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Seriously depressing back pain AT 23

missquinn86mmissquinn86 Posts: 26
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Chronic Pain
Hi everyone, its good to see that I am not alone (unfortunately due to crappy circumstances,i wouldn't wish back pain upon my worst enemy!)

My name is Amy and I am 23 years old. I live in Australia. I hurt my back over a year ago. I was sitting on the floor and go up and felt like i put my back out in doing so. The pain was beyond horrible. I was bed ridden for days. I saw a physio (who was/is fantastic) for about 2 months, once a week. The pain subsided for a few months, but unfortunately its back again . It started again about 7 months ago..i was laying down and started getting back spasms. I went to physio again (and still do once a week/fortnight). She recommended that i get a CT scan, which i did, and it showed a few abnormalties. Scoliosis, some degenerative changes in my spine (thoracic area) and a minor dic bulge.(I think it was L5/6???) The area with the degenerative changes (arthritis) in right on my bra strap. If i touch the bone, it doesn't hurt...but next to the middle of my spine, it feels as though i have a huge knot but my physio said i don't have a knot there, just imflammation. I have tried endless amounts of anti inflammatories but they dont give me relief in that area AT ALL. I can't stand for long, as my whole back starts to ache and it feels tired-the best way for me to describe it is "chronic back fatigue"...physio says i have poor core muscle strength, so she gave me plenty of exercises to do on a med ball (which i do daily). I also try and swim twice a week (i should be going more). She says i should be doing pilates, or joining a gym but it's so hard to do anything physical after work and my back feels so "tired". The past few days i have really overdone it. I've been working long hours. I have been getting a weakness feeling in my legs when i lay down on my back-kind of like pins and needles. Could this be a nerve? Could the disc be prodruding more than what it was? Its NOT sciatica...i get that occassionaly and i know its from the disc (i cant remember the name of the disc but its the one on the bottom of my spine and the most common disc to "slip". ) It's starting to really make a negative impact on my life. I don't go out with my friends near as enough as i used too. I am so lucky to have such a caring and supporting bf. I worry that my back will get worse and he will get over it. I worry about my future-how will i ever have children...i shiver just thinking about how bad my back will be when i become pregnant. I am really starting to stress. My physio says that i should think about having a cortisone injection...does anyone else suffer like this? Does anyone know what i mean when i say my back feels "tired"? I feel like ive been lifting a really heavy backpack on my back for days...if someone lightly rubs it (and i mean LIGHTLY), its like "ohhh wow thats absolute relief" I have booked an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon for this friday. I am scared. Please help.


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of articles and videos here that are very informative and the forums are a great place to get information, experiences and support.

    I think most of us understand what you're going through. I'm sitting here with some back pain myself so I'm literally feeling your pain.

    I think there's a lot of good news for you - you're young, there are still of lot of conservative measures you can try and you have a good physio. At your age I agree with your physio that increasing your core strength is the very best way to keep lumbar discs from getting worse and can even stave off surgery, even in people older than you. I know quite a few people that have handled their back pain with building their core muscles and keeping them strong.

    I'm currently in PT and am working on strengthening my core muscles to keep from having further problems above and below my fusion. My PT says that's imperative, so that's what we're doing.

    The injections that your physio is suggesting could also be a big help. I'm wondering if your physio referred you to the ortho surgeon? What does your physio think is the next plan of action? And why are you being referred to the surgeon?

    I know that spine problems are very scary, especially at such a young age, but try to not worry too much. There are still a lot of thing for you to try out there. As for having babies in your future, there are a lot of members here that have had children with their back problems and even some who've found that pregnancy helped their pain. That sounds strange, but it's happened.

    Again, welcome to Spine-Health. Read around the forums. But I want to tell you that you'll read more bad stories than good here because the members that have had successful treatment, whether conservative or surgery, go on and lead their lives and no longer need the support given here. So there are many successes out there and I'm thinking that you just might be one of those.

    Please keep us posted.
  • You are way to early in the process to see a surgeon. I would recommend an orthopedist who specializes in spine. Make sure you check for the specialty.

    Also sounds like you need a new PT. Inflamation can be dispersed by massage. That should be part of your PT routine. Again a good PT will have you feeling better in no time at all. Once you get over the hump the tired feeling will lessen and you will be able to do all the other things like Pilates (read up on that first).

    One last suggestion is to start a notebook or log. Go back and take notes from all your tests. Make sure you have copies of all reports and films. Start a pain log so you can give the doctors exact info not just general "it hurts".

    Consider this a warning signal from your body. At 23 you are being told to take care of yourself now. Trust me it only gets worse with age.
  • Hi,

    I'm also in my early 20's, so I *hear* you on the whole anxiety thing. It's very hard to plan a life and plan a future when you have no idea if your back will be able to tolerate even the most basic tasks.

    I guess my best advice is to try to put the anxiety on hold until you have more information. It sounds like your diagnostic picture is very incomplete- while the CT provided information you definitely don't have a complete picture of what exactly is wrong. My guess is an MRI will be the next order of business because they will be able to see the soft tissue and nerves and that should give a better picture of what is wrong with the bottom disc and possibly what is going on with the nerve symptoms. So, until you really have a better picture of what is going on it is premature to panic (but yes, I totally get that!). Also, just know there are lots of different options as far as injections, therapies, etc. so there is likely something out there that will help once they have a better understanding of what exactly is going on. My guess is that the orthopedist will probably not be able to help you so much since it sounds like you need non-surgical treatments, so just keep in the back of your mind that a physiatrist might be a good specialist to help you as you work through your conservative treatments. Hopefully the orthopedist will be able to help, but if not just know that there is another specialty that specifically deals with non-surgical rehabilitation.

    One final piece of advice: Be firm about how significant the pain is and the level it interferes with your life. So often I have heard "you're young, you'll heal," and that assumption can be a huge hinderance to receiving proper care. Because chronic pain is invisible, and particularly being young and looking generally okay, it can be difficult for doctors to appreciate how significant the pain is.

    Hang in there and let us know how it goes on Friday. Welcome to Spine-health. I'm sorry to have another young person joining us, but just know you're not alone in dealing with these issues in your 20s.
  • thanks for all your comments. The reason i am going to an orthopedic surgeon is for a few reasons. My doctor referred me to one and getting an mri is SO much cheaper (here in oz anyway) if you are referred by specialist. I have just filled in the paper work that the spinal clinic has sent me-one question is "if you knew you had to deal with your back pain for the rest of your life, how would you feel about it?" Do they think were going to write "satisfied" so stupid. kris, i have had this "tired feeling" for over a year now. I doubt its inflammation, im just passing on what physio said. It feels like a big knot. In answer to your question kath, my physio said i should get an mri. She still thinks its a weakness issue and basically told me that if i dont keep up with my exercises-ill need surgery. She told me i would be in absolute agony daily and would hardly stand if i needed surgery. So its not an op that im after. I heard they can do more harm than good. Wish it would go away!
  • you could try TENS and ice {not together!] i would avoid yoga and stick to swimming ..from what i can see your back has not gone too bad and if you care for it and don't over do it you could avoid surgery and all the horrors that go with it .ask you doctor for some good pain killers and get yourself a decent bed and good chair to relax in i can recommend a recliner .i speak from experience my back went at age 30 and i am now 44 i have had 2 back operations and i have been is awful debilitating pain ever since \[you don't want to go down that road}.get a second opinion regarding your diagnosis on your back.and like i have said don't over do anything because once your back goes that's it you will be in some sort of pain for ever all you have to do is read the post on here as for injections .i have has all of them and for me they did no good but they may help you .always ask for sedation as the procedure is not too pleasant .avoid surgery if you can because you will more than likely require more as the years roll on .again i speak from experience i have had 2 ops and now they want to do a multi level fusion {i have not yet made my mind up on that one but i don't think i will go for it ..too many risks
    as you can see back surgery is complex i am now disabled and unemployable due to back problems .you are only very young so don't do anything that you will regret talk to as many people as you can you will find many good kind well informed people on here .good luck with what ever you decide

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