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Unknown pain cause

wittynamewwittyname Posts: 43
edited 01/02/2016 - 8:00 PM in Lower Back Pain
Hi all,

Gosh I am sorry to hear that some of you are having such unpleasant experiences. And young too.

I am 34 years old and am suffering from lower back pain. For the last two years I have started to experience it. There has never been a major event but on all occasions it has been caused by a gym activity. About a month ago I did a back stretch by pulling my right leg over my left one at a 90 degree angle. I felt the pinch and pain immediately. I must have stretched too far. The pain continued for a few days. Then it went away but my back has been a little tender since.

Four days ago I then did a gym workout with weights and noticed my back would hurt and get irritated each time I got up from lying on a flat bench. Since then I have experienced lower back pain. It has gotten worse each day. It is the worse pain I have experienced before. Most of the time the pain is not there but when I move sharp pains can arise. Especially when I get up from my bed. I went for a couple of walks as well as I read that you should not lie around too much. I get occasional muscle spasm pains when walking. Interestingly now that I am trying sitting on a straight back chair for the first time in a few days this is the most comfortable position to be in. My back does not hurt here.

Over the last couple of years I have had these pains come up for up to a week and then go away for lengthy periods. I think about 7 times. The doctors have just told me it is just a sprain and don't worry about it. I hope that is the case. This time the pain is worse than ever. It's a lower back pain and I think it's slightly to the right.

I hope its nothing too serious and just a sprain. Urrgh its hard not to get worried with this type of stuff. Its frustrating the doctor has been closed. Its Sunday and I am going to tough it out until tomorrow.

Any ideas on easing things would be greatly appreciated. Has anyone had these sorts of experiences which have turned out to only be a sprain?

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. 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.

Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Liz,Spine-Health System Moderator



  • Hi wittyname -

    You don't have to have a major event happen to have back problems. I was wondering if your doctor did any imaging studies (x-ray, MRI, etc) before telling you it was a sprain. You can have problems that go undiagnosed for years that could lead to pain as you age. I had to get a back x-ray when I was 17 for a job and the dr said I had spondylolysis that would cause trouble in the future.

    My experience was like yours, something would put me out in pain for a few days once in a while. It wasn't until my mid-forties that things got much worse and I sought treatment.

    Seems to me that the only way to know for sure would be to have some imaging studies done and then take the appropriate action based on those results. Even with the technology today, you can experience severe pain and the source of your pain doesn't show up for the dr to see. It's a catch 22.

    I hope you get this figured out when your dr gets back to work. Let us know what you find out.
    Scoliosis and other problems at every level.

    2013: C-5 to C-6 ADR
    2014: C-5 to C-6 fusion/revision of failed ADR
    2014: Total hip replacement, right

    Cancelled multi-level fusion - fear being more crippled and in more pain.
  • Thanks Treadmill.
    Gosh you don't know how good you have had things until health problems arise huh.

    I think saying its a sprain and dont worry about it seems to be the modus operandi for doctors. That's from my experience and from others on here it seems. I guess maybe most of the time that is the case. Maybe the doctors also think it is better for people to be unaware of conditions which little can be done about on the basis it might cause unnecessary stress.

    I am in two minds about investigating things further myself. If I do find out I have some condition then it may cause me a lot more anxiety and there may be little I can do about the condition. It might also cause me to become really cautious about physical activity and thereby reduce quality of life. On the other hand becoming aware of a condition may allow me to take steps to fix it before it gets any worse, or know how to manage it better and avoid catastrophic worsening of an existing condition. Aargh decisions!

    I think back pain is supposed to be a very common symptom and maybe most people just go blissfully and ignorantly undiagnosed.

    On the plus side my back is better for the first time today - four days later. It was getting progressively worse each day. It was the getting in and out of bed movement that was aggravating. Yesterday I made a concerted effort to avoid that and to not consume much liquid so I did not need bathroom breaks. I also worked out an easier way to get up. Roll over to my side. Pop my legs to the side of the bed on the ground. Then reach back and put one hand on the drawers next to the bed and one hand on the bed to lift myself up. So that my arms and legs are carrying some of the lifting effort and less on the back.
  • Well the pain has subsided significantly today which is quite a relief. I am not getting pain issues from movement or from getting up and down from bed which was the worst. I am getting a sore back if I stand around for too long or walk for too long. But just low level pain now. I will need to refrain from most physical activity for the next few days at least.

    I went to my General Practice Dr today. It wasn't particularly helpful. He said that it sounded from my description that it could be disc damage. But his point of view on it didn't seem to match what I have read online. I wasn't very convinced. He did no diagnostic tests while I was there. Not even the straight leg test which i was hoping he would do. He told me that we needed to hurry things along as I had taken 12 minutes. He suggested I go see a physiotherapist. I said I was reluctant to have someone move me around and all the attendant risks of that when they don't know what is going on inside me to move me appropriately. He said he didn't have the ability to refer me to an MRI. So I need to go see a specialist. He referred me to obtaining an X ray. I am actually somewhat hesitant to get an X ray as I think that there is risks of radiation when you have them. I am thinking of maybe getting an MRI first and then seeing.

    I hope this all doesn't end up getting too expensive.

    I just really enjoy being an active person and am worried about the back issue arising again and getting worse.

    I am going to look at investigating natural methods of dealing with back pain such as undertaking comprehensive stretching practices and shifting my gym routine to core strengthening.
  • Am I being OTT asking for MRI and X-Ray?
    My back pain has mainly subsided now. At this point I just have low level dull pain sometimes when sitting. But not when I am lying down or walking or standing. I am however worried about the pain flaring up next time I work out at the gym. Since it has started to become something that crops up every few months or so.

    My General Practice doctor was so reluctant to give me an X Ray and seemed to think and MRI was not appropriate. I am wondering whether I am being over the top by investigating to this level rather than just going to get some physiotherapy and focussing heavily on core and stretching.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,868
    edited 02/12/2016 - 4:36 PM
    is really in the hands of your doctors.

    Years ago, it was easy to have almost any diagnostic test done. If you had a sore back for several weeks and physically demonstrated signs that are consistent with spinal problems, the doctors would write up a prescription for a MRI.

    Not any more. Insurance companies are the ones that do the final approval. Once a doctor believes they have enough rationale and justification for a MRI, they will submit it to insurance. Then hopefully it is approved. Even with some excellent justifications, I have seen insurance companies not approve the requests.

    Your doctor, be it a PCP, GP or Spinal specialist has to visualize your current condition. There are so many office tests that can be done to a patient to help a trained doctor attempt to analyze or pinpoint a problem.

    I would let your doctors know about your comfort level and ask them what would be the most appropriate action plan at this time.
    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
  • wittynamewwittyname Posts: 43
    edited 01/06/2016 - 5:42 PM
    Dilauro and Jo thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Jo I am very sorry to hear your doctor had not helped you so much with your situation but I appreciate you sharing your experience.
  • wittynamewwittyname Posts: 43
    edited 02/12/2016 - 4:37 PM
    Well my back seems to be way better now. Since my New Years episode I have been focussing a lot of attention on it. I rented a book called Spine Health and have been following lots of the tips contained in it. I have been regularly doing a number of back stretches as well as several hamstring stretches and glute stretches. I do these twice before and after I do exercise so usually about 4 times a week. I have also been doing yoga once or twice a week. I am actually noticing quite an increase in flexibility, especially hamstrings. I really enjoy the feeling on my back of the cat and cow stretch too, feels very soothing and stretching. 

    I have also been focussing more on core exercises. Previously I mainly just worked lower abs. But now I am also working side abs, upper abs, and lower back muscles. I am also focussing on appropriate posture and just being careful not to throw my back around when I get up or down. All pain is completely gone and my lower back actually feels more robust than any time in the last two years. It does not feel tender or exposed anymore. I like to think of myself as wrapping a protective muscle casing around my spine as well as ensuring the casing is flexible and supple and lengthening my hamstrings to allow lots of slack and separation between my glutes hamstrings and lower back muscles.  

    I have not gotten around to investigating the cause of my past episodes any further. I have hesitated at getting the X Ray because of radiation risks. I have not gone to a specialist as I am confused about who exactly to see and my doctor gave me a shitty insufficient referral which was largely unexplained. What I really want is an MRI but I feel like [edit] GP doctors in this country are like a gatekeeper to getting proper medical care sometimes - to avoid costs to government and insurance companies. 

    So I should probably research more into who I should see. Actually who do the rest of you see for a proper specialist opinion? What type of doctor? 

    I am hoping I have only experienced sprains which I can prevent the recurrence of by the activities I am undertaking now. 
  • Keep an eye out for worsening symptoms like increasing pain and especially if it travels down your leg. X rays are useful for spotting problems such as fractures and misalignments like slippage of the vertebrae or scoliosis. MRIs are better at detecting spinal problems like disc bulges or herniations. I'm only speaking from personal experience so please always contact your doctor with any concerns. I waited forever for my primary doctor to send me for an MRI when my problems first started. I found a spine specialist who ordered it right away. I had 2 disc herniations at L4-5 and L5-S1. I've had chronic pain ever since and permanent nerve damage. 
    Ol' Spiney...Microdiscectomy L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central disc herniation L4-S1, sciatic nerve damage, retrolisthesis, epidural fibrosis, facet arthropathy, severe DDD & OA.FBSS- Medtronic SynchroMed II pump.
  • wittynamewwittyname Posts: 43
    edited 03/09/2016 - 2:50 AM

    I am wondering what type of doctor most people have found useful to see to assist with their lower back conditions. 

    My lower back problem seems to have completely vanished for some time. But I am wanting to investigate what actually caused it (and the previous episodes) in the first place. My general practice doctor (who I have lost trust and confidence in) referred me to a musculoskeletal doctor. It just doesn't sound right to me, sounds too broad and nonspecific. For that reason, and because I no longer trust my  GP doctor, I have not gotten around to making an appointment. I am going to need to go back to see another GP doctor to get a referral and I want to be aware of what to suggest to them for a referral. I will be seeing a different GP doctor next time. 

    So I would be most appreciative to hear what type of doctor most people have seen and found useful for spinal concerns. 
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    edited 03/09/2016 - 3:11 AM
    I may have missed some of your issues you have already described.....but to say, my pain management doctor has been the most helpful to me.

    When I first went to him, I gathered and brought along all of the CDs of previous tests, not just the written impressions.
    He viewed all the CDs and saw areas of my spine affected not noted on the written impressions.

    He also did additional testing that was also revealing to other issues, spine related and explaining my pain.

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Thanks Savage. Great to hear that is resulting in some relief to you. I am not so much looking for pain management. Its more for someone who can authorise me to get an MRI and then who can interpret it and diagnose. 
  • My lower back pain remains completely vanished at this point. My back has not felt so robust in the last two years. I wonder if it was really just some muscular strain or tightness issues. I even did back extensions for the first time yesterday with zero resulting discomfort. Knew that it would be wise to do them at some point as part of core strengthening but had been hesitant as it is the sort of thing which could set unsettled back pain off. So I wonder if all the stretching and core strengthening is all I need to do to resolve things. Time will tell. Feeling hopeful 
  • Wow yesterday at a festival I did acro-yoga and then lots of cartwheels. No sore back. Not even this morning. I had 4 beers before this activity which was possibly unwise but also gave me confidence. All this stretching and core strengthening has really made a difference - especially the stretching. Also I have been focussing so much on posture and lower back care with all of my daily movements and activities 
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    For me, my pain management/neurologist doctor. No doubt!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Well after 3 months of total respite mild lower back pain/strain is back. Damn! Nothing very major. More a strain feeling. Was annoyed though. Not quite sure why its back. Except that I have not been going to the gym( which always involves lots of stretching) or yoga much so things must have gotten tight. Went to the gym last night and did lots of stretching before and after weights workout and back felt better after
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