By Bernard Preston

Chronic lower back pain radiating to both legs

Good afternoon (from England),

I am a 34 year old male who has been weightlifting for many years.
For the last 3 months I have had a tight and sore lower back which also radiates pain down the back of both legs, almost as if I have pulled my hamstrings. I also have a small area of pain to the left of my lower spine which presents itself as I bend forward too much or raise my legs from a seated position.

I have seen a local chiropractor and this gave me some initial relief, however unfortunately not enough to enable me to return to my favourite activities. I am concerned that I will never return to weightlifting which is psychologically damaging to me.



It's a tough issue, Matthew; I was faced with the same predicament at your age after twenty years of squash at a high level. With much 'snot en trane' as we say in Dutch, I realised I was faced with Hobson's choice; give up squash now before the back operation and spinal fusion, or I'd certainly be giving it up afterwards.

I agonised and made the right decision, and you should too; thirty years later I still haven't needed that back op.

Not what you want to hear I know, but there's another factor; it's a big world with a lot of other fun things to do. After six months of moping about, I discovered gliding; and, guess what? It's a lot more fun that squash. This coming weekend I'm going on a five day camp, soaring in the mountains. There's something else out there waiting for you, perhaps even better than the joy of weightlifting.

Pain going down both legs is serious. Raising your legs when sitting stretches the sciatic nerve and is one of the standard tests for a pinched nerve; it's called the Slump test for sciatica. Find it using the site search function at the Bernard Preston site; it will take you to my other site.

When you bend forwards the bulge in the disc increases, hence increasing the lower back and perhaps also leg pain. Do coughing, sneezing or bearing down on the loo also hurt?

Here's one other thought; are you doing any lower back exercises every morning? If you were willing to do them every day for the rest of your life, stop for long enough for your disc to heal, continue with what is obviously beneficial chiropractic help, then there's a possibility you may get back to weight lifting.

You obviously made a wrong move, didn't warm up, went too heavy, or something else and some advice from a professional lifter would be good.

It would probably take a break of at least three to five months to recover from pain radiating down both legs. Start the exercises anyway; you'll find them in the navigation bar at Chiropractic Help; ask your DC to check you're doing them correctly and he'll probably want to add his own favourites.

There really is light at the end of your tunnel, but either way you have to stop for a period; if you're not willing, don't waste your time and money with more chiropractic, or other conservative treatment either for that matter; they won't win. Got it?

Dr B

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