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Thoracic & Lumbar Pain - What is going on?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Chronic Pain
I am a 21 year old college student with an extremely active/athletic history. I started getting thoracic/lumbar back pain in May 2009, when I switched to a road bicycle while training for triathlons. I went from being pain free to almost not able to walk in 4 days. My pain never entirely went away, but subsided for a few months. My pain is centered between my shoulder blades on my spine, and is very tender to the touch. I have been experience sciatica, and loss of sensation in my feet. In the beginning of August my back pain increased again, to the point of almost not being able to walk again. I had a CT scan on my lumbar spine, and it was noted I had a slight herniation in my L5-S1 vertebrae. I continued with my doctors advice, and in September had an MRI on my Lumbar and Thoracic vertebrae.
The lumbar MRI confirmed the central disc protrusion at L5-S1, and mild degenerative loss of disc space height and signal.
The thoracic MRI showed Schmorl's nodes at T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T11, and T12. It also showed wedging at T10, T11, and T12. The constellation of findings suggest Scheuermann's Disease, but my kyphosis is normal at 35 degrees.
I had my MRIs and CT reviewed by a family friend who is a Spine Surgeon in San Diego, who was confident that neither of these findings could be causing my pain. My pain has continuously gotten worse, to the point where I am going to have to take a medical leave from school. I can not concentrate with this pain, let alone walk 5 blocks to my university. Does anybody have any ideas what is going on?


  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    You've done everything right. But maybe better imaging, such as a stand up Fonar MRI with flex and extension. And A second or third opinion from a spinal expert might be your next option. Welcome to Spine Health.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • i had a L5-S1 small herniated disc and annular tear and it was painful. I can't imagine the thoracic problems also. I hope You find a good pain management Dr. and another referral to a Neurosurgeon or Orthosurgeon. Take care. 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
  • Welcome!
    My son is 18 now and off to college. He too has the smorls node all the way down his spine, startning at lowe c-spine down to lower L-spine and schermans ( sp? Too early in mornin) he was diagnosed at age 10. When I was first told this I did alot of searching about it. That's been a while back, so I don't remember where I found info. The drs too said he may never have a problem with it. But said it was possible and keeps an eye on him (he only sees dr once a year for xrays and MRI to watch fir changes) As for his xrays I can't imagine that not hurting. He too is very athletic. The only pain he has is in his hip which I feel is related to the spondylothesis (stage 1,at L-5/s-1 area.)yeah,that too. But he knows how to adjust it and it's fine afterwards.his xray looks like a moth or something is eating away at the corners of his vertabre and all his disc look herniated into the vertebra,crazy thing to see and look at.
    I had never heard of it until he saw the nerologist.
    Other than that he says he doesn't hurt. This is a kid that broke his colar bone at 7 and not once said it hurt( which I know better, he just didn't want to miss out on anything or wanted to be called a wuss by other boys... Know that was the reason).
    But I remember reading from others that it is painful for them. Have you searched those conditions where someone has talked about it? I will search in a bit once I wake up good and get my daughter off to school and see if I can find it. I remember one guy that was told the same, but had a blog and told he does hurt really bad. Give me a bit and I will look. My son is fine now, but I do worry about his future with these conditions and wonder constantly when and if it's gonna be a problem in his future. Really scary for this momma.I'm so sorry you are hurting. I think drs don't know a whole lot yet, I'm not sure though. But recall a few actually blogging about there pain.
    I will pm u later with the sites I find. Especially the one blog I found, if I can find it.
    Good luck to you. Keep me posted on anything you find also, I'd really appreciate it.
    I'll do the same!
  • Thank you for your responses. I will be posting updates as soon as I get them, as skeptical as they may be. How do you feel about chiropractic medicine?
  • Stay away from it until you figure out whats going on. Until a dr says it's a good idea or not!Personally, even of I could I wouldn't ever go to one again!!!
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    chiros. But my experiences have been, they hurt me and made things worse. And I think they knew all along they couldn't help. But took my money anyway!
    But thats' just one persons oppinion.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • My spine surgeon has referred me to a neurologist and a rheumatologist. I am getting a Bone Scan, an EMG, and a Myelogram. I am hoping they can find something. Does anybody know about wedged vertebrae and Schmorls Noduals and if they can be caused by something other then Scheuermann's Disease? I have a feeling there is something underlying my symptoms, anybody have any ideas?
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