aging, back pain, bone density, DEXA scan, Health, Kegel exercise, lumbago, Massage, midlife, osteopenia, osteoporosis, Pelvic floor, Physical therapy, wellness
One recent morning, after stripping off the sheets on the bed in the guestroom, I noticed the mattress was slightly askew. Because I’m an editor as well as a writer, I possess certain innate characteristics. The misalignment of a mattress will bother me as much as the improper deployment of a parallel construction.
I nudged the offending bedding with my knee and immediately felt a shift in my lower right back, accompanied by a spongy sort of “thunk.” And then the pain.
It was mild at first, an annoyance more than anything. I gathered up the sheets and took them down to the laundry. But the discomfort progressed with the day, and by afternoon, when I could barely make it home from walking the dog, I called John to report: woman down.
Welcome to midlife, the land of lumbago.
A week went by without improvement. I finally sought relief by cashing in a Living Social massage coupon for the Richmond Alternative Center for Health. Robin, the massage therapist, came out to greet us. John set off on a self-guided tour of the facility while I limped alongside Robin, following her into a serene, softly-lit massage studio. I studied the comfortable-looking table from various angles, trying to calculate the least painful approach for getting into a prone position. It was obvious Robin was going to have her hands full with this one.
The massage was soothing the way aloe is soothing to a burn—waves of intermittent calm punctuated by bursts of pain. By the end, though, all of my muscles—especially those of my lower back—were relaxed. Until, that is, I tried to get up from the table. Everything seized up again; I stiffened like the Bride of Frankenstein as I struggled to regain my footing. Robin appraised the situation.
“You really should call your doctor if you’re not better by Monday.”
As advice goes, this was excellent. X-rays taken of my lower back looked fine, my doctor said; there were no disc issues or fractures. (I had been worrying about a fracture, actually; a recent bone density test, or DEXA scan, revealed that two of my vertebrae were a hair’s breadth away from osteoporosis. I’ve had osteopenia for years.) She prescribed muscle relaxers and physical therapy. Now here’s where things get interesting.
A friend recommended Progress Physical Therapy in neighboring Glen Allen. I was now heading (well, limping) straight down the path of Kismet. I scheduled a time with Dr. Amanda Miller because, as I recall, hers was the first available appointment. Little did I know that she specializes in pelvic floor problems. Her examination revealed that something about my own pelvic floor was apparently awry; it was as crooked as the mattress that got me into this jam in the first place. Dr. Miller’s meticulous examination revealed something else as well. She told me to bend over and try to touch my toes, then asked:
“Did you know that one of your legs is shorter than the other?”
To be continued …