Toll of Lower Back Pain

Well where do I start? I’m a 48 year old man. I have had lower back pain for some years, having a manual labor job.  

After spending hundreds of pounds on a lot of physiotherapy to keep me going, I visited yet another physiotherapist one night after work.  Up until this point, I had been pretty mobile. I was given traction on my left leg and walked out feeling pretty good. 

The following morning, I could not move. The pain was searing in my groin. I then spent three months off work. The first two months, it was literally all I could do to get to the bathroom. I was house-bound. I did just manage to get to the doctor with the aid of a lot of pain killers and crutches. 

After four and a half months, I managed to get back to work part time, bearing in mind that I am a mechanic . Several visits to the doctor and I was still being told I had pulled a muscle. I also have a very weak right ankle, bearing in mind the searing pain affects my left leg. 

Eventually, I had an x-ray. The result was this very stern surgeon put the fear of God in me when he told me I had degeneration in my lower back. I asked what options I had.  Bluntly, he said a back brace would be best and see how I cope. The other option was an operation using pins and screws. On asking how long I would be off work, in a one word answer he said, “A year”.  My world ended at that moment.

Some months later, I had an MRI, which showed a narrowing in my spine and that I would be a candidate for surgery.  Bearing in mind the bluntness of the first surgeon, I was petrified. My employer sent me to physiotherapist to see if I was telling the truth after nearly a year and a half. I must add that no surgeon to this point explained to me what problem I had, or how to deal with it. The work physiotherapist told me that I had grade one degenerative spondylolisthesis and stenosis.

Here I am, nearly 8 years later, and still coping. I cannot walk very far without resting my knees.  I don’t take many painkillers, but do take a lot of herbal pills. I’m still working, although slower and with a modified way of doing things. I have learned my limitations. The pleasure of my motorcycle is gone, but I keep going through diet and daily stretching. I’m still petrified of that blunt surgeon’s opinion. But I always say that there is always someone worse. - Paul  

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