Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

I'm new...and frustrated. Pain in upper back, left side.

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 05/13/2014 - 8:55 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic

Hello all...

I have just joined, and am hoping for some advice.

I suffer from pain in my upper back, on the left side... it's closer to the middle of the back than the shoulder blade. Sometimes it wraps around the side and the front of my rib (under my breast). This pain comes on after walking or standing for about 15 minutes.

The pain first came on two years ago during a normal walk for exercise. It started to become more common, and eventually became a daily struggle.

The MRI shows a bulge at T10-T11 and degeneration in lower discs.

However, my docs aren't convinced my left rib/back pain is caused by this bulge.

I've been through hours of physical therapy, massage, chiropractor, 3 spinal injections, acupuncuture, and seen by an osteopath.

I'm only 27 and am a teacher. As you can imagine, not being able to stand or walk is a struggle with my job and totally hinders my quality of life.

In addition, I've had chronic arm pain (both arms, shoulders, etc) for over 10 years...yes it started when I was only 16. I had come to terms with the arm pain, but cannot accept this back pain. It's stealing my joy.

Any ideas on types of doctors/treatments I should try? Or, has anyone had similar pain? Or a bulge in this location... what symptoms did you have?

Sorry so long. Thanks for reading. I wish you all the best.



  • Welcome maymay1,

    I don't know off hand those symptoms. I would suggest that since pain radiates it could be anything from pulmonary, gastrolgy or it may even be related to gyn. I know its frustrating not being diagnosed but don't give up. Do you have a Primary Care doctor that will work with you?

    We are here for support, take care of you.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,348
    Hi maymay1.

    From just reading your post and what is bothering you, it could have something to do with your rhomboid muscle. That is one of the deeper muscles that go from the middle of your back up to your shoulder blade. This can be associated with some trauma incident and/or problems with the upper Thoracic discs. I have herniated discs (3 Upper Tdiscs and 1 lower Tdisc. Normally the upper back problems come from Thoracic discs 1-5. I've been dealing with Rhomboid problems for a little of 12 years now. Besides the stabbing pain in the middle of my back, chest pains that almost feel like you are having a heart attack, I can not lift my arms much more than straight out. All of this is related to my Tdisc problems and the rhomboid muscle.

    But again, this is based on MY personal experiences and it is NOT formal medical advice.
    Who sent you for your MRI?
    Many times, the start to isolating spinal problems start with your Primary Care physician and works towards specialists since as Neurologists or Neurosurgeons. But from reading your post, you may have already been this route, since you talked about several conservative treatments.

    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
  • advertisement
  • Thanks to all who responded...here's a bit more infor.
    My primary care doctor doesn't really know what to do with me. She has sent me to the numerous doctors...some at my request and some hers. The last time I was there she referred me to the orthopedic surgeon. He did a CT of my abdomen, which came back normal (well, I guess if fatty infiltration of the liver is normal). He also prescribed me Lyrica (I'm afraid to take from all I've read about it causing weight gain), and talked about getting a discogram, a little about surgery, and installing a device that would interfere with the pain signals (some kind of electrical stimulation).
    Because my pain is not at the same place as my apparent disc bulge its hard for anyone to say it is causing me pain. This makes me afraid to try more invasive procedures, for risk they aren't addressing the source of pain (which we can't identify).
    The other concerning thing is that my pain ONLY comes on after standing or walking...which I think eliminates a lot...organ related, etc.
    Does it make sense for a disc bulge to bring pain only when standing, and then for it to subside when sitting or laying down?
    I'm not sure where to go from here...any suggestions?
  • My pain started in the upper right side of my back almost a year ago and my MRI shows 2 mild bulges in the T area. I like you only hurt when I am standing or walking although sitting in a straight backed chair hurts as well.

    I have to say that at least your doctor has been sending you to other specialist's my doctor has not other than P/T which didn't help at all. He did finaly send my MRI to a nuerosurgeon who said I was a good canidate for a ESI which I am scheduled for on Monday.

    Does your back feel like its moving around when you walk? Mine does and I'm not sure if I am describing it well, it just doesn't feel stable. My pain also migrates around.

    Did the epidural injections help?

  • i have had severe back pain for a year now. its been chronic. ive had an mri of my thoraic spine and neck but the only thing they reported on it was disc protrustions that shouldnt be the cause of pain. i also had a bone scan and bone density that came back normal. went to a neurologist normal. brain scan normal. i am now waiting to see a pain specialist and an orthopedic. i have been to the chiro numerous times but everytime i go my spine readjusts and pops and cracks, the adjustment doesnt hold. i feel alot of pressure on my spine and i will try to crack my back on tennis balls to relieve some pressure. what is causing this stiffness pressure and constant cracking down my spine? just before it cracks i feel a pressure and it is constanty. what could be wrong? im so confused i dont know of anyone that has pain so bad that there spine needs to crack over and over even when stretching and bending?

  • advertisement
  • Hi Suziee,
    My back hurts in certain chairs, as well...or if I'm sitting totally unsupported, like on an examing table at the DR. But, the pain that affects me daily, almost all day is the standing/walking pain. My back doesn't feel as though it is "moving" as you described...just a sharp/stabbing pain in the upper back/rib area.
    The injections didn't help at all...nothing has helped.
    What is ESI?

    Thanks for reading and responding.
  • i have a hernation at T1 i get the same pain, but mine also happens when i lay down to. its just not the standing/walking position/chair. but mine is also a severe hernaition w/ severe thecal sac compression.

    you asked suziee what a ESI was its a epidural steriod injection.
    it did help me.
    its a out patient procedure usually done through a pain management dr. i had IV concious sedation and did not feel anything. its done through fluroscope (xray guidence) they will numb the area of the needle going in. its a small tube that is guided to the direct spot and releses the medication.
    i felt bruised for about 4 days but it helped my pain alot in that area.
    but also check into what ron said about the rhomboid muscle.
    i imagine how frustrating it is when your shited from dr to dr without any true answers.
    a discogram will show the exact spot of pain in the spine.
    have you ever discussed pain managment for a long acting pain med????
    i wish you the best of luck... O:) O:) O:) O:)

  • hi,
    my friend feels as though her back needs to crack all the time.
    in some cases the chiro can cause more damage then good. not all. right now my husband see's a dr that uses a device that looks like a syringe without the needle. he puts it on the spot that hurts, and it finds the hot spots. he pushes in with this device almost like a deep tissue massage. and after about 3 treatments hubby is good to go. this guys doesn't like to do the old fashioned cracking anymore.

    or even just deep tissue massage itself. alot of people have benifited from this.
    what type of work do you do???

    and in my personal opinion, i cannot stand when drs say oh "this should not be causing you pain" it drives me bonkers ~X( as each person responds differently to pain.

    another option may be spinal depcompression. i imagine you have seen this advertised on T.V. my sis in law went to a place and well could not have it done due to the extent of her herniation. but i know with slight herniations and depeding on the degree, its a table you lay on and it stretches out your back, almost like traction.

    also ok weird device i saw on a lovely info commercial. its made by a dr i guess. you lay on your back. you put your legs up on this machine. it does all the work for you. it rotates your hips and decompresses and opens up the blood flow between each vertabra. for the love i cannot remember the name of it to PM you the information.
    looks like a awesome device that would be very helpful for people with just minimul back pain. im actually asking my dr about it when i see it again. just for your normal back everyday back pain.

    hang in there, if able i would try the deep tissue massage first. but make sure you bring your test results with you of the protruding disks. also make sure they are certified in doing massage. alot are not.

    anyways not to make this to long, there are a ton of options out there besides the chiroprater.

    good luck to you!!
  • I have a similar pain right now it felt like it move to the right side one time ago for a short period of time then move back over to the left where it currently is now.. when i get massages it tends to go away for a few minutes then it comes right back again..
  • I just signed up to post on here, because this is one of the few places I've found someone describing something similar to what I'm dealing with. For the past like 9 months, I've been having upper left shoulder/back pain (it feels like it hurts in different spots) almost all the time, but particularly when I'm standing for more then like 10min or when i walk around, although it is less severe when exercising. It is almost all day every day, and it is starting to drive me mad. I've gone to three different doctors, all saying its a knot, or etc. I finally went to one who had me get an X-ray and ultra sound, to make sure if wasn't something else. That all checked out fine, and he has no idea what it is. I have not had a MRI, maybe that would be a prudent choice. I just feel like no one can help me! I'm 24, perfectly healthy, I exercise 3-4 times a week, eat reality health and am not obese or anything. So they think it just a soar muscle, but after the the PT and daily stretching.. icing, relaxing and etc. it doesn't get better! I've tried everything, and am desperate to figure this out. I have insurance for another two years, before I am kicked off my dads plan, So i wanna get this figured before then (long before then hopefully). Any ideas, suggestions would be great, thanks!
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.