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Advice for L5/S1 loss of disc height

Hi all,

Just to give some background on my situation...

I'm 28 and a software developer. I spend a lot of time sat at a computer in basic office chairs and have often had back niggles in the past, but nothing worth seeing a doctor about.

I recently began having what I can only describe as attacks of severe pain. The pain always seems to start in my lower back and then radiates out to my sides and across my ribs to the front of my abdomen. The pain I feel I can only really describe as burning. It's constant and nothing seems to relieve it. Sitting down, lying down, standing, walking, nothing works.

I went to the doctor about it and he prescribed me with Naproxen. He advised me to take 1, 3 times a day but said I could double up if I needed to. And I definitely needed to. I was taking 2, 3 times a day along with paracetamol and codeine. This offered very little relief from the pain. After a particularly bad attack that night that saw me end up in A&E, I ended up back at my GP the following day. I asked about stronger pain relief and he told me "the only pain relief above what you're taking is morphine which we only give to terminal patients". He must think I'm seriously stupid. He then referred me for an x-ray and blood tests.

The blood tests came back what he described as "essentially normal" but the x-ray showed a loss of disc height at L5/S1. He's now prescribed me Piroxicam.

As I write this, I am sat on the floor. The pain is keeping me awake at night and waking me up when I do finally manage to get to sleep. I asked my doctor if there was any exercises I could do to help and he told me to just walk. I asked if it was worth me seeing a chiropractor and he advised against it. I asked about pain relief again and he said "you shouldn't really be experiencing this at your age. Let's try the piroxicam and see how it goes."

I am willing to try the Piroxicam, but how long should I try it for? Day one and I'm still in pain. Just because I'm young, doesn't mean I'm not in pain. I feel like he doesn't believe me when I describe the pain and it's severity to him.

I've got a letter from my GP to give to my employer to confirm I do need a better chair, so that should help. Does anyone have any advice on good office chairs?

Also, at home I have recliner sofas. I'm not really able to sit on them at the moment. Does anyone have any advice for something I can buy to sit on at home?

Any advice for exercises I can try? Herbal remedies? I will try anything. I can't deal with this pain anymore. I am tired and frustrated and I just don't know what to do.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!
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replied December 4th, 2013
Active User, very eHealthy
Does anyone have any advice on good office chairs?

Do a Google search for "kneeling chair". I just kneel on the ground and use some knee pads.
If you use a regular chair, get a good ergonomic one. It should support your upper and middle back and help ease your lower back into a slight arch. If you can't find one, put a roll of paper towels, rolled up towel, or "McKenzie Airback" (Do a Google search) between your lower back and the chair so there us an arch in your lower back.
Try to lean up against the back of the chair so you don't use your back muscles to hold yourself up.
Does anyone have any advice for something I can buy to sit on at home?

There is no good chair. Sitting is terrible for the back.
Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Assuming your pain is from your lower back, try one of these 2 exercises:

1a) "Static extension on elbows" (Do a Google search)
- To get your shoulders pulled back as well, pinch your shoulders together.
--- or ---
1b) "Static back 90-90 position" (Do a Google search)
- Put a rolled up towel -or- 2 soft foam balls under your lower back just below your beltline.
NOTE: Discs move 1mm in 3 minutes. So you may need to hold these for at least that long for the disc to move back into place.
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