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Severe thoracic pain negative MRI HELP

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
I hurt my upper back almost 6years ago in the persian gulf by trying to swing my mobility bag up onto my back to carry it. It hurt like hell but i just let it go since I was in a war zone and i didn't want to complain about my back while people were getting blown up.
It seemed to ease up after a few weeks, but as the years went by it got worse. It started hurting when I did anything where I had to bend over like sweeping or washing dishes. At this point it just hurts all day every day. It feels like there is an elephant on my shoulders.It is a constant severe ache around my shoulder blades with frequent severe stabbing pains. I currently take naproxen, flexeril,and lortab but it barely even takes the edge off. The only relief I get is by taking hot baths but the pain returns as soon as I get out of the tub. I finally had an MRI and was excited to finally find out what was wrong but the results came back totally normal. I feel hopeless. I know I am not imagining I am in constant pain. I have a 2 year old son and can barely manage chasing him around. I feel bad because I hurt so much I can't even stand taking him to the playground for more than 5 minutes. I am terrified my doc won't renew my pain meds due to the MRI. even though they don't do much I can barely tolerate just being awake without them. What can cause such severe pain but not show up in an MRI? I am desperate to make the pain stop so I can live a normal life. I'm 28 but I feel 90. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


  • the MRI, CT Scans, XRays, epidural shots, nerve root blocks, every test and probe they could do. I went to 8 specialists (nueo and orto) and no one could find anything wrong. I finally went to a spine clinic 4 hours away and they said I needed a doscogram. The ortho said that not all tears in discs could show up on MRIs. So I had one and they found 3 discs with tears. 2 of those completely torn. I had a 2 level diskectomy and fusion in Dec. The ortho said it does not matter how small or big the tear is, a tear is a tear and they almost always cause pain. My was horrible. It was in my l3,l4,l5.So I suggest asking your Dr about getting this done. It is the gold standard of surgeons to know which discs are pain generators. If your Dr wont do it, I would go to another one for second opinion. Good Luck. I suffered with pain for 2 1/2 years waiting to figure out what was wrong. It hurt badm but couldnt find it. Thought I was going bonkers!
  • I too had a MRI showing only mild bulge of one disc and was told it was normal and shouldn't be causing me this pain. I also tried PT, injections, chiro treatment, decompression therapy, orthopedic inserts for my shoes until my ortho decided to do discogram and found L5/S1 was worse than they thought. Did they do your whole spine when they did MRI?
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  • thanks. I'll suggest that at my next visit. Unfortunately I don't have health insurance and I have to go to the VA doctors. They are all about not doing anything that costs money until you are so messed up from putting things off you're almost dead. I'll be be lucky to even get a referal to a specialist and then I'll have to drive almost 3 hours to see him. I am grateful to know that there are other possibilities out there besides me just being insane. Thoracic pain is so frustrating. It seems to affect so many people but doctors don't seem willing to find out the cause Thanks again. I really appreciate hearing the options.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,584
    are not always that accurate or conclusive. What you do hope for is that the combination of the various tests point to the same thing.
    Many times, we get relief when we are told we have a spinal problem. That in many ways eases our minds, because now we have proof that we are in pain.
    But when all the tests show nothing and the results are negative, manytimes we get the response from our doctors that nothing is basically wrong.
    There can be some truth to that, but I would never accept it until I had multiple doctors saying the same thing.
    Now in your case, there is a possibility that you did some damage to your rhomboid muscle. Thats one of the deeper body muscle, but when its impaired, you can feel all sorts of upper back pain, the stabbing and burning feeling.
    Discuss all of this with your doctor. If it could be muscle related, that hopefully some Physical Therapy would help
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Welcome to spine health...I don't know if there is too much more to add to the great replies..and ron you put that into great words - though getting a diagnosis is not always good, it can be mentally relieving. We want our pain to be legitimized!

    I too am in a similar situation...i would have bet the house they were going to find something on my thoracic mri. But looking back now I do see that the Radiofrequency in my t 345 got my back into some REALLY BAD muscle spasms...that took forever to diminish. Not to say that I still dont' have the 'pole bw the shoulder blades' and sternum pain, but i do belief that that has been helped with the botox in the trap muscles. The sternum is more of a dull ached now. But man, bw the shoulder blades, the blades themselves and shoulders are horrible still.

    I guess my point to you is there are options...different treatments and tests. Understand that you are in a tough insurance issue....but if the pain is bad enough, you'll drive the 3 hours. Though I would like to drop all of this and stop paying all the medical bills (just went thru them last night - uggghhh) - my body will not let it go and I am at the stage where I am hoping that they will be willing to do some more tests on my neck and thoracic.

    Be compliant and patient - it does pay off - there are good and bad doc - we can all testify to that. In the mean time, this site is invaluable for the mind, body and spirit! take care and update us - you never know who else you may help with your post.
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  • just saw another md.. a spinal surgeon. his best advice was to see a witch doctor. LITERALLY! i appreciate the discogram advice.
  • have you looked into the possiblity is could be a trigger point? maybe in the rhomboid. you could try physical therapy, trigger point massage therapy and stretching. this is the rhomboid stretch i like:


    i hope you feel better soon.
  • You would not believe how much pain can be caused by thoracic trigger points. I started therapy after reading about it here and have gotten a lot of relief. My massage Tx.uses her elbows on my painful spots and they hurt when she is putting pressure on them. Regular massage will not work and this is not a cheap treatment.
    I also had a negative MRI after back surgery despite daily, constant debilitating pain.
  • Hello I started to feel similar symptoms 7 months ago, severe pain between shoulderblades on lower portion. I have been thru pys ther, chiropractor and everything imaginable to try to help the pain, Im currently on percocet, mobic, flexeril and prednisone and can honestly say nothing is helping. Last week I had MRI scans of cervix thorax and lumbar spine. All resorting in normal readings yet the pain has not let up. Anyone who has gone thru this will agree Im very discouraged not pleased with my results. I have pain mostly in that area but also in neck and lower back periodically thus why i had all 3 mris. The feeling can be compared to having a softball in my back being stabbed with every twist, turn or bend. Now I feel my doctor is thinking Im making it up. She is saying it is muscular and trying more physical therapy. Can anyone help me?? I also reviewed my thorax MRI results and found an axial image of t8 t9 disc that when compared to online findings for normal appears to have a thin herniation that has made its way to my spinal cord, I am not a doctor but when compared to examples this does not look normal please be of help if possible! I can email the image if anyone needs a better look and tell me what they c.
  • I absolutely agree that you should have a discogram or maybe a ct/myelogram if the MRI doesn't show anything. The ct/myelogram was the gold standard before MRI's came around and they detect much more too. When I had an MRI once, it didn't show any problems with my facet joints, just other stuff going on like disc herniation and retrolisthesis. My surgeon had to clean up a lot of debris from all the arthritis in my facet joints during surgery, and he was surprised at this finding because it didn't show up on x-rays, MRI, or ct/myelogram. So you see that it's important to keep looking and not take no for an answer. I hope you find an answer for the thoracic pain your having and that you get help for it. Take care
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