Getting my life back

I have suffered from periods of lower back pain for the last ten years; the pain intensity and length of recovery have gradually increased. I have been to the doctor on numerous occasions and was informed that the pain was due to lack of exercise. I took pain relief which only helped a little and tried to exercise more often, this often resulted in suffering afterward and I found it extremely difficult to continue with everyday activities.

The intensity of the pain increased to a level in which I could barely walk – let alone carry anything. Driving was also difficult due to the lack of manoeuvrability. Eventually I had difficulty with everyday personal care due to the sharp pain that occurred whenever I bent over – getting dressed and bathing even became a painful task. The doctor then referred me to a specialist who did a scan on my back. He said it showed wear and tear at L3/4 and 4 or 5 but I didn’t really understand what this meant – I thought obviously there is something seriously wrong and worried about it even more. He said I could have injections but they probably wouldn’t work. I left that appointment without hope I would ever get better.

I suffered more from pain whenever I did any form of strenuous household duties – mowing the lawn, de-junking the children’s bedroom, moving furniture to clean underneath, etc. I became fearful of doing such tasks and would only attempt to do them when I knew that I would not have to drive and could rest afterward. As the children’s school is almost four miles away, I had to wait until the weekend to mow the lawn etc. I could not participate in any activities regularly due to childcare constraints and working all day – mostly standing still or driving. After work, I would be too stiff and in pain, and weekends had to be used to catch up on any chores that had to wait.

My life was dictated by pain and fear of tasks that I knew would cause pain. The last time I mowed the lawn before Physiotherapy I was in so much pain I could barely walk, even sitting was uncomfortable for several days afterward.

During the first consultation I was  I was given exercises to do at home to help me to relearn the new techniques (ways of moving). I was amazed at how quickly the techniques helped me to do basic movements without causing pain.

I enrolled on a weight loss course, I had put on a lot of weight over the months due to my reduced activity levels – which exasperated the condition and affected my confidence. Part of the course included an hour of exercise – on the first week there was a fitness test, one of the exercises was a shuttle run or walk – because of the reduced level of pain I had been feeling I had the confidence to run the shuttles and was exhilarated to find that I did not suffer after.

My fear of pain has gone as I now know how to manage it and have since participated in several activities including a vigorous game of three on three basketball, and due to my competitive nature I ran everywhere and felt great. My fitness is improving and so is my confidence. The techniques have given me back my life and can now just get on with things again without fear; I have even tackled the decorating!

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