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Undiagnosed back issue--it's not in my head!

messedupbackmmessedupback Posts: 1
edited 03/18/2015 - 4:20 PM in Chronic Pain
Hi there,

I'm new to the forum and looking for some help/advice. I have been dealing with chronic back pain/weirdness now for two years and have no idea what is going on. I think that my doctor thinks that it is completely related to anxiety and stress but I think that my anxiety is being CAUSED by not knowing what is wrong with me. I have always known that I have had scoliosis and it is pretty significant--36 degree curve. But...it never bothered me too much. I'm 43 and prior to my pregnancy at age 39, I was a very active person--a jogger, I worked out with a personal trainer. I was fit and felt good. My pregnancy was good overall and I really didn't experience back pain. I had a C-section and an epidural. The first back weirdness that I experienced was probably about 3 months after having my child when I felt a weird zapping, electrical sensation in my spine. I also experienced issues with feeling like my limbs were not functioning properly when walking down stairs or when I'd get up to move. This felt almost like there was a delay in messaging. After a few months, this settled down. I began mom and baby fitness classes and did very well. The workouts were intense and I felt very much like my old self. A few months later I fell HARD on the stairs. I landed across my back. I had no bruising but it was a hard fall. About a month after that I helped to lift a mattress/box spring. Two days later I began to get the feeling like something was crawling under my right shoulder blade. I went to the doctor and x-rays were taken. Nothing showed up beyond my scoliosis. I was referred for an MRI. The only thing that showed up was a minor disc herniation at T-11. I had another fall last year on the ice. Since then, I have had a feeling like something is pressing into my back. I have the urge to roll to one side and crack my back. I do this about 10 times a day to get some relief. I have seen a physiatrist, an osteopath, acupuncturist, and chiropractor and do pilates. Their treatments help, but not for the long term. Sometimes I am noticing that I am getting pains in my chest too. I have been tested for heart issues and there are none. I have had a ridiculous amount of tests: MRIs (twice), EKG, bone scan, x-rays, CT scan, nerve conduction testing...you name it. Nothing shows up. To summarize my symptoms, this is what I'm experiencing:
-the urge to constantly crack my back---it's LOUD!
-the feeling like something is pressing into my mid-back at the thoracic level
-chest pain on occasion, heart palpitations, and sometimes feeling like my chest hurts when breathing cold air
-my legs feel heavy when I come out of a pool and walk
-sometimes my hips hurt and my lower back is stiff
-feeling very tired
-feeling like I need to be stretched out
-sometimes the feeling like something is pinched in my right shoulder blade area and occasional pain when turning my head
-initially I also had sensations of cold but I haven't had this in a long time

Can anybody help me? I'm tired of living like this with no answers. I feel like I'm too young for this to be happening. I was worried about MS but my MRIs/CT scan don't show anything suspicious. I have some good days too but the uncomfortable days are greater than the good ones. My doctor is sending me for another MRI but I think he thinks it's all in my head and that I need to just live with this and reduce my stress. I'm frustrated and feeling depressed over not knowing what is going on.

Welcome to Spine-Health

It would be very helpful if you could provide us with more details. So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. Isolating spinal problems can almost be like the game of Clue. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong,
Here are some questions that you should answer:

  • - When did this first start?
    - Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
    - What doctors have you seen? (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon, Spine Specialist, etc)
    - What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?
    - What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results (MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc)
    - What medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)
    - Has surgery been discussed as an option? (If so, what kind)
    - Is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
    - What is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
of your situation and make it easier to respond.

Please take a look at our forum rules: Forum Rules

Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.
As such, no member is permitted to provide

  • - Analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie MRI, CTscan, Xray, etc)
    - Medical advice of any kind
    - Recommendations in terms of Medications, Treatments, Exercises, etc

What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are

I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways its like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then its up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

Please be more specific in terms of your diagnosis
--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 03/18/15 22:20


  • I t oo have had neurological work-ups, X-rays, and MRI's which have revealed nothing more than mildly compressed nerves, bulging disk,s, and some osteo-arthritis. Nothing doctors say can explain my symptoms, yet for a year I had more and more trouble walking. Especially later in the day, it would feel like I was walking through mud - my legs were heavy and difficult to move. I would bend forward walking and have to push off with my hand on my left leg. As you say, it felt like my legs sometimes didn't respond cleanly to the signals in my brain - I would bump into things and be afraid I would fall especially on the stairs. I lost 70 pounds during the worst of the episode, which lasted a year. Now I am much better, but experienced a lot of pain trying to walk straight and sit for long periods. I can now walk straight and only have very mild trouble with my legs (as described above typically late in the day). I can now exercise without worrying that my symptoms will get worse. I used to get a painful band around my abdomen; now I get sore on the left hand side just under my ribs at the back. When I do the exercise where I am on all fours and arch my back up then inverse arch it (cat/camel?) my spine feels tingly for about a foot's length along the thoracic region. It's not in my head and I wonder if it will come back if I move wrong, don't exercise enough or exercise too much or gain too much weight. The good thing is I am very mindful of my movements and my eating. I do wish I had some kind of diagnosis, however, or someone coaching me on how to handle this and what it might be. We are the best experts of our own life and experience. We don't need someone to validate us when we know something is wrong. It would be nice, I admit. The trick I find is to be confident in my own awareness of my limits and best practices.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,442

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Has either of you had a brain scan? Not to alarm you, but it could be warranted from your symptoms. It's the leg heaviness while walking that's kind of concerning...
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