chair and they can totally displace and practically paralyze you for months; or just come on really slow as chronic back pain and take a few days or weeks to practically paralyze you.

    I have had this problem off and on for years in the military, Infantry to be exact. All the wear and tear has left me at times a cripple and then a couple of weeks later I am up and running, sparring, and exercising again.

    When it really bothers you is when it becomes Sciatic. That is the soft disk tissue pushes out of the spinal column and "leans" on nerves, sciatic nerves in particular which causes a chronic, sharp, and uncomfortable pain that shoots down your leg and makes everything but lying down hell.

    What can be done for it at this stage is surgery, which is normally outpatient, and takes a month or so to recover from. But most docs will want you to just deal with it til there is no choice but to get surgery. Because there is a chance that the surgery can be worse for you than dealing with it. But on the other hand I have worked with guys that got the surgery and are back doing everything they did before and just as hard.

    It really sounds like disk to me from what you have said. I wouldn't worry about it, like I said guys that have been hard on their bodies get it in the 30's, its normal, just try to avoid spinal compression, like heavy squats, O-lifts, things of that nature. If you thrived on these things before, find alternatives or change your routine.

    Good luck and I hope this helps some.


    • #3
      Thanks for the info. I never even considered a disc problem....


      • #4
        Get an MRI.

        Your symptoms are very similar to what happened to me. MRI revealed spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column).

        PT plus pain meds are first line of treatment for that, but it's important to know exactly what you have.

        Surgery is last resort.
        Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.
        Happiness never decreases by being shared. -- Buddhist quotation
        A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. -- Proverbs 15:1


        • #5
          Add me to the "lower back pain" list. I've been going to a chiropractor since 1986. Yup, 1986. My problem in layman terms is a slipped L4, L5 disc. I've been to three different chiro's and all three agreed, it was caused by wearing that heavy duty belt. The lower back was not designed to carry that much weight daily, year after year. The in and out of the cruiser, running, bending, awkward sitting, etc. Get it fixed FAST! It doesn't get better with age.
          The views/opinions expressed here are solely mine. I'm retired and I don't care. I truly do not want to offend anyone, but if you are thin skinned and have no sense of humor, you better find another line of work. Therefore, I don't have to be politically correct and I will exercise my freedom of speech, until it's taken away. May God bless all retirees. We've done our duty and earned our peace.


          • #6
            It's kind of funny that this thread rebounded. I bumped up my follow up appointment and saw the doc yesterday. The PT made me feel a lot worse. I could literally walk in and hobble out. I believe they meant well but I am interested in knowing exactly what my problem is and then deciding on a course of treatment. The doctor was very understanding and got me an MRI within an hour and a half. (couldn't believe that) On Monday I will find out what the verdict is.

            This is going to be a pita with work since I saw my own physician first. I already see the WC claim being denied. I talked to one of my HR people and she wanted to know why I felt this was work related and exactly when my injury occured. Two minutes of researching Tennessee WC law made me feel better. An accident or injury does not have to be a specific event or trauma and can be the result of cumulative trauma. I will have to wait and see....
            Last edited by jebtcop; 12-06-2008, 11:11 AM.


            • #7
              Originally posted by nitrovic
              I went through the same thing. Believe me, the gun belt plays a HUGE part in it. I don't know if I will ever return to patrol duty. I'm hoping so, but I can't imagine it right now. Don't let the insurance or HR people bully you around, there is a reason most cops have bad backs/knees etc. Military as well for that matter. Your body wasn't designed to carry that weight. Like I said, I had the surgery and couldn't be happier. Many other cops in my shop have as well. All are fine. The ones who haven't are still hobbling around and in pain. Just letting you know. Not advocating either path.
              How long did you try the cortisone shots etc... before deciding on the surgery? My doctor said his preference is not to do surgery. I'm guessing he meant that he would rather do the less invasive stuff first. Also...what is your recovery gonna be like? Are you pretty limited in what you can do or can you do whatever you're able to do?
              Last edited by jebtcop; 12-06-2008, 07:50 PM. Reason: follow up question


              • #8
                I'll tell ya man, the best thing you can do short of surgery is to work your abs and lose weight if you are heavy.

                Your abs play a huge role in keeping everything together. Learn lots of ab work and do it every day. Also use proper form in everything you do that involves kneeling, lifting, etc. Don't slouch unless you are unloading your spine, there are positions that unload your spine that are slouching type sitting positions and it feels great.

                Learn the proper stretches for people with herniated discs, this will help you now, you can probably google it. These stretches help you put your own back in traction which relives tensions on your nerves.

                Once more, fitness is key, abs, abs, abs, and don't be overweight. I am toughing my pain out right now, over time your disc will shrink and it will get better, just as mine is doing and has done before. Just don't do crazy stuff like loading your spine with weight I.E squats and such. Watch out doing BJJ as many positions you get put into really tweak your back and your abs can't compensate.

                You should be fine though with any kind of punching and/or kicking as your abs can compensate. If you like to run, run in a good upright position, never lean over. Lots of little things you can learn that will help, each person is different and different things for work for each individual.

                Good luck!
                Last edited by Short-Round; 12-07-2008, 03:04 PM.


                • #9
                  I was gonna say somewhat what the above poster stated. A weak abdominal wall and larger than average gut can and will place undue strain on the lower back causing pain and discomfort. It the abdominals and the lower back which provide the main support for your entire body....if you let those go to waste, well...you ain't got much left.
                  Moooooooooooo, I'm a goat


                  • #10
                    Thanks everybody. I just got back from the doctor. I have two herniated discs and a tear somewhere in that mess. I actually had to go to the ER last night. I literally couldn't walk. It was like the pain short circuited my legs and they wouldn't work. I'm not glad that these things are going on with my back, however, I am glad they showed up on an MRI. I had the worst feeling that nothing would show up and I would look like a whiner with a little back ache.


                    • #11
                      Better to have two herniated Discs and a tear then to look like a whiner =)


                      • #12
                        Did your doctor set up PT before the MRI? YIKES! I hope not. My disc's are slipped/bulged and can be manipulated back into place by the chiropractor. I think herniated disc's require surgery for total repair. Best of luck. We who suffer from back pain understand.
                        The views/opinions expressed here are solely mine. I'm retired and I don't care. I truly do not want to offend anyone, but if you are thin skinned and have no sense of humor, you better find another line of work. Therefore, I don't have to be politically correct and I will exercise my freedom of speech, until it's taken away. May God bless all retirees. We've done our duty and earned our peace.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NYmets1 View Post
                          Better to have two herniated Discs and a tear then to look like a whiner =)


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nitrovic
                            If it's that bad you may look at getting the discectomy. I actually feel better already than pre-surgery (two weeks ago).
                            I've been referred to a pain management specialist and a back guy...As bad as this hurts, I'm open to any and all options. I'm not sure exactly what the tear is, but the doctor said that it might be something that requires surgery anyway. Gotta see what the experts think...
                            Last edited by jebtcop; 12-09-2008, 08:17 AM.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by nitrovic
                              My doc said I should be able to return to patrol, however I'm no so sure. I'm looking at possibly going for a CID position. I can't imagine wearing that gun belt and running after people anymore. I never want to go back to another Herniated disc, that really sucked.
                              I already know that my worker's comp stuff is gonna be rejected. I'll be on short/long term disability until I get clearance to go back. In my city, light duty is only available for WC. On disability it's 100% fit for duty or sit at the house at 60% pay. The company doc who I had to see yesterday said some stuff about my injuries being "arthritis related". She then went on to say that that happens to everyone and isn't a WC injury. The insurance will make the ultimate decision. Of course, I already see how that will go.

                              I'll see what the specialists think and if the shop doc is full of it, I'll probably get an attorney and go from there. It's bad enough having to deal with the pain, not to mention the financial stress just before the holidays.
                              Last edited by jebtcop; 12-09-2008, 08:33 AM.


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