The several areas of vertebral disc degeneration and/or bulging, such seen on MRI, were pretty benign. My scoliosis-related curvatures are also pretty minimal. Thankfully. Yet, no matter what I have been doing over the past year and a half has not seemed to have the positive effect on my back issues I have been searching for. I have been acutely aware that the chronicity of my ailments is a sign that I am continuing to do something WRONG. It has nothing to do with yoga, cycling, backpacking, or running for when I stop these activities there is no improvement. Although stress does not help the matter, the etiology is not stress-related either.
But, what? If not any of these things, what can it be?
I have been tirelessly searching for the answer to this question for I know that even though anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen and cortisone are not a cure. They have a limited and temporary effect. The key must lie in what I am doing wrong on a day-to-day basis. I have sifted through my old blog posts, as well as my BTT log, to no avail. I have returned to my scoliosis study to better understand (once again) the curvatures of my spine and applied the knowledge to information I found on yoga-for-scoliosis. Stretching and lengthening where appropriate to bring my practice into alignment. I have focused on abdominal strength as much as my back would allow (which has been limited). I have been diligent and patient. Yet, I was not seeing any improvement.
The previously-mentioned cortisone injection into my arthritic sacro-iliac (SI) joint missed the mark. Last week, I had another injection: this one, into the epidural space between L4 and L5. It seemed to help but again I know the effect will not be long-lasting. I have been told that someone with chronic pain such as mine will generally need 2-3 injections to really get to the inflammation. Of course, this treats the inflammation and presumably pain is the result. But what about what causes the inflammation?
When I noted to my chiropractor that my stiffness and pain is worse in the morning, with onset within a few steps of leaving my bed, he asked a few questions about my sleeping. Then he advised me to avoid any curling under of my tailbone that often occurs with hip flexion. This advise most definitely applied to my side-sleeping. No curling up into fetal position allowed. Additionally, he instructed me to reverse movement hourly by performing spinal extensions which consisted of leaning backwards into the support of my hands (standing mini backbends). I was to adhere to this regimen for 1 full week.
I’m on the bend and now laying down a new Foundation from the ground on up. It’s nothing fancy; just a simple set of exercises designed to strengthen the posterior chain of muscles, stabilizing the spine and reinforcing proper movement. I’ve been at it for only a few days now but can already feel a change in how I hold myself up throughout the day. What’s more, the reprieve from my pain has removed the darkness from my gloomy days. The sun is now shining and I am not having to work so hard to see the brighter side of things. It’s good.
Now, when I feel my back fatiguing, I slip off for a moment of privacy and perform one of the core exercises from my now-daily routine. It’s a far better alternative to reaching for my favorite jalapeno kettle chips and large dose of Advil – and healthier too. Amazingly, when I do this, I feel immediate relief. I don’t need the spicy distraction.
Of course this is all quite early in the early stages of development but I am encouraged.