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Untracable back pain has doctors baffled

I am posting this on behalf of my father

He has been battling back pain for about 18 months now, and cancer for the past 10 months. I am writing this because
after a year of hospitalizations, dozens of doctors, and more test than I have taken in my school days they can not
find the source of his pain. I will try to keep this short.

He started having pain roughly 18 months or so. It was more annoying than anything. It was usually around his lower back
at the belt line, and occasionally spread to his right hip. He was 50, and just assumed it was part of the aging process.
It wasn't anything a few Aleve wouldn't handle. They bought new beds, as theirs was quite old, but nothing seemed to help.
He went in for a routine colonoscopy last December, and that is where they found a tennis ball size tumor. He was in surgery
the next day. We all assumed his pain was caused by this mass. He was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. The mass was
removed, but he had a few scattered lymph nodes which were cancerous, as well as a spot on his liver.

For about the past year the cancer has gotten better. It is about 80% of what it was at the beginning, as is currently
stable. Not shrinking, but not spreading either. However, his back pain is indescribable. It has gotten progressively
worse throughout the year, to the point he can no longer leave the hospital. This is what we know:

1. It is not cancer related.
2. CT/MRI/Pet/Xray are all clear
3. It is not caused by his colon resection. A recent colonoscopy has shown it is perfectly healthy
4. It is not nerve related. They did an extensive nerve test (the name eludes me) and everything was normal.
5. Blood vessels in that area are all working as they should
6. It is degenerating over time and getting worse
7. We have had various nerve blocks/spinal injections/medications and nothing helps
8. He DOES have low magnesium, which we have brought up to the oncologist, which he says wouldn't cause all this

The doctors are dumbfounded. We have been from pain management doctors to neurologists, oncologists, GI's, etc. They
do not know the next step to take. My father is on 4-6mg of IV dilaudid every 2 hours, and that only keeps his pain around a 5.
He is also plagued horrible stomach cramps, which we think is caused by the stress of everything, poor diet, and a pharmacy
worth of medications.

He has been on chemo for a month or so, as he can not handle both of those at the same time. If we do not find help soon
his cancer may stop being so quiet. What are some things, more rare, which I can mention to the dr to possible check for?


  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 11/02/2013 - 12:24 AM
    I see this is your first post I am a long term member of this and in its previous carnations .first I am sorry to hear about the bowel cancer I myself have been going through tests on this health problem and I am still under investigation ,but back to you .what I have found over the years is try not to focus on ;;what's wrong with me ..why do I still have this pain ?? but just know that pain is pain and it requires painkillers because a person cannot be expected to live in constant pain all the time .I am on oxycontin all the time .maybe this will be a suitable painkillers for your dad as he and I are similar in age .I know its very difficult when you can't get a firm diagnosis again I can reflect from personal experience .just try to keep him comfy and do as and when he feels like doing things .again you have my complete understanding as I have had 17 years of pain suffering and too many operations and painful procedures .I am not on here very much but I am sure that some of the regular members will join this thread
    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
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • None of us here are medical professionals and can not diagnose or provide medical advice. That being said, my Grandmother had horrible back pain, could not be relieved regardless of amount of medication. They finally did a bone scan and found bone cancer.

    Hope you get answers soon.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
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