Pop quiz! Guess what I did to celebrate my birthday this week:
I think we know the answer. Clearly, alligator wrestling and rolling down hills sounding like human popcorn have been off my bucket list for years now.
The X-Rays weren’t my choice, but my petition to declare January 17a national holiday has not yet been accepted by anyone other than myself.
So there I sat, along with a roomful of other people limping around with a variety of casts and bandages.
Others did not appear to have anything overtly wrong with them. This worried me.
Did they have some weird radioactive parasite they brought back from some far-away country that would soon turn the U.S. into a scene from the movie, Outbreak?
Once discovered, would I be quarantined here in this waiting room full of strangers, with armed guards wearing skull and cross bone arm patches, forbidden to leave until a cure was found?
Thankfully, this scenario only came to life in my own mind, where many scary things come and go.
By now you may be wondering:
Sadly, I am only qualified to answer #1.
The other questions must be left to the proper authorities.
About the X-Rays. I’ve mentioned in prior posts I was diagnosed with osteoporosis six years ago.
Since then I’ve been on medications, extra vitamin D and calcium, which has helped, but a recent bone scan revealed I still have a spine full of more holes than a Steven Seagal movie plot.
My primary care doctor sent me to an osteoporosis specialist. That’s where the fun began.
I instantly liked Dr. Feldman. He’s a young doctor accustomed to working with 85-year olds, so he seemed to find me a welcome relief as he didn’t need to shout for me to hear him.
He went through my entire medical history, including my very long episode of anorexia where my body rewarded me by never fully laying down its normal amount of bone. Therein lies the bone problem.
In his words, not only did I lose bone after menopause (which happens due to estrogen drop), but my bone never actually reached its full strength before menopause began chipping away at it at age 49.
The medication I’m on for anxiety “is not helping matters,” he said. “In fact, if you asked me to name one medication most destructive to bone, I’d say it’s yours (Luvox).”
Just my luck that the one medicine that literally saved my life was also destined to completely wreck me.
I told him I’d rather break a leg than go through the torture of daily panic attacks again (I was this close — my fingers are pressed together here – from becoming agoraphobic, which I’ve also discussed in prior post HERE).
He reassured me we’d work with it, although he noted “we may need to get aggressive with therapy.” That’s fine with me, but do not take away the one medicine that literally gave me back my life.
So aggressive treatment it will be.
His treatment plan for me involves X-Rays to determine whether I have tiny fractures anywhere on my spine (as of this writing I’m still waiting for a diagnosis), which he said do not always cause pain, since I do not have back pain.
Then I start a regimen of higher levels of vitamin D and a different type of calcium (Citracal) for two months, after which a blood test will determine if my levels of D are normal.
The worst part? Afterwards I take a 24-hour urine test, which involves collecting my urine — all of it — for 24 hours.
Considering the number of trips I make to the bathroom each day I may as well tether myself to the porcelain throne. (Stay tuned for that blog post, as it will likely be as fun as a colonoscopy prep.)
After this point we’ll discuss my drug options, since my case is severe enough that I will need to go back on something in addition to over-the-counter supplements.
My biggest question for him: Do I need to change my current workout plan? I verbally ran through my routine with him and he was fine with it if I use “perfect form.” Which I do, or course.
This leads me (yes, finally!) to the gist of this post, the best and worst exercises for an achy back, whether or not you have osteoporosis. (Obviously, ask your doctor if you have any medical issues at all before trying them.)
This compilation results from many interviews and articles written on the topic with tips from many experts in the field.
Let’s start with the worst…
EXERCISES TO AVOID… WHEN YOU HAVE BACK PAIN
Each of these either puts excess strain on the spine or may trigger pain if you’re susceptible.
EXERCISES TO DO INSTEAD…
These alternative exercises work similar muscles as the above, but with a lower risk to your back.
Walking on flat terrain
Reverse crunches (lower ab)
Do you have back pain? Let me know in the comments below, along with any exercises you find helpful… or ones you need to skip.
Other posts you may enjoy:
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please forward it along to your other Ageless friends. I’d be forever grateful!
Your Ageless Body Coach,
Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.