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mottled skin on problem area

JulieAJJulieA Posts: 1,420
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Lower Back Pain
I decided to take a bath tonight and used the down stairs tub. The bathroom has more mirrors thanks to my daughter and better lighting. I looked at my low back and was scared by the dark mottled color =looks like a large bruise light in the center and dark around the edges about the size of my palm- further into my hips is lighter dappled mottled spots- all the way into my butt.

I remembered a few months back that my hubby had said it appeared to be bruising right at L4/L5/S1. I asked the PT about it while I was going when he was giving me an ultra sound massage- he didn't think I had anything there to worry about.......

Could this be from my heatitng pad? I do use it a few times a day for releif but I never burn my skin.

Should I be worried? The center is painful to touch- but only if I press with some force.



  • Julie, I think a call to your dr or his nurse is in order. It may be nothing, but can't hurt to get their input. Are you sure you're not buring your skin? Sometimes my back is numb, so I wouldn't know if it's burning or not. But for your peace of mind, get it checked out. Good luck. Let us know what dr says.

  • I have a call in and I just need to try to remember to bring this up when they call back.


  • My guess is you probably have used ALOT of heating pads in that area. Erythema ab igne is a mottled hyperpigmentation from the chronic use of heating pads. The area should be examined now and followed yearly by a dermatologist, because they can be at an increased rate over time of developing a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. The mottling itself is not cancer, just a sign you've meant business with the heating pads. They will usually recommend to stop using heating pads, esp. infra-red.
  • I looked it up and I think you hit the nail on the head. I saw a picture and it appears to be similar..... Yikes how am I gonna live with out the heating pad????

    I stopped today :(

  • But with me, it shows up when L4/L5/S1 are really flared up. I was told it is also something to do with the nerves.

    The heating pad theory is interesting too, though, because I practically LIVE on my Thermophore!! Thanks for the info.

  • I got scared. I haven't used the heating pad since Tuesday morning.... I was missing it bad last night. I ended up taking an extra pain med and a muscle relaxer to compensate for the relief that I get from the heating pad....

    I think I will stay off of it until I see my NS again and get his thoughts.

  • I too had the mottling. I used the car seat heater all the time and agree with the previous post about overuse of heat.
  • Tracy,

    I believe what you may have heard about is the mottling associated with CRPS (previously known as RSD). It's generally shown in the limbs, but can effect other areas of the body.

    Here's a quote from the RSD Association
    "Evidence at some time of edema, changes in skin blood flow (skin color changes, skin temperature changes more than 1.1°C difference from the homologous body part), or abnormal sudomotor activity in the region of the pain"


    Either way, this is something that should be evaluated by your doctor. All of us spiney's can give you information and share experiences, but please talk to your doc about this.

    Don't forget to let us know what the good doc has to say as well!

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