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Mystery lumbar pain

Hi there! I am looking for any insights into my problem.

I am a 43 year old female. I have been active in walking, light jogging and fitness classed for four years. Last spring, I started working out more and taking kickboxing. After a few weeks of it, I noticed that during my cool-down walks on the track, my back would feel like it was very gradually winding up and getting tight. I didn't think much of it and I would just do a few lower back stretches and that was that. I continued mowing my yard with a push-mower on weekends as well. Some days, I would walk anywhere from 7-14 miles a day. By the end of summer, I would have to stop mowing sooner, as it just felt like my back was very tight and tired. In June at the time this pain started, I also had a specific spot in my hip that felt like a burning sensation. I saw my PC for that and he told me he thought it was a muscle spasm and to stretch it. When I held kids at work, a specific spot near my L5 or sacrum would hurt on the left. Other times, that spot was tender if I pressed it. Sometimes, pressing it relieved pain. The back pain was on both sides of my very lower spine and if I continued to walk it would be like a band along my lumber.. just like you feel after HOURS on your feet.

I seemed to be able to walk fine (still having to stretch that pain out often after intense exercise) until about November when standing started to induce it and walking anything over about a half a mile. It went away again in end of December and part of January. Went away in part of Feb and after a brief stomach bug in the end of March, it came back and hasn't gone away. Very seldom there is a stabbing pain in my left side ( near kidneys). I wear a pedometer and this starts happening from 1/2 mile to .8 miles EVERY time. There are days that standing is difficult. Other days, I wouldn't know I had it unless I continuously walked over that amount of distance. If I walk .2 miles and then rest I can then walk another .2 or more. I have to rest in between or that tension builds.

When I was 20 I was diagnosed with spina bifida occulta b/c I had a sharp pain on the left at the same spot when I took a step. He said it was an imbalance that can get worse with stress. Then 23 years without a back ache, even when pregnant.

So, in April xrays revealed nothing abnormal and that I DO NOT have spina bifida. Was given steroid pack and did nothing. Was referred to a PT. She said I may have gluteal amnesia, hyperlordosis, muscle imbalance. I did a month or more of planks, hamstring stretches, ab bracing, etc.... nothing helped. Aleve for over a week, no change. I feel like it could be a ligament strain b/c of the repetitive exercise, twisting, etc... I don't know.

Also, I can run, use elliptical and generally exercise.. only walking and standing hurt. It seems if I am bending forward frequently, I will not feel the pain. At home, doing housework it is ok until I have to cook.

I have a 4 year old and I am missing out on things b/c I can't walk far.

I have an appointment with a physiarist in June. I read and read and read and none of my symptoms match. I sound like I have stenosis, but I lack radiating pain, degeneration and my age. Strains usually go away on their own. Disc problems usually affect other places other than the back. I read journals that show very weak link between posture and chronic back pain. I have had this posture my whole life without issue. I just don't know what this could be??



  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    You mentioned having X-rays that did not reveal anything abnormal and then doctor ordered PT.
    It will be good when you see the specialist in June. There are other kinds of tests that can be done to help doctor find area of or if spine effected.

    It is good you are reading, and this site is great for info also, for you to learn how to take care of yourself...and it may lead to more questions that you will have for doctor when you see him.
    The only thing about independently trying to match symptom with diagnosis through reading....none of us are going to be text book. That is in part why it can take docs quite awhile to find source or cause of pain and other discomforts.

    Same with variety of treatments. They can be very effective for some people and totally ineffective for others.
    Everyone so individual.

    You said if you are leaning forward frequently, you do not feel the pain.
    I find myself in fetal position quite often. Quite regularly, I wake up, and find myself on my back holding my knees that are on my chest, as I have drawn my legs up during the night. I think it's my body's unconscious attempt to relieve spine pressure.....like to put more space between vertebrae. I don't know.

    You said you believe you have ligament strain, because of the repetitive exercise, twisting, etc.....
    You may want to avoid those kind of activities that cause twisting, bending, lifting......until you get ok from specialist.
    You don't want to cause something to worsen or create new issue. Pain is a warning signal and good to listen to your body.

    Keep us posted on how you are doing......hang in there!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • I have been reviewing my old runkeeper and charity miles walks. This did go away a few times completely. I wonder why and if stenosis does this.

    I feel negative b/c all the journals I am reading say that MRIs often reveal things that are not necessarily the source even if they find something as they are very sensitive. I don't know whether I would rather have them find something that could be helped with surgery, or nothing, but have no answer.

    I will keep you updated. Thanks!
  • Well,

    NOTHING abnormal on the MRI. Doctor thinks I have a soft tissue injury of some kind and warns it could take a long time to heal, perhaps years! He recommended returning to cardio that does not aggravate the area, rolfing, massage, soft tissue manipulation. None of these things are proven and I never want to see a chiropractor, but my insurance covers it. I may try A.R.T. I am really wary of alternative medicine. At this point, I feel hopeless. I found something in an orthopedic textbook called postural syndrome that explains EXACTLY my symptoms. Problem is the treatment are not proven. Dr. says if doesn't improve in years or worsens, we can try prolotherapy.

  • I am considering anti-depressants. I saw my PCP and he referred me to a sports med doctor on September 10th. I'm afraid to be active because I'm afraid I'm going to aggravate the ligaments or over stretch or whatever. And now I'm having more pain in my upper buttock near my PSIs. My primary care doctor says I don't have the symptoms of SI joint dysfunction. I did have a broad based disc bulge at l5 s1 where I often have pain, but the doctor I previously saw told me there is no way that any of my symptoms can be from that. I can't really find any conditions where bending forward and flexing helps the pain except for stenosis which they've already ruled out. I'm just so frustrated and I feel like I don't look forward to anything anymore except going to bed and when I wake up in the morning I don't want to get up because I have no idea what's in store as the pain fluctuates. Sometimes I can walk for 5 minutes and sometimes 10 minutes and a light stretch will do and I can be on my feet another 10 minutes, but it seems to be getting worse because from Saturday until today I was barely able to stand for 5 minutes. Anyone have any ideas at all? I'm terrified this is my iliolumbar ligament, however my symptoms do not classically match that either. I just really want a diagnosis and it would be great to have one with some treatment options so I can start feeling like I'm in control of my life again.
  • kgwickingskkgwickings Posts: 8
    edited 08/19/2015 - 11:45 AM
    I also mentioned to my doctor that I had read on some forums that lying on your back can sometimes mask stenosis on an MRI and besides that I had a pillow under my knees because I'm so uncomfortable on my back. I asked him if maybe I should get a standing MRI and he said that my disk gold was so minimal that it could not be stenosis.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    edited 08/20/2015 - 3:20 AM
    Though it can be so frustrating waiting until that happens. You know you have pain and are in discomfort. But so far the doctors and diagnostic tests you have had are not showing up with anything positive.

    Try not to get into self diagnosing. I know at this point you just want answers, but you might wind up scaring yourself more than necessary.

    Not all back pain is spinal related. It could be more muscular skeleton in nature, arthritic joints, immune problems such as Rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Even though you have a herniated disc, that may not be the root of your problem and discomfort.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I know. Reading the internet is frustrating bc nothing really matches.

    I think they ruled out inflammation bc NSAIDs and steroids didn't work. Thought they would see arthritis on.xray.

    When they do a lumbar xray, can they see much of the ilium? Lots of my pain starts at PSIS before moving to midline. Dr. Says that I don't have SI problems though.
  • Second opinion today. They said muscle pain. It does feel like muscle soreness, fatigue and stretch to relieve, but I just don't understand WHY it started and WHY I feel it every day if I stand or walk more than 15 min, but I can be on an ellpitical for over an hour pain-free.They don't seem to know either. They suggested PT though nothing specific, anti-depressants and soft tissue work. They said it will most likely resolve. What type of doctor treats this sort of thing? A rheumatologist?
  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 495
    Sounds like your body is trying to tell you something. Maybe you're over exercising, surely over working something that hasn't healed yet. Have you tried getting fitted for orthotics, inserts for your shoes? They help keep your pelvic structure stable, or something like that.

    When I was in my early thirties I had something similar, as far as the pain when just standing, or walking. I was forever doing things that my body really wasn't built to do. Even though I was a well built woman with strong arms and back, I wasn't built to throw hay bales, especially ones that were like a bale and a half.
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