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Normal MRI/CT - Constant Pain?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Chronic Pain
Does anyone have constant level 8 pain in lower back even though their films show no reason for the pain? I've been dealing with this for the last 8 years & every MRI, CT, discogram, bone scan show nothing. Facet & SI injections don't help. ESI's don't help. PT, chiro, acupuncture doesn't help. Core strengthening doesn't help. The level of narcotic I would have to take to manage the pain make me sick & constipated.
Most people I talk to about their back issues show lots of problems with their disks, but mine are normal for someone my age (52). I've exhausted every avenue short of surgery, but since nothing shows up, no reputable surgeon will touch me.

Any options I may have missed? I'll soon have to quit my desk job that I've had for 23 yrs because of the pain.


  • could the pain your feeling in your back be coming from your front side, like belly,bladder,ect.. or even kidneys? just a suggestion. patsy
  • I've always wondered that Patsy. About 4 yrs ago I had an abdominal scan & renal scan. They came back negative too. Other than the unrelenting LBP, I'm a "picture of health" - so says my PCP. Normal BP, cholesterol, PSA, normal, normal...
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  • do you do something in your work that would aggravate your back? do you wake up in the pain? can you connect it to anything you do that might make pain worse? maybe you could try sleeping in a different bed, sofa, or a chair, there just seems to be something causing you to have this pain for this long and have mri's come back lookin okay
    have you been to chro maybe one leg is a bit shorter then the other that could cause pain all by itself or even if you pelvic bone is not the same on both sides, keep searching,there has to be a reason for the pain.
    is there a time of the day thats it seems better or worse, could it be you desk chair at work ? im just trying to throw out ideas i know youve prolly thought them all yourself but never now. keep on trying to figure out why and when , good luck...prayers..patsy
  • I have been to serveral surgoens and now I have found out that the surgeon the did the surgery actually tried to fuse my with the cage. I am in constant pain as well and know what it is like to have doctors and surgeons ignore my pain and treat me as if I am crazy. My advice to everyone is keep looking and get yourself down to a pain management doctor. I have a wonderful one. He has tried all the injections in the joints including the SI joints, which my surgeon thinks is the main problem. I have one of the best neuro surgeon's now, but he thinks most of my pain was coming from the degerative SI joints. All the injections have proven that the problem is the non-union of the failed fusion that the first surgeon has done. My pain management doctor has talked to the surgeon and told him that I need to rehave the surgery again, properly this time. He also says that if this surgeon will not do it he will find me a doctor that will. I have been on pain meds for over 2years now and I am fed up with it. So hang in there, I get very depressed and frustrated with all these doctors as well. There have been times that I thought I would be stuck on pain meds for the rest of my life, but now I have hope.
  • your facet joints? Arthritis and bone spurs of the facet joints will usually show up on xrays but I had a very difficult time getting diagnosed and it is arthritic facet joints and DDD. Do you have pain from too much sitting? Are you ever stiff and find it difficult to straighten up when getting out of bed in the morning?
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  • It can find or confirm what an MRI cannot answer. There people here that have annular tears that cause pain. Do you have arthritis anywhere? Some doctors think that DDD is nothing, or normal because it's considered as grey hair of the spine. Some have no pain, and other tremendous pain.

    I know this is so frustrating for you, after all these years. Even if they can't figure the cause, they still do need to treat you while looking for the cause. As you know, it's difficult to diagnose. Sometimes it take years for the culprit to be detected. Hang in there
  • Ladybug: I can't find anything that makes it better or worse - except sitting or standing for longer than 10-15 min. Exercise doesn't seem to help. It also takes awhile after I lay down for the pain to diminish at all. I don't wake up in pain, but after taking my time getting out of bed with mild stretches, it starts... and gets progressively worse as the day goes on.

    Re: chiro, I seem to have a small leg length discrepancy. But after adjustments, the pain doesn't subside.

    Re: my work area, my work purchased a $1000 chair for me - all the bells & whistles. It doesn't help either.

    Painintheback: very good observation. I've been told by a reputable PT (after 20 sessions) that the pain was coming from my facets. A week later I had a 3-level (L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1) bi-lateral facet injection - hoping if this resulted in reduced pain I could have a rhizotomy. But the injections didn't help at all. Neither did the bi-lateral SI injection a few weeks after that.

    Mehdey: I've never had an MRI/myelogram, but I definitely have arthritis in my knee. I had a torn meniscus & after an MRI showed no signs of arthritis, the surgeon was surprised when he found lots of arthritis all around the knee & knee cap.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,349
    but the tests you have had to date are not showing anything. I wasnt sure about something. You said you have never had a MRI or myelogram. Then you said you had one. Was that one for your knee?

    When you start to reach Pain level of 8 is the time you should look at being admitted to a hospital. When the pain level is that high, you really cant control it yourself. I would contact your doctor, explain the high level of pain you are in and go from there.

    Has your doctor offered other alternative treatments since you indicated you have had most of them.
    No one should have unexplained lower back pain and when the pain level is that severe, that has to be something that can explain that.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I agree with Ron 8 is pretty high.
    Get it checked. Even though you said you have had before.
    There are so many causes of back pain out there without having anything wrong with the disk itself.
    What type of pain are you having?
    Sharp/dull/burning/does it spread or stay in a isolated area.

    We found my pain was coming from a condition called spondylolthesis. The only way this was confirmed is having a xray bending forward and back. The vertabra slips.
    Just like if you had a fist on top of a fist. Then tilt it.
    Did not show up on any of my MRI"s as I was flat.
    So just goes to show ya, be agressive in your treatment to find out the issue. No one should have to live with a pain level that high.

    I wish you good luck in finding the root of your pain.
    Take care
    Terri ;)
  • i am surprised your dr gives you strong narcotics without anything showing on mri and other scans. most i know of won't give out narcotics with nothing showing. they probably will give out naisds or whatever. how did you do this? i bet he is a popular dr if he gives out narcotics for patients that show no reason for pain. check kidneys-stone maybe. but you can get a cat scan for a stone. artheritis maybe-they have tests for this also and i believe it can show up on mri. have they referred you to a specialist of any kind? this is weird especially the giving out of narcotics
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
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