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Chronic Pain - Thoracic Spine at T7-T8. Hopeless

kslagermankkslagerman Posts: 1
edited 09/30/2014 - 2:49 PM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic

First time visiting. Years of pain have driven me here.

I am a 32 year old male. Pretty healthy. 6' about 190 lbs. No back injury that I am aware of. For about 7 years I have had a slow onset problem in my thoracic spine in between T7 and T8. The pain started very minor and over the years has gotten to the point to where I am fairly debilitated and in severe pain almost constantly.

I have had 2 MRIs, one in 2011 and the other in 2013. Both showed the same issue and didn't show much progression from one year to another. Basically I have a slightly bulging disc at T7 and T8. Very minimal to no spinal cord involvement. There is some disc height loss. Overall, the images don't show anything too interesting.

I have been dealing with my doctor(s) on this for years. Nothing has been done. I have Kaiser Permanente in California. They have never offered any kind of medication or assistance other than a nortriptyline starter pack. I didn't stick with it because of the side effects and it wasn't helping my pain. In all honesty I prefer to avoid meds of that type and the stronger pain meds. I take about 1600 mg of ibuprofin per day to try to manage things.

Other than that, I've been to physical rehab to try to strengthen my core that is basically non existent from favoring my mid section for years. (Literally probably couldn't do a sit up because my abs are so deconditioned and of course the pain would be unimaginable).

I get minimal sleep because there is no way to be comfortable and my day can go one of two ways. About 2 hours on my feet is the tipping point that determines if I'll be in 10/10 pain in the evening OR 7/10 pain. My job alternates between moderate standing labor on some days and other days is office work.

The pain is very focally centered in the spine itself and what I assume are the nerve roots that come out the sides of the spine. I have pain on my front side, which I assume is the wrap around effect.

I guess what I want to ask is if anyone has any ideas different ways to approach the situation.

1. Its hard to understand how a person with such an unremarkable MRI could be in so much physical pain.
2. Do you think it's possible that the MRI is maybe not catching something in my anatomy? I have the images, they look pretty blurry to me to be honest
3. I always hear that surgery is the final option. Well, I feel like I haven't even been offered options 1, 2, and 3, when surgery is step 4. (hypothetical). I hear about people getting steroid injections, traction, epidurals etc etc. all invasive, but not as much as surgery.
4. The only other option that has been given to me is a chronic pain class. I think it's for people experiencing depression, which I don't doubt I have a bit of. I must admit that I've been bummed at the thought of being 32 and living the rest of my life like this.

I have to think there's SOMETHING ELSE OUT THERE to try. I do occasional chiropractic which sometimes makes things worse. I also have an inversion table which use to help, but just makes things worse now.

Thanks everyone, and good luck.


  • Have the MRI's only been done on the thoracic area? It is possible that there may be other issues causing the pain in other areas of the spine. You may want to start with a board certified spine surgeon who can examine you, discuss all of your symptoms, narrow down the areas of the spine that may be contributing, and then work to address those areas.

  • Hi
    have had the same came accross article in british medical journal which comments how symptons are presented.If you get stomack and groin pain it recommends operation on basis that the pain referal can be up and down. For a uk drs to advocate this is unusuaL.hE BASICALLY STATES THAT IF YOU DO NOT OPERATE YOU WILL BECOME BED BOUND
    Always remember where expertise of Drs you see is protusion at this lewvel is about 1:5 million there is a web site that discusses this DR in USA
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,451
    Hello davidjbellis !
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,451
    Reminder.....there are no medical professionals on discussion forum.
    Members are not allowed to advise when surgery is or is not necessary.
    As individuals, our doctors know our entire medical history and can best advise us.

    Any private messaging follows same rules as forum.
    In part....ex.....no recommendations to doctors or facilities. No bashing of doctors and facilities.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Same here 8 yrs and running.  No answers.  Been given pinched nerves, have had cauterizarion of nerves.  Still no answers.  
  • You posted this a couple years ago but I thought I would reply. I too am suffering with the same disc buldge and live in pain daily which is getting to be exhausting. I've been seeing pain management doctor for a year now and take Norco when my paid is intolerable, which is almost every day. It's getting worse and I take 1-2 Norco's per day. I am still active, I work out 3/per week and take a Norco just to get through my workouts. My workout is can be walking for an hour, stationary bike or the elliptical with some abs and light weights for toning then stretching. Occasionally I have to take a week off hoping it will make a difference but it does not. I work on the computer 40 hrs per week so of course I sit all day which makes my pain intolerable.

    What have you done in the past two years since you've last logged on to this blog?


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