When I cough, I feel a mild pain in my lower back and hip area. (behind my belly button and in my glute)

I went to the doctor and he told me I have inflammation in a part of my spinal cord. It is reacting to pressure. Sudden expansion and contraction (like when coughing) will pressure the spinal cord and this will press against the swollen nerves and I will feel pain.

The pain is not sharp, it feels more like muscle pain after exertion than being poked by a needle.

The doctor gave me some anti-inflammatory pills and he sent me away.

I did get better, but it keeps coming back. I found out that certain activities will encourage my back pain to develop. Once developed, it will take many nights worth of high quality sleep to recover.

Here are the things that seem to cause back pain, or worsen it:

  • Walking slowly or standing still for a long (1 Hour +) period of time
  • Carrying a backpack or a sling bag that is moderately heavy (say with a laptop)

Here are some activities that will NOT cause/worsen back pain:

  • Hiking for 8 hours with heavy sweating
  • Playing badminton competitively for 2 hours with rests
  • Rope skipping, average 120 revs per minute, 30 mins or more (3k to 4k skips)
  • Swimming freestyle or breast-stroke, anything from 30 mins to 2 hours. Both fast (heart rate over 180 bpm) and slow (heart rate between 100 to 130) swimming sessions have caused no back pain.

When I have this weird back pain, it is like a fatigue muscle is in need of some deep relaxation. There is something I can do to relief this pain, most of them requires me to sit down, however if it is severe my back will feel very very stiff, I will only be able to sit at a very up-right position. There are a few things that I can do to relief my back:

  • Slow but deep breathing, expanding and contracting my torso so that my back can relax
  • Sit and lean forward resting my arms on my knees, arch my lower back (so that my chest is closer to my hip) to relax my back.
  • Stand and stretch by touching my toe with my finger
  • Same stretch as above, but with my toe pointing outward, this will pull my glute a lot more

After I have relaxed the back muscle, I will be able to continue walking pain-free, for a short period of time.

Say I am not feeling any back pain now, if I walk for 2 hours non-stop, the back pain will appear, and I will try to find a place and sit down and relax, then I will be able to walk another 40 mins without pain and it will start to come back. If I sit down, rest and relax a bit, then I will be able to walk without pain for maybe another 15 mins.

The thing that bugs me is when I hike, which is similar to walking, for 8 hours. There is no sign of back pain.

I was guess maybe the posture is key, when hiking I tend to lean forward. However I am totally clueless what am I experiencing and if what the doctor said is 100% accurate.

I would really appreciate it if somebody can share their thoughts, or if they have been in a similar situation before, to share their experience.

This is very annoying, but not so much that I felt I am hurting my body. It does feel very very sore and mildly painful when I walk way too much, and my back would be so stiff that I need 10 to 15 mins just to relax deeply to loosen all muscles. However I think it is a condition that I want to understand more about and try to train my body to overcome it if it can be improved by muscle strengthening / loosing weight.

I am 100kg at 189cm (6'2"), age 26 male. I am overweight, but I came from being obese (BMI 31) one year ago. I have trained very hard and I have shredded 17 kg off me. Any input will be greatly appreciated, thank you.

  • 1
    If you don't fully trust your doctor or simply are unhappy with the results, it is fine to get a second opinion. Visit a sports medicine doctor. Ask for the cause not how to treat the pain. However I think this site is the wrong place to ask. Also check meta.
    – Baarn
    Dec 31 '12 at 9:24
  • When you carry your backpack with the laptop, do you use both straps? Or sling it over one shoulder only?
    – JohnP
    Dec 31 '12 at 16:36
  • @JohnP one strap on one shoulder. But it happens when I walk for one hour carrying nothing, too.
    – Gapton
    Jan 2 '13 at 6:30
  • @Gapton - Well, carrying a backpack with one strap only has been shown to cause/worsen back problems. I wouldn't do that anymore.
    – JohnP
    Jan 2 '13 at 14:30
  • If you haven't had physical therapy yet, an orthopedic physical therapist can evaluate you, explain your symptoms, and give you a plan to treat it. While you may get some good info online, this question is really looking for diagnostic information which is beyond the scope of this forum. Good luck and congratulations on getting in better shape - that will ultimately help your back. Jan 2 '13 at 20:12

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