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Feeling Alone

Hi everyone,

I am new to this forum, but wanted to share my story in the hopes of finding others with a similar issue. I have been suffering from mid back pain (thoracic region) for the past 10 years. It is a very localized, hypersensititve spot about the size of a half dollar (maybe slightly bigger) approximately one inch to the right of my spine. This area of my back is pretty much always in pain, but there are times about once or twice every month or so where I do something that intensifies the pain. This exacerbation of pain can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The pain is so debilitating sometimes I end up just lying on the couch not wanting to move because I am hurting so badly. There are a number of things that have caused these exacerbations in the past including bending down to tie my shoes, lifting, twisting, exercising, coughing, sneezing, etc. I try to avoid activities that increase my back pain, but sometimes when I have the exacerbations I couldn't even tell you what happened or what I did to cause it. When I am not having an exacerbation of back pain, my back is in a state of "normalcy" for me in which it is painful, hypersensititve, and sore, but a tad bit more manageable.

I have been to numerous doctors and tried various treatments over the past 10 years, including PT (many, many times!), two cortisone shots, chiropractor, swimming, stretching, biofreeze, ice/heat, myofascal release, e-stim (electrical stimulation, and kinesiotape. I also take IB profen or tylenol, but this does not help the pain. None of these treatments help my back pain or relieve it in the slightest other than ice/biofreeze because it temporarily numbs the pain.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that no doctor can figure out exactly what is wrong with my back. I have been given the diagnosis chostochondritis, but I strongly believe this was just given to me as a diagnosis for lack of knowing what else to tell me as none of my symptoms match this condition. The answer I have gotten from many doctors is that they don't know what is wrong and there is no surgery to help me that they know of, and their answer is to send me to physical therapy. I have been to physical therapy MANY times, and honestly, it always just ends up making it feel worse.

I am just so tired of living with this debilitating pain. I am only 24 years old and I worry about what my future will be like with this back pain as the years go on. What will it be like with pregnancy and during old age? Honestly I feel like I'm screwed!

Does anyone have any suggestions as to treatments to try? Or has anyone ever experienced similar back pain or issues?


  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 03/16/2013 - 1:21 PM
    i am sorry to here of your pain .i too have been in pain for many years and have 3 major operations on my spine and many other painful procedures .at the moment i am dealing with a yet unidentified spinal problem that new to me and it above the fused area at round the thoracic area and because i don't know what it is and its new and very painful {not the pain i am used to} i am scared i think another disc my be in trouble ..i am sorry that i can't give you a diagnosis but i just wanted to introduce myself and i am sure many of the regulars will take care
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,848
    I know you will find your time he rewarding. Besides the indepth medical library of articles and videos, we have our patient forums (what you are in now) that will allow to communicate with thousands of other spinal pain patients.

    Since you started this problem when you were 14 and have seen many doctors, please tell me what medications these doctors have put you on and what were their action plans for you?

    You have already had a number of conservative treatments, so at least one of your doctors identified and diagnosed a problem in order to get you into physical therapy and many of the other treatments you have had. I would tend to agree with your statement regarding Costochondritis. From what you have posted, you seem to only have a few of those symptoms. But if the doctors are all agreeing with this diagnosis, that might explain why they are saying there is no surgery, because from everything I have read, there is no surgery cure for costochondritis.

    When it comes to isolating a problem, it is really up to the patient to push to get more information. When you are being told, they can not find a problem, then your response could be, Ok, but what else can be done to help isolate my problem..
    Sometimes finding the root of the problem is difficult. But 10 years is a long time to go without any resolution.

    Do the doctors NOT believe you? Do they think this is in your head?

    As you said, you do not want to spend more time living like this, so become your own advocate, don't take no for answer, but politely and professional ask what more can be done. There is always the risk though when you do this and they come back with the diagnosis, it may be something you dont want to believe.

    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
  • and feel like I have the exact same problem as you though for not nearly as long as you have. I'm 33 and developed back pain after training martial arts one day. This was around 4 months ago. Since then I have intense, acute pain in the T3-T5 area (I think on the left side but sometimes it's so acute I can't tell). I've had 3 cortisone injections, 2 months of PT and they haven't helped. MRIs are all normal. My ortho just tells me I have a pulled muscle but the pain keeps me bedridden frequently. I also can't even try NSAIDs due to ulcerative colitis. A pain doctor told me I should try a facet injection (but my ortho disagreed of course). I used to lift weights/run 5 times a week and now do nothing.
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