I am trying to develop strategies for holding off on any further back surgery and to do that; I need to try to manage my pain. I am taking various forms of pain meds. They are very helpful but because I want to and have to limit what I take, they are not enough. I have learned a lot from the people who post on this forum [I am very grateful] and I would really welcome any input regarding this question. I searched this Forum but really saw nothing that precisely addressed this specific topic.

When I was considering whether or not I should have revision surgery [for pain and not because my spine was unstable], I came across the notion that exercise might be a useful tool to help with pain originating from my lower spine. The problem, of course, is that I don’t have a great spine. I had 13 vertebrae fused more than 40 years ago and have some adjacent segment degeneration. One of the problems with choosing exercise as a way of trying to control pain is I have to be careful of WHAT exercise I do and HOW I do that exercise. This would be another useful topic but that should be another thread.

In a sentence, I believe that exercise HAS helped me feel better. This is what I have come to believe about exercise/pain control in my situation. (1) I feel better when I have exercised correctly and have exercised enough. When I have exercised incorrectly I have felt worse but I always manage to go back to basic/safe exercises and then I feel better. (2)I have needed the assistance of a personal trainer. He is not a physical therapist BUT he understands what has happened to my spine and he has a great eye for balance and posture. I also think he is effective for me in this situation because he believes in focusing on some of the small muscle groups in the body. I would never have thought this type of exercise could have any benefit until I tried it. I have used his services for at least 9 months now. It takes a LONG time to change well established habits on how you hold your body. (3) I also need to use some of the Nautilus exercise equipment at my gym to work some of my larger muscle groups. I had to have someone show me how to properly use this equipment before I could do it without causing more pain. I cannot use all the equipment. (4)Hiking always feels good.

Most of the exercise I do [except hiking or gardening] I don’t particularly like. This makes it hard to keep doing them but since I know I feel better when I consistently exercise, I really try to keep it going. When I first started out [without help], I felt more pain [not less pain] because I didn’t know what to do. That could have been a good excuse to quit but I was really motivated to keep trying.

The other thing that slowed me down from believing that exercise could really help was that the scientific literature is [to say the least] “mixed” on this topic. This is probably because it is VERY difficult to design, fund and execute a study that is definitive. Some reasons for this are: (1) people don’t want to exercise, (2) a lot of the data is “self-reported”, (3) no one wants to fund these studies and (4) pain levels are very subjective and impossible to really standardize. I came to appreciate that even though the literature was mixed on this topic, that was not enough to dismiss the use of exercise to help my situation.

I would welcome any information on why or why not people in this forum choose to exercise
. Terry