I went shopping for my back pain and here’s what I got

sore back When we returned home from vacation (see my post Damn, my back hurts: a bulging disc, sciatica and more challenges in 2010) I went to Costco and bought a memory foam mattress topper to relieve my back pain. It’s something you MUST get even if you don’t have a bulging disc or sciatica problems. My kids now it call my “squishy bed.” All I can say is that someone should get a Nobel Prize for inventing memory foam. Pure luxury!

I also purchased a couple of yoga videos for people with back pain, sciatica and bulging discs. My favorite is Yoga Therapy for Back Pain. (You’ll need to buy a yoga strap and have bolsters and blankets nearby.) The DVD includes 13 routines to help restore proper function to the entire back. It features five 15 minute and five 30 minute individual routines for the upper back, sciatic pain, bulging disk and sacroiliac joint pain. There’s also a general back maintenance routine in three time options (17, 32, and 44 minutes), a 20 minute chair yoga session, and even a short guided meditation for relaxation.

I also got Viniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum & Hips with Gary Kraftsow. It’s not a bad video, but most of it features boring explanations of breathing technique and back problems. I would have liked to see more variety in session length and type.

I've been reading a lot of books on back pain and sciatica. One I recommend is The Sciatica Relief Handbook. While it’s over 13 years old, it has some very good information. It’s also out of print, but you can pick it up on Amazon for a penny plus shipping.

I’m using an exercise ball instead of a desk chair. Luckily, I already owned one and could try it out. It helps my lower back pain somewhat.

Doctor visits, PT and you’re going to stick me with what?

Besides my GP, I’ve seen a back pain specialist. She prescribed a strong anti-inflammatory and physical therapy. And this is where my journey through back pain gets interesting.

My physical therapist, who my husband and I have been seeing for years, thinks it’s biomechanical. She says if a left side bulge was causing the sciatica, I’d have pain down my left side down to my ankle. (I have pain on the right side down to my knee.) She also says I would not be able to bend over, and I still have enough flexibility to rest my knuckles on the floor. Instead, she thinks my hips and sacrum have rotated – and she’s trying to get back in place.

I’m doing a series of wimpy little exercises to work on my pelvis, sacrum and pelvic floor. (Hello kegels!) I think it’s helping to combat the sciatica though my sacrum is sore, sore, sore.

back accupunctureI’m also undergoing acupuncture, which is interesting. I’m too chicken to look at the needles. After my first session, I was sore and the next day I was so tired that I had to take a morning nap even though I had a good eight hours of sleep the night before. After my second session, the sciatica felt a bit better, too. I have three more appointments in the next couple of weeks, so I’ll see how it goes

I'm also taking supplements like fish oil and bromelain. According to Dave Grotto’s book, 101 Optimal Life Foods, both reduce inflammation. I’m also taking DLPA, which is useful for chronic pain and inflammation. However, Dr. Weil disagrees and suggests ginger and turmeric. Dave Grotto likes turmeric, too, which he says increases NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) effectiveness up to tenfold!

Finally, I’m taking Nature Made SAM-e Complete, because I could use a little mood improvement. I’ve even been taking a homeopathic remedy for sciatica.

Status report

Is this going to be a life long condition that affects my life as a mom, wife and writer? Only time will tell. And as for those three words for 2010? I’m picking Pain Management, Exercise and Back Health (with weight loss going under exercise and healthy eating under back health). Time to get this body back on track!

10 thoughts on “I went shopping for my back pain and here’s what I got

  1. Pingback: Feeling lousy? Maybe you have food sensitivities | This Mama Cooks!

  2. Beth Michaloski

    Thank you for your site Ann Marie!!!! I have been in pain for weeks with my back ,went to ER , been to GP, I requested for my GP to send me for MRI, I knew something was terribly wrong.This had started around 7-08-10,went to ER on 7-11-10, can’t work , 7-23-10 I received a call from my GP saying I have stenosis(narrowing of canal around my spine)He still also thinks I have arthritis in my back(I disagree).I also have chronic changes in my spine,and a bulging disc(he did not indicate right or left side),I have had pain in my sides.He has had me on hydrocodone(which makes me very sleepy) and Mobic. Can you believe he wanted to send me for PT without an MRI ? I am questioning everything now. He wants me to go to see an anesthesiologist, for pain management and injections in my spine.Oh he also says I don’t need surgery(a sigh of relief).
    Please Help email me . I do also have scoliosis. Your site was so helpful, thank you so much for all the good information.

    1. annemarie Post author

      Beth, my dad had stenosis, too. Not fun. Get all the tests you can and PT is always a good thing. But try looking at your diet for triggers. I’ve been drinking too much caffeine lately and had some emotional stress, and boom, my sciatica flared up. So I’m trying to detox a little (lots of green tea), eat a healthy low inflammation diet, take SAM-e (which has always helped me) and primrose oil, and exercising regularly. Good luck Beth and keep in touch.

  3. Anne-Marie

    NJ, I’ve also heard about using a knee wedge for sitting to elevate the legs. My massage therapist mentioned one of her patients having good success with one.

  4. NJ

    Ann Marie, some great info here. I would also recommend a lumbar support belt for pain relief while you are on the go.

    Lumbar support Belt
    link to arc4life.com

    Also, I agree with Scott Swanson- give chiropractic a try.

    Finally, when you are sleeping at night consider using a knee elevator or a positioning wedge under your knees- this takes the pressure off of your lower back and makes you more comfortable.

    The Multi-Functional Bed Wedge Positioning Cushion
    link to arc4life.blogspot.com

    Hope this helps. – NJ

  5. Scott Swanson

    You might look into chiropractic care a recent study in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Rehabilitation showed patients who received chiropractic manipulation enjoyed greater short term and long term outcomes than physical therapy or back school.

  6. Anne-Marie

    Julie, I’m going to see my massage therapist next week, so I’m a big believer in massage not only as a special treat, but a way to keep your body running smoothly. Physical therapy is working for me so far, thank goodness, as is acupuncture. But each person’s problem is different and will respond to different therapies. That’s why I’m trying them ALL!

  7. Julie Buck

    Oh – I’ve been to a urologist who told me that those kegels we’ve all been doing religiously really don’t do anything!

  8. Julie Buck

    I love my memory foam bed – my back hasn’t hurt since we got it a couple of years ago. My dh used to have really bad sciatica – the only thing that helped was deep tissue massage – in fact, it basically cured him – try it sooner rather than later – first he went to the doctor, got pain meds that really didn’t help, but made him dopey. Then he went to physical therapy and it didn’t help AT ALL. Finally, after almost a year, his insurance okayed massage therapy. The very first session helped a LOT, and the therapist said if he’d come in at the beginning, it would only have taken one or two sessions. In the end, it took about 10 – but it was a life-saver. At the end, he was completely pain-free.


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