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T6-T7 Thoracic cause burning pain in Upper back/triceps

bent98bbent98 Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic

This started about 12 months ago. I started to have burning pain right in the middle of my chest ranging from my sternum to the middle of my nipples when I drank water. It started to get worse a couple of months past where I was just constant. Over the last 9 months I went for every GI test (24 ph test, Endoscope, Manometry), blood test, vitamin tests, allergy tests, heart work up in the book and while I have minimal reflux it would not cause this constant burning. I am on PPI’s anyway. The only thing that helped the burning was rubbing my chest or a hot bath but as soon as I stopped rubbing it or got out of bath burning came back.
Then about 3 months ago the burning pain began in my back as well, but just so slightly. I began between my shoulder blades and could radiate to the back base of my neck where it connects to my back and also at times to my triceps. I don’t have any weakness, difficulty breathing, or pins and needles. As weeks went by it got gradually worse. So now I had both chest and back burning. Pain is always symmetrical (bi lateral) and never just on one side.

We thought it was hypersensitivity in my esophagus. There are people out there that can become sensitive to changes in PH or pressure in there esophagus. So I tried a few different SSRI’s as they seem to help this condition. Lexapro seems to make the burning in my chest go away but the burning in my back got worse.

I went for MRI’s in my cervical, thoracic, and lumbar back and got an EMG. The lumbar and cervical was pretty much normal and the EMG. The thoracic was abnormal.

Since its in the T6-7 area the pain management doctor doing the Epidural says that the pain is not coming from there as its too low for the pain to radiate that high on my back based on a dermatome chart. My neurologist says it’s possible it could radiate and wants me to get shot.

When the burning was in my chest I could at least rub a biofreeze type cream on it which would help block the burning feeling but now that it’s on my back I can’t relieve it as my back feels so sensitive like its sunburned, so putting any cream, ice or heat only makes it feel worse. If I sit down too long it burns more. The only thing the helps are going for walks. I can sleep at night but as soon as I wake up my back is burning. I sleep on my back and I tried to sleep on my side but burning is either the same or worse.

Can anyone with this type of herniation confirm if they experienced this type of burning pain in the area is described?

Here is my MRI results:

At T6-7 moderate sized left paracentral disc herniation which moderately idenents the left ventral hemicord causing mile to moderate focal cord compression but without significant central spinal canal stenosis. There is no abnormal signal with cord

At T7-8 a small left paracentral disc herniation contacting and only slightly impinging the left ventral cord without central spinal canal stenosis.
MRI of my cervical:

Mild reversal of the normal cervical lordosis centered at C5-6. Marrow signal normal or without fracture or lesion. Spincord normal in signal and caliber. Visualized posterior fossa is unremarkable.

At C5-6 there is a broad-based paracentral disk herniation and uncovertebral arthroapthy resulting in mild bilateral foraminal narrowing without central stenosis.

I got an update after writing this. I got first epidural in T6 and I really couldn’t tell if it made a difference, if it did it was like 10-15% better. 2 weeks went by and I got a second shot. First 2 days nothing but then next 3 days pain seems to be better in my back but my chest seems to be burning a little more.

This is driving me crazy. Its defiantly a nerve, the question is it T6?


  • That hyper sensitive sunburn sensation sounds very much like neurological pain to me.

    The dermatome chart will show you how pressure on the nerve ends will translate into pain in certain specific areas. Pressure on the cord itself is a different matter. This can produce pain and any number of weird and wonderful sensations anywhere below the level the cord is impinged.

    My advice, for what it's worth, is try and find a doctor familiar with thoracic herniations. They are much less common than lumbar and cervical and many doctors might not have had much,or any experience of them. Thoracic herniations tend to affect the cord because the cord's protective sheath is at its thinnest in this area.

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
  • my mri also report small t6 t7 herniation. im having problems 3 years so far. but listen to me. dont belive when they say,thoracic herniation canot cause this. disc is a disc and can be damage anywhere!
  • I am not sure what to do. I know I have something wierd going on. The only evidence is the MRI in my T6-8 area. I could try a shot in my C6. I have had every blood test know to make kind and everythig is normal. I have had CT chests of my neck and chest and mri's of my brain.

    I dont know what else to do. When I take drugs that are supposed to help with nerve pain like TCA's, SSRI's and SNRI's they make it worse.

    Thing is, after 2nd shot I do have less burning in my back but I am getting my chest burning back.

    The Ortho Dr. says based off dertmatome its more likly coming from your neck - C5-6 where I have that slight herniation. He looked at the MRI and in one spot its ever so slightly touching the cord.

    I can get a shot there but was trying to see if the T6 area was the culprit. I have some type of nerve hypersensitivy. Just cant figure out if its nerve entrapment or not. The Nurologist I went to dont see to think its nerve damage. I dont have any syndromes like RSD or Complex regional pain syndrome. I have no numbness, pins and needeles and the burning is not in hands or feet. I dont have diabities. all my blood levels are ok and no autoimmunes dieases. Thats why the only thing that makes sense is a pinch nerve. Ive been in hell over the last 15 months with all these wierd sensations going from tight throat to burning in my chest, to burning in my back.
  • hi, I speak only before I had the operation that failed.The time span was 18 months before they believed I was in agony and did a scan, whih I was told needed to be operted on urgently.

    My symptoms were mainly c-spine, that was part of the reason why it took 18 months for them to believe I was in agony, before finding a t7/8 disc bulge that needed operating on.

    The heartburn/feels like chest is being crushed by a vice machine is I m told a red flag signal.That was hell.

    Whenever I lifted anything it fell to the floor and my arms would shake like a parkinsons victim.

    So I agree, go see a surgeon experiened in t-spine.

    Sitting upright, climbing stairs, walking was the worst..

    I I am told we over use the c-spine and l-spine to over compensate avoiding t-spine. Also that t-spine often mimics c spine.

    Walking - I did so with a wide gait (like a cowboy) swinging the arms caused so much agony in the shoulders,I think this aggravates the t-spine.

    Only relief, at the time undiagnosed it was panadol and gritted teeth.I had to use pain as a measure of when to stop walking/sitting up/standing.

    Now Amitriptylin nd Duloxetine work wonders and I'm anti-meds.

    I am a lot worst post-op but wont hi-jack your thread lol :-)

  • Thing is,

    I dont have any pain other then the burning. It doesnt get worse if I move a certain way. I dont feel like my chest is being crush like vice, thats why I am not sure if this is coming for my T spine.

    Im so confused.

    This God forsaken burning is drivin me mad. Its like sunburn on my neck and sholders.

    Did you have that>?
  • I had a big disc buldge at t7/8.

    I had an operation. I was told the disc was removed. It wasnt and I still have it on the cord.

    Since the opertion I have the same in the middle of the back area as you.

    The difference is, its where the top of the operating scar is, thus it is above t6.

    I therefore think your doctor is right, if its well above the T6 area it could be cervicl nerves being irritated.

    I am currently under investigation why I gt the burning pain. I'll let you know the results.

    As I mentioned for me sitting upright is horrific. Maybe you sitting down is aggravating a c-spine nerve as you mention it gets worse then?

    As mentioned only Lidocaine patches, Amitriptylin and Duloxetine help a little. As does avoiding sitting up, stnding and walking.

    I will mention here my spinal cord has been injured at t7 by the prolapsed disc.

    I'm sad to say that so far, nothing I know that ease nerve pain except the boe mentioned. Warmth from a bath and massage as you mentioned helpd before. Coldness helps inflammed muscles thus this can take the muscle inlammation from irritating the nerves I was told by doctors.

    Feel free to pm me on any t-spine issues.

  • sorry, see post below, i'm having newbie issues lol
  • I searched the forums and this post is the closest that comes to what has started happening to me. I have been off the boards for a couple weeks since I had a nuclear stress test on May 10th. 4 hrs later I experienced burning/flushing/pain in the center of my chest that spread to the inner parts of both arms. Mybody temperature was higher in these areas, then the rest of my body. For example my head would read 98.3 on a digital touch point thermometer, while the center of my chest/sternum would be 100.1, under left arm 102, right arm 103. It would vary with left arm being hotter some times.

    Long story but I went to carenow/urgent care, they hooked me up to EKG and said I was having symptoms of eschemia. They sent me to ER by ambulance, ER confirmed same EKG. Gave me nitro, aspirin, ran a full cardio workup. Answer was no answer. " Some people have "weird EKG". " They said it must be anxiety and gave me a xanax. 10 min later they gave me a 10/325 vicodin as I had asked for one for my back. I went to sleep and an hour later, I woke up with no burning, no pain. I was relieved yet unsure as it seemed it was anxiety causing this.

    They convinced me the xanax calmed me down so it must have been a panic attack. I have never had one before but I questioned can a panic attack last hours on end?

    So I went home but 4 hrs later, the burning came back. It feels like someone wass holding a lamp to that area, but visibly you cannot see redness. So I thought I was going Crazy, why wasn't the Xanax working? (I had never taken it before). Because by this time I was completely out of my mind, I had cut way back on taking pain meds (my husband was literally having to pick me up and move me, take me to the bathroom, etc)

    Because they had convinced me it was anxiety, I made an appt with my PCP and when he saw me he was like here, let me give you extended releases xanax. You are just worried about surgery and work. The next day I woke up with the burning and took 2 .5 mg Xanax and waited. The burning was still there 2 hrs later. After Praying with my brother for 2 hrs and speaking to my mom, she convinced me to go back to the ER the next day (Wed). So I did.

    I begged them to figure it out. They did full cardio workup again, blood gasses or whatever they do, even checked for pulimary embolism. They found nothing. This time the Doctor said he admitted he had no idea what was going on but he believed me it was not anxiety. Unforuntately, or forturnately, he gave me dilaudid via IV and IMMEDIATELY the burning pain was GONE. Completely. So this time we were sure, pain meds make it go away and not Xanax.

    The next day I got pain in the middle of my back between my shoulder blades. I thought it was just because I had finally got some sleep and maybe slept in one spot? However when I went back to my PCP and told them that pain meds make it go away (not to mention they saw how much better I looked compared to the time before when I was out of my mind in pain) he said he wonders if I am having issues in my thoracic spine?

    Sorry for the long post. I even edited a lot out haha. BTW I do have GERD and take Dexilant because I used to have bad heartburn. This is NOT heartburn. It more almost nerve related. Feels like a sunburn that gets worse and worse. I am not on top of my meds and as long as I take 2 10/325 vicodin every 6-8 hrs, I am ok.

    Has ANYONE had this and have it be back related?

    Grade 4 tear in l4/l5 was missed in first MRI so did injections for a year
    SI joints "messed up" not sure if I will get them fused at a later time
    Had Open PLIF L4/L5 5/28/13
    Woke up to permanent nerve damage in legs and feet.
  • OMG, I am in Hell!

    I have had a lumbar fusion L4-S1 (allograft, paired pedicel screws, verticle stabilization bars L4-S1, w/ horizontal bridge & narrowing disk space L4-L5). While the surgery was a success, and the fusion too was successful; I continue to suffer daily with pain. I continue to have difficulty sitting, laying flat on my back. Lying on my side is also painful, as any movement feels like someone thrusts a knife in my right back & out my lung. My neck also feels really weird, unstable, pressure and tighting in my throat, and increased pressure in my right chest, burning feeling like someone is sitting on top of me. I still have difficultly telling when my bladder is full, and difficulty starting a uirne stream (sorry to be graphic). However I was able to suck it up and deal with the pain with some help with Norco 10/325. Most days I was able to get by with taking one or two pills a day.
    Then on Thanksgiving 2011, while driving, I had horrific upper thoracic pain. It literally felt like someone thrusted a hot knife into my back, between my clavical & spine & out my right lung. If I move the wrong way it feels like my chest is in a vice. Since we were traveling, I brought my TENS, gell ice packs, and my pain meds (both Norco 10/325 & Oxycotin 20mg for the really bad days). I was in agony for the week of our end destination (Ft. Riley, Kansas), until we arrived back home in MI. The entire trip I could not move, and lied in bed. Even on the way home, I had to lay in the back of our Yukon while praying to be back at home.
    In January 2012, I had began 3 more lumbar epidural treatments with my pain physician, i had asked if he could order an MRI of my Cervical, and Thoricic spine to try and find the root cause of my new pain. The results (below in signature) basically showed that I had a C6-7 & T2 herniations, along with DDD. I was also presenting with some rather peculiar symptoms; unexplained gravely voice, my throat gets really tight-a feeling of being strangled & choked, when this happens its difficult to swallow i can feel pressure in the back of my esophagas, extreme burning in my back & chest, difficultly breathing, horrific numbness of my neck and chest wall pain both back and front, numbness on hands (sometimes one or the other, sometimes both, but usually the right hand), numbness, now if I stand longer than an hour, my legs (especially right) becomes really hot (burning sensation), they feel really inflamed, swollened, a burning pain thru my calf and in the bottom of my foot. And at times a headache that felt like it was starting from my neck and jettison thru the top of my skull.
    I made an appointment with my orthopedic nuero surgeon, saw his PA, who looked at my MRI and who told me that everything looked within normal limits, and wasn't really alarmed. Said that I should get an EMG and said call him when the test was competed. I was kind of amazed, and we started to leave the examining room. Half way down the hall, I saw my surgeon, walked up to him and said hello. He asked what was wrong with my voice. When I told him, he ordered a Diskogram, and said to follow up win his office afterwards. I saw a new pain specialist changed my painmeds to (Oxycotin 10mg, Blue Cross changed my Rx to Morphine Sulphate 10mg, even though i had an eairlyer approved script for Oxycotin 10mg. Then after a week or so the script was changed to Dulidid 4mg. then 8mg. still neither the morphine sulphate or diladid didn't work for pain, tic tacs would have been just as effective), who also did the Diskogram. My new pain management doctor said that it would take 2-3 weeks to schedule the Diskogram. And in the interm, he wanted me to have an Esophagram (which was normal), to see an ENT (which I did, normal), followed by having the Diskogram of cervical (test was inconclusive). Urugh!?! Mean while, I was getting worse each day, I can't do anything-nothing! :( :-( :sad:
    I started back in physical therapy two days a week and even started to see my chiropractor again after several years. My chiropractor used cervical traction, followed by moist heat, followed by adjustments of my thoracic and cervical areas, yet left my lumbar alone. He used some mini jack hammer on the vertibreas before he manipulated the adjustments. However my physical therapist told me that I was not presenting in the normal manners and asked that I stop treatments, because my condition was life threating, until I saw my orthopedic nuero surgeon. Freaked out & scared .... I stopped pt & seeing my chiropractor. I saw my pain specialist who also did the Diskogram, where we went over all the tests, and he ordered one more MRI of the neck, face and surrounding tissues (also normal), and gave me a trigger point injection of my C5. Two weeks later, we met again at my pain specialists office to go over the neck & face MRI results, followed by deciding to give me an epidural at T2 (1030 Friday). By 1600 the same day, I was in agony. Called my pain specialist & orthopedic nuero surgeon's office and left a message with the answering service, and waited for a return call, and called again on Sat., & Sunday. And by Sunday night I drove myself to the ER. My pain levels by late Friday night was 9-10 and remained so until early Monday morning when I was admitted to be hospital. The hospital tried to bring down my pain levels, ordered yet another MRI of my thoracic which showed basically the same results as the MRI I had received of my thoracic a month or so earlier. I was seen by a resident pain specialist, a resident orthopedic nureo surgeon, several nurses, my family doctor, my neurologist and after 2 1/2 days of hell, I was sent home with modified pain medicine (back to Oxycotin 10mg). Yet fricking Blue Cross wouldn't fill, and changed script to Didlaudid.
    So still in pain, still not being able to sleep, still having all the same symptoms, I had the EMG this morning 05/21/2012 @ 1130. The EMG showed multiple cervical nerve impigment. The rehabilitation physician that administered the EMG told me that he couldn't perform any testing of my thoracic area, because it would collapse one or both of my lungs, and put me in the hospital for up to a week, or more. He told me to see my orthopedic nuero surgeon to discuss surgery or additional pt. I then called my surgeons office & was told to expect a call back later today or tommrow. By days end, my surgeons nurse called me and informed me that I should meet with my pain management physician to schedule an internal spinal stimulator for my lumbar. :( :-( :sad:

    She went on and explained that she didn't know what to do with me, and suggested that my symptoms were all made up, and her office could no longer help me. Seriously, WTF? :jawdrop: I couldn't believe her unprofessionalism, her curt demeanor, and dismissal of me. :( :-( :sad:

    About a week ago, both my GP & my PMP were finally able to convince fricking Blue Cross to appeal their decision, and change my script back to Oxycotin 10mg. Which i have been taking 20mg 3 times daily, and it's barely dulling the pain. As soon as I put a gell ice pack on the burning area, my body melts the 18"x36" gell ice pack in 10 minutes +\-

    I am meeting with my GP Thursday, and my PMP on Friday. I'm in serious pain, none of my symptoms are physicosamatic, I am NOT a hypochondric, I am pissed off. I am looking for suggestions, advice, etc. Has anyone encountered any of my symtoms or presentations before?

    Has anyone heard of Fibrin Sealent (Thrombin & Fibrinolysis Inhibitor) treatments for disk treatment, in lieu of surgery?

    I remain FUBAR from a dumbass drunk driver!!! I believe that ANY drunk driver should be thrown in jail for 10 years minimum, even for the first offense! Any bleeding heart liberals that don't like the penalty, don't drink and drive. Problem solved, lives changed.

    C3-4 mild disk spur complex slightly eccentric towards the left. C4-5 central disk spur complex w/ mild effacement of anterior subarachnoid space. C5-6 tiny central disk spur complex w/out narrowing of the neural foramina. Mild facet & unconventional hypertrophic changes. C6-7 there is a tiny central disk protrusion. T2-3 there is a right paracentral disk protrusion w/ mild effacement of the anterior subarachnoid space and mild mass effect over the right half of the spinal cord. There are mild endplate changes throughout the thoracic vertebral column. DDD.
    Respectfully yours
    Laus Deo Semper,

    "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
    Joshua 1:9 NIV84
  • Your story is incredible. While I don't have the stabbing in the back any more, there is just a twinge there still. Your throat problems, my gosh. I can only say I hope you can find a doctor who can figure it out.

    My chest burning pain comes no matter what I am doing. Sitting, sleeping, walking, whatever. It comes on time between 6-8 hrs, sometimes sooner depending on if I have been doing a lot. Such as the other day I was cleaning up the house nad at the 5 1/2 hr mark the burning started. It always starts in the center of my chest, sternum, and then if I dont take a pain med it starts radiating across my chest and the inside of both arms. I looked at the dermatome map http://www.apparelyzed.com/dermatome.html and it appears t1 through t4 for me. t5 seems too far down but is possible.

    Yours sounds right where your blue text states c3-c7 but you said the discogram was inconclusive? I wonder sometimes if they can't find anything with the actual discs in the neck from the back, what can they test for coming from the front? I heard others say they needed a thin slice CT scan to help diagnose. It's all so complicated and we are not doctors but when we KNOW it isn't in our heads, it is SO frustrating when doctors won't listen. I can only say I empathize and hope they find something that can be fixed.

    Grade 4 tear in l4/l5 was missed in first MRI so did injections for a year
    SI joints "messed up" not sure if I will get them fused at a later time
    Had Open PLIF L4/L5 5/28/13
    Woke up to permanent nerve damage in legs and feet.
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