Solving Back Pain with Exercise
Diagnosis: Spine pain
Treatment: Exercise modification
When she retired from a long career in teaching, Deborah DeYoung had no intention of slowing down.
In fact, the 67-year-old Kirkland resident did just the opposite, keeping up a vigorous exercise schedule and planning adventures that would take her and her husband around the world.
When DeYoung suddenly began experiencing severe discomfort in her low back, she was at a loss for what could be prompting the pain.
“It was really a mystery to me,” DeYoung explained. She hadn’t been injured in her cycling or exercise classes and the pain didn’t seem to be triggered by any particular activities.
DeYoung had success with physical therapy in the past, and it seemed to alleviate her back pain at first. However, when it returned even stronger, she sought help from her primary care provider who referred DeYoung to Dr. Alison Stout at EvergreenHealth Sport & Spine Care.
Right away, Dr. Stout performed diagnostic tests and ordered an MRI, which revealed the likely cause of DeYoung's pain: a small fracture near the sacral spine. The injury was likely from a minor fall a few months earlier, and a follow-up bone-density scan revealed a trace of osteoporosis, as well.
“It was clear that her physical activities were aggravating the fracture and preventing Deborah's recovery,” Dr. Stout explained. “After she decreased her activities and allowed the fracture to heal, we needed to alter her exercise routine, incorporating more weight-bearing activities that would help strengthen her potentially at-risk bones.”
At Dr. Stout's recommendation, DeYoung tapered back her cycling and incorporated more weight-bearing into her exercise program, as she resumed physical activity. Overall, the sum of Dr. Stout's treatment plan—rest, followed by an altered exercise routine—quickly alleviated DeYoung’s debilitating pain.
Dr. Stout's treatment didn’t stop there. As part of her initial examination, the physical medicine specialist asked DeYoung about any other areas of concern, which encouraged her to mention a fleeting pain in her hip that seemed to come and go. Though it was unrelated to DeYoung's back pain, Dr. Stout performed an in-office ultrasound that showed a small cyst nestled near her psoas muscle and the two pursued nonsurgical solutions to address it.
“She doesn’t take a wait-and-see approach,” DeYoung said of Dr. Stout. “She is very proactive, takes time to listen and finds anything that could be underlying. I’ve been so impressed with her care.”