Diagnose my problem?


I am a 26 year old avid Gym goer who plays soccer 4 times a week so i am quite fit. I have recently gone from 10 st 7 to 13 stone of muscle building. I am 175cm with a body fat of 16%

Last wednesday i was having an aching feeling in my lower lumbar region in my back. I put this down to sitting all day at work and i must of been slouching. When i got home the only comfortable position to be was lying on my front with my hands propping me up to arch my back.

That night i played soccer (stupidly i know) and as soon as i kicked the ball with my left foot, my standing foot gave way and i felt a ''popping'' sensation in my lower back. After this i could play on once i had taken a second, but the next day the pain was unbearable! The pain i get is very sharp in my lower back and especially down my right leg to the point where i cannot fully extend my leg to stretch my hamstring. I have had this pain for over a week now.

The pain the last 2 days is more muscle twitching in my right calf and hamstring with a very dull aching feeling in my right hamstring. I have no sense of relief sitting down in any position and standing up from a sitting position can become unbearable on my right leg and lower back. ive been to the hospital and they believed it to be Sciatica, but am i too young and healthy for this???

What possible causes could this be?

How can i self-heal with stretching etc to be 100% again?

12 Replies

  • My advice is stop whatever exercise you are doing and get yourself along to GP. By doing any further exercise or self help could be doing far more damage.

    It could be any one of a number of injuries and best to seek professional help.

    Pat x

  • Are you too young and fit to have sciatica ?, No you are not.Is it likely to be sciatica, no it's not.What you are describing could have many origins.As you have this pain all the time, it needs further investigation, in particular for disc copression or bulge, nerve root compression, polyradiculopathy or ankylosing spondylitis ( you are the right age for this) If you are tested for these, you should discover the cause of your pain

  • Hello

    You are still young, although when playing football you can still twist the lumber region of your spine, generally this is where you are getting the sciatica from, With luck the disk will restore itself after a time and the sciatic will go,

    Possibly you may have twisted the disk and you have nipped the nerve, under these conditions take some NSID, s that you can get from the chemist, Boots will tell you what you need. Normally you should return back to normal in about four to six weeks if you do not do anything silly, you do not need to stop all exercises just those that you bend or twist.

    When young it is a not so that you should not get back problems, in fact at your age the spine is still developing and sometimes you will find that the young can insigate problems in later life, bones seem to still develop until you are in the mid twenties.

    Best advice is see the doctor, although he would possibly advise nurophene or one of the brufins for several weeks

    Have a holiday from your sports for a while give the body time too heal.

    All the very best


  • Hi, the first thing you do is see your gp,then don't hesitate to see a sports physiotherapist , tell them your life story. These people are healers with their hands & can work wonders, you might want to look at your training regime as it may be too aggressive , I no what young people are like these days as they seem to rush around expecting a perfect body over night & in my sons mates case started taking anabolic steroids to speed things up, trouble ahead for sure.

    You say your weight has gained a few stone, now if this has happened in a short period of time, ie, in the gym pumping iron & eating any thing & everything that says its good for you,

    Then I would say your body is suffering from too much skeletal growth whether it be natural or chemically forced through certain food supplements , your back is being compressed & some form of nerve entrapment is happening & this is how it tells you,

    You are young enough & probably fit enough to recover if you see the right people but only if you are wise enough to listen, so listen to your body my friend & slow things down a little as life is better when PAIN free.

  • Hi, I'm a 39 year old lifeguard and swimming teacher who is off work with the same problem (I don't play soccer though) I had my son 12 months ago which weakened my back.

    My advice would be to attend physio (in Scotland you can self refer) and take a rest from lifting, and sports. It sounds like a slipped disc but an MRI scan can confirm this.

    Heat packs/cold packs, back cushions to keep the arch in your lower back and try not to slouch. Bad posture can make things worse.

    Paracetamol 8 times a day and an anti inflamatory will help, I also got tramadol and diazepam from my doc but these can be addictive but they really help.

    Even fit young people can hurt their back but being fit and and young means you will recover much faster.

    You will get better, lying on your tummy arching your back and lifting your head is the best position, and will gradually push the bulging disc back in.

    Loose jogging bottoms instead of tight jeans will help you feel more comfortable.

    Keep moving and gentle exercise when you feel better.

    Sciatica is horrible, it can throb with pain and go into muscle spasm. I think its a good reason for you to have a nice massage :-)

    Hope this helps,


  • Hi, Thanks for the quick replies. I've woken up today after having a heat pad on my lower back and leg for 7 nights and although i do see very slight improvements from day to day, the pain in my calf has not improved and just feels like a 'dead leg' now.

    To answer your questions about my weight gain:

    I started in Jan 2012 so I've been gradually putting on 3 to 4 lbs a month since so i think that slow increase in weight is not the problem or the root of my issue.

    However i can understand why some people may think this and i am open to suggestions.

    I also don't think its a slipped disc as the pain in my lower back has gone from a 8 or 9 in severity in my back to a 1 or 2 now.

    The problem i am having now is walking without having to bend my knee to compensate for the pain down the back of my leg, the pins in needles and constant numbness in my heel and bottom of my foot and the 'dead leg' sensation in my right calf.

    I have rang a physio and will be getting a phone appointment Monday but i expect a consultation fact to face probs in 4 to 6 weeks, by that time will probably be healed (typical NHS)

    Anyway, although i do believe I've taken it too hard the past months at the gym, I've had 2 weeks off now and i feel like i need moderate exercise to keep me going, and from the forums, keeping active is good for back problems.

    So today ill be going to the gym to do some weights and machines to get the blood flowing and i will avoid any twists, turns and back movements like the plague!

    I will keep everyone posted about my status as i know forums like this help people unfamiliar to these types of pains and aches.

  • I am approaching 80 and have never exercised or played sport in my life, I have always taken my dogs out for an hour in the morning and and hour in the evening. I do my bungalow up every two year and in the last 5 months have put two wooden floors in and last week put a new larger shower enclosure in the on-suite. Apart from some arhritus in the neck and hip from old injuries I am fit, I honestly believe keep busy, walk and you will stay well. I wonder if people I see running realise what damage they are doing to their joints and the ability to move when they get older

  • well said! and touche to this comment!

  • I know you are a gym bunny but I'm concerned you're going to do yourself damage exercising without knowing what is wrong with you. I had sciatica (except I didn't know what was wrong), numbness in thighs when I sat down and in my outer toes during Zumba and ended up in A&E with a slipped disc. I stupidly ignored my bodies warning signs. 6mths on I'm still recovering. Believe me you do NOT want that.

    Instead see a sports massage / physio privately for speed. Can you lie flat and raise your leg 45 degrees plus off the floor? If not it may well be a slipped disc. Sciatica / disc problems can effect the knee as the body is interconnected. Heat packs will help. The best exercise you can do is lying on the floor - engage your core and do slight pelvic tilts, knee pulls in (this may hurt back and sciatica so be gentle), and do as much slow walking as you can. No weights! No running! Until a specialist has looked you over. Even a back x-ray would help show any abnormal gaps between discs. It's good the pain is going but keep up the NSAIDs and take paracetemol and heat packs as well. Do NOT do any arching of your back until you know what the problem is. As long as you move slowly and walk you will keep the blood flow to any damaged areas.

    This diagram may help explain your pain:


    Mine was L4/L5. Lying flat and gently twisting your leg as if shaking it can help alleviate the pain from the sciatic nerve.

    Also sleeping on your side with a pillow in between bent knees can sometimes reduce the pain.

    See a proper specialist asap. You only get one back. Treat it well.

  • Looking at that diagram my pain is S1 Root pain. not sure what this means but the diagram is a perfect example of showing the type of pain and also position exactly. very good image!

  • Hi, Just had my phone assessment of my injury with a physio and she seems to think it is an aggrivated disc in my lower back thats causing me the most pain.

    However the strange thing is, the pain in my back is now manageable when sitting and walking around, although i get little dull pains from my lower back to my knee i can cope with it. Its the pain in my right calf thats causing me concern as it wasnt my initial injury.

    Im getting cramp when walking, very stiff and it feels like a bad strain.

    Is this a common symptom of lower back injuries associated with nerves?

  • I had a lot of cramp in legs following my slipped disc. I think it's the nerves mis-firing and muscles being strained dealing with the back. I'd recommend drinking tonic water (for the quinine). You need to keep your physio posted on your symptoms as some can be indicators of real problems. Hope it's improving. A good physio can give you safe stretching exercises to do.

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