Lower Back Getting on My Nerves


I am a 45 year old male and until the injury occurred, most would say very fit for a 45 year old. My hobbies include competitive cycling and prior to the injury a normal week would involve 10 - 12 hours of training (cycling, light weight training, snowshoeing in the winter, etc).

I initially injured my lower back in 2001 while performing a dead-lift incorrectly. I could not straighten up properly for a few weeks and had acute muscle spasms in the lower back area for the first few days. Several months of physio seemed to correct this to the extent where I recall that I was back to work within a few weeks and back to my full workouts in less than 6 months with no pain. Until recently (see below), I have had virtually no back problems other than a bit of minor stiffness occasionally following a hard workout.


Early September 2008

Back injury occurred while doing some landscaping work around my house, lifting heavy objects awkwardly and repeatedly (and looking back, very stupidly). My lower back felt only a bit stiff afterward until a few hours later severe muscle spasms in my lower back involved a trip to the emergency room where I received a prescription of hydromorphone and oxazepam which eventually helped relieved the spasms. As I had no symptoms of leg pain or numbness at the time, it was determined that I may have pulled or torn some ligaments and rest was prescribed. After a period of about three weeks of rest and regular physio, I slowly resumed normal activities and normal work duties (by late September).

Sometime in early October, I bent down to pick up an object (weighing no more than 10 pounds) and when I stood up, I felt severe pain in my lower back followed the next day by severe and constant cramping on the inside of my thighs which ran down and around the back of my knee. Physiotherapy and Osteopathic treatments relieved these symptoms somewhat over the following two weeks. An MRI was then done on October 20th. It was determined that I had a bulging L5 which is/was effacing the left neural foramen.

Mid-November 2008

After two weeks of steady improvement, while doing a light physio exercise (on all fours gently lifting opposite leg and arm), I felt a sudden and very sharp pain in my lower back and this time what followed (and still exists to this day) was constant spasms, twitching and numbness in my calves, numbness of the outside of my feet (especially the left foot) and hands and minor (but noticeable) contractions in my hamstrings, left tricep, left forearm and occasionally in my thighs.

Today (late December 2008 at time of writing)

Cramping, contractions and numbness of both calves and left foot is constant at all times. I still also feel constant twitching and minor contractions in my left tricep and my left hand goes numb sometimes. I also notice mild but obvious contractions in both hamstrings quite often and mild cramping occurs on the inside of my thigh just above the knee area sometimes. Lying down, standing, kneeling or easy walking is bearable but sitting at all no matter what the surface, causes sudden increased painful cramping and numbness in my calves and numbness in my left foot.

After many sessions of physiotherapy and massage therapy and following a careful prescribed physio plan at home (wall slides, various light exercises while lying in extension, easy stretching, etc.) the pain in my back is going away but the issue with my lower legs and feet is getting no better, no matter what I do (or don't do).

As mentioned, sitting (especially driving) on any surface clearly makes the symptoms far worse so I am unable to drive or sit in a vehicle without extreme discomfort as mentioned above. I am naturally worried about this problem not only because of the pain involved but not being able to sit is obviously very debilitating in many ways including making it impossible to do my normal job at the present time as my job involves a lot of driving.

My family doctor advised me to see a physiatrist to seek some answers and solutions as I am getting conflicting information at this point. I am unsure exactly what is helping or hurting in some cases at this stage.

I am now at a point where I don't know exactly what is wrong, how long the problem is likely to last or what it is that can be done / I can do to help correct this problem. I hope your expertise and experiences will help to answer some of my questions and many thanks to anyone who may offer some hope based on a similar experience.

I hope to write back some day about how I am fully healed and extend hope to others.

Sincerely, Donald

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