Monday, July 31, 2006

Back Pain - update

Some of ya may recall me moaning about back pain waaay back in April, which I'm glad to say didn't stop me riding for too long. Well, since the initial and mega painful spasms my back settled down somewhat and allowed me to ride, do chores (boo) and generally get on with life. However, it still wasn't 100% and I'd occassionally experience a small jarring that'd stop me dead in my tracks. Oddly, I've found that being active reduced the pain and gave me increased mobility - at least until I sat down again !

I was concerned that all my cycling was tightening my hamstrings and that my lack of tummy excercises was causing an imbalance in my mid section and twisting my lower back. So I tried doing situps again (boring) and stretches but one particularly ott stretching session had me in pain for a couple of days.

So last wk I decided that enough was enough and visited the quacks to get a second opinion to id why it's hasn't healed and if I should seek further treatment. I should point out that I've experienced similiar injury's that normally heal over a few weeks of taking it easy - hence the delay in my treatment. Getting an appointment was a feat in itself (damn NHS) and to my disgust the GP wasn't that interested but he happily referred me to a local sports injury clinic. He even indicated that it didn't matter if I saw a chiropractor, osteopath or a physio as "they're all the same"! - I suspect that he won't get any further that a plain ol'GP.

Now I've used this particular clinic before, for a shoulder injury, so I felt confident that I'd get some decent treatment rather that the a general practioners "take a pain killer" approach. The fact that the treatment is covered by my company health scheme also gave me a warm glow ;)

The very next day I had an appointment with a chiropractor (private healthcare rocks) who in complete contrast was very attentive and gave me a thorough once over. All of my pain has been isolated to my lower spine with a recent ache in the hips and rear left side so I niavely assumed that the pain was related to the spine. Wrong - apparently my right hip (opposite to the pain) had restricted movement with very tight surrounding muscles. After some precise massage, twistin', crunchin' and stretching the magician had relieved most/if not all of the hip tension and I felt so much better. So in no time I should be able to do the hoola again ! :D

One good point to note is that he thought cycling was an excellent form of excercise, especially in the back. The posture relieves most of the pressure on the spine and the regular hip motion means that cyclists often recover from any back injurys very quickly B) So much so, that he thought I might only need one session! - whoohoo. However, he did caution me to take it easy for a few days as I was likely to feel better but that I may experience some pain in 3-4 days. I also have a few very simple excercises which gently free up the hips and am now under orders to stop over stretching and any hot showers/baths.

Over the wkend, I've continued with his little excercises and found that my regular commute and a couple of MTB rides haven't adversely affect me. After 5 days, I still feel good and have had none of the occassional spasms or hip pains. So I appear to be well on the mend and long may it continue - fingers crossed. I'l be returning for a checkup once the bendy man returns from his 3wk vacation.

Footnote: I appreciate that not all back issues can be attributed to the same cause but at least my plight highlights how important it is to receive treatment from a specialist. That treatment itself can take as little as 15minutes. That the post manipulation excercises are so simple. Oh yeah, that cycling is a good thing :)