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Help, it hurts

JWMJJWM Posts: 291
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Help, it hurts. Yeah, that's pretty much all I can say. I don't post in thoracic forum, and am doing so through quite a bit of pain right now, due to something new. I am hoping someone can just give me their take on my situation.

Last night I was showering, and I was a little too animated I suppose in my scrubbing and washing. I reached behind my neck/shoulder with my right hand, and CLACK! I felt like I had been shot right between the shoulder blades, or as if I were made of lego blocks and a big one had just popped out. The pain was initially so intense it radiated through my chest cavity, gave me sort of a scare that my heart had stopped or something, but after a moment or two i caught my breath, realized it was my spine, and immediately took to the most comfortable position; on my feet, squatting, with my arms close to my chest. This all happened in a matter of a few seconds I believe (not sure, sort of blacked out)

I am lucky I was not alone, because the pain was well, unbearable. After about 30 minutes of torturous movement, tears, and breathing exercises, I had made my way out of the bathroom and was able to wake someone, who took me to the hospital. They diagnosed me with a thoracic strain, and sent me home. The dr. was one of those ones who made his diagnosis before he even walked in the room; blew me off as a muscle strain, and wouldn't listen to me. I know why, but it's frustrating. Anyhow, this thing, this injury that happened, it's just how I hurt my lower back, except for the shower.. The experience was so very similar. I've pulled a million muscles, and this isn't one of them. Anyhow, they had me on an IV, gave me ativan (i was very tense), morphine, and phenergan. The pain was sustained, so they gave me another IV shot of morphine. It *touched* the pain for about 30 minutes, and then it was back to where it was, and it is, a nice, healthy 7 or 8. We all have different pain scales, but to me 7 or 8 is where you've got shortness of breath, maybe some real tears of pain. A 9 is screaming/vomiting/uncontrollable pain, and a 10, I assume unconscious from the intensity. So, that's my scale, and I'm near the top.

It doesn't hurt when I breathe, but I do feel an increased pain if I lean my head forward, backward, or sideways. The pain is constant, and I don't know what to do.. I'm already taking 30mg of methadone a day for my lower back injury, with dilaudid, but this pain just supersedes all of that. The meds don't help this at all.

Ok, so I know, I know, an ER can't treat everything, but I went because I feel like I blew a disc out or something, and had hoped they would use imaging to check it out; it was my only hope. I have no insurance, and have been denied all from private to medi-cal. I have no money, so I, I can't get the MRI I need.

My bottom line question is, does anyone think I am over reacting? If so, please say yes, tell me I'm a nut and that it will go away. But does anyone think that I might have really hurt myself? I'm in constant pain; it increases to a very solid 8 only with significant head movement, or if I move my arms about much, or any body movement at all really. I've got no tingling or numbness... I'm just looking for an educated guess, please =) I've learned to deal with my lumbar pain, I can't even feel it now, but this is just killing me. I know I need an MRI, that's not what I want to know, I just want to know if it sounds like I may have injured anything or if I'm just having the worst muscle pain in the world.



  • I wish I knew what to tell you. Does laying on a heat pad help at all?

    I do a thoracic stretch in PT that may help, but your pain level may be too much for your to try this. I use a big roll in therapy, but you could take two towels and roll them up into a fat log. While laying on your back, place the log under the t-spine and raise your arms above your head, allowing your head and arms to hang off the table (or bed). Hold the stretch for as long as you can, up to a couple of minutes. This gives a good stretch to the thoracic spine, and if something has popped out of place it may help it to move back into alignment.

    Your pain sounds very intense though, so please be careful. I hate our medical system and that it costs so much to get treated. I hope you are able to find someone who can help you.

    You may want to try laying on the floor and pulling your legs up to your chest too. This gives a good stretch of your entire spine. Or if all else fails, my mother used to have me walk on her back while she was laying on the floor. I still don't understand how she thought that felt good, lol!

    If it continues, you do need to see another doctor. I'm so sorry for your pain.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • or medical university anywhere near you? You can actually get pretty could care at one and they charge according to your income. I am not in the medical field but it does sound to me that you injured something. I wish you luck and wish I had more suggestions for you. Please keep us posted.
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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,430
    JWM, you know your body better anyone.
    I would believe the reason for this is because of the
    quick onset of the problem The majority of the time when a movement causes that acute pain, muscular strains or pinched nerve would make sense

    In general, the Thoracic discs are very strong and stable, and it takes a more damage then a cervical or lumbar disc.
    But also keep in mind, that the rhomboid muscle (from the middle of your back up to your shoulder blades) That muscle is so deep, but when it starts to have problems, it puts a strain on your thoracic discs.

    One way to verify all of this , assuming your doctor is in agreement, would be heat/cold packs, NSAIDS and just mild passive exercise. If you did this for a couple of days and it didnt get any better, then you might look to your doctor to decide what the next step is.
    If it did get better, than hopefully its non disc related
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Thanks everyone for your kind words and suggestions. I'm using heat, NSAIDS and some light 'extra' pain meds that were prescribed, to try to soften the harshness of it all.

    I'm going to stick to two days of minimal activity, start with stretches and walks, and then if I have at least a minuscule improvement, I'll try some mild exercise just to warm things up and see how my body reacts and then do more specific PT exercises for that area of my body.

    I'm hoping it's just a muscular strain; life will be so much easier on me if so. Who needs another herniated disc, right? I've got hope, and help, and thank god for spine health too; we all need someone to talk to who understands. Ok, time to go lay down again for a bit.

    Thanks again~


  • Remember with any injury, the acute phase has to be dealt with easily. Every time I have an acute phase, I know that 2 or 3 days of rest, and I mean really not doing a darn thing, is necessary to get thing to where the pain meds can begin to grab hold. Then the light stretches ... etc...

    I have torn muscles that when they tore it popped so loud that others around me turned to look.

    As Ron said, thoracic discs are brutes, and they are designed to take a lot of abuse.

    Are there any Sports Medicine Facilities around where you live? I have no idea how it is in the US or California, but here, a person can go to a SM facility and get an MRI for about $50 and get a doc to read it for another $100. Just a thought, in case those types of facilities are in your area.

    The key is to relax, and try not to overthink this.

    I hope you feel better soon.

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  • how are you? still in pain? Just wondering, because the beginning of all my troubles started just like your's. The same sudden chest, hold your breath and then back pain. I haven't been able to resolve mine and was wondering if yours has improved or you got some answers.

    update me - thru forum or pm

  • I hope your regular doctor gets to the bottom of what's causing your thoracic pain. In my experience, when you have acute pain, your long acting meds aren't as helpful. The only one that may give you some relief is Dilaudid. Maybe they can call in some Valium for you, it's excellent for severe spasms. Take care and get well soon :H
  • Hope you are feeling at least feeling a bit of relief? If you are able to take a bath try an Epson salt bath. Sometimes that helps me at my worse.

    Just a thought I know that when it's bad it's really bad. Know you're not alone.

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