About one year ago, I was attending a concert and headbanging to the music when suddenly I began to feel sharp back in the back of my neck, along with tingling and pain down my left shoulder and arm. It went away after a week or so, and I didn't think much of it. Fast forward to December. I was moving out old furniture when I began to feel pain in my lower back. I rested for a couple of days and then went on my merry way. Except an odd problem appeared: My left testicle began to ache. This aching continued for a week until it waned, and as my pain waned I began to experience pain in my lower back. A couple of weeks later my neck and shoulders began to hurt and I decided to see a chiropractor, who x-rayed my neck and concluded my neck pain was from forward head posture. I got adjusted 3x a week and began doing stretches. The pain persisted so I dropped him like a hot cake and saw my primary care doctor. Oh yeah, around this time in February I started getting pain which waxed and waned in my hips. I didn't think much of it.
My primary care doctor ordered a x-ray of my lower back and it turned up spondylolysis at L6-S1. Surprise! I have an extra lumbar vertebra. Pretty cool huh? Anyway, I began seeing an orthopedic spine specialist who sent me off to physical therapy and wouldn't investigate my neck at all, offering me the theory that my neck pain is likely being caused by my body trying to compensate for the spondylolisthesis from my spondylolysis. He sent me off to physical therapy. The first few weeks helped me about as much as seeing a chiropractic did, and then the last few weeks my condition actually deteriorated significantly. My back pain became much worse, and now I avoid sitting almost completely because it immediately hurts me more to sit down. There's a tender spot in my lower back at my spine, maybe an inch or two higher than level with my belly button. I have spasms in my legs when I lay and sit down, where they tense up and quickly release. Fun stuff. So fun in fact that it makes it hard to sleep sometimes. I also started having pain off and on in my knees since about a month ago. At first I chalked it up to walking up and down my stairs so much to get to my room, but at this point I just don't know why my knees hurt.
I saw my orthopedic spine doctor again and he ordered a complete lumbar MRI. He concluded there's no way that my back pain is being caused by my spondylolisthesis because it is so minor, and didn't see any other reason for me to be having back pain so he referred me to a rheumatologist. I asked him why not image my neck as well, and he said "It would probably show nothing, like your lumbar spine MRI." Thinking back on it, the point along my vertebrae where I am experiencing the most pain along with tenderness when pressed seems to be just above where my lumbar spine ends, although it's very borderline. It seems quite possible to me that my spine specialist neglected to include this point in my MRI and opted only to image the location of my spondylolisthesis which is slightly lower. I've been looking at charts online which breakdown where the thoracic vertebrae begin and where the lumbar vertebrae end and it looks borderline.
I decide to see a new primary care doctor, because I found a clinic I can go to for free under Bon Secours financial assistance. I wanted to have bloodwork done to see if anything came up, along with test for lyme having recalled pulling 5 ticks off of me last summer. I asked him about my muscle spasms and he said I should try running more to strengthen my muscles back up. I explained that I tried running a few times early on after my chronic pain began and every time I would significantly exacerbate the pain I feel in my lower back, and he responded by saying I should run anyway and walk briskly when I can. I told him I go outside 3x a day to go on walks, and he said that I should walk more than I am and can also try picking up magnesium over the counter. I don't want to see this doctor anymore because I feel like he's suggesting I do something that will severely hurt me and he isn't taking me seriously, and all the magnesium did is make me poop. He referred me to a psychiatrist, saying that a lot of people have back pain due to psychological issues. I have psychological issues -because- I have back pain. I'd rather focus on the physical causes and take care of anything else later, because I want so desperately to get better and live the wonderful life I once had.
Am I right to want to see a different primary care and spine specialist? My rheumatology appt is 3 months out, and in the mean time I want to be productive in finding alternate solutions. I recognize that there's totally a chance I have some sort of rheumatological issue, but I'm also not confident that my specialist has truly done much to eliminate other possible issues and my back + neck pain is getting worse over time. I've run out of trust for him because he approaches the problem with his mind glued shut. I walk at least 5000 steps a day and continue to do stretches every day, including the ones my PT taught me, but I get worse anyway. I feel like it's possible I'm not getting taken seriously because of my age, but I feel like an old man because I can't bend over without being in worse pain. I'm 20. My life shouldn't be like this. =( They want me to take tramadol, which dulls the pain a little bit, but ultimately narcotics are nothing but a mask. The NSAIDs I've been prescribed don't help at all. Currently I take 750 mg Nabumetone 2x daily. Ice doesn't help. Heat doesn't help. Nothing helps, but I must be insane because I ice and use heat every day anyway. Welcome to Spine-Health
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