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Does anyone know what could be going on with my back?

MeganSMMeganS Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi everyone! I just joined, and have spent about an hour reading in this section. I can't believe what some of you are going through. It is horrible!

I'm wondering if anyone might be able to offer any advice or tell me if you've had any similar situations as what I'm dealing with now. I'm an 18 year old college freshman, I just moved to Chicago from New Jersey for school.
I used to be inactive, overweight, etc., and about a year ago I did a massive life style change, lost about 30 pounds (still going) and starting working out regularly.
During this, I started having some minor back problems. Every few months I would have a week or 2 where it was very uncomfortable, but not necessarily awful pain.

However, about 2 months ago it started up again and has not let up at all - it has only gotten much worse. I'm a musical theatre major, and I had a drop a few of my dance/movement classes because I can't participate in them. I've had to stop all of my working out because of it.

For the past 3 weeks I've been seeing a chiropractor 3 times a week (he is one of the highest rated in Chicago). He took x-rays and discovered that I have a pretty bad pelvic tilt (my right side is about 2 inches higher than the left) but was very confident that through manual adjustments and physical therapy he should be able to correct it and alleviate the pain. For about 3 days it felt really good, and then the pain came back, plus some. Now I just finished up the 4th week with him and because there's no progress he wants me to have an MRI to see if anything else is going on.

It is literally unbearable. I toyed with the idea of pulling out of this semester of school and going home until my back is better, but that is the last thing I want to do, both because I love school and because I don't want to lose all of the money that I'm paying for these credits. On a scale of 1-10 the pain averages around an 7/8, but several times a day shoots up to a 10, at which point it is impossible for me to move and I just have to lay down and wait it out. I'm taking prescription ibuprofen and flexiril from my student health center, but it barely takes the edge off the pain.

It's aggravated by standing, walking and sitting.
the pain is often so bad that it makes me nauseous, sweaty, and obviously brings me to tears. it's constant in the center of my lower back, but often it radiates down through my right thigh (but never down the whole leg), and sometimes it is painful to lift or move either of my legs.

I'm frustrated and at my wits end here. If I have to have an MRI I'm probably going to end up needing to go home because my insurance won't cover it in Chicago, and flying back and forth is impossible (both financially and physically).

I'm sorry this is getting long. Has anyone experienced anything like this before? From what I gather it's kind of unusual because the pain is on both sides of my back and not just one or the other. There was no instance where I remember injuring my back where this could have been caused (my car was rear-ended in May, but aside from some minor whiplash and headaches for a couple weeks afterwords I don't remember having any back pain). I'm losing my mind and I know my parents are too because they don't know what to do for me haha. if anyone has any idea what this could be I would really appreciate it!! Thank you!!

- Megan


  • Also - and hopefully this is just me being very paranoid and trying to make use of my google/WebMD medical degree ( ;) ) but if there were tumors on my spine, would those have turned up in the x-rays? (I don't really have those symptoms, but the thought just crossed my mind. I'm just scaring myself now haha)
  • i just came back on to see if anyone had replied to my post and started reading yours. Boy you are not alone here. I have pain in my low and mid back that goes down into my hips and thighs and right down into my feet. just because yours doesn't go into the rest of your legs doesn't mean its not a bad problem to have. Your pain is just as upsetting as anyone else s on here.Because you have pain on both side could mean you have more then on problem or it could be just he way one disc is pushing . If its a central problem then it would hurt on both sides. I'm just wondering if what your chiro. was doing with your hips has caused you excessive muscle pain that's radiating into your thighs. Hopefully the mri will show something . Hopefully its not disc involvement. Keep us posted and let us know how you make out.
    P.S. don't worry about a tumor until your told that's what your problem is,don't borrow problems.
  • hi Tammy! Thank you so much for responding! The chiro and I were both wondering if what he was doing with my hips was causing pain, so he adjusted what he was doing and there was no improvement.

    We're both pretty sure that whatever is going on is nerve pain. It is a very stabbing/burning feeling. When the pain is really bad it feels like someone stabbed me, and every time I move they hit the knife with a bat. It's not fun haha.

    this is tough. Since I was about 12 my mom has been very severely disabled due to an unknown auto-immune disease. There've been back problems and absolutely horrific chronic pain in her entire body. Now the pain has mostly stopped, but the nerves in her legs and feet are completely dead. I'm kind of terrified that that's going to happen to me, especially because her doctors had no way of tracking it or knowing what was going to happen next because they still don't know what caused all of it.
  • Sorry to hear you're having all this pain. You need to see a Dr. and get a physical with blood work checking for any auto immune disorders just in case and see what your Dr. says. What about University teaching hospitals in the States? I hear they offer free healthcare.

    Please follow up the injury you had with the car accident and wait to see the Chiropractor until you know what's causing this pain. Icing and alternating heat may help. My Chiropractor wouldn't even touch me and I mean adjusting but offers inferential treatments to take down any muscle swelling. I hope you see a Medical Dr. for an assessment soon.

    I think it may be more beneficial going home and find out what's happening as your health is important so you can continue your studies. When my back started hurting I took Robax platinum which has ibuprofen and a muscle relaxant. Just wondering if you have access to a pool at school so you can do some water walking for exercise for you? I hope you get some pain relief soon. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Hi Charry! Thank you so much for your response.

    I recently had blood work done (the day of my car accident actually Lol, I was on the way home) checking for lymes disease (negative). Could a trace of an auto immune disease have shown up in that?

    I can't see a medical doctor until I go home because of my insurance. I have very good health insurance but unfortunately it doesn't really cover out of area. I'm really going to have to think on it before deciding to go home. I'm kind of living my dream out here and the idea of giving all of it up...even for a little while...is pretty much heart breaking to me haha.

    Is it stupid of me to almost not want to know if something is really wrong, like, with my bloodwork? I know it sounds ridiculous. Maybe my perspective on the medical world has been kind of messed up because of my mom. All I've seen with her is them running a bunch of horrific tests and then saying "Oh yeah, there's something there" but then not being able to do anything about it.

    I'm not sure if there is something wrong medically rather than physically because when I go to the chiropractor there is the tiniest bit of relief. Even if just for 5 minutes after he's done it feels better, and in the beginning when there was that couple days where it felt good. I feel like if there were something wrong that wasn't physical there wouldn't have been any kind of relief from what he's doing.

    I don't know. I'm scared. This sucks, and I know it's so much less than the problems that most of the people on here are having, so I feel bad saying it sucks. Jeez. :/

    ETA: I also wanted to add, in the x-rays that my chiropractor took, he said my spine looks very good. I've been going to a chiropractor since I was 2 months old (my mom is a big believer haha), and other than this I've never had problems with my back or spine or anything.
  • It concerns me because your Chiropractor thinks you need an MRI and thinks there's a nerve issue going on here. Can you check for any free MRI clinics in your area? Can you check and see if your school has any health insurance deal. If you're going to college there should be some insurance coverage that you can check into. Only you know how much you can take and wonder if you may benefit from going to ER and see if any tests can be done for your pain?

    You're just as important as anyone here in pain and we don't compare pain levels here. We're here to support you through this. Just trying to throw out options here. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I got an MRI today, will be discussing the results with my chiropractor on wednesday.

    I'm definitely thinking about withdrawing from classes and going home for this semester. Breaks my heart (and my future bank account) to even consider it...but at this point you gotta do what you gotta do.

    I asked my chiro about the possibility of it being a virus and he said he really didn't believe so because for me the problem appears mostly mechanical, and if it were a virus there would be pain but not so much limping, etc. however he asked if I'd been traveling and I told him I spent a few days in Mexico at the end of july, and this problem started mid-august, and by his expression I could tell that it's definitely not out of the question just based on my time in Mexico. He pretty much said that we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

    If the MRI comes up negative, he is going to order blood tests, etc. I'm so scared of that happening. I can't even tell you.

    In the mean time I'll just suffer haha
  • I hope everything on the mri is fine and he can figure out what the problem really is,at least there will be things that he can cross off from the possibilities when he reads it. Just keep a positive attitude that he's going to figure this puzzle out soon. I"m so sorry that your going to have to stop classes but hopefully this shows something and you can get the proper help and get back to them soon.
  • Your symptoms sound very similar to my own situation. In April, I had a very sudden onset of intense pain in the 7-10 range in my lower back. I had suffered no accidents or injuries that would've caused the pain but I went from normal to completely incapacitated by crippling pain within a week. The pain was centered and any kind of physical activity aggravated it. It got to the point where the previously two second task of getting out of bed became a 15 minute struggle. After weeks of arguing with doctors and jumping through too many bureaucratic medical hoops, I secured an MRI which showed that my L2-L3 disc had inexplicably completely disintegrated. 6 months down the road and I still don't know what caused it, how to fix it, or even what condition my spine is in, I'm struggling to get another MRI. Just make sure you find the best doctors you can and don't let them tell you how things will proceed, the unfortunate reality is that you must be aggressive with them to make progress. At least I have to be, hopefully you'll be in the care of REAL professionals. Keep a positive attitude and a strong will.
  • My God, dnash. It sounds exactly like what I'm going through. that is horrifying. I don't even understand how that's possible. Why are your doctors being so difficult about it? Why were they giving you a hard time about the MRI? I'm at my wit's end and it's only been about 2 months with me and I have an extremely helpful doctor...I cannot even fathom having this go on for so long and having to jump through hoops for progress. Your situation is just leaving me shaking my head. If you don't mind my asking, is it an insurance issue? Or are your doctors just throwing their hands up because they don't know what it could be? I am so sorry. I'm really praying that they will help you out with this (I hope you're not offended, I'm a pray-er haha). Thank you very much.

    I tried to look at my MRI last night with the use of my WebMD medical degree (lol). I compared it to pictures of "normal MRIs of the lumbar spine" and there was nothing blaringly obvious to me. I didn't understand what most of it was, of course, but at least I know my spine is in one piece Lol.

    Today walking home from class (ugh) I got a very severe onset of sciatica in my left leg. Bearing any weight on it pretty much made me want to run into traffic. I don't know what's going on here or why symptoms show up very suddenly without cause. I'm so hoping that my chiropractor will have answers for me tomorrow. I really appreciate all of your help and support!!!

    I'm still freaking out at the possibility of cancer/tumor. I wish I never googled it. when my doctor (hopefully) tells me tomorrow that that is not the issue i'm probably going to cry Lol.

    OKAYYYY. I did some more studying of my MRI tonight (I'm so impatient haha) and I compared it to google images of "lumbar spine MRI" and I am almost positive that I have a bulging/herniated disc and if that is the case, it is without a doubt pressing on the nerve root. It actually looks like I have more than one (maybe 2 or 3? it's hard to tell), but one of them is very obvious.

    I KNOW I'm not a doctor but I'm also not totally dumb when it comes to this stuff, so I feel like that's gotta be a large majority of the problem. I'm hoping so much that my doctor will say it can be corrected without surgery.
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