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Pain and digestive issues w/ DDD

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease

As I mentioned in my self-introduction on the new member board, I am a 27 year old male. About 10 years ago, I suffered a compression fracture in the T11/T12 area (I'm not certain on the exact location - I don't have access to the report at this time). My treatment consisted of bedrest on a simple fulcrum (a folded bath towel placed under the lower-middle back), followed by a 5lb lifting limit for the next 6 months.

For about 5 years following, I had little to no issues with pain, but it seemed to set in pretty abruptly when I was assisting my Dad gathering firewood one day. I was unable to get out of bed the next day, but the day after that I was able to move again with much less pain.

The issues I experienced seemed to come on gradually over the next couple of years, starting with low back pain, but extending to some digestive issues. I was able to work through it with the help of a chiropractor until this past summer.

Before I get into what happened recently, let me explain the digestive issues a little more in-depth. Please pardon the graphicness of it.

When I first noticed the digestive problems, I had just eaten lunch with my parents at a local Mexican restaurant. Just as soon as I finished eating, I began to feel mighty bloated and excused myself to the restroom. Just that quickly, I had passed everything I had just eaten, as I saw undigested food in the toilet. After I had completely emptied my digestive tract, I felt very exhausted and asked my parents to take me back to my apartment so I could rest.

This sort of thing seemed to come and go. It would start with the stomach, go into the low back pain, and more recently it went into numbness in my legs, primarily my left.

The more recent issues started when I was working with a personal trainer at the gym. Before I even began my program, I informed the trainer of my earlier injury and he tailored my program to strengthen the muscles in my middle and lower back.

One day when I went in for a session, I was already sore. I told the trainer and he told me to let him know when I felt any pain. We started with some light squats, and moved to some sort of exercise where I lifted 20lb. weights over my head. After about 5 of those lifts, I was feeling pretty sore, so I told the trainer and he had me finish with 10 minutes of the elliptical. I was unable to even do 5 minutes on the machine so I went on home.

The next day I was really sore and noticed the numbness in my legs. I had been unable to hold any food in my stomach for a couple more days after that, so I scheduled an appointment with my doctor.

My doctor was out of town, so I met with another doctor in the same practice. Because of the pain I was in and the inability for me to hold any foods, she ordered an immediate MRI of my thoracic and lumbar spine. The report of the MRI can be found here (Google Docs).

After the MRI, I met with a neurosurgeon to discuss the results. He stated that I did have 3 ruptured or bulging discs, but because of their location he was not convinced that they were the cause of my pain or stomach issues. In fact, he said that the stomach issues were probably a flu-like bug and dismissed it at that.

Unhappy with the report from this neurosurgeon, I returned to my primary doctor (who was in the office this time). She said that if the neurosurgeon said it wasn't the problem, that it wasn't the problem. But she didn't want to dismiss it as he did, so she ordered an MRI of the CNS (brain).

This MRI came back clean ("unremarkable" as it was stated in the report), so my doctor prescribed me some high strength Ibuprofen and Methocarbamol.

Now I have been on this "pain management" program for the last 4 months and I'm pretty unhappy with the band-aid solution I've been given.

Things have been pretty decent for the most part, but today it hit me again.

In the MRI report, the reviewing MD stated that I have DDD. But the neurosurgeon said that my issues are not related to my back problems at all, and my primary doctor seems to be reinforcing this. Because of the way the back pain, numbness, and stomach issues seem to coincide, I am not convinced.

I have been unable to identify this as a food allergy or anything viral. I'm just getting tired of being told I have to live with this for the rest of my life. Can anyone offer any suggestions or advice on how I should proceed? I would be willing to provide the MRI images if necessary.



  • I think you need to get a second opinion from a different NS. Different office etc. Maybe one who specializes in T-spine (if you can find one).

    I would be adament with your PCP to give you alternative referrals. If he/she doesn't want to ask for you complete medical history and find a new one.

    Did the NS actually look at the MRI or just read the report? I am amazed he didn't offer to run more tests.

    I know in the past T problems have been largly dismissed, but they are changing their views more recently.

    I seem to remember reading a post similar to yours. I will see if I can find the thread.

    Hang in there,


  • Skudd, trust yourself to know when something is not right. I don't know your full story and am not a doctor but what raised an eyebrow for me is the occassional numbnesss & weakness down the leg. That would imply you have some nerve compression and perhaps when you work out, the area around the disc is inflammed causing more pressure on the nerve which in fact could disrupt bowels.

    Though I'm not sure it would do so in the way you describe. Regardless of if your stomach issues are caused by your back or not, you have reason to be concerned.

    I would get a 2nd opinion on the MRI (3rd and 4th if needed) which if you are in the US, is hopefully easy to do.

    I would also talk to your doctor about the possibility of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I know you don't know of food allergies but anything form too much dairy to gluten allergies could cause stomache issues.

    Either way, sounds like you know things could be better so trust that.
  • I'm happy to hear from others that I'm not expecting too much from my doctor.

    I have been sitting on my living room floor for the last 30 minutes, leaning against the wall, and both of my legs have gone numb. I just got up to get a drink from the kitchen, and I could barely stand fully erect. It's really irritating in the sense that I'm not even 30 yet and I am already having these issues. But also, I feel so much pain and discomfort from it that it is bringing down my quality of living.

    I plan to discuss this with my doctor again in the coming weeks, but if anyone has any further advice or insight, please don't hesitate to share.

  • Just read your update.
    Your legs going numb is not a good sign.
    It can be managed with anti-inflammatory but that might be upsetting your stomache.

    Have you tried ice for 10 mins 3X/day? that was helping me. Also, seems as if you do worse if you sit for longer than 20 mins. These are all important things to tell the doctor.

    Can you push up on your tip toes? Can you walk on your tip toes? Does your foot start to fall? Can you walk on your heels without pain? These are the quick tests most doctors will do for lower lumbar issues.

    GOod luck.
  • It's really hard for me to answer about the heels because I did have a calcaneal fracture in my left foot while I was in college, so I have frequent spells of pain from that.

    I haven't really done ice because it's hard to take time out of my extremely busy schedule 3 times a day for it.

    As I mentioned in the (very long) intitial post, I have been taking Ibuprofen and Methocarbamol as needed for the pain. However, the stomach issues usually come into the picture long before the pills go down.

    Right now, the walking test won't really be very reliable, as I've been on some medicine for a headache for the last couple of hours. However, when I get a chance I'll have someone watch me as I walk on my tiptoes to see if my foot does drop.
  • thebigv57tthebigv57 Posts: 1
    edited 11/10/2015 - 2:17 AM
    I have bulging discs in l1 s5 region of my lower back. I have an issue where it i eat too much food i get violent stomach attacks. Pain in my mid spine pain in my solar plexus. And other problems like undigested food. It also occurs from too much heavy lifting. I worry i have either a hiatal herniabor another mid back bulging disc and my full stomach is putting pressure on my disc. Protonix has helped the stomache part. But i still get attacks.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
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