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Can anyone help me figure out what's wrong?

smacneillssmacneill Posts: 18
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hey gang, as many of you i'm suffering from low back pain. My problem is i cant seem to convince my doctor to send me for an x-ray or mri, so the exact cause is a mystery. I'm hoping if i can lay out my symptoms, maybe someone out there can offer a suggestion. I'll try and keep this short but detailed.

- About 7 or 8 years ago i hurt my low back. no impact, just one day getting out of bed i felt a 'pull' in my lower back. at the time i weighed 360 pounds. seen physio/chiropractor who said my weight was the problem. This lasted about 2 weeks, and at the time was almost all muscular pain, lower right.

- in 2006 i lost all the weight, I'm currently weighing in at 180lbs. Since the initial injury I've had probably 6 or 7 re-occurrences, almost every time it's only lasted 2-3 days, again, muscular lower right.

- in October 2011 i was exercising (slamming a medicine ball into the ground) when i felt that familiar pull. again, lower right. had muscular pain for about 6-7 weeks which as since healed.

- I'm currently fighting 100% nerve pain. i no longer have any muscular pain.

Since i've lost the weight i've become very active.. having run a number of 1/2 marathons, gym rat 6x per week.

As i type this i'm in agony over this nerve pain. My physiotherapist which i see weekly is a bit baffled by my case. the reason being there's lots i can do that i shouldn't based on the issue.

One thing i can do, and have been able to do since day 1 (of this current injury) is do spin classes at the gym (Les Mills RPM). I've been doing 6x per week for the last 9-10 weeks or so.. i NEVER have pain doing it. i can do the class for 90+ minutes, no pain. when i'm done i could literally do cartwheels i feel so good. about 30-45 min later, it's all back.

Physio wants me doing core exercise.. i've been doing them faithfully and i have (i believe) a strong core. stuff like planks i can hold for minutes on end.

If i do a full sit-up, i get the pain almost instantly, so that motion is no good. small half crunches are fine, no pain.

I also play guitar, holding my guitar (about 8 pounds) is torture after about 10-15 minutes... this might be the worst thing that aggravates my back.

I cannot run, about 10-15 min is the best i can do, then it all goes down hill.

I dont understand.. if i had a slipped disc or degenerative discs could i still do spin class with zero pain?

Ask me any questions, i'll try and answer... i'm at the point where my physio is no longer helping.


  • Just forgot to add, i have the pain in the low back that shoots and radiates to my front hip flexors. my left hip flexor more than the right. never anything lower (never down the legs or knees)
  • Hi here,

    Do you think you may be overdoing it?
    Do you keep a journal so you can track when your pain increases vs. What you did the prior day. With backs you want to be careful bending, twisting, or lifting. I am sure you physio would guide you here. It is why they want your core strong b/c if e wind blows, you muscles keep your spine protected in a way.

    As for the xray or MRI (MRI will tell you more on discs) did your doctor say why he won't send you? Have you asked if he will refer you to an orthopedic spine specialist? You might want to try that.
  • I agree with DNice - xrays and MRI would be a good idea, as would referral to a spine specialist. In many cases those tests might not be enough for the doctor to come up with a reasonable treatment plan, so they're often supplemented with other tests such as EMG. Best wishes and keep us posted.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    all doctors need to justify diagnostic tests. If anything, I would just ask your doctor why they feel a MRI is warranted in your case.

    Doctors do all the necessary clinical examinations that would provide rationale for any follow on testing.

    There are many symptoms (not what a patient is saying) that support having a MRI done.

    You indicated that you are dealing with nerve pain. I have to assume then, you have had an EMG. What were those results? And was the EMG coordinated by the same doctor who is not sending you for a MRI or X-Ray?

    Reading all the act ivies you are doing, they seem to be quite aggressive. Have you communicated all of this to your doctor and what are they feelings about all of this?

    Last question would be, since your doctor is not sending you for a MRI, what are the recommendations and/or action plan that your doctor has provided you with?

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Hey Gang,

    I have communicated all my activity with both my Doctor and Physiotherapist. I asked if I should stop or if i should keep doing it.. my Physio said to keep exercising. He feels if i stop it'll get worse. He has written off certain specific activities which i've avoided completely

    I have not had an EMG, really my family doctor has been of no help. His recommendation is to keep going to physio.. I'm at a point where physio is no longer helping. When i say nerve pain, maybe I'm describing it wrong. It's definitely not muscle pain.. just a different type of feeling that i assumed is nerve. Especially given it radiates around my hips to my front hip flexors.

    I can say that when i've taken a couple days off, i do not feel better. if anything i feel stiff and a bit worse. When i exercise things seem to loosen up enough for some comfort

    I see my family doctor again next week.. i'll once again ask for some sort of imaging.
  • I even after surgery still try to stand and play fhe guitar and within minutes left nerve gets agrivated in the lower back and nerve flares up going down the left leg,

    You have to remember when you working out muscles get tight around the injury and can sometimes mask the symptom of the pain from a nerve, once you done and relax fhe muscles then many times nerve finaly goes in to overdrive and hurts,

    I been dealing with such symptoms for many years with my back, mine is just worse now after surgery causing nerve damage, Without an mri or other tests there is no way to know whats realy the cause but very well could be a disc is bulging,

    It could even have a tear in the disc as it was in my case, Some drs feel bulging disc has chance of healing by keeping the gravity off it and do more like pool thearapy and such to avoid surgery, If you working out and puting just more pressure on the disc its actualy not helping it just makes it worse,

    When playing rhe guitar use at least a belt around the back so hip dont shift as much, soft belt that helps suport the hip and back helps in my case sometimes,

    In my case its fhe l4l5 disc that had surgery and i am right handed player so when i hold the guitar standing i tend to shift more to left side to play and can feel the nerve,

    Good luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Ps. Posibly they dont feel its serious enough to do mri because it not nerve pain then just stress on the lower back for now and sometimes it can get beter on its own, you tried moist heat and creams to get releif?

    Many times if symptoms are not very severe they dont want to waste time with expensive mri and ct when symptoms dont sound to where surgery is in question at this time, Good luck hopefuly you can work it out,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Yeah, i guess that's why i want the MRI. i'm 32 and he told me even if they find a problem, they wont do anything (surgically) i'm fine with that. i'd just like to know if i'm making it worse, or better, or even treating it properly. Everyone i see about it; it's all guess work. So far i've been through:

    - Physio
    - Acupuncture
    - Massage Therapy
    - Hot (moist heeat) / Cold therapy
    - Chiroprator.

    i probably just have to suck it up and accept it'll likely never get fixed and i'll have to put up with this for ever.
  • If your regular doc refuses to help you. Tells you that getting an MRI is pointless. No one will do anything since you're 32. That's a crock. Tell him you want a referral to another doctor. Either sports medicine or orthopedic because you need a 2nd opinion. He may not like it but that's too bad. It's your body, not his.

    If he refuses then fire him and go get another doctor. It's not like he is helping you. Be your own advocate, no one else will.
  • You won't be able to have any surgery because you are 32? That is ridiculous! Of course no one wants surgery, and it is the last resort after all conservative measures have been exhausted.

    I had the same problem as you... my GP is also ridiculous. Fortunately my insurance is a PPO so after I had enough I went to a neurosurgeon and a physiatrist. I had a large fragmented herniated disc causing left foraminal stenosis (pinching the left nerve). After about 5 years of increasing pain and a year and a half of constant excruciating pain and 6 months of conservative treatments I opted to have the disc removed and a fusion. I was 23 years old. If only I had a dime for every time someone told me I am too young to have this surgery... Even in the pre op, I heard the nurses whispering about how they couldn't believe the surgeon would do that surgery on me. The surgery was the only hope I had. At 23 years old I felt my life was over, I couldn't even shower or put on a sock with out constant excruciating pain. I became extremely depressed and would sit in my room crying for a good portion of the day. I am telling you this because pain has no restrictions on age. I was not in a severe accident, and I am a healthy person. Things just happen!

    I am currently about 6 months post op. I am not fused yet, but I have a drastic reduction in pain. At least now I can handle the pain I have. I have been going to PT to work on my range of motion in my neck and pain in my mid back and a choking feeling in my neck.

    So anyway... Don't let anyone tell you that you are too young for all of this. Yes it is sad that you are dealing with it at a young age but it is what it is. Get an mri. If you cant get one ordered from your GP, go to a pain management or physiatrist or even a neurosurgeon. Get an mri, try all the conservative treatments, and if nothing works, have surgery (if your doctor thinks it will help)
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • I also think that an MRI/CT scan or at least x-rays are warranted. It might be time to find another doctor that will actually take the time to figure out what's happening.

    You could have stenosis, facet problems, or disc issues - who knows, but until you find the generator you won't know what will help and what will hurt. I just know that when I had stenosis my major pain was in my hips and buttocks. Standing was very difficult and bending forward or sitting relieved the pain somewhat.

    Good luck. Just thought I'd throw in my two cents worth.

  • A few things...you don't want to rush into lower back surgery at 32. I think that's what they mean and probably why the doctor wants to continue on the track you are on. However, it wouldn't hurt to ask your general practitioner if he will support you seeing a spine specialist.

    My personal opinion is that I'd stay away from the chiropractor with the Lower back issues. I found only a few good ones out there and the good ones actually want to work with your spine doctor. IF they don't or don't even suggest it...I would question being with them. They can do more harm than good.
  • yeah, i don't have a lot of faith in chiropractors. i think they can help for some things.. but not this. i was seeing him and he twisted me one day.. it hurt so bad I've been turned off from going.

    i do like my Dr quite a bit, this is the first disagreement I've had. I'm going to talk to him again next week... i cant really 'fire him' or get another doctor. here in Canada I'm lucky to have one where i am.. there's lots in my city who cant get a family doctor due to such a high demand.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    If you like your family Dr and do not want to switch I think you are going to have to be aggressive with him. Personally I would make a appointment and explain we have done this your way and there has been no improvement. Tell him you believe there is something else going on that is not being treated. Ask him then what the next plan of action is because what you are doing is not working . If no test were ordered after this I would ask for a referral to a specialist. The funny thing about that is the specialist will want you to bring all x-rays and mris to your appointment. Good luck
  • O dear!!!smac neill do not have any specific suggestion for your back pain but i can suggest you one instrument which really help you in your pain.it is named edit I suggest you pls try this this will definitely help you.

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    Post Edited by Authority Member Liz
  • it sounds to me like a nerve is being pushed on and thats why your able to do the cycling. Having your body in that position is better for you and then when you change your position your pain is coming back. Your running is the same thing your jarring your spine up and down and it can't handle that. You need at least an x-ray to see if there are changes in your spine. If your doctor refuses then start bringing up everything positive that you've been doing to make yourself healthier instead of just telling him the bad stuff, let him know that your just asking for the tests so that you can move past this problem and maybe that will nudge him in the direction that you want. Good luck!
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