I (25 f) have been dealing with back problems since I was 18. I've recently been diagnosed with a herniated disc (L5-L4). As a result, I get pretty bad sciatica which can, at times, become unbearable.
When it comes to recovery, I feel like I take one step forward and 2 steps back. I do the exercises prescribed by my physio and that helps but the moment I do something I'm not supposed to, I get intense pain and have to start over again. It feels like an endless loop I can't control.
The things I've identified that make my pain come back are: sitting for too long, bending over, picking stuff up from the ground and heavy lifting.
You're probably thinking, okay? So don't do those things? Believe me, I want to not do those things but it's so difficult.
Its so hard to be a functioning member of society without feeling like a burden on everyone around me. If something drops, I can't explain how much of failure i feel having to ask someone to get it for me because I can't bend down.
It's not because I'm too prideful, its just i feel like people dont want to help me and/or will become upset at me.
I also hate annoying my partner by asking him to pick up heavy things for me. He sometimes challenges me, yells or gets frustrated. It doesnt help that he has this attitude towards me. I want to get better but i just feel like an annoyance.
I don't know how I'm going to get better. There's so much bending and lifting that needs to be done in day to day life.
If I could never bend down, id probably heal much faster. Everytime I bend or lift, I'm right back where I started.
This is my first time living with chronic pain to the point where I'm limited in what I can/can't do. I feel like I'm burdening everyone around me and that I have no hope in getting better.
I would love to hear others stories with this and how you coped.
I might be able to help you with some suggestions that 'could' help you get better, but you're probably not going to like what I have to say. Let me give you some background.
I'm a man in my 60s now and I have suffered from chronic pain for 59 years, with most of those years being in some pretty intense pain. It all started when I was just 3 when we had a car accident. But then in 1986 I think it was, I was rear ended by a metro bus that had no brakes and I ended up with my whole spine pretty badly bashed around, but thankfully the most serious injuries were not that bad. I ended up with 2 compression fractures in my thoracic vertebrae and my neck was a mess. I now have a pinched nerve root in the left side of C4, scoliosis of the neck with a dressing of arthritis throughout my neck and upper thoracic.
Now to my lower back. I have suffered seriously bad pain from the car accident when just 3 and had my first Xrays when I was 9. In the late 1990s I had many scans done that proved I had no disc material left in my L5/S1 joint, just a pocket of gas. The neurosurgeon told me that the joint had to fuse. He said that if they did the job, I would still suffer some bad pain and then come back to them in approx 10 years needing repair work done. He said that because I was in my 40s and still working and moving well, if it were him, he would not let anyone touch my spine with a knife and would just exercise and get some decent pain relief. Well, I took his advice and haven't looked back. Sure the joint fused by itself and I don't have the constant searing sciatic pain all the time, but if I stand too long it comes back and I can't sit too long either.
A lot of people I have heard from who had spinal fusions, didn't fare too well, so I feel like I dodged a bullet. To be fair though, I have read stories where people did have that done and they have never looked back. I guess it was just a chance I didn't want to take.
There was no help back when I was a kid. No one knew what to do with anyone suffering from whiplash or any other injury that wasn't like a complete brake of bones. Soft tissue injuries and disc injuries were basically dealt with by telling the person to just get fit and suck up the pain. So I did. Sort of. I was fit and strong anyway. I was a gymnast from the age of 7 till my late teens. I had to give it away then, because the pain got too much.
I did all I was told to do and back then the advice was contrary to the advice today. I worked in heavy dangerous jobs, lifting very heavy weights and working like a slave full on day after day. I enjoyed the hard work, but my poor old spine did not.
If I had of been told back when I was young that I could not do any heavy lifting and I needed to do X types of exercises, just to give my spine a chance to heal, I would have obeyed. But because all the advice that was given to me was the worst thing you can do for an injured spine, I am now on a disability pension taking pain drugs every day. And I hate not being able to do much anymore. Being in my 60s is not elderly. I still should be able to do a lot of hard work, but no, I have to ask my sons to do most of the hard stuff.
This is what might be waiting for you if you do not take notice of the medical advice you have been given today. If I were you, I would see if I could get into a multidisciplinary pain clinic, because they will teach you how to mentally cope with the pain and understand it, the physios will give you the best exercises to do and a pain specialist will tailor a medication regime that will suit your pain levels. Remember, drugs should be the smallest part of your pain management regime. Exercise should be the greatest part.
Let me tell you something. I am not a medical professional and I am no expert, but after looking after this forum since 2011 and reading all the stories that I have read, plus taking into account my own situation, the overwhelming fact or truth that comes through, is that once your spine is injured, IF YOU DON'T do what is necessary to give it the space to heal, YOU MAY BE STUCK WITH THIS FOR LIFE!
I can't help you with your relationship. That's your baby to deal with. But I cannot put this in a strong enough way. If you have a chance to heal and then spend the rest of your life living a relatively pain free existence, then don't make the biggest mistake you'll ever make.
If something hits the floor, leave it there. If you have to have it, find a chair or drag something over that you can use to help get yourself down on all 4s so you can pick it up. If you want to just bend over like we all automatically do, then you are going to continue aggravating the injury and it will never heal properly. Don't be a fool. Ask someone else, use some aid to help yourself or just leave it there.
As for lifting anything heavy, just don't do it. I know it's hard to resist when you are young and your brain tells you that you should be strong and able to do these things. Seriously, you need to wake up and just not do it. You will become your own worst enemy, if you haven't already.
What you are doing is continuing to injure yourself or aggravate that injury, for the sake of other people. When are you going to start thinking of your own personal safety and your future? Believe me, keep doing it and you will have a life of debilitating pain waiting for you if you are unlucky.
Remember, you are the most important person in your life, so sometimes it is okay to be selfish. I am not a man to advocate selfishness, but when it comes to personal safety and whether or not I suffer more or not, I think of me first and foremost. You need to do this so you can give yourself time to heal that injury.
I could just keep waffling on, so I'll stop. Be strong and disciplined. Look after your back. They are very easily injured and very hard to repair.
I wish the ring (this Chronic Pain) had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened. (Frodo Baggins)
So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide, is what to do with the time that is given to us. (Gandalf the Grey)