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Can disc problems radiate to the front?

gysbertggysbert Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hi everyone..first post here :)

For the last 2 years I have had this pain on my right side in front and back. For a long time I could have sworn it was something internal going on so I had some gallbladder tests, GI tests, ultrasound, etc. and everything came back negative. I also don't really have any GI issues so I guess that rules that out.

So, I went back to my doctor and we did some xrays and a bone scan. Xrays looked fine but the bone scan showed a 'hot spot' on L1 (I believe) so I had to do a PET scan to rule out a tumor which came back negative. The radiologist though this could have been some old trauma from a car accident I was in years ago (although the accident was about 10 years ago and back has been pretty good up until the last 2).

After that I tried;

physical therapy
active release technique
hot tub
inversion therapy
and a multitude of vitamins, herbs and supplements and nothing has really helped.

In frustration I went to get a second opinion and this doctor ordered an MRI thinking this might be some kind of disc issue.

Sorry for the long winded back story..my questions are:

- Can disc issues hurt in the front below the ribs as well as the back just on the right side?

- Can a disc press on any internal organs causing some kind of pain in the front?

- Is it not uncommon that nothing I have tried has helped if it were in fact a disc problem?

Thanks for reading :)


  • Yes....

    Have you had your thoracic spine checked with an MRI yet- if so what did your specialist call you/give you the report? I suggest you get & keep copies of all your test and reports. You can get them from your doctors office or the lace where you had the tests performed at. You may need more consults in the future. The most organized people I have met keep everything in a binder.

    I have several T-spine issues- that cause pain under my ribs, under my arms, into my chest/breast/and plenty of nausea as well as constant pain at the injury sites. Mine is thought to be from my MVA last year.

    The second opinion is great. Maybe even consider more.

    You can consult a dermatome map http://www.backpain-guide.com/Chapter_Fig_folders/Ch06_Path_Folder/Ch06_Images/06-4 Radiculopathy.jpg to get an idea of what disc/vertabrae levels may be effecting you.

    With my history of back problems I have never had a bone scan. I can't tell you how useful that would be for diagnostics, only that none of my doctors has ever ordered one for me. I am going to be 45 this year. I had my first major surgery in 2008.

    You may need to get a little more pushy with your doctor- I did- and eventually found the right specialist (it was a long process ((17 Months at the start after complaining for 10 years)). Now I don't usually see my PC doctor about my spine, just my NS and PM (Neuro Surgeon and Pain Manager).

    Dealing with chronic pain has been an eye opener. It is really a ballancing act to find the best relief and best plan. How much work verses how much rest/ice/heat/meds etc .

    Hang in there :) & welcome,

  • Thanks for the great info Julie!

    They just ordered my MRI so hopefully I can get in next week.

    It's amazing to me that discs could cause pain in the front, I would have never thought that until recently. Just one more question..could a disc pushing on something cause extra gas to build up in that area? I know that seems like an odd question but I often get a lot of gurgling in that area and was never sure if it was related.
  • I agree with Julie, it could very well be (the pain) from your thoracic. Some of my issues are also thoracic (see sig), and due to it, I have a constant 'ring' of pain around my rib cage - more so in the front. If I twist, turn or bend wrong, I sometimes induce "ice pick" like stabbing abeam the bottom of my breast bone in my back.

    As for gas and organs and such, I doubt it. Maybe you changed foods that you eat, your exercise routine, activities? Medication reactions? Narcotics play hell on digestion in some. Stress might also come into play if you are constantly thinking about the pain and what is causing it - that can mess up digestion. Since you're getting an MRI, is that under the direction of a spine specialist? If not, you might want to consider going to one. Please let us know how it goes.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda,

    I don't think the MRI is being done by a spine specialist specifically...just at the hospital my doc is associated with. I will contact him though and see if I could have that.

    Your comment made me think of something else - I don't get pain when I move, twist, etc. Mine is more a delayed reaction after I do something like exercise, riding in the car, or sitting for prolonged periods. Even when it is flared up, it doesn't particularly hurt more when I move...it feels really deep.

    Is that normal, or do disc problems usually hurt right when you do certain movements?
  • Correct, the MRI isn't conducted by a spine specialist. What I am getting at is "getting" with a spine specialist after it is done. :)

    Disks (as I have learned) are funky creatures. Many times one can increase or decrease their symptoms with movement. For instance my fusion is failed in my neck, plus another level is going. I can "induce" radicular symptoms to my left just by moving my neck/head. As to my thoracic, short of turning wrong, bending wrong etc., most times it stays about the same level. I have DDD (drying disks) and bone spurs (osteophytes) that are causing my thoracic issues - non surgical at this point (thank goodness).

    One of the cool things about the MRI, is it can also detect arthritis. I have arthrosis (fancy name for arthritis) throughout my thoracic, and based on what you posted as a question, I would add arthritis as a question if not listed in the MRI report. Disks usually get fussy on movement, activities and such. Hopefully you will have answers soon. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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