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lower back/hip/thigh pain - Advice greatly appreciated!

Recently, I started to experience back pain that I thought had "resolved" since last summer. The pain begins in the back of my left hip (low low back/glut area) and continues around the side of my left leg to the knee. It doesn't seem to be exacerbated when walking, rather while lying down or bending past the waist, leaning away from the painful side. Perhaps most interesting is that my back pain can be described as trigger point-like (in that I feel like if I could just manage to crack my back at that one point, I could get a tremendous amount of relief) while my leg pain is a burning/tingling discomfort. Although somewhat different symptoms, they certainly feel related.

For a little over a year, I've intermittently experienced the same or a very similar presentation of symptoms. Although the severity of my leg pain would vary, the localized, back trigger point remained the same. I've actually visited a chiropractor and an orthopedist, but neither seemed to really think anything was serious. I had two separate X-rays respectively performed, but I don't think it showed any significant symptoms. Although my chiropractor said that my spine was out of wack, he didn't ever really get to the point of making any real progress in relieving my back pain. So that was the end of that.

Luckily, the pain seemed to clear up for awhile, but in the past couple of days returned. Last night, I was so uncomfortable that I ended up waking up and not being able to fall asleep for 4 hours. In the danger of self diagnosing, I did a ton of research into what might be causing this problem. At first, it appeared to be related to a sciatiaca issue, but my pain isn't in the back of my thigh nor does it radiate past my knee and into my toes. What I found to be most applicable is a possible nerve/disc problem at L3-L4. It seems that I have the same trigger point and range of radicular symptoms; however, I am unsure of whether this can only be caused by a herniated disc or something less serious. Although uncomfortable and certainly painful, it does not seem that my symptoms are severe enough to warrant such a serious diagnosis.

I'm a 23 year old female who is very active. I run 4-5 times a week and work out at the same frequency. I was a competitive gymnast for 14 years, but did not experience any such back pain while actively competing. In fact, despite my workout regime, it does not seem that the pain is triggered nor made worse by any of my physical activity. It comes and goes at irregular intervals and for irregular periods of time. Although I know should be going to a doctor, given my past experience, I'd rather not have to shell out more money for further diagnostic studies and co-pays only to find out that it does not seem that anything is wrong.

If anyone has experienced any similar symptoms, pain, or has any idea of what this may be, i'd GREATLY appreciated any advice/direction that could be provided.



  • Welcome to Spine Health. We are all chronic pain/spinal issue/caregivers here and are unable to provide a diagnosis or venture a guess. It would be much like what you did researching on the Internet. To some extent it can be dangerous. I can totally understand not wanting to shell out any more money than you have to, but Spine Health standards do not allow for any of us to try and diagnose one another.

    To answer one of your questions though, nerve impingement can happen from more than just a herniated disc. Bone, muscle, blood vessels and other soft tissue can cause nerve entrapment or impingement and cause it to generate pain just as significantly as a herniated disc can. I have had issues with oversized blood vessels causing nerve impingement in my lower back and neck. My neurosurgeon says that it is quite commonly seen in athletic patients.

    Once again welcome to Spine Health.

  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    "C"'s right, we can't diagnose nor suggest treatment here. But like "C", I have nerve impingement from things other than disc problems, such as stenosis and facet swelling.

    The spine is so complicated that it really does take a spine specialist to come to a definitive diagnosis. I know you don't want to spend more money, and that's understandable.

    I guess it comes down to can you live with what you've got and do you want to risk further problems by not making sure nothing serious is wrong?

    At your age and having been such an athletic person, it could be that physical therapy might be a great help to you, rather than chiropractic care. We all believe that chiros have a place in care, but we all also worry that if there's a disc problem or other spine issue happening, there's always the chance that being manipulated with chiropractic techniques can be detrimental, not helpful.

    Good luck to you and let us know what you decide to do.

  • i found doing chiro, pt, and massage together have the best results, at least before my surgery. but that can be expensive, and doesn't work for everybody.

    I had similar pain before my surgery when i was your age. i couldnt find much that helped with my condition after a few years though.

    some chiropractors are trained to believe and teach that surgery's and doctors are never under any circumstances. I used to work for one like that. I love chiropractic, but it cant fix everything. sometime you need other opinions, especially if you arent getting the relief.

    I will say though, dont let drs brush you off because you are young. keep looking for answers why you hurt and what you can do. I let it go cause the drs said i was fine. then i needed urgent multi level fusion. I may not have needed it had i had help sooner. though i still may have. who knows. but to know what was wrong and the possible outcomes would have been nice.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. :)

    After reading your post, I think Cath made a great suggestion in seeking out Physical Therapy. Some hospitals provide out-patient physical/rehabilitation therapy programs. A good physical therapist will be able to give you a thorough examination and might provide a beneficial exercise routine for you.

    Since you are an avid runner and from some of the symptoms you have described here, I can't help but wonder if maybe your IT band is irritated. Please know that I am not a doctor or medical professional, but I have what is called IT Band Syndrome. A lot of athletes have troubles with their IT bands. There are special stretches I do every day and they really do help with the IT band pain. My physical therapist works on my IT band scar tissue and while it's quite painful as she does her "rolling pin technique" to break-up the scar tissue, it is worth the pain. I always feel better upon standing and walking, once the scar tissue is broken up.

    Another person who is great at diagnosing problem areas is a Physiatrist. My Physiatrists and physical therapists work closely together and they brainstorm what exercises and therapy programs will be most beneficial for me. Sometimes I am swaddled with warm moist heat for 1/2 an hour from my neck down, sometimes I am doing clams and straight leg raises. Just depends on what is going on with my lower back, hips, legs and feet.

    Please keep us posted with your progress and don't give up on getting a diagnosis.

    Wishing you well,

  • I will 3rd the physical therapy advice. A well designed physical therapy program could save you a lot of trouble later!

    Since you mentioned money being an issue, I am not sure what your insurance situation is. Unfortunately there is not much a doctor can do to diagnose a herniated disk without a MRI scan, which is a pretty expensive proposition. And, of course, there is nothing we can do from here to diagnose one- even our doctors have difficulty diagnosing us with all of our test results sitting in front of them!
  • snehal30ssnehal30 Posts: 2
    edited 07/20/2014 - 3:07 PM
    Last year I found out that my second last disc has poped out a lil, i kept on doing physiotherapy and acupuncture and walking. lower back pain, nerve pain, pain going down to hips and thighs every 15 mins i used to sit was nearly disappeared. From last 2-3 days may be coz of extreme cold or exercises(jumping squats, I know i shouldn't have) the pain has come back and i am not able to bear the pain. Its going down to my butt plus right thigh, feels like needle pain. I am into office work so most of the time I have to sit around. Every 15-20 mins I sit there is pain around my right hip bone, and my lower back is paining extremely then the pain goes to my right thighs, doesnt go to my toes. I am not able to do alot of things now. Please help! My subsidised physio sessions are finished. I have already spent 6 months not working and walking every day and trying to get better.I have been to surgeon and spine specialist, but no help they dnt think its anything major, sick of having painkillers.Cant workout and gave up dancing, plus my heels. In alot of pain, need some solution.
  • I have this exact problem which also causes me to have tender and sensitive skin all around my left hip and left thigh. The sentiveness has moved up my side aswell, it feels painful to touch or brush against.

    I also have the one trigger spot of pain in my lower left back where it all started, now it's my hip, thigh and my skin around the areas which as also in pain.

    I don't know what it is or if anyone has an insight how to get rid of it?
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    edited 10/24/2015 - 3:29 AM
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  • Hi All, 
    Even I am experiencing the right lower back pain, the x-ray shows gap between L3-L4 spine bone is narrow,  but now lower back pain has reduced, but the pain has carried to my right thigh and further down to my leg and my doctor has prescribed pain killer medicines and also asked me to go for physiotherapy for two weeks. Once I complete my physiotherapy sessions will share my experience. Thank you Spine health for having a forum to share the experience. 
  • Jpauly76JJpauly76 IllinoisPosts: 1
    Hi There! Did you ever resolve these issues? I have the exact same issues.
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