Bend Over Beethoven
February 7, 2009 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Hoping someone can help diagnose what my lower back pain is.

A month ago, I was at the gym, doing lower back exercises, and I probably pushed myself a little too hard and didn't use the best form. I didn't feel any pain, and continued on to play some basketball. It's when I got home and got up from my car seat that I felt a slight twinge of discomfort. It's not chronic, and while subsiding in degree of discomfort over time, it only appears when I get up from a seat or am bending over too long. I gave myself a week before resuming activity (as well as when I didn't notice any more discomfort), and while working out is fine (I won't dare test my lower back in that respect), it's when I go running or play basketball that the discomfort is reaggravated. I decided to hold out on any cardio for a couple weeks, but this morning, it came back after an hour of basketball.

What I'm trying to figure out is whether it's a muscle, tendon, or ligament, and how I can best go about rehabilitating it.

The focus of the pain sits distinctly above the iliac crests. Along with when I'm bent over, I can feel the pain when I massage the area.

I'll be taking care of further cardio by using a stationary bike and taking as much stress off the lower back as I can, but the freedom of mobility is paramount to my sanity. Any prospective ideas?

posted by Christ, what an asshole to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total)
I've had sacro-ilial issues, and I'll tell you that nothing around there is easily diagnosed. If possible, you should try to get a job where you can get insurance. ASAP. What you describe could be a strained muscle, but it could also be a sign of much more serious (and costly) things.

I'm not a doctor, but I built up great sacro-ilial health when I began focusing on low-impact exercises, such as swimming and bicycling. In addition to being low-impact, they are also symmetrical. They work both sides of your body equally, helping you keep your spine in alignment. I've had greater success with an actual bicycle than a stationary one. There is something about balancing the bike that makes it a better workout for your back.

Finally, make sure you stretch. Touch your toes three times a day, focusing on stretching your lower back. Try some of these stretches.

I know this can be very painful and distracting. Good luck!
posted by redarmycomrade at 9:21 PM on February 7, 2009

You might try Devil's Claw. It is an herbal anti-flammatory with properties similar to Vioxx
posted by tybeet at 6:42 AM on February 8, 2009

Fifty years ago the S-I joint used to be the default culprit for all lower back pain. It's still very difficult to diagnose problems originating in the joint. These days specialists shot it full of steroids hoping that by reducing inflammation, they'll get lucky and solve the problem.

You may be experiencing is referred pain, pain that seems to be coming from a specific area generated by an injury in another place entirely. There's no way to know without a visit to the doctor and an MRI.

I totally understand your desire to stay active but you really should restrict yourself to nothing more intense than walking until you know what's going on. Your injury could be muscular, it could be a disc issue, it could be anything. Depending on how your injury is situated, cycling or basketball could make it much worse. Or much better. What works for one person is meaningless when it comes to another's back pain. Back pain has so many causes, many poorly understood by MDs, that it is uniquely unsuited to armchair diagnoses. Following advice that worked for one person could leave you much worse off than you could ever imagine.

Without mincing words, you have got to see a doctor. This is that important. You don't want to fuck around with your back. It's going to hurt the wallet, but the longer you wait, the worse off you'll by physically and financially. Hospitals will arrange payment plans.

Finally, you can take ibuprofen and Tylenol for pain, but don't take more than directed for either. Try heat and/or ice until you get in to see a doctor. Consult a pharmacist before trying herbal remedies, especially if you take other medications because they can interact in dangerous ways.

Good luck
posted by vincele at 9:24 AM on February 8, 2009

I had terrible pain in that area and eventually traced it back to a tight IT band, probably due to rollerblading and cycling. Stretching it using this did the trick.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 9:32 AM on February 8, 2009

Napoleonic Terror you've identified the source of my pain. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
posted by wherever, whatever at 8:01 PM on February 8, 2009

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