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New member, lots of spine clicking now

Frank321FFrank321 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in New Member Introductions
My primary symptoms now are frequent clicking (or popping) sounds from my spine area, but I’ll get to that. First the background.

Hi, I live in Australia, and had a great life until I hit age 55. I did regular aerobic exercise (fitness walking, elliptical exercise machine, Leslie Sansone walking exercise videos). Then 6 months ago a frozen shoulder began developing in my dominant right arm. Ten weeks ago, the acute back pain started. Started acute onset as I was getting up from a chair (i.e., moving to stand from a sitting position). It was a finger-length line of pain in the left lumbar just above the buttocks and just left of the spine. Symptoms were pain in lower left sometimes as I get up from sitting, sit down, move around in bed, sometimes while walking. I must admit that I had a dull mild broad lumbar area occasional ache that felt muscular before the acute incident, so maybe the acute incident was the trigger but not the full cause. I thought mild back problems heal on their own in a short time, so after the acute onset I just tried to avoid aggravating it by moving slowly and carefully.

The pain hadn’t gone away for six weeks, so I saw a physiotherapist whose diagnosis after a one hour exam was: non specific low back pain but caused by L5 motion segment strain. This physiotherapist thought the ultimate cause of the muscle strain was bad posture. His opinion is that my thoracic area is stiff and khifosis, and my gluteal muscles and abdominal muscles are weak so that puts strain on my lumbar region. Specifically, the cause is lumber spine extension dysfunction and throracic spine extension/rotation movement restriction. He assigned simple glute exercise, and postural correction emphasising activating the transversus abdominus muscle.

My family doctor had me get an Xray and MRI on 27 October. The results were (sorry for the length but I will type it in verbatim).

Findings: There is a minor narrowing of the lumbosacral disc. There are degenerative changes in the lower lumbar facet joints with subarticular sclerosis. There is a curve of the lumbar spine convex to the left. The sacroiliac joints are normal. There are no destructive bone lesions. There is an anomalous segmentation with six apparent lumbar segments. There is noted to be a retrolisthesis of what is taken to be L5 on L6.

Findings: There is a loss of disc signal in the L1/2 disc in keeping with degenerative change. There are multilevel degenerative facet joint changes.
The L5/6 level there is a concentric annular bulge no associated with significant canal, lateral recess, or exit foramen narrowing. At all other levels the canal and exit foramen are of normal dimension. There are no focal disc protrusions. The nerve roots of the cauda equine are normally distributed with the thecal sac where the conus lies at L1 with no signal abnormality.

Overall comment: Bulging discs at L5/6 and L4/5. No significant disc protrusions, spinal canal stenosis or lateral recess or exit foramen narrowing. Multilevel degenerative facet joint disease. This is most marked at L5/L6.

My family doctor’s conclusion from the Xray/MRI report was that this was fairly typical for a 55 year old, therefore my problem was simply core muscle weakness otherwise simply standing up from sitting would not have caused an injury. In other words, he did not see an identifiable objective source to the problem.

He referred me to another physiotherapist that I have been seeing regularly. She finds tightness in my left paraspinal muscles. Again, the prescription (it seems it is physiotherapists’ standard prescription) is slowly begin abdominal and gluteal muscle activation and strengthening to improve posture and improve core strength.

Relatedly, I had a gluteal muscle soreness commence two weeks ago, and also had calf muscle problems. The first physiotherapist said these were primarily radiculopathies due to pressure on the nerve from my low back problem (though the MRI report found no nerve impingement). The gluteal and calf problems are easing now. With several musculoskeletal ailments simultaneously, I asked if there could be an underlying medical condition, but had a blood test, including testing for diabetes and thyroid problems, but these were negative (no underlying medical condition found).

Now to the current issue that is scaring me. Then about two weeks ago there was a new development. I started getting frequent clicking sounds in my spine primarily when I got up from sitting into standing. At first these were mild, but last Saturday night there was an enormous double click that scared me as I got up out of the chair after watching TV. This left a continuing impression of tightness/soreness in the lower lumbar and sacral spine. I saw the physiotherapist on Monday, and she said she could feel tension/stiffness there. It’s not really pain. At other times the clicking is in the upper lumbar or even thoracic spine.

I learned a trick that has reduced the frequency and intensity of clicking somewhat. It is getting up from seated by sliding your butt off the chair then lifting with your legs, so that your spine stays straight and does no lifting. I learned it from here: image Osteopath Bruce Sutton demonstrates this technique in the video.

Nevertheless, I am still susceptible to clicking. This can’t be good. Also, I cannot find a comfortable way to sit and watch TV. Here is my clicking diary for last night, to provide some specifics. Big click 9:20pm getting out of TV chair even using the sliding technique. Lifting both legs in bed while supine 10pm for a big click. Laid on my back for a while but couldn’t sleep so got up and read. Another click sliding to stand from chair, 11:13pm. Another click this time just taking a step 11:17pm. I just now got a mild click in my spine as I write this due to shifting slightly in my chair.

Has anyone had similar clicking problems? Anyone want to guess what’s happening?

I realise that many people in this forum have much worse problems, but I’d like to try to nip the back problems in the bud here before they get worse. I fear I am not getting better but possibly getting worse with this new development (the clicking). The clicking seems to be a secondary development to the original back problem. Note that I never had clicking in my spine before this recently started. I am left in the situation of not understanding what is happening to me.

Thank you very much.



  • Read more about facet joint disorders here. http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/arthritis/facet-joint-disorders-and-back-pain

    My back grinds and clicks also and went to see a Physiatrist a Sports Med rehab Dr. who's helping with tests and treatments for the pain and I also see a Pain Management Dr.

    I'm not sure about that video you saw but I always use my arms to pull me up out of a chair and do a log roll to get up out of the bed to avoid pulling myself up with my back. I hope you get some relief with Physiotherapy. Welcome to Spine Health. 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 and welcome. I also have that clicking going on only left hip where nerve pain is coming from, i was told the clicking is from inflammarion,

    So something is causing the inflammation for sure, Good luck and hope you can work it out without having anything serious going on,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Thanks.

    One would think that somewhere there is something that's says "spinal clicking sounds are usually due to...."

    The occasional clicking probably means little. But I,and it seems you also, have frequent clicking and I sometimes have strong clicks, and snaps.

    In the meantime, I guess we'll just have to try to figure it out ourselves.

    I also use my legs to get up from seated, as in spread legs and lift body up as in weightlifting. This seems to reduce clicking.

    Good luck with your physiatrist and treatment.
  • Thanks. Good luck with your back condition. Short of cancer, these serious back conditions that some of you in this forum have are about as serious as any health problems I have heard of.

    Regarding my original question, I am guessing few people (other than Charry and me) have SPINAL CLICKING, as there have been few responses. (Alternatively, I wrote an excessively long and boring intro post.)

  • I also have clicking, but it's mostly in my cervical, not lumbar spine. I've had it even before my surgery. Many attribute it to tendons getting stuck on a bone then clicking back into place when moving, but I don't know. My surgeon has never been concerned about it.

    It's rarely painful, but easy to hear so near to my ears. :-)

    Take care,
  • Frank: You are Not Alone. I just found and joined this forum today. I ahve lived with stuff for a long time. You can read some of my story on a new member post of today. I too learned from my doctor over 20 years ago, that the cracking I experience (at that time is much less and mostly in the Neck), as Cath111 describes as tendons creating minute air/gas pockets when moving those vertebra - that's the popping or cracking sound you hear. But I also feel: That Can't be Good....

    I have read or heard somewhere that spinal health certainly does affect the entire body. It makes all the sense in the world, since all of the nerves in the body pass through the spine.

    Have you tried any supplements to deal with the inflammation / stiffness...?
  • I don't have an answer for you, but this is my experience with "clicking" in my spine.

    The first time I experienced "clicking" in my spine was when I started having sciatica. At some point when I moved my hips (walking or turning over in bed) I would (and still do) get a "knock" or a "click". At the same time it feels as though something has moved or "shifted" out of place. Then many months later I began having pain in my upper back. Not long after that pain started I felt a strong "knock" in my upper back whenever I turned over in bed. It wasn't a mere "click". It was a strong "knock". Ironically, as the pain in my upper back has become worse, the knock turned into a more mild "click". It used to only happen when I twisted, but now it happens even when I just bend. I can't explain what causes it, but I think it has something to do with the discs or the ligaments. (Don't tell me it's just "gas" escaping from joints.) I've had multiple MRIs (not just because of the clicks, but because of the pain), and none of them has show anything significant, which is so frustrating it makes me grind my teeth when I think about it. Clearly, something is "shifting" when I hear those clicks - because I can feel the shift - but I don't know exactly what it is that shifts. Most doctors I've seen seem to think that unless the problem appears on film, then either nothing is wrong or the pain is just muscular. To wish back pain on someone is a terribly thing, but sometimes I wish those dismissive doctors could experience this pain and then see what they have to say about it.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    my neck sounded like like Rice Crispies after milk was added ..... SNAP CRACKLE & POP!!

    After wards .... the only odd sounds come from my mouth!


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