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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Orthopedics
Satisfied Customers: 18194
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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I'm a 46 year old male, 5'11, 190 pounds, in pretty decent

Customer Question

I’m a 46 year old male, 5’11, 190 pounds, in pretty decent shape. For years I’ve been dealing with a chronic tight lower back issue. My back rarely hurts during normal activities, but it’s usually very tight, which often makes me feel….OLD. At some point I figured out that I could resolve the issue for a couple days at a time by doing some core exercises like leg raises and reverse crunches. I could be wrong, but I feel like my issue is more due to a week core, and not associated with any kind of spine or disc injuries. The core exercises work great most of the time, but I’d like to know if there is a more permanent solution for my problem. Lately my hip flexors have become tight too, mostly likely from overdoing leg raises with my new ankle weights a couple of months ago. Now that my hip flexors are involved, my lower back is even more tight. One thing I want to avoid is going to a chiropractor three days a week for a five minute adjustment when I’m not sure if I fully believe in the whole chiropractor thing. But I do know that I’m tired of dealing with a tight lower back (and mildly sore hip flexors) and I’d like to do something about it. Other than joining a yoga class, do I have any medical options? I'd appreciate a detailed answer so I feel like I'm getting my money's worth. Thanks.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Orthopedics
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Hello from JustAnswer. There are a number of home interventions that can be done to try to help with a tight back or weak core. Many different exercises are recommended to help with the back, including certain exercises of the core. There are many good references for the recommended exercises, but the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has an excellent summary page at http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00302&webid=25DDE4. As this page also briefly notes at the bottom, it is also important to be getting regular aerobic exercise. However, for patients with tightness in their lower back, it would be particularly more effective to be swimming as the aerobic exercise. Most people that swim on a regular basis find that it will vastly improve the flexibility of the lower back. Even people that are otherwise very healthy will have a significant increase in the flexibility in the lower back. It also may help to use a device that changes the dynamics across the lower back, called inversion devices or inversion tables. These device allow you to hang upside down, either partially or completely. While there are no good studies that show long term benefit from such an intervention, I have had many patients that swear that this helps their lower back. As it turns out, my wife also is someone that swears by her inversion table, and she scoffs when I note that there is little medical support in the form of clinical studies. Ideally, you could find a place to try an inversion table before you spend money on one for the home, but many fitness facilities do not have such devices. Although you mention not joining a yoga class, it is worth noting that yoga is very effective at increasing flexibility throughout the musculoskeletal system. We usually prefer to only use medicines when there is a musculoskeletal condition. Some people have a tight back because of degenerative disease in the lower spine, and an anti-inflammatory medicine or a muscle relaxer would be reasonable. But from your description, you are correct that you likely do not have any spine or disc disease, so we would typically avoid the use of such medicines. If I can provide any additional information, please let me know.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Please let me know if I can provide any further assistance. If you would like my assistance with any future questions, I can be reached through my profile at www.justanswer.com/medical/expert-DrDLove/

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