Q I suffered from pain in my hip and back for about 12 months. Then my back suddenly stiffened completely while I was out running and I had to stop. It has been variously diagnosed as a slipped disc and a trapped L4 nerve, but after treatment and lots of rest, the problem is still there. X-rays show nothing, I havent run for 10 months and I need help!
Happily, I think that a slipped disc is unlikely. You dont mention having any leg pain, nor that there is any joint narrowing on your x-ray. The two are not always indicative of slipped discs, but combined with your description of your symptoms, and the gradual onset, it seems an unlikely cause.
I think the most likely diagnosis is therefore a trapped L4 nerve, at least in part. However, the L4 problem is usually associated with pelvic problems, such as a rotated sacro-iliac joint in your pelvis, so this needs to be double-checked. Assuming that the joints are now moving well after your treatment, we need to look the muscles and nerves.
You dont mention whether youve been given any exercises for your back or hips, and this is crucial if youre to make any meaningful progress. You need to find someone who can offer you some specific exercises for both the pelvis and the spine that can re-educate them to work properly again. After a year or so of problems, your muscles will most likely be in so much spasm that they will be unable to work properly to protect and stabilise your spine and pelvis. Hence, whenever you put them under pressure for instance, by running the problem will return.
You have to re-educate your muscles, and the best way to do this is by having regular massage to your spine and hips (to teach them to relax), regular re-education exercises for the muscles (to teach them to contract properly) and also mobility exercises for the spine. In addition, you need a full stretching programme for the muscles and nerves that relate to your hips and spine.
Martin Haines, chartered physiotherapist and sports injury specialist
Thanks for the replyson the back[disc ]injury.I saw the back specialist this week,& he diagnosed the same problem as before,same disc.He suggested ishould give it time to see if it heals like before,not to overdo things.i even asked about running& he knew how important it is to me,&said only you will know what you can do.I will see him again in a few mths to see how things are,&also update another MRI scan this yr,failing that,if in a yrs time it is still the same,possibly a discectomy,i would think very long&hard about that.Had osteophahy treatment once,she never mentioned disc to me.It put me off any treatment again.Im staying possitive,& will give it time,&will try a gentle run end of the week.I would like to sa to any one out there sufferingwith a back,a brilliant book on backs is SARAH KEY'S BACK SUFFERES'BIBLEit's like reading about yourself.Never give up essepecialy on the running.Would love to hear from anyone else who has any suggestions.
Posted: 09/04/2005 at 17:22