My life as a back patient-how I’ve avoided back pain over the past 30 years

Memories of my back injury still haunt me. At 19 years-old I laid helpless and dependent in the hospital for nearly two weeks. My back hurt, and my right leg was weak and numb down to my toes. A CT scan, nerve conduction test, and horrendous myelogram, revealed a herniated disc.

Three times per day, I was wheeled to physical therapy and performed back exercises that I still do today. The rest and physical therapy improved my back pain, but complications from the myelogram caused severe headaches which were worse. After several days the headaches persisted and I was physically sick from the pain, but insisted on leaving the hospital.

I continued physical therapy as an outpatient for a few more weeks until well, then went off to college. Fortunately for all, myelogram has been replaced by MRI as the standard test for diagnosing herniated disc.

Through trial and error over 30 years, I’ve learned that remaining consistent with my back exercises prevents exacerbation. In other words, keeping my core muscles in practice allows them to protect me during daily activities. This only takes a few minutes per day and is accomplished during or after a workout.

It only takes one “episode” of sudden onset back pain to sideline me for days while I gingerly attempt to function. These exacerbations, which are really just muscle spasms, remind me of how much I appreciate being without pain. Five minutes of daily core exercises is a small price to pay for enjoying all daily activities.

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