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Mystery Diagnosis

I have had physical therapy for 9 months after an injury at work to my mid back has stopped me from basically doing anything physical other than running. I got an MRI that showed 2 bulging discs in my thoracic spine. I now have pain in my mid back,ribs,abdomen,pelvis,and arms. My orthopedic doctor and pain management doctor both contributed all of this pain to the bulging discs in my back. I got an epidural in my thoracic spine at the beginning of December and it took all the pain out of my arms and just decreased the pain everywhere else for about 2 weeks. After that it wore off and returned to how it was. I told my doctor and he scheduled me to get another MRI and also go to a neurosurgeon. I got the MRI and the impression and I took all of that to the Neurosurgeon yesterday and he looked at it and also did some reflex tests and kept asking me if I was having numbness or tingling in my legs. I said no. He showed me the MRI and said nothing has changed from the first MRI to the second. He then said my spinal canal is about 16mm wide and the biggest bulging disc is only sticking out about 3mm. He said there is no possible way that the bulging discs are causing the pain I am feeling everywhere. He said there is nothing to operate on because it would be pointless considering that's not the problem. So I said well what the hell am I supposed to do. He said to push myself to my limit and try to push through with any physical activities I want to do. If I can't then stop what I'm doing and contact my primary doctor. I explained to him I already hit my limit and that's why I stopped playing sports and I can't even sleep in my bed because it hurts so bad when I wake up. It feels like I'm being stabbed in the middle of my back with a knife. He tells me to continue trying to sleep in my bed. And then he says my symptoms are either going to get better or worse. But only time will tell so i just have to wait it out now. Please tell me what the hell I'm supposed to do with that!?!? Like how are these people qualified to practice medicine? That's not even good advice. "You are in extreme pain,keep doing that and hopefully it gets better". Do you guys have any suggestions on what I should do next?? I contacted my orthopedic doctor and pain management doctor and told their employees what happened and they said they would call me back but never did. This is all through workers comp so I have to go where they tell me to go. I've been dealing with this for almost 2 years now. I also had an ultrasound that showed no problems and I went to the chiropractor about 10 times and that did not help at all. Any suggestions yall have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,806
    As a past thoracic spine injury and damage sufferer the things I would be asking

    *why if the disc has no involvement did the injection take the pain in arms away
    * Is the issue even with spine or something else that the steroid may have helped

    I had horrible stabbing , knifing pain in thoracic from an annular tear in my thoracic discs. Usually wont see it on scans unless large, many doctors think doesn't cause pain, but I am living proof it does and steroid injections can work on it. The bottom line is you had an injury and now you are in pain, that is the simplest level, now what is causing the pain? The doctors should be working with you to figure that out or get you where someone can.
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • Hey man, I saw your post and just thought I'd touch base with ya. Sorry you are still having problems dude. I did see where you did get some relief from your ESI. Man if you get any relief from them ya might want to keep going with a series of them, sometimes it takes several before they start working and act on the bulge. And man I can't say it enough, if you don't like what the doctors are telling you and don't trust what they say move on. It is so hard to find someone who understand thoracic area and all the things can effect. I know your working with comp and thats hard, but you know your body best. I would try at least two more sets of injections if they worked and you didn't have any negative affects and see what happens, if it don't work and they aren't giving you an answer on the next step MOVE ON and be your own best advocate. Have you looked into a TENS machine, also if the shots don't work maybe ask about the IDET procedure it can really help. Keep your head up man us thoracic spineys are rare and have real difficulties getting proper advice and treatment. If ya still got my number you call me anytime if ya want to talk. Take care bro, later
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,806
    edited 02/10/2015 - 1:00 PM
    Nitrohead is spot on, the thoracic spine is a specialty in itself. I had quite a few ESI and when i finally had it placed in right spot the results have been more than i could have hoped.
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • Dothedew23DDothedew23 Posts: 14
    edited 02/13/2015 - 2:15 PM
    Thanks for the responses guys. I appreciate it. The neurosurgeon and both of my other doctors swear that there is no way my arms can be sore from my thoracic spine. They say it has to be from the cervical spine. The thing is my neck doesn't hurt and I don't feel like that was hurt in my injury at all,but my arms are sore all the time down to my elbows. Let me run you down what happened exactly. When I got hurt I felt an extreme pain on the left side of my back down by my lowest rib. It felt like a tear in muscle. From there there pain went to my lower back and over to the right side of my back. After that my back felt tight a lot of the time. My doctors had me convinced the soreness in my back was scar tissue. And they told me to keep playing sports I was playing like softball and basketball. Over time the pain felt the same and eventually I started feeling like a pulled a muscle underneath of my arm pit. It hurt like hell and then went away after a few weeks. I then swung a bat at a tournament and felt like I pulled a muscle in the front of my abdomen near the end of my ribs. This pain lasted a few weeks and faded away. I was told to keep playing sports and doing physical activity because they didn't widnt want my muscles to get tight. I was ok for months and then eventually the pain started radiating to my ribs and my abdomen. Now my ribs are sore to touch and I have a pulling stretching feel in my abdomen. I have now stopped all my sports even though the doctors tell me I can still play. I physically can't. It hurts too bad and it's not worth it. I'm curious if all this pain I'm experiencing is from tearing muscles or something like that from swinging and playing sports or is it really just pain radiating from the discs in my back? I have not been to a neurologist through all of this. Do you think that would be something to look in to or would the neurosurgeon have said something about that when I met with him? I'm scheduled for another thoracic epidural next week.
  • I am so sorry to know that anybody feels this kind of pain.
    When the pain would stay in the back near my injury I could cope with life better. When the pain started to move into my neck,chest and arm is when things went downhill. I pushed myself to the breaking point and lost. I always tried to work and take care of my family no matter how much pain I was in. I pushed my body to its limit and that's when something in my head popped. Now i added headaches to my back pain.

    Painfull T4-5 T 5-6 T 6-7 T 7-8 Hurt at work on work comp! Date of injury 1997
    4 Hern disk. T4/5 T5/6 T6/7 T7/8
  • I got the second epidural and it did not work as well as the first one. I went back to my orthopedic and he started talking about possible fibromyalgia and thinking out of the box for this injury. He gave no treatment at the time and said he was going to talk to my physical therapist and my physiatrist. Both of those doctors said there's no way this is fibromyalgia. I'm so confused at this point. I tried to get another opinion from a more popular neurosurgery center in my area but workers comp would not cover it. Then I tried to pay through my own insurance and they said it was a liability issue because of the workers comp and my own insurance would not cover it. Do you guys think I should have been sent to a neurologist or a rheumatologist by now to at least rule those things out before jumping to a fibromyalgia diagnosis?? I have never had any kind of nerve testing since this injury.
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,806
    Yes ortho are not who you want a final fibro diagnosis from, it's to hard a diagnosis and many things to rule out
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
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