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.