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I'm new...and frustrated. Pain in upper back, left side.

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 51,465
edited 05/13/2014 - 9:55 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic

Hello all...

I have just joined, and am hoping for some advice.

I suffer from pain in my upper back, on the left side... it's closer to the middle of the back than the shoulder blade. Sometimes it wraps around the side and the front of my rib (under my breast). This pain comes on after walking or standing for about 15 minutes.

The pain first came on two years ago during a normal walk for exercise. It started to become more common, and eventually became a daily struggle.

The MRI shows a bulge at T10-T11 and degeneration in lower discs.

However, my docs aren't convinced my left rib/back pain is caused by this bulge.

I've been through hours of physical therapy, massage, chiropractor, 3 spinal injections, acupuncuture, and seen by an osteopath.

I'm only 27 and am a teacher. As you can imagine, not being able to stand or walk is a struggle with my job and totally hinders my quality of life.

In addition, I've had chronic arm pain (both arms, shoulders, etc) for over 10 years...yes it started when I was only 16. I had come to terms with the arm pain, but cannot accept this back pain. It's stealing my joy.

Any ideas on types of doctors/treatments I should try? Or, has anyone had similar pain? Or a bulge in this location... what symptoms did you have?

Sorry so long. Thanks for reading. I wish you all the best.

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Comments

  • Welcome maymay1,

    I don't know off hand those symptoms. I would suggest that since pain radiates it could be anything from pulmonary, gastrolgy or it may even be related to gyn. I know its frustrating not being diagnosed but don't give up. Do you have a Primary Care doctor that will work with you?

    We are here for support, take care of you.

    O-
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,735
    Hi maymay1.

    From just reading your post and what is bothering you, it could have something to do with your rhomboid muscle. That is one of the deeper muscles that go from the middle of your back up to your shoulder blade. This can be associated with some trauma incident and/or problems with the upper Thoracic discs. I have herniated discs (3 Upper Tdiscs and 1 lower Tdisc. Normally the upper back problems come from Thoracic discs 1-5. I've been dealing with Rhomboid problems for a little of 12 years now. Besides the stabbing pain in the middle of my back, chest pains that almost feel like you are having a heart attack, I can not lift my arms much more than straight out. All of this is related to my Tdisc problems and the rhomboid muscle.

    But again, this is based on MY personal experiences and it is NOT formal medical advice.
    Who sent you for your MRI?
    Many times, the start to isolating spinal problems start with your Primary Care physician and works towards specialists since as Neurologists or Neurosurgeons. But from reading your post, you may have already been this route, since you talked about several conservative treatments.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks to all who responded...here's a bit more infor.
    My primary care doctor doesn't really know what to do with me. She has sent me to the numerous doctors...some at my request and some hers. The last time I was there she referred me to the orthopedic surgeon. He did a CT of my abdomen, which came back normal (well, I guess if fatty infiltration of the liver is normal). He also prescribed me Lyrica (I'm afraid to take from all I've read about it causing weight gain), and talked about getting a discogram, a little about surgery, and installing a device that would interfere with the pain signals (some kind of electrical stimulation).
    Because my pain is not at the same place as my apparent disc bulge its hard for anyone to say it is causing me pain. This makes me afraid to try more invasive procedures, for risk they aren't addressing the source of pain (which we can't identify).
    The other concerning thing is that my pain ONLY comes on after standing or walking...which I think eliminates a lot...organ related, etc.
    Does it make sense for a disc bulge to bring pain only when standing, and then for it to subside when sitting or laying down?
    I'm not sure where to go from here...any suggestions?
  • My pain started in the upper right side of my back almost a year ago and my MRI shows 2 mild bulges in the T area. I like you only hurt when I am standing or walking although sitting in a straight backed chair hurts as well.

    I have to say that at least your doctor has been sending you to other specialist's my doctor has not other than P/T which didn't help at all. He did finaly send my MRI to a nuerosurgeon who said I was a good canidate for a ESI which I am scheduled for on Monday.

    Does your back feel like its moving around when you walk? Mine does and I'm not sure if I am describing it well, it just doesn't feel stable. My pain also migrates around.

    Did the epidural injections help?

  • i have had severe back pain for a year now. its been chronic. ive had an mri of my thoraic spine and neck but the only thing they reported on it was disc protrustions that shouldnt be the cause of pain. i also had a bone scan and bone density that came back normal. went to a neurologist normal. brain scan normal. i am now waiting to see a pain specialist and an orthopedic. i have been to the chiro numerous times but everytime i go my spine readjusts and pops and cracks, the adjustment doesnt hold. i feel alot of pressure on my spine and i will try to crack my back on tennis balls to relieve some pressure. what is causing this stiffness pressure and constant cracking down my spine? just before it cracks i feel a pressure and it is constanty. what could be wrong? im so confused i dont know of anyone that has pain so bad that there spine needs to crack over and over even when stretching and bending?

  • Hi Suziee,
    My back hurts in certain chairs, as well...or if I'm sitting totally unsupported, like on an examing table at the DR. But, the pain that affects me daily, almost all day is the standing/walking pain. My back doesn't feel as though it is "moving" as you described...just a sharp/stabbing pain in the upper back/rib area.
    The injections didn't help at all...nothing has helped.
    What is ESI?

    Thanks for reading and responding.
    MayMay
  • i have a hernation at T1 i get the same pain, but mine also happens when i lay down to. its just not the standing/walking position/chair. but mine is also a severe hernaition w/ severe thecal sac compression.

    you asked suziee what a ESI was its a epidural steriod injection.
    it did help me.
    its a out patient procedure usually done through a pain management dr. i had IV concious sedation and did not feel anything. its done through fluroscope (xray guidence) they will numb the area of the needle going in. its a small tube that is guided to the direct spot and releses the medication.
    i felt bruised for about 4 days but it helped my pain alot in that area.
    but also check into what ron said about the rhomboid muscle.
    i imagine how frustrating it is when your shited from dr to dr without any true answers.
    a discogram will show the exact spot of pain in the spine.
    have you ever discussed pain managment for a long acting pain med????
    i wish you the best of luck... O:) O:) O:) O:)

  • hi,
    my friend feels as though her back needs to crack all the time.
    in some cases the chiro can cause more damage then good. not all. right now my husband see's a dr that uses a device that looks like a syringe without the needle. he puts it on the spot that hurts, and it finds the hot spots. he pushes in with this device almost like a deep tissue massage. and after about 3 treatments hubby is good to go. this guys doesn't like to do the old fashioned cracking anymore.

    or even just deep tissue massage itself. alot of people have benifited from this.
    what type of work do you do???

    and in my personal opinion, i cannot stand when drs say oh "this should not be causing you pain" it drives me bonkers ~X( as each person responds differently to pain.

    another option may be spinal depcompression. i imagine you have seen this advertised on T.V. my sis in law went to a place and well could not have it done due to the extent of her herniation. but i know with slight herniations and depeding on the degree, its a table you lay on and it stretches out your back, almost like traction.

    also ok weird device i saw on a lovely info commercial. its made by a dr i guess. you lay on your back. you put your legs up on this machine. it does all the work for you. it rotates your hips and decompresses and opens up the blood flow between each vertabra. for the love i cannot remember the name of it to PM you the information.
    looks like a awesome device that would be very helpful for people with just minimul back pain. im actually asking my dr about it when i see it again. just for your normal back everyday back pain.

    hang in there, if able i would try the deep tissue massage first. but make sure you bring your test results with you of the protruding disks. also make sure they are certified in doing massage. alot are not.

    anyways not to make this to long, there are a ton of options out there besides the chiroprater.

    good luck to you!!
  • I have a similar pain right now it felt like it move to the right side one time ago for a short period of time then move back over to the left where it currently is now.. when i get massages it tends to go away for a few minutes then it comes right back again..
  • I just signed up to post on here, because this is one of the few places I've found someone describing something similar to what I'm dealing with. For the past like 9 months, I've been having upper left shoulder/back pain (it feels like it hurts in different spots) almost all the time, but particularly when I'm standing for more then like 10min or when i walk around, although it is less severe when exercising. It is almost all day every day, and it is starting to drive me mad. I've gone to three different doctors, all saying its a knot, or etc. I finally went to one who had me get an X-ray and ultra sound, to make sure if wasn't something else. That all checked out fine, and he has no idea what it is. I have not had a MRI, maybe that would be a prudent choice. I just feel like no one can help me! I'm 24, perfectly healthy, I exercise 3-4 times a week, eat reality health and am not obese or anything. So they think it just a soar muscle, but after the the PT and daily stretching.. icing, relaxing and etc. it doesn't get better! I've tried everything, and am desperate to figure this out. I have insurance for another two years, before I am kicked off my dads plan, So i wanna get this figured before then (long before then hopefully). Any ideas, suggestions would be great, thanks!
    Evan
  • I have had a spot about 2 inches left of the spine, near my T6 and T7, about the size of a quarter which produces severe pain all day long. No history of accidents or injuries. Im 5'9" and about 140 pounds so Im not overweight.

    In 2009, I got 2 Epidural steroid injections- first one didnt work, second one relieved 100% of the pain for 18 months. Then it came back. I went on Tramadol (100mg/day) and that provided 100% relief also until February of this year.

    In March, I got 2 more epidural steroids, neither did any good. The Tramadol was quickly loosing its ability to help me, but I kept taking it as I was then hoked- got severe flu symptoms if I didnt take it, so I still do. Did a 2nd MRI and found 2 bulging discs in the T6-T8, but both appeared unchanged since the MRI 5 years earlier and the doctor called them "stable". Doctor also said these did not appear to be severe in nature.

    I went on Celebrex last month- took about 2 weeks to build up in my system and last week, I had 3 beautiful days with ZERO pain at all! I thought I had found the silver bullet- never mind the cost! BUT, after those 3 days, it gradually stopped working. Now, a week later, my pain is back full-force.

    I have become terribly depressed, suicidal thoughts now entering my mind as the pain is so severe. I am single, 45 years old and worried Ill wind up on disability or dead. Last week, I applied for FMLA at my job (at my doctor's request) and was fired 60 minutes later. As I live in Nebraska, they can fire you for any reason or no reason so there's not much I can do about that. They even took my insurance away THE SAME DAY!

    Anyhow, I paid $950 cash to have a nerve ablasion done on my back- it was fairly painful too, and the doctor said it would be at least 2 weeks before I felt the full effect of the relief. Today is day 3 since the ablasion and the pain seems worse than before. My doctor now gave me Vimovo to try and see if that would give me relief until the effects of the ablasion kicked in. I am also on Klonopin, because I find myself having panic attacks, severe depression, etc and the Klonopin actually relieves some of the back pain even though thats not why Im taking it. Im beginning to think this is all in my head and that I am just crazy.

    I have been through several bouts of physical therapy- none seem to have any effect at all. The doctors seem to know little about thoracic pain- they seem to specialize in upper and lower pain. The spot on my back has not moved at all in 5 years- does anyone else experience this? I dont know what I have, but it is seriously ruining my whole life. I started a new job yesterday and am worried I wont make it through the training.
  • It can take some time for medications to build to a blood plasma level and take effect, especially when it comes to medications such as Cymbalta and Lyrica, or gabapentin, used to treat nerve related pain. First they must be titrated up to the correct dosage, then your body must become acclimated to them, and most of the negative side effects will disappear once your body becomes adjusted to the medication.
    The suicidal ideation concerns me, and I would strongly encourage you to seek support in real life for that. Depression is common for those of us with chronic pain and it is vitally important that you seek real life treatment and support.
    While we at - Health are concerned about our members, we are not equipped to provide intervention or assistance to someone who is suicidal. We strongly encourage those who are feeling or expressing feelings of suicidal ideation to seek the proper support and help in real life. The numbers below are for your convenience.
    Suicide Help Resources
    Suicide Help Resources
    Suicide Hotline Numbers
    USA: 1-800-784-2433
    UK : 08457 90 90 90
    ROI: 1850 60 90 90
    Suicide Hotline Numbers for Canada (URL Link)
    http://www.suicideinfo.ca/csp/go.aspx?tabid=77

    http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/suicide-help-resources


    As far as not finding a doctor who treats thoracic injuries and pain, it would be wise to seek out the largest teaching or medical trauma center in your area and search for a doctor there. They are exposed to more complex spine issues than the average surgeon and have more resources and diagnostics available.
    http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/upper-back-pain/all-about-upper-back-pain
    http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/upper-back-pain/causes-upper-back-pain
    http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/upper-back-pain/ask-doctor
  • bcorns99 said:
    I have had a spot about 2 inches left of the spine, near my T6 and T7, about the size of a quarter which produces severe pain all day long. No history of accidents or injuries. Im 5'9" and about 140 pounds so Im not overweight.

    In 2009, I got 2 Epidural steroid injections- first one didnt work, second one relieved 100% of the pain for 18 months. Then it came back. I went on Tramadol (100mg/day) and that provided 100% relief also until February of this year.

    In March, I got 2 more epidural steroids, neither did any good. The Tramadol was quickly loosing its ability to help me, but I kept taking it as I was then hoked- got severe flu symptoms if I didnt take it, so I still do. Did a 2nd MRI and found 2 bulging discs in the T6-T8, but both appeared unchanged since the MRI 5 years earlier and the doctor called them "stable". Doctor also said these did not appear to be severe in nature.

    I went on Celebrex last month- took about 2 weeks to build up in my system and last week, I had 3 beautiful days with ZERO pain at all! I thought I had found the silver bullet- never mind the cost! BUT, after those 3 days, it gradually stopped working. Now, a week later, my pain is back full-force.

    I have become terribly depressed, suicidal thoughts now entering my mind as the pain is so severe. I am single, 45 years old and worried Ill wind up on disability or dead. Last week, I applied for FMLA at my job (at my doctor's request) and was fired 60 minutes later. As I live in Nebraska, they can fire you for any reason or no reason so there's not much I can do about that. They even took my insurance away THE SAME DAY!

    Anyhow, I paid $950 cash to have a nerve ablasion done on my back- it was fairly painful too, and the doctor said it would be at least 2 weeks before I felt the full effect of the relief. Today is day 3 since the ablasion and the pain seems worse than before. My doctor now gave me Vimovo to try and see if that would give me relief until the effects of the ablasion kicked in. I am also on Klonopin, because I find myself having panic attacks, severe depression, etc and the Klonopin actually relieves some of the back pain even though thats not why Im taking it. Im beginning to think this is all in my head and that I am just crazy.

    I have been through several bouts of physical therapy- none seem to have any effect at all. The doctors seem to know little about thoracic pain- they seem to specialize in upper and lower pain. The spot on my back has not moved at all in 5 years- does anyone else experience this? I dont know what I have, but it is seriously ruining my whole life. I started a new job yesterday and am worried I wont make it through the training.
    I have had a pain in my mid back left side for going on 10 years now. I have tried literally everything to make this pain go away and no treatment or amount of tests can tell me what it is or how to fix it. At 27 years old I have been through 3 different pain management facilities, and I have taken enough vicodin to fill up 10 medicine cabinets. This pain is very sharp, and does not radiate anywhere. It can be dull at times, and seems to be made worse by constant standing, leaning, walking and even eating fatty foods (Not sure what the hell that is all about) I now have a 9 month old son and it pains me everyday that I am unable to carry him for extended periods of time. I have become convinced that no amount of tests, or treatment will every fully eliminate this pain. i will take this with me to my grave, which some days I wish would just hurry up and happen. Living like this is not the way we should have to live. If anyone can tell me what else I can try that will actually work I will be forever grateful. I am on day 2 on no opiates after flying through 120 pills in 15 days, and all I can say is the hell has just begun..

  • AzarAAzar Posts: 2
    edited 08/05/2015 - 8:52 AM
    I also have same issue on upper back. Did anyone have this rectified ? Let us know.

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  • Any one have this rectified? Let us know
  • EdithEEdith Posts: 1
    edited 08/05/2015 - 8:53 AM
    I was injected diclofenac and I reacted to it, it serverly affected my back lecf and arm that I could not work with the left arm, for most of the time it was numb. I was adviced to take vitamin B1, B6 and B12, with massage, tho difficult it was, my two left small and ring finger were continually numb, Africa being in lack of proper cheap medicall treatmen

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
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