My aunt has been going to physical therapy for a few months for some hip pain. She told me she is feeling a whole lot better but that there are still some nagging symptoms that haven’t been relieved. I think there is probably a spinal component to her symptoms that hasn’t been diagnosed so I told her to come over and hopefully between my brain(the good part) and the PT she’s going to we’ll be able to figure this out. Usually when there are symptoms left over that haven’t improved with other stuff, something is going on in the spine. Little secret: most pain you get in the back is due to discs. Saying the word ‘disc’ to people usually freaks them out, but 99% of the time it’s no reason to be really scared. I mean, it should be addressed through different body positions and posture and stuff, but don’t freak out. The spine is weird, discs are weird. Sometimes a disc sticks out a little bit and presses on a nerve and causes pain or numbness or tingling. Then it goes back to where it should be and the symptoms stop.
When you should be more concerned, and what I’m going to tell my aunt when she comes over, is that the time to be more concerned is when those symptoms are constant and don’t go away no matter what position you are in. You’d much rather have intermittent symptoms, symptoms that come and go and that you can figure out a way to get relief. This means the symptoms are purely mechanical, that position of the bones, muscles, body as a whole are causing them. This is an easy fix – well, sometimes. Get into certain positions, do certain exercises and let those nerves heal up and the problem usually goes away.
With constant symptoms, it may still be a mechanical issue of the body and certain positioning and certain directional exercises will help the problem. I’ve had patients in the past that came in with constant pain then the symptoms turned intermittent – then gone. When there is absolutely nothing that can be done to change the symptoms no matter what direction/positions you put the body in, something else is probably going on.