I’ve had a few days to contemplate the results from my appointment with a well known and respected back specialist here in town. I’m a little stunned really.
The Good News
Years and years ago, a sports doctor here diagnosed me with Scoliosis, a curved spine. There are varying degrees of this disease, some which just cause pain occasionally and some which degrade and can be debilitating. I’ve always accepted the fact that I had this disease, and needed to decline any heavy lifting and try to stay in shape. Always thought that if it got worse, I’d need surgery.
As you may be able to see from my spinal x-ray, my spine isn’t curved. That diagnosis was wrong. The good news is that I actually do NOT have Scoliosis.
The Bad News
After looking at my x-ray, the doc asked me how old I was. After telling him I was 45, he said “Huh. Well you have the back of someone in their 50’s.” Not exactly what I’d hoped or expected to hear him say, especially after lovingly looking at my spinal x-rays which were straight and not curved.
He showed me the source of my back pain and spasms, which was in the lowest two vertebrae. “You have arthritis in these two vertebrae” he said.
I was already in shock after hearing I didn’t have Scoliosis. I don’t know a thing about arthritis, but I did know that it wasn’t good.
The doc showed me the faint shadows of the muscles around the spine in the lower back and explained how they work. The weakness of the spine down there causes nerve pinches and the muscles seize up, going in to spasm. That pain when the back spasms is nothing like anything else I’ve experienced. Far more pain than a separated shoulder, dislocated shoulder, broken bones, pulled hamstrings and any of the other injuries I’ve had.
This condition explains why I play so much better when it is warm. I’m more loose, the bones aren’t so close together.
I’m studying spinal arthritis now. The doc prescribed physical therapy by a specialist to target the specific muscles in that area and strengthen them up. Unfortunately the specialist he recommended isn’t on my insurance, so I’m now looking for a new one. There was no mention of surgery at this point, nor do I know if it is an option.
If the back is this bad now, I really hope the PT can make a difference. If it doesn’t, I don’t know how many more years of golf I have left. That is distressing.
good luck. I have many family and friends with various serious back ailments and see the pain that they are in. I hope PT works for you, but remember, it is a long process and positive results can take years to see.
One thing to ask your doctor about is platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP). I know someone who trated knee arthritis with it and it worked. Its relatively new and is still being tested, but many pro athlets have had it done.
PT can work well, but I would not discount what a good Chiroprator might be able to do for you. I only recently overcame my scepticism and went to one for the first time (at 53). They can be incredibly knowledgable and can potentially adjust you so that the arthritis does not progress as fast. Worth looking into IMHO.
Tony – I would definitely suggest the PRP shot that your other comment spoke about. I have had it a couple times and for some people it can work miracles. Kind of expensive and not covered by most insurances but my wife is a collegiate coach and she has had people tear their hammys and it be fixed in two days. Crazy really.
Two votes for PRP. I’ll be googling that shortly. Had some real bad luck with a quakropractor. Messed me up worse. Hard to go back to one now.
Do have an inversion table, which I’m going to go use…. NOW.