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Advice please

Hey guys, I was wondering if you could provide me with some advice. Here's my story; after a long trip to Italy with my girlfriend I found myself sleeping through out train/bus rides which caused me a stiff neck, after that followed pain through out my back. It's been about 7 weeks now and I haven't had any real progress and I'm still in a lot of pain. I'm having trouble sleeping plus just generally getting on with life and it's really getting me down. My back pops and makes noises all the time and my back muscles have become really stiff. All the doctors have told me not to worry and just provided me pain killers and to just get on with things but it's never that simple when you're the one in constant pain. I've made an appointment with a chiropractor next week, as no one will now help me after numerous appointments through the nhs, I'm having to pay privately, being a student this is not what I can really afford but my health needs to come first.I'm only 22 and need some advice on what to do. Hope your all ok and would really appreciate some words of wisdom!


  • Think about seeing a sports physio instead of a chiropractor. A sports physo worked out what was wrong with me after 8 years of misdiagnosis. I broke my back so would never see a chiropractor. They are too rough for me and if they saw my MRI's don't think they would touch me anyway. Sports physios have to get professional athletes back to their sport.
  • Have you had any imagine test done? MRI, CT, x-ray,?
    alif l4-s1
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 04/07/2014 - 8:08 AM
    Liam. Are you in the UK? Sometimes you need to push before things get moving. If I were you I'd be insisting on some diagnostic testing (X-ray, MRI). You need to know what's going on with you. My families experience with NHS physical therapy has been very positive. At your age they're assuming it's going to resolve on its own, just don't take no for an answer.

    Please reconsider chiropractic care until you know what's causing your pain. If its a spine issue you don't want adjustments! Why don't you save your money, you've already paid for NHS, your age is no excuse to be denied care. ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Thanks for your responses! I have not had any scans or anything as they felt it was unnecessary As I recently had a RA test not so long ago (literally just before my back pain occurred) they feel it's purely mechanical. haha English girl, I enjoyed that last comment. I really have tried to push for more results but I'm getting no where. With the responses you've gave I've opted out from going to the chiropractor and I've booked an appointment with a highly regarded sports pysio in my local area. Any one been in a similar situation ?
  • You'll probably find that since this problem started recently, doctors will be very conservative in their treatment. Most back problems go away within 3 months so they assume that it will until after that time has past. I think it is great that you are going to the sports physio. Generally whatever the problem is, the first treatment tried is physiotherapy. Even if you get a scan and there is a problem there, you'll probably be sent to physio as the first step. I'm not sure about in the UK but in Australia, physios can order scans, so if they feel it is necessary, they can do that.

    The important thing to do now is to follow whatever routine the physio prescribes and utilise different pain management techniques such as pacing activities, stretching frequently, changing positions often, keeping gently active with frequent short walks, application of ice or heat, TENS, relaxation, avoidance of high impact activities, painkillers, braces, support cushions, ergonomics, massage, acupuncture or whatever it is that works for you. It can take some time before you work out what helps, what doesn't and what makes it worse. Good luck.
  • I'll echo the advice to not see a chiro until you've had a proper MRI done to see what the problem is. Chiro is just not a smart idea until you know what your soft tissue looks like.

    Also, try to keep moving. If you have a desk job, that means not sitting at your desk for more than an hour at a time; get up and walk once an hour.

    Hopefully, you haven't got a major spine problem and light walking and maybe a deep tissue massage will help w your pain
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • Liam-182LLiam-182 Posts: 8
    edited 04/07/2014 - 11:56 PM
    Thank you all for your advice so far. I'm amazed by the supportive community this website has built. I was under the impression that as this was only 7 weeks into it, they would be very reluctant to dive deeper into researching. Sleeping seems to be my biggest concern, I no longer get a full nights sleep and that's taking a big toll. How do you all deal with this? I found my self waking up at 6ish with discomfort in my back. Hope you're all doing well.
  • Did you read the step by step link above that I posted to you? It gives you the outline to what steps will most likely be taken to find out what the cause of the spine problem/pain is......
    It is a process and it starts with the least invasive treatment options first......http://www.spine-health.com/forum/pain/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-treatment-step-step

    As far as sleep goes, melatonin occurs naturally in the body, and you can purchase it over the counter.....it's an herbal supplement, that allows you to fall asleep . You don't feel hung over like you might with sleeping pills and the like, and there is no sluggishness in the morning.. I have used it for years, with good results.
    And sometimes the use of a body pillow or a smaller pillow under your legs or between them if you sleep on your side, helps to ease the middle of the night pain flares.
  • Liam. I know it's going to be a bit different with the NHS but it's well worth reading through. The basics are the same but you will probably be sent to a hospital specialist who'll order tests, procedures & consult with your GP. If you're getting the old "no, or limited MRI in this county" run-around..they just need to fill out the form! NHS means 'national' but I know (depending on where you live) some docs have problems grasping that!
    My Dads not the kind of guy to take no for an answer. I have a lot of spine problems in my family. Don't believe 'it's different in America' stuff. My Dads treatment plans have been very similar to mine & I live here!

    Good luck! Stand-up for yourself & you shouldn't have to pay! ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Sandi, I've read over the link you sent me and I really appreciate that a lot. Allot of vital information which helps improve recovery rates quicker. I'll have a hunt around for that melatonin. English girl I'm going to stick with the nhs but the appointment system is so long and slow, did you find this? I'm constantly nagging for answers but I keep getting told to take numerous types of medicine and not finding out what the cause is, it's extremely frustrating and I literally cannot understand why no one will scan my back. I'll be visiting a private pysio for some more insight and answers tomorrow. Thanks for all the encouragement so far people. I'm sure you all understand what it's like to want more help.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 04/09/2014 - 6:03 AM
    It is frustrating, especially when you are just beginning......one issue is that most of the population will have some form of back pain at some point in their lives and most of them will find that it resolves on it's own, with little to no medical intervention, so most doctors take the wait and see approach, and resort to the basics, physical therapy, anti inflammatory meds, stretching, and rest.....it's only when those things don't help to ease the pain or there are signs of neurological deficit that they start looking further into what might be causing the problems.
    For us though, it's frustrating, waiting for months for something to put a name to what is occurring and wanting to know what to do about it.....and of course, when we are having pain , it makes it that much more frustrating.
    Hang in there, and hopefully, you will get some answers and directions about what to go to next.
  • Liam. You're 7 weeks into this. I know that feels like a lifetime when you're in constant pain but in the world of spine pain you're right at the start. I've seen this from both sides of the Atlantic & many things wouldn't be moving any faster over here. I don't know why you haven't been sent for an X-ray yet (they'll do that before MRI) & I think your doc should be sending you for physical therapy. Their first step (UK) in my experience is always meds but if it doesn't start to resolve in a couple of weeks your GP need to get his wiggle on! They 'hold' appointments for emergencies, if you still can't function & you're waiting too long say you need to be seen. Have you asked for a referral? After 7 weeks with no change, rest isn't working, you need a physical therapist to teach you how to stretch safely & diagnostic tests & a referral to a hospital.

    I had a fantastic GP in the UK. He didn't leave me hanging this long but he was an exception I think. You will probably get over this, move on & forget all about us but you clearly need a bit more than the 'wait & see' approach.

    Boots sells melatonin in the vitamin section. I take magnesium also, it's said to help with nerve pain.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • MSGMSG Posts: 296
    edited 04/09/2014 - 8:58 PM
    My son who is 10 & has chronic foot pain was having trouble sleeping due to the pain. Though he's 10, he weighs about 130, so he is the size of an adult. We were giving him Benadryl, but the dr suggested melatonin. It has worked like a charm, & best part for him is it comes in gummy bears :)
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • Whereabouts in the UK are you Liam. I'm in Somerset and I had similar problems in the early days. The squeakiest hinge gets the most oil. You need to keep going to the GP and asking for a referral, at the very least for x-rays. You have to break into the system, once you are in it sometimes moves forward surprisingly quickly. Referral to the local Musculo skeletal clinician should follow if the x-ray shows any problem at all followed by MRI etc. Then to the local specialist spinal unit but let's hope there isn't anything that serious. Keep us all posted on your progress. Best wishes
  • Some mild progress! I saw a physio today and she examined my back and concluded that all my muscles are extremely tight. She's suggested we work from top to bottom; I've been given 5 different stretches to do as often as possible that specifically help loosen up the neck and upper back. I will have to see the progress from there. In 2 weeks the nhs have arranged an appointment with someone who deals with patients who have multiple joint problems. It's not a rheumatologist, I can't remember exactly who. Also my doctor suspects it may be fibro, how ever I feel almost certain it's not due to all my symptoms have come from specific moments. Except my back, that one I can't work out why it's stiff. Also, do many people get cracking noises in their back ? My back seems to be cracking all the time, I've mentioned this numerous times to doctors/ physios but get told not too worry. Could this be because of how tight my muscles are ? Thanks for all
    Your input so far! Mentally it's very supportive also :)
  • Yes! A referral! Things should get moving now. ;-)

    I'm hoping that the controlled stretches will do wonders, do the work, it's well worth the results. My back cracks & grinds but my spines got more years on it than yours! When my pains out of control it has numerous effects on my body, because my pressure points go crazy I've had the word fibromyalgia thrown around a few times. It's a very difficult diagnosis, there's no test for it. I think some doctors use that word to cover a multitude of unexplained symptoms & that only makes things harder for those who are crippled by the illness. I'd put that on the back burner for now & concentrate on getting your spine pain sorted. I've found that those other symptoms can go away once my pains controlled.

    It could be worth having a blood test to rule out rheumatism, see what your doc says. Good luck with your appointment! I'm so pleased things are finally moving in the right direction. We like your company but (in the nicest way) I'd like to say goodbye & enjoy your pain free life! ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • haha thanks EnglishGirl.I really appreciate your kind words. I've had a blood test for rheumatoid arthritis and thankfully the results came back ok. Somerset John i'm based in Cheltenham and i'm finding it difficult to break into the system at the moment! haha. I actually get the impression my doctor feel like i'm just moaning (i've noticed alot of people have feel like that) and wants me to just heal over time as he feels certain it will just go. I really don't know how to insist for a scan when my doctor wont? shall i just go directly to the NHS? or my physio? Oh sandi and msg, i tried to pick up melatonin but I was told it was only available by prescription.
  • Is your referral for a spine specialist? They should order diagnostic tests & suggest an action plan. Where did you go to buy melatonin? I just asked my husband where he would go to buy it in England & he said "Boots Chemist". Maybe they made it prescription recently. Can't even guess how many years it's been since I bought some?!? I'm interested to know why they stopped selling it without a prescription...
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Liam-182LLiam-182 Posts: 8
    edited 04/10/2014 - 11:30 PM
    He's not a spine specialist, just someone who deals with multiple joint problems. I'm not to sure why they won't push for a scan, I'm trying to get one. Has anyone taken gabapentin before ? I've been prescribed it but I'm quite nervousness about taking it as it's anti epileptic medicine.
  • Somerset JohnSSomerset John Posts: 21
    edited 04/11/2014 - 12:01 AM
    Liam I am on Gabapentin. It is prescribed for epileptics but it also treats nerve pain. I am on 3000 mg per day and it helps a lot. My problems have all been identified by MRIs etc and I've see the consultants at xxxxx. I am basically crippled by a combination of wide spread lumbar lateral recess and central core stenosis, arthritis, disc problems etc.
    It seems you have broken into the system so hopefully you will have some good news for us all soon. I am sure you know you have all our best wishes. Keep us posted.

    Post edited to remove name of specific hospitals. by Liz The Spine-Health Moderator Team
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 04/11/2014 - 7:52 AM
    I've been on Gabapentin too. There are some medications that were developed for 1 thing but have been proven to help with other problems. Lots of people take it for nerve pain. You slowly build up the amount you take. If you ever need to stop taking it, you need to slowly reduce the amount, not suddenly stop taking it. I'm talking about 'Titrating' up & down. Make sure you follow the instructions. ;-)

    I'm from South London before I moved too Texas.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • if you can not get melatonin..........L-tryptophan is the same thing that is in turkey that makes us all so sleepy after eating Thanksgiving dinner......similar to melatonin and works the same.
  • I asked about Melatonin in the UK & did a little research. It is no longer available to those under 55 in the UK. It must be prescribed. There's a long list of drug interactions on the NHS site. Do not take if pregnant or breast feeding. I always say "natural does not equal safe" I guess I overlooked this one! I always thought it was a safe alternative to sleeping pills. I no longer use it but if you do it's worth looking into so you can decide if the risks are worth it to you with your health conditions.

    Sorry Liam. You live & learn ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Cheers guys. I'll try and track down tryptophan sandi. Haha, apparently so Englishgirl. Somerset john did you find any side effects or negative problems with gabapentin? Here's an update; I visited an osteopath today and had an examination. He's told me that i've damaged the ligaments in my back. I experienced the process of having pads on my back which sends pulses through to relax the muscles, after than he cracked my back in line and to follow this up i had acupuncture to finish off. To sum up the results; I feel quite achy and my spine hurts. Which what was suspected but i was told would pass after a couple of days. I do have a real concern though, my back is constantly cracking. right in the middle of my thoracic spine. I constantly bring this up with doctors/physios etc but they tell me not to worry. but i emphasis this is where the pain is. I've been given stretches to do there and this causes the cracking pain also. I'm just wondering if you guys have any advice on going about this? I really appreciate your support, considering some of the situations a lot of people are going through, mine seems like nothing, in the most grateful way, you guys have been the first people to really listen to what I've described and I've never met any of you. Incredible huh!
  • Pain is pain & it sucks! It's hard when you're young, I bet most of your friends have never experienced pain that's gone on & on. I remember I trapped a nerve in my neck at your age (car crash) & I was lucky, I woke with the pain on a Monday. My friends rallied around to help me..come Saturday night I could of starved! Young people loose patience with care pretty fast ;-)

    I didn't have any real side effects from Gabapentin, it just made me really sleepy for a couple of weeks while my body got used to it. I've got little kids so I'm always sleep deprived anyway!

    Until you've got some diagnostic tests we're just guessing. I'm pretty clicky but my spines very different to yours. It's one of those things that could be something or nothing...

    Stick with the stretches, they can do the world of good ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Somerset JohnSSomerset John Posts: 21
    edited 04/25/2014 - 3:29 AM
    I have found that Gabapentin can help a good bit once you get the dose right Liam. I've sent you a reply to your message
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