My story can be very long winded and I've been hurried out of many doctor offices to know this, but the fact is, it has been a year of life-altering back pain and I still don't have a diagnosis...
I understand back pain can be extremely difficult to diagnose correctly. I've jumped thru the hoops, had every diagnostic test available, and been as proactive as possible in obtaining a diagnosis. I just wanted to see what you guys think. I feel like I'm coming to the end of the road (the point where many doctors give up searching for answers/solutions and just start managing the pain) Any suggestions, comments, similar stories would be greatly appreciated.
My history, I'm a 30 year old, military aviator in excellent shape. I did 5K's, swam a thousand meters a couple times a week, played sports, ate healthy etc. Then one day, out of the blue, I began having severe stabbing pain in my lower spine and excruciating lumbar spasms to the point where I could not walk. The pain was as bad as it gets. I spent many days lying flat on my back on the floor loaded on nsaids, muscle relaxers, or narcotics, all of which did nothing to relieve the extreme pain.
First 6 months-
These extreme episodes would come and go without warning and for no apparent reason over the next 6 months. Typically my pelvis would be offset to one side and my back would be crooked. The pain was very acute, sharp and stabbing with associated muscle spasms. During this time I went to 3months of physical therapy and chiropractic care. I had a lumbar MRI, CT scan, bone scan, and full lab work-up completed. All of which were normal (no indication of ANYTHING wrong with my back AT ALL) Everyone was baffled... I tried heat/cold packs, acupuncture, massage, everything you can imagine. The only thing that worked was a 60mg, 40mg, 20mg, round of prednisone for 3 weeks. I did this twice and the pain went away completely.
Last 6 months-
The last 6 months have been better and worse. My severe episodes of stabbing pain have all but stopped but the pain has become a dull, stiff, aching pain in my spine and all throughout my pelvis. I've also developed pain and tenderness in my ribs and sternum. I'm very stiff and achy in the mornings and my back and joints sound like a train wreck when they're cold. I have constant pain throughout the day (worst when sitting) and unbelievably I'm able to run 2-3 miles a day and this is when my back feels the best! Heat now helps alleviate some pain and "warm up' my back and NSAIDS don't do much but I think they take the edge off sometimes.
I've had another MRI of the pelvis, CT and bone scan. This MRI and CT scan now show severe degeneration of the sacrum, inflammation and swelling of the SI joints and arthritic changes. The bone scan also indicated active osteoarthritis of the SI joint and arthritis of the sternum (explains the chest pain)
I've also been recently diagnosed with gout of my big toe and restless leg syndrome just in my right leg. The past 2 months I've been having increasing restless leg episodes at about 4-5 nights a week.
As this drags on I get closer to accepting the fact that my life may never be the same again and my career as a military aviator may be over. I'm just having a hard time understanding why at the age of 29 I would have acute onset, extreme debilitating pain and its been AN ENTIRE YEAR and I haven't received a diagnosis. I feel like my body is falling apart on me and I have no control... If I just had a diagnosis I could move forward with my life, move on, set new goals, etc...
Like I said in the begining any advice, comments, whatever will be greatly appreciated. I know many of you with undiagnosed back pain have been here before and I sympathyze with all of you. I'm determined to find the positive in my situation and keep my PMA (positive mental attitude) and again... if you made it this far, thanks for reading!
I also have a referral with a second rhuematologist next month and am looking forward to hearing what they have to say.