I just wanted to tell you all how incredibly important it is to take care of your back and be careful with the amount of sitting that people like us inevitably do every day.
I have spent 8-15 hours a day in front of a computer for the last 15 years. My posture ranges from "okay" to completely terrible. I started having lower back issues about 10 years ago, and never really took it too seriously. My back would go out, always on the right side, and it would take a week or two to get back to normal.
I blew these episodes off for years. Then, earlier this year, the back went out but this time was different. I began to feel a piercing, stabbing pain deep inside my right buttock. This pain then grew, and began to extend down the outside of my right leg, all the way to the ankle. It felt like somebody was beating up my leg with a baseball bat.
I started physical therapy. After two months the pain went away. I learned a lot about sitting, how detrimental it is. I was given a set of exercises to perform every day.
I slacked. Summer was coming and I figured, I'm getting plenty of activity and exercise as it is, don't worry about the back exercises.
Boom. In late July, the back went out again. This time, the sciatic pain on both right and left sides. I cannot really describe, to someone who hasn't felt it, what this sort of pain feels like. I've now been struggling for seven weeks and still have the pain. It's getting better, slowly. During the day, I have long periods which are pain free. But waking up in the morning is an act of heroism on a daily basis.
I'm seeing doctors at a spine center here in the city. X-ray reveals that I have a narrowing of the intervertebral space between L4 and L5. MRI will confirm tomorrow afternoon. I probably have a ruptured disc, which is bulging and pressing on the sciatic nerve at the point where it exits my spinal column.
You may think, that's not from sitting, sitting doesn't produce the kind of forces which could rupture a spinal disc. Oh, but you're wrong!
By sitting in a chair all the time, various stabilizer muscles in the back essentially go to "sleep." Over time these muscles because so deconditioned that it becomes impossible to consciously command them to contract -- in response to this, other, larger muscles of the back need to take over to provide the stabilization.
When these big "mover" muscles stay contracted over long period of time they apply a compressive force along the spine and over time this can lead to damage to the discs.
Combine that with my physical activities like running, hiking, backpacking, etc and I blew a disc.
People, be careful. This is the kind of pain and dehabilitation that can make a person want to end it all. I'm not there -- so far, ibuprofen is able to keep the pain under control -- some people require heavy duty narcotics.