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thoracic back pain

baffledbbaffled Posts: 375
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Here is the situation: I am 42 year old female. I own a gardening business that requires ALOT of heavy labor on my back. In April of 2007 the pain all began. It feels like I have pole right thru my middle back to my sternum. I have had 3 MRI on the thoracic with nothing of significant to report. A cervical MRI showed osteo arthritis. I underwent diagnostic injections in my cervical and had Radiofrequency on both sides (the right 2 times) - but no pain relief...they performed the same onmy T345 - again no true pain relief. It hurts so bad to lean forward, to sit, to drive. The only real relief is to be lying flat on my back. The pain management physician has said it sounds ridicular type of pain, but there is nothing to denote on the mri. I have tingling in my left should blade that somes and goes, but nothing down the arm (since the radio frequency on my cervical). any input would be helpful.


  • Did you see an Orthopedic surgeon yet? You're Dr. should refer you. Not just for surgery but for a careplan for you. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I have been to 2 ortho docs. both times with nothing on an mri - they assume muscular - but I know muscle pain and this is not it
  • I am sorry you are going through this but your pain sounds a lot like mine. Mine is in the thoracic area as well and I too have lead a life of heavy lifting and doing things a man probably should have been doing.

    My MRI of the thoracic showed only 2 mild bulging disc's that shouldn't be causeing my pain so they did one of my cervical spine and it showed some problems so they did an ESI of my cervical spine although I had no pain in my neck. Anyways it did nothing for my pain so now they are going to do an ESI of my thoracic area which is, Duh, where most of my pain is.

    I certainly do feel for you. I would like to have a diagnosis so I would know what is causing the pain as I am sure you do as well.

    This last Doctor (actually a nurse practicioner) told me I should be glad the my MRI was so clean and I guess maybe I should be but I would like some sort of explanation for my pain.

    Sorry baffled I sort of hijacked your thread.

    Have you had any procedures done on your back like an ESI, or are you on any medications for the pain? That's what I am dealing with now, I want them to send me to a Pain Management Doctor since no one feels comfortable prescribing pain medications when they can't see anything that is really wrong with me. It doesn't make the pain any less real, its there for certain.

    Take care and pm again if you like.

  • i keep getting notes that i have pm's but am not receiving any messages...if anyone has sent me a pm and i am not responding that is why - sorry.
  • Hi,

    I have significant pain in my thoracic spine area and mid back muscles. I have many back issues, lumbar surgeries twice.

    I am 45 years old. After little help from the chiropractor, I was sent to a physical therapist. What he found and has been helping successfully is that my vertebrae are actually turned pointing to the right. When he ran his fingers down my back I can easily tell when and where it is pointed to the right.

    He has me doing various exercises, then he pushes them back into place. Due to the fact they have been turned out of place so long, they continue to want to move back to the right, so the treatment will take some time. However, it is actually really working.

    Additionally, he really gets on me about keeping my posture. I have found that generally many times I get pain follows times where I may have sat through a lunch meeting and forgot my posture.

    I just wanted to share my findings, I have been through alot with my back, I hope I was able to help.
  • During the summer of 2007 I did have one of the pt's - "push" my facets back - a very painful experience, but it did prove to relieve some of the pain, but it was always a matter of days before it would be painful again. Thank you for your input. It does sound alot of what I experience. Do you have any tingling into your shoulders? It only takes seconds after I lean forward to start the tingling and I do not have to be tilted forward very deep. If i stay there long enough the tingling increases and will go slightly to my right too.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,740
    Check your member account.. Scroll down to make sure that
    Allow private messages is checked
    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
  • i do have the receive checked, i continue to receive msg in my email that there is a new prv msg but when i go there there is not....confused.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,740
    The only difference in your account vs my is in the section under Private messages:

    Receive e-mail for unread messages:

    I check NEVER
    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
  • I have very similar problems and find it is posture related as well. A chiro told me my vertebra had rotated wrong from a fall i took. I also have an old c spine and low back injury and had recently tripped down some stairs throwing things further out of alignment. i found myself 'hunching' forward a lot with tight muscles and not opening my chest up.

    I bought a Posture S'port brace (there are several out there) that reminds me to keep my shoulders back and down. Other suggestions mentioned here I also follow: lay flat several times a day religiously, use heat on the tight muscles, tennis ball massages if tolerated, etc.

    The brace seems to be easing some of the thoracic symptoms simply by helping me remember NOT to hunch forward with the pain. Hopefully it will allow some healing in time.

    These braces are not expensive nor bulky. You can find them online if you do a search...sure feels good on me.

    Good luck to all in finding a little relief...I know every little bit helps and I'm amazed how small posture changes effect my pain levels.

    Happy Thanksgiving. :)
  • baffled- sorry to hear of severe thoracic pain. I had a herniated disc at T7-T8 that I guess has gotten a little smaller. But I have pain that seems to feel like a rubber band around my chest to back.
    Have you tried massage therapy as this does seem to help with the pain and the muscle knots that seem to form? I don't know if you still need to lift heavy weights, but I would ask the dr if this matters or not? Maybe a brace would help as gardening work can be so hard on the back..not sure?...jade
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,740
    has been helpful to many people. For about six months in 2006, my Physical Therapist taped up my back. It was special tape, two layers in it was basically crisscrossed starting from the top of my shoulder down to my lumbar area.
    It 'forced' my shoulders back into a better posture position and took some relief off of my thoracic discs.
    It was water proof and I could generally go up to 10 days before it had to be redone. Eventually, the constant use of tape started to irritate my skin.
    I purchased one of those support braces. Crisscrossed ,but wearing it was uncomfortable for me so I never continued using it.
    Having the best posture is so important for thoracic pain sufferers. It wont' correct the problem, but it can make dealing with it somewhat easier.
    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
  • yes, I agree with the posture and thoracic pain as far as myself. I made myself sit straight with my spine as still and straight as I could manage, and to never twist..It helped me with the pain....jade
  • I do understand that I need to make adjustments to how I treat my body to lessen injury to an already bad situation, but my life doesn't put me in a position to "lay down", "never twist" - I have two activite young children and run a small business that requires my body to behave like an athlete in training.

    I may have to reevalute this position of mine, but dang, can't I have my life back!

    My biggest problem is that they haven't found the problem in my thoracic - they keep pointing to my cervical as the problem, but all the work done in my cervical has NEVER touched the pain I have from b/w the shoulder blades to the sternum and the whole rib cage area. It seems like the minute you say the pain is in your thoracic, docs run in the other direction.

    I want to scream at the docs, 'Hey I have got better things to do with my money and time" Thank God for good health insurance, but I have a pile of bills that still need to be paid. If the pain went away they would NEVER hear from me again.

    thanks for letting me spout off!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,740
    have you had any other diagnostic tests? The Thoracic section is a bit different that the Lumbar and Cervical areas in that it is the strongest (attached to rib cage), takes an awful lot to damage it, but when it is damaged, its a bear to take care of.
    When the T-discs themselves are not causing the problem, you might look deeper into muscular problems. The rhomboid muscle is a very deep muscle that when it has a problem, it puts a lot of strain on the thoracic area radiating pain from the middle of your back up to the base of your neck.
    I had been seeing multiple spinal surgeries, had countless MRI's, a good number of ESI and Trigger point injections. Standard Physical therapy did not help, in fact it was making the problem more intense.
    It was only after all these paths were taken and exhausted was the rhomboid looked into it. Not by normal therapist but by someone who specialize in Thai Deep Tissue Massage.
    Three months after having weekly sessions with this person, was I finally seeing any relief in my thoracic area. I still go every other week, because if I dont, it does not take much to get the rhomboid muscle to tighten up and cause more problems
    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
  • I just got a 2nd opinion PM Dr. Have you considered a second opinion PM?
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Friend:

    I fully understand your situation, a few years ago, I have a very sharp pain in his back in the bottom right, that does not leave every day of bother, I've gone to different specialists, I have removed plates to see if they are kidney, but is not well, I indicated that I have a picture of low back pain, which is just a passenger and I take medication for the discomfort, started with quetorolaco, after a while and not toward any kind of effect, and now I take Vicodin, more info here http://www.noway.com because that is the only I calm the pain, but so far not found a solution to this pain, as they do not really know what causes it.

    Post edited to delete the URL, solicitation on Spine-Health is not permitted

    Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health Administrator 12/17/08

  • Has anyone had pain that goes throught the shoulder blade? Since this past monday, I have had such a gripping pain that goes from my spine 'under' my shoulder blade (lt). It feels like someone has my muscle wrapped around a pole and they are turning it tighter and tighter. The bottom of my shoulder blade to the spine is the absolute worse. My pm doc added a muscle relaxer to my ultram, but man it still is very, very painful. I get slight relief just after i take the muscle relaxer, but it doesn't last. I was assuming this was a muscle thing, but man, the cycle is not breaking....

    Any thoughts?
  • I changed my info, just wanted to see how it would appear.
  • now i think i made the changes
  • I've had lumbar, cervical, and thoracic surgeries, all involving fusions. I am just 2 months post op after the thoracic surgery during which a fusion (T5-T6) was done, a syrinx was removed, and a 4 (T4-t7) stage laminectomy was performed. I am experiencing chronic pain across my shoulder blades and wonder if it will ever ease. I still need more surgeries both on my cervical and my lumbar spine. My neurosurgeon claims that future sugeries may help but at this point he would not attempt to operate anywhere until I am completely over the thoracic surgery. I am on muscle relaxers (Soma) and percodone for pain. I try to only take them when really needed to get through the day. Any one else experiencing this problem? Thanks.
  • Though I never had any surgeries on my spine....they are still not certain of what the problem with my thoracic is yet. Since they found problems in the cervical I spent most of 2008 working (radiofrequency) on the cervical. Their thought was that the pain I felt in my mid back, between the shoulder blades was referred pain from the neck. I believe now they may be convinced that it is a seperate issue.

    You may wish to begin a whole new topic with your questions, so that you may get more responses.

    Welcome to spine health. I hope that you can find some answers to your questions and support. I know that it has been a real help to me...just to know you are not alone and getting some feedback from other who suffer like you do.

    Keep all updated to your status. Take care.
  • Hi Baffled-

    Here is a tip that took me too long to actually accept. Do not wait until you really need the meds bc by then it is too late. When you wait until it is too late you make your body spasm from the pain. Then the pain gets sooo bad you have to wait longer for the meds to kick in.

    I know it is very hard to accept this tip, but you must do it. It saves you a lot of grief. I wish I would've actually accepted my own advice sooner than I did. I made myself suffer far too long.

    I don't want you to do that. So please don't wait that long. Please don't wait until you really need it, it isn't better for you I promise.

    Hope today is a good day for you. Please take head to my tip.

    Lisa >:D<
  • I too have the pain that makes breathing very difficult. I am scheduled for a FCE today and I am very afraid of how I will feel tomorrow if I can even get out of bed.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,740
    are very difficult to correct. Most of the Thoracic problems can be identified via MRI, and other diagnostic tests.
    The Thoracic spinal area


    The Thoracic discs 1-5 play a major role in your upper back. When you have problems with some of these discs, you can experience a wide range of problems. Some are:
    - Burning stabbing pain in the middle of the back
    - Stabbing pain at the base of the neck
    - Radiating pain up into your shoulder
    - Chest pains, that can just about mimic a heart attack

    Thoracic surgery is still in the dark ages when you compare it to the other spinal surgeries. There has been a lot of forward progress with these procedures, but still I believe they are risk and come with no qurantees.

    The Thoracic discs are strong, it takes a lot to damage them. So when you do damage them, you could be dealing with some major pain. Most of my herniated Thoracic discs are in the top area. No Physical Therapy,
    Spinal Injection, Acunpuncture, etc provided any relief.
    The first time in almost 10 years did I have relief was when I started to see a Thai Deep Tissue Massage person.
    The aggressive style of this type of massage was able to get
    deep into the rhomboid muscle, which is one of reasons you can have so much pain with upper thoracic discs
    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 again, for that diagram. though, my mri shows no problems mechanically I have the burning, stabbing pain b/w the shoulder blades, pain into the shoulders and I have even gone to my gp to check my heart, from the chest pain! when things get real bad, it will go into my flanks (feel close to kidney stone type pain - had those too - 3 times)

    I am going - for botox for my back and neck - suspicion of a significant tear in my t muscle. Hopefully this will help, since the spine itself seems fine and burning of the nevers t345 did nothing. Will let everyone know the results after 2/13
  • Have any of you had a bone scan? The test of nuclear med injected and the 'hot' and 'cold' spots are seen
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,740
    One thing that it did show up was the mass of arthritis in my shoulder, elbow, hip and knee joints. Kinda of interesting looking at the print out of a bone scan. You see your a outline of your body and then there are this 'white' spots that fill certain areas. Those filled spots are generally trouble spots
    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
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