My lower back has been in pain since 8th grade. I have memories of standing in the layup line during basketball practice and having to lean forward to stretch out my back. The pain steadily got worse until I was probably 20 and it’s been a fairly consistent ouch since. I’ve been in to doctors and had x-rays, but nothing was revealed. I can remember three specific “incidents” when I injured my back: weight lifting (squats), playing flag football, and something the week before I got married (I can’t remember what it was, but it was morally fine and I sure was in pain the day of my wedding). But those incidents have been pretty rare. The pain has been consistent.
Luckily, the back problems haven’t caused any pain in my butt or down my legs, so nerve interference isn’t a problem. Five years ago, I went to a back specialist and got an MRI. The results came back as this: degenerative disk disease. It sounds bad, but it’s a little misleading. This page (scroll down) gives a decent description of the “disease.” The doctor basically said I had the back of a 50 year old and that there wasn’t really anything I could do. I was 25 years old. He said my L5-S1 disk was half the size it was supposed to be.
I’m 30 now and still in pain, so I decided to go in for a follow-up with a new back specialist. She looked at my 5 year old MRI before I came in and she said she’d decided I was either severely obese or a heavy smoker to have a back like that as a 30 year old. Then she met me and realized it had to be genetics. She requested another MRI, which I had at 7am this morning. The results came back as this: degenerating disk between L4 and L5 and severe degeneration of L5-S1 (see this Flash animation for a demonstration — guess I’ll be shrinking over time). Still not at the surgery stage, but that’s okay because that’s a temporary solution. I’m going in for my consultation in a few weeks to discuss what I can do. The only things I can do at this point are to basically manage the symptoms, which means take pain killers (Ibuprofen) and keep fit.
I’ve been dealing with back pain for many years now and haven’t let it slow me down too much. I played three high school sports, college intramurals, enjoy the outdoors, and still play rec league sports. But my back certainly limits what I can do. I feel it after I play!
Here’s hoping I can keep fit and teach my body how to deal with this properly.