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Question About Lower Pack Pain

nth_dimensionnnth_dimension Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Lower Back Pain

I'm new to back pain and sciatica. I'm 39 and have never had an issue in my life, aside from one time I can think of about 8 years ago when I pulled something while windsurfing. I was fine in less than a week.

Anyway, 3 months ago I hurt my back after sitting on a long flight. I had been shovelling snow the day before. I got off the flight and actually found that a sneeze set off the round of pain. It was tight, then I sneezed, and *bam* instant back pain. Regardless, I continued working, returned home, and the pain and tightness gradually cleared up over 3-4 weeks. It was only a real bother for the first 10 days or so.

Then suddenly, 2 months ago (1 month after the initial injury), during an intensly stressful period, my foot went numb and tingly and had a nasty cramp in my calf. This was new! Checked with my doctor and sure enough, he diagnosed "mild sciatica due to muscle impinging on nervve". According to him the clinical signs did not point to herniation of a disc. I got an x-ray and was sent to phyisio.

Things have been improving.

The leg and foot symps (pain when getting up, calf pain and tingling on walking, etc) are now 99% gone, but in the last week or so, I have back pain again.

Its diffferent though! It feels like a burning sensation a lot of the time, or a dull ache. It moves around, primarily on the OPPOSITE side from my scaitica. It gets better late at night when I relax, but generally its always there. There is no trigger, I feel it sitting, standaing, lying. I can walk, run, and even bound up a flight of stairs without a change in symps. Sometimes it feels like its high on my side (the opposite side) or even inside, like a digenstive issue.

My PT and doc both say its probably inflammation and the fact that the pain has moved from leg to my back is a good thing. I'm on prescription anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers. I don't think they are doing much.

Anyway, all of this is to poll people who know about back pain - what the heck do you think is going on? Because it moves around and does not restrict movement, I am beginning to think that the stress of the last 3 months (and not being able to cycle) is causing some anxiety and therefore psychosomatic symptoms.

Any thoughts? Anywhere?

Back pain and sciatica, they are no fun at all!

Take care,



  • I think if I were in your shoes that I would insist on an MRI being done to make sure there is nothing going on with one of your discs. I also would have this ordered through a spine specialist, orthopedic or neurosurgeon.

    Best wishes,

  • Good advice - and I did ask last week actuall. My doctor and PT both do not think its worth it based on my clinical symptoms. If it was a disc, would I feel it on my right *side*?

    I also saw a different PT and doctor earlier in the course of this and they also both said that disc issues were doubtful.

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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,526
    task in recent years do to health insurance regulations. Doctors need to justify to the insurance company why a MRI is being requested.

    Now, some doctors know how to do this 'justification' better than others.

    Many times, the clinical examination does not provide a doctor with enough ammunition to go forward with a MRI.

    Thats all well and good. However, from the patients point of view, you need to figure out what is your exact problem. Since your doctor and therapist do not believe its disc related, what has been their action plan for you?

    - Medications?
    - Therapy?
    - Conservative Treatments?
    - ??

    I've always believe, that NOT KNOWING what is the problem is much more difficult to deal with then once you KNOW what you have
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • I live in Canada so it works a little differently. I can get an MRI through a private clinic easily. I jsut need his approval and my insurance covers it.

    In the beginning 2 months ago, I was prescribed PT only.

    Second doctors visit last week was anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, and continue with PT. You'll be fine in "a couple weeks". If not, we'll "take it from there".

    PT has focused on stretching and working on muscle imbalances.

    Everyone seems very positive on my outlook. Things have gotten better, except the recent back issue.

  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    There are many things that can cause lower back pain other than discs, such as stenosis, facet joints, etc.. It always bothers me when docs discount pain in our back because "it can't possibly be a disc." It might help you to look around the site searching for lower back pain and see what some of the possibilities are for this pain.

    I think that if you can get an MRI and see a spine specialist that would be a good thing to do, even if it's to rule something out.

    Like Ron said, not know is a difficult situtation to be in and doing everything you can to rule things in or out is important.

    Good luck and please keep us posted.
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  • Thanks. I'll browse around and take a look. Any looking I've done so far points to the issue being mostly in my head. The pains move around from one spot to another, and I have *no* limits on range of motion. That's what makes it weird. When the doc does an eval he asks me to bend and touch toes, all that sort of stuff. Sprains and blown discs all will generate pain on certain movements.

    Thanks again for the advice.
  • My PT yesterday reaffirmed that I was looking at a muscle issue. This based on the reduction in leg symptoms and the nature of my back issue.

    She upped my core routing to include planks and other exercises. Felt great last night!

    I think I just need to exercise and wait this out.

  • Mine is caused by the joints starting to get stiff and less flexible. The muscles then get tight and sore from trying to cope with that.
    Get a physio to check and loosen each joint, that might do it for a while.
    also get a sports or remedial massage to work its magic on those tight muscles.
    You will be amazed!
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