Back Pain Sufferers, There Is Hope!

, , , , | Healthy | May 6, 2021

I’m twenty. For the past few months, I’ve been getting experience in my major field by working long hours in a lab, counting out microscopic worms on Petri dishes. It’s not difficult or too taxing, but I’ve noticed lately that the way I have to sit to reach the scopes has triggered some lower back pain around the center of my hips. I try to ignore it for about three weeks, as my father just laughs when I mention it and I’m worried that my doctor, the pediatrician I’ve seen since birth, will do the same because of my young age and lack of strenuous activity.

It gets to the point that I can barely walk and every few seconds, a shooting pain jumps down from my back to the front of my knee. It’s beyond anything I’ve ever felt, before or since. The spasms keep me at night, and when I wake up one morning to discover that I can’t lean forward or backward more than a few millimeters, I finally go in to see the doctor. As my main doctor isn’t in that day, I’m paired with a new doctor in the practice I’ve never met before. She’s much younger than the others I’ve seen and is incredibly pleasant.

Doctor: “So, I’ve heard you’ve been having back spasms?”

Me: “Yeah. I know, I know, I’m too young to have a back problem. I haven’t had any big jolts to the system or anything, nothing more stressful than sitting in a lab all day, but no matter what I do, I can’t shake this. I didn’t want to bother you guys during the flu season with what’s probably just a stupid pulled muscle but I haven’t slept for two nights now. Laying down or sitting up seems to make it worse, and the over-the-counter painkillers don’t put a dent in it.”

Doctor: “Hey, it’s no problem at all! In fact, I wish you had come in a bit sooner! Back spasms can be really serious, so let’s see if we can figure this out.”

The doctor chats with me about what I’ve done so far to ease the pain and what showed any improvement or made it worse and puts me through some simple range of movement exercises

Doctor: “Okay, I’m going to do a few little tests that should confirm my suspicions about this. I’m going to be putting my thumbs at those little dimples you get at your lower back, okay? Just tell me if it hurts, and which side hurts most.”

I feel something akin to a nail being driven into the area she’s touching.

Me: “Holy moth— Left! Left side! Haha, ouch, Doc.”

Doctor: “Sorry! Sorry, just one more. Pop up there, lay down, and cross your right ankle over your left knee.”

When I lay down, my entire pelvis should be an inch closer to the ground than it is, and I mention it to her.

Doctor: “That’s normal if this last one gives us a positive sign. When I push down on your right knee here, is there—”

Me:Pain?! Yes. Yes, there is.”

Doctor: “Positive sign! With how long you’ve let this go, it may be too tight for me to fix this here without you doing some home stretches first, but I’ll give it a shot if you’d like?”

Me: “Please, yes. Anything. Feed me to a lion if it would make this stop hurting so much.”

The doctor moves my left leg off the table to hang down the side and shifts my body so my hip also hangs off and instructs me to push up against her downward force on my left knee. My pelvic area makes an ungodly loud cracking sound that can probably be heard in the lobby as it feels like my entire pelvis drops down that missing inch. I fully expect extreme pain.

Me: “AAAGH— Oh, hang on.”

I sit up without difficulty.

Me: “Holy crap. It’s a little sore, but holy crap! You’re a miracle worker! What did you do?! I could kiss you right now!”

Doctor: *Laughing* “I put your sacroiliac joint back in alignment. It’s common for women to have problems with it, though it’s usually after childbirth or an impact accident like a car crash.”

Me: “Yeesh, no chance of that here, and I’ve never been in a wreck.”

Doctor: “Well, it’s unusual, but long periods of sitting in some positions can stress the ligaments and allow the joint to move out of alignment bit by bit. Please, if it ever starts to flare up again, don’t wait so long to come in! It should be manageable with targeted stretching exercises, and I’ll grab you our printout of the ones that should help, but don’t let it get this out of control next time!”

The next day, after a very good night’s sleep, I wrote two letters: one to the head of the clinic commending the doctor for her quick diagnosis and solution, and another to the doctor herself thanking her profusely for taking me seriously right off the bat and being so delightfully friendly during the whole appointment, despite it being a last-minute walk-in. I delivered them with snacks and chocolates for the staff and thoroughly enjoyed showing them how I could once again move without pain. I had to leave their practice once I aged out earlier this year, but I’ve never had a better experience with any other doctor.


This story is part of our Best Of May 2021 roundup!

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