Has Back Pain Ever Interrupted Your Vacation?
Even though we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are still going on vacation and it’s important for you to get away from your life. You need to get out with your family and do something fun together. However, when that’s interrupted or cut short by sciatica or back pain, that is probably one of the worst things. For me, that’s been one of the worst experiences that I have ever had.
So, let me tell you a story about when that happened to me. About four years ago, my family and I were going on a road trip. We were going to drive from our home in Underwood, Iowa, all the way to Phoenix, Arizona. We were doing this to get to my dad’s memorial because my dad had just passed away earlier that year. Then, we were going to go visit my brother, mom, stepdad, sister-in-law, and all my nieces down in Tucson, Arizona. We had it all planned out and everything was fine. We loaded up the family truck, which I borrowed from my father-in-law, and hit the road.
It took us about three days and the way we took was kind of a roundabout. On the second day of our road trip, I started noticing some pain in my left buttock. I had back pain before because I had some issues on my right side, but the left side was new to me. I didn’t think too much of it the next day and we drove a little further until we finally got there. By then, it was like fire in my rear end that was radiating down my leg. It went all the way down into my left ankle and it a deep pain. Then, outside of my toes, they were tingling. I knew right away that it was sciatica. I couldn’t get comfortable and I couldn’t sleep. I tried to ease the pain by getting in a hot tub at the hotel and stretching it. I talked my wife into massaging my back and butt, just trying to do anything to get this pain to go away.
For me, it limited everything about the trip. I got through the memorial for my dad and then we got down to Tuscon, where I was trying to have a good time with my family. However, I couldn’t do anything except sit in the pool because the pain was so bad. I managed to get myself a foam roller and I started rolling the area out, but nothing was fixing the problem. I ended up getting frustrated because I was missing out on being engaged in the family vacation. The kids wanted me to go hiking with them, but it was hard to do anything because of the pain. I even started to feel like I wasn’t being a good dad because I wasn’t able to be involved in the activities.
I just rolled it out and did the best that I could, which helped a little bit. Then, I opened Google and I started looking for a therapist in Tuscon. I needed somebody work into my hip and my lower back. I was able to find a girl that was able to work on me and we were able to find all kinds of trigger points and problematic areas. She was able to find areas of my leg, which were so tight and tender that were contributing to it, that I didn’t even knew I had.
Once I got that relief, the pain started to subside, and that weight had been lifted off my chest. Suddenly, I was a different person. Before I was crabby, cranky, and irritable because my back, hip, and leg were hurting so much that I couldn’t enjoy the vacation. It’s kind of like when you’re on a trip and you get sick, you end up in the emergency room or a doctor’s office in a town where you don’t know anybody. That’s just one of the worst things that can happen. So, I managed to get myself back home, and then I started trying to figure out like why this pain happened. I’ve had some issues with back pain before that I’d been able to resolve, but I could not figure out why it was worse on this trip.
Number one is your mental stress. Even though you’re going on vacation and it’s supposed to be a good relaxing time, it creates a lot of stress to get ready. You have the stress on the road, especially if you have never driven across country for long distances. You’re also getting everything ready at work and at home, which is how the negative stress starts to manifest itself physically in our body. Also, I was sitting for 10 to 12 hours a day for about three days in a row. I was the one who wanted to drive, but I should have stepped back and let my wife do some of the driving because all that prolonged sitting made an impact on the pain.
I could have switched out my position and moved to the other side of the vehicle to get some pressure off but sometimes we are our own worst enemies when we are stubborn. When we sit for too long, the psoas muscle, which comes off your lumbar spine, goes through your stomach, and attaches itself to your thighbone, becomes tight and goes into a spasm. When this happens, it throws off your entire alignment and it starts tilting your pelvis forward.
This throws off how your hips work, which creates more tightness and causes another muscle, called the piriformis, to spasm. The piriformis is a muscle underneath the butt, in which the sciatic nerve goes either over, under, or right through. When that muscle goes into a spasm, it sets everything off. I was sitting too long, and it was too stressful. Then, when you’re on vacation, you’re not eating right and you’re not drinking enough water. Also, you’re probably not sleeping well, because you’re sleeping in other hotel beds or someone else’s bed.
When you’re on vacation, you eat more of an inflammatory diet because you’re eating fast food, which causes you to eat many carbs. You’re also enjoying vacation, so you could be drinking alcohol. All those things add up and creates that perfect storm, which can just set everything off. However, there are things that you can do to fix that. As I realized what was going on with me, I did immediately start increasing my water intake and I started using that foam roller, which made a big difference. I even sought the help of somebody that I knew could understand what was going on with me, to get those muscles and trigger points loosened up.
Then, when I got home, I got myself back on a good, alkalizing diet, and I made sure I was getting plenty of sleep and that I was hydrating. I was also working on deactivating my hip flexors and unlocking my hips to get my gluteal muscles strengthened and active again, so they weren’t creating that alignment issue. It’s amazing when you attack the root cause of the problem and things dramatically get better and they stay better. I didn’t depend on medication like ibuprofen, Naproxen, or Aleve because those don’t do anything other than treat the symptom.
One of the problems I have with our medical system today is that it just treats the symptoms. The treatments out there are only like a Band-aid of treating the symptoms. For example, somebody comes to me and says, “Hey, I have a problem with my knee.” Then, they expect that you’re going to look at their knee. Well, the problem probably isn’t in their knee, it’s either in their hip or their ankle. However, common medicine today makes you think you have a knee problem. They might give you an X-ray or MRI of your knee because they believe that’s where the problem must be. However, it isn’t always there and most of the time it’s elsewhere. You must think about your entire system. You must have a holistic approach to address these kinds of issues because that’s where the root cause lies.
It’s the diet, the stress management, the hydration levels, your activity, and what you’re doing throughout the day. You also must think of the muscles that are out of balance. For me, that was the true cause of my back pain that almost ruined that vacation. So, you’ve got to stay persistent in finding out what that root cause of your pain is because otherwise, you’re just going to be in this vicious cycle. If all you do is alleviate the symptoms, the problem is still there, and your problem is going to return. Then, you’re just going to be dependent on these temporary treatments.
I want to leave you with a quote: “Energy and persistence conquer all things”, which is from Benjamin Franklin. So, if you are having any of those issues, like sciatica, knee pain, back pain, shoulder issues, or neck problems, I want you to give us a call. I want you to get to the root cause of the problem. You need somebody that can look at the whole person and use that holistic approach. It’s your whole system that’s interacting and creating that problem. Give us a call at (800) 930-8803 and tell one of my front office girls that you want a breakthrough exam and they’ll get you all set up for only $27. Until then, I want to let you know we’re going to be live next Thursday at 1:00 PM. Don’t let back pain or sciatica ruin your vacation and until next Thursday, stay healthy and keep moving forward.