Four years ago, I shared a post on my experience with back pain and I thought I’d revisit the topic today as I had a small flare-up last week. Thankfully, my back is feeling good again because I learned how to deal with it effectively in 2017, after years of not know what was causing the pain or how to treat it.
My back pain was so severe at the beginning of 2017 that I couldn’t even stand-up, sit-up or, at one point, even lie down without being in so much agony, that I eventually ended up in A&E. Prior to that, I had had steroid injections in my back, which are fantastic when they work, but there were also times when they didn’t work. I saw numerous physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors…. sadly, nothing they did could help me. I wasn’t even sure if I had a muscular issue, or a joint problem, or nerve damage – pain can be difficult to describe and hard to pin point.
Eventually, I went for an MRI scan, which took an image of the soft tissues in the back, and that finally helped my doctor to identify the problem. I had a slipped disc in L5/S1 that was compressing my S1 root nerve. At this point, I also ended up seeing a spinal surgeon and freaked out at the thought of having back surgery! Fortunately, surgery was not needed, but lots of bed rest was, along with plenty of pain killers & anti-inflammatory drugs.
My doctor explained that when I was practising deep yoga forward folds, even with a flat back and ‘correct alignment’, the fold was so deep that it pushed my disc into my sciatic nerve. Thus damaging the area, causing sciatica; a sharp and radiating pain through my lower back & right leg. The best treatment for me was to take a break from yoga and after some time, use some gentle backbends to help ‘push’ the disc back in. It sounds strange that yoga backbends have become my go-to remedy when I feel twinges of pain, but it works. (IMPORTANT: If you have back pain, please do not start doing lots of backbends based on my story. They may not be the remedy you are looking for and could even exacerbate it).
Now, four years later, I still get the odd flare-up (but nothing like what happened four years ago), which happens when I’m not paying attention to how far I’m bending. This can be a little hard to manage as I’m very flexible. I never feel the pain at the time, it’s only a few hours after I’ve injured myself that I actually feel any discomfort. If I feel any soreness in my back now, I find that Upward Facing Dog & Cobra pose really help.
I hope by sharing my experience, it helps you understand how & why you might experience back pain. Back pain is different for everyone but it’s good to know the different types and how to treat it. What works for me, may not work for you, but at the very least, it should help you to see the problem from a different angle, and in a different light.