Working My Way Back from Hip, Leg and Back Pain

by Rose
(Fresno, Ca.)

I was referred to 2 different orthopedic doctors and was told that I needed hip replacement surgery. One doctor just looked at X-rays and did not even perform a hands-on exam. The other surgeon told me it was not that bad, but he could operate anyway. I kept wondering if my hip was bad enough to require surgery then why would the pain go away when I used a T.E.N.S. unit. This made no logical sense plus it did not matter as I did not have the money or the time for the surgery anyway.


I am 62 years old, most of my life I worked at a desk job and was a weekend warrior, doing all the active things I could competing with my dogs and just living life. About 15 years ago, I ran into a hole in the ground and stressed my achilles tendon. My heel went into the hole and the top of my foot was on the surface. I suspected it would someday come back and haunt me.

As the years went by, I started to notice leg cramping in the adductor area, glutes, calf and feet arches. This occurred when I would sit on the floor reaching over my legs in order to groom dogs. This gradually moved up to the core of my body with cramping in the psoas muscles, lower back and eventually to my hip, quad, glutes and every muscle group from my waist down to my toes. My arches would wake me up at night with severe Charlie horses. Shortly after, it was getting really hard to lift my leg to put socks on.

Till this day I still am unable to perform that simple task on the right leg. My medical doctor said I had bursitis, gave me a shot of steroids which did not work. I began walking with a bad limp and all the pressure went to the other side of my body, then my stride was becoming very shortened. I felt like the right side of my body was in atrophy.

Two years ago, I visited a chiropractor and signed up for a year of treatments for severe lower back pain, thinking that was the problem with my right leg. I did require that he also work on my hip pain that was shooting down the IT band to my knee as well as my spine. I was unable to stand up erect or even straighten my right knee when standing. I was bent over by at least 40 degrees at the hip. Although spending over $3000 for that year of adjustments with no improvement for my right leg I at least had a doctor with some brains. He finally threw up his hands and said he could not help my leg problem and referred me to another chiropractor in town that performs active release therapy.

A few months went by and the last straw was a Saturday when I could not walk, even with a cane. The cramping in every muscle in my leg rendered me helpless and in such pain. I could not put pressure on my leg to stand and when I tried to lift my leg to take a step the cramps worsened, I was literally stuck in a position. With the aid of my husband I hopped on my good leg into the bedroom and laid down to rest.

That Monday I made an appointment with the new chiropractor for an evaluation. I decided he was my last hope before taking out a loan for hip replacement surgery. I was pre-warned that the treatment is very intense and painful as he worked with pressure points. My first doctor advised me to tell the new chiropractor that I was not young and to go slow. The first part was easy, anyone can see I am not young, but going slow part was not what would happen. I would rather have a root canal than go through that first appointment again.

I have to say my road to recovery has been slow, painful but it is dramatic from where I was at the beginning. I am going on close to 2 years of weekly treatments. The first year, I had active release therapy 2 times a week for 6 months. We slowly incorporated working with a trainer on additional days stretching the muscles. If I tried stretching one muscle the other muscle being used would cramp, or all of them would cramp at the same time rendering me immobile still but I had the help I needed to work through it.

Now I work with the trainer 2 days a week and see the doctor occasionally. I am about 40% recovered after 2 years and actually have brief times of no pain. We are concentrating on my core now, and starting from my feet up. I have since added a massage therapist to my treatments and she performs a deep tissue message. Again, it is painful but I am getting used to it now and it really has helped. I use a foam roller each day on the pressure points, which are throughout both sides of my right leg and hip. For the first time in years I slept on my stomach last night.

My message is don't give up, don't allow the pain to win. Yes, it is a painful journey back. Find the right people to help you and work through the pain. I am blessed to have so many people encouraging me and pushing me forward. I am not only improving physically, but I also learned that I am so much stronger than I ever would have thought. I really know that I can do this for myself and I am doing it. My goal was to someday be able to ride on the back of my husband's motorcycle and I am looking forward to this spring to enjoy a ride on the Harley.

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Dec 20, 2011
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Thanks So Much for Your Story
by: Stephen of Lower Back Pain Answers

Dear Rose,

Thank you for sharing your story on my site. Your message of sticking to it and leaving no stone unturned is inspiring and appreciated. It's the same message I give my clients on a regular basis. I wish you well in your recovery and would like to add my two cents...

I would like to recommend that you seek out a Rolfing practitioner and receive some of that type of bodywork. It sounds like you've been getting some significant benefit from the deep tissue massage therapist and that's great.

A Rolfer might be able to take the bodywork even further. A good Rolfing practitioner will be able to look at your structure and make a clear assessment of how the fascial sheaths are perhaps stuck together, or perhaps where the fascia is just short and unmoving.

I explain this concept in my article, "Understanding Your Lower Back Pain." If you click "START HERE" at the top of the navigation bar (top left of this page) you'll go right to it.

Anyway, it's stories like yours which can provide hope for individuals suffering from pain as you have. Thanks again and I wish you a swift recovery.

All the best,

Stephen O'Dwyer
Lower Back Pain Answers




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Your website is phenomenal! Thanks for helping anyone who might be confused when offered surgery as the only option!
—Carmen from Los Angeles, CA

I tried all of your lower back stretches. They're wonderful!
—Lee from Milwaukee, WI

Sometimes you stumble on something like this and you say "EUREKA!"
—Laverne from Pearl City, Hawaii