My Aching Back

For a couple of years I have been having a dull ache in my lower left back. It has gradually gotten worse. Over the past few months I have also started having phantom pains in my upper left leg. So I decided to go to the doctor. She sent me to a back class in the Physical Therapy Department.

Two weeks ago yesterday I was in a back class with four others who were also suffering back pains. I learned a lot. The therapist said that if we applied some of the information we learned, she guaranteed we would see a difference within two weeks. She was right!

I have done the exercises we learned, but I have also modified my behavior and workspace. Probably the most important thing I learned was what she did and said at the very beginning of the class when she changed her chair from one that was too high to one that fit her better. I hope she did that on purpose and continues to do it.

I work from my home office and spend two to six hours a day at my desk. I have a desk with a pull-out shelf for a keyboard, but because I have a laptop, I have never used it. Instead I have been working on the laptop on the surface of the desk so my arms can comfortably reach the keyboard and so I can see the screen through the lower half of my bifocals. In order to do this, I have had my office chair adjusted to a height that allows me to barely get my legs in under the desk and does not allow me to sit against the back rest. My feet have rested on the metal ring under the chair because they do not reach the floor.

Desk configuration with laptop

Desk configuration with laptop

Desktop configuration with monitor

Desktop configuration with monitor

After the class I decided I needed to make modifications. I purchased a large monitor to plug in to my laptop, a wireless mouse and keyboard to use on the pull-out shelf, a pair of drug store glasses that allow me to see the computer through the entire lens, and lowered my chair so my feet rest on the floor and I can sit back against the back rest. It has made a dramatic difference.

Within the week I quit having the phantom pains in my upper leg. The lower back ache at night has lessened and did not occur at all last night. And the neuropathy that I have had in a part of my leg for two years is dissipating and I am starting to get feeling back.

I hope the others in the class are having similar success.

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