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Chronic Thoracic Spine/Lateral Muscle Pain and Spasms, 2+ years--getting worse as time passes, HELP!

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  • Is there anyone out there who has suffered severe lower thoracic (t10-t11) pain for over a year? I was injured when I went mid air on some ice (concrete) and landed on back and head. Suffered several injuries the worst being a herniation with schmorls node at t10-t11. Also a concussion. I am middle aged and have been extremely active my whole life prior to this fall. I have worked out since my teens and my job is physical as well. Over the past year I have been through physical therapy,, 2rounds including aqua therapy, 7 pain shots, chiropractic care and numerous medications. Unfortunately my last therapist put me under too much weight in traction and the pain has increased even more. How can a perfectly healthy individual be in so much pain after all this? I can lift nothing over ten lbs and even through stretching and exercise cannot get my strength back. I never sleep through the night due to the pain. I do NOT lay around as I have heard this is the worst thing for your back. If anyone out there has ideas I would be most grateful if you share your information. My quality of life is pathetic. I hate to think I will be on pain meds and nerve meds the rest of my life. Anyone? Thank you for reading and listening to me vent.
    Unrelenting pain
  • it is the worst pain and suffering, noone understands untill u go through it.
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  • mb7716 said:
    I apologize in advance for the length of this question, but I am getting desperate for answers, and I included as much detail as I could. Thank you in advance for your help.
    -----

    I am a 28 year old female. 6' tall and 205 pounds.

    I consider myself active: I attend jiu jitsu classes twice weekly and lift free weights and cardio at the gym twice weekly.

    My profession is a photographer: about 20percent of my time is spent behind the camera, the other 80percent of the time is at a desk, editing photos on a computer.

    Two years ago, I noticed a pain in my left midback region that felt like something was pushing on my lung with every breath, especially deep breaths. Almost like someone is digging their knuckles into the spot where my lat muscle meets my spine: close to the bottom of the shoulder blade.

    I suspected that this was some sort of minor injury because of my sport-- jiu jitsu is very close contact grappling. At the time, the pain wasn't severe enough to make me worry, and so I (stupidly) ignored it, thinking it would go away on it's own.

    Fast forward a year and six months later, and the pushing-pain still exists, except multiplied ten times greater. When it gets BAD, it sends my muscles on the left side of my back into spasm and makes it extremely painful to even take a small breath. When I am tired after a long day, my back will begin to spasm for no reason. The spasming seems to have a direct connection to this "pushing" feeling that I'm having in my mid-back. Even when my back is not full-on spasming, the pushing feeling is still there.

    This pushing feeling is 100 percent of the time, every day, every breath, for now the past two years. It has recently become much, much worse.

    Other minor symptoms is a very tight neck and feeling like I need to "pop" it constantly, a tired lower back (especially when the spasming starts), pain in the front rib area of my left side (especially when spasming) and sometimes my arm/hand on my left side feels weird. My right arm and hand on my right side occasionally goes numb and gets painful, which my doctor attributed to a minor pinched nerve.

    When I breathe, ESPECIALLY when my back is spasming, I can hear lots of "popping" noises in my ears, which sound like they are coming from joints in my back: similar sounds to when a person pops their knuckles.

    MRI results of my lower back showed nothing remarkable. X-ray of my thoracic spine came back fine. My upper back and thoracic spine have not been MRIed.

    My family doctor sent me to a pain management doctor, who suspected my ribs were sublaxating. She put me on pain medication, muscle relaxants, and I went to a physical therapist for about a month. None of the above ever completely gets rid of the pushing feeling, and my back still goes into spasm.

    My pain management doctor just tells me to keep taking the pain killer and muscle relaxant--which I really don't feel is doing anything at all.

    My family doctor suggested I go to a deep tissue massage therapist. The massage therapist mentioned that all of my muscles, especially teres major/minor and lateral dorsi were especially tight, which could be putting extra pressure on my ribs--causing the "pushing" feeling. She mentioned that she felt some scar tissue around my teres minor. I've had five weekly 1.5-hour long (very painful and expensive) deep tissue massages. For about 8 hours after I leave, I have only slight "pushing" pain. The pain ALWAYS returns, though.

    I have been stretching twice daily--stretches that the physical therapist and massage therapist suggested. These feel good, and I can tell they are good for my back, but they are not solving my problem.

    The ONLY things that helps relieve the pain slightly is a) the deep tissue massage b) my TENS unit and c) laying in bed for a long, long time, which really isn't an option because of...well...my LIFE. Shortly after I stop any of these three methods, my pain comes right back. Even hydrocodone and muscle relaxants do nothing but make me feel woozy--the pushing sensation still exists (though, I will admit, the pain in the sensation is decreased).

    And now, for the past two days, my entire left side of my body has been in complete spasm. My muscles are hard to the touch. I am having trouble breathing, I am fatigued, and quite honestly, scared. I can't miss work because we are so busy, so staying home in bed is not an option. I wear my TENS unit as often as I can around the office, and I'm out of money temporarily for deep tissue massages (last one was a week ago).

    I am tired of living with this pain and it's really starting to take a toll on my life and my finances, and I fully regret not going to the doctor when this first started two years ago.

    Please--does anyone have an idea of what's going on?
    I am feeling everything you described, my left shoulderblade is so tight I can't take a deep breathe.. I felt a snap in the left side and since then my breathing is so bad.
    I have had mri, nerve test of the ulna nerve, ct scan and the doctors can not find anything... I also have massage, chiro, osteo, physio taken every single muscle tablet, nerve tablet and no help.. I have been feeling this for two years and everyday I cry, im only 36 years and suffering..
    If you know what it is please let me know.. I need to get my life back!
  • Mala, I strongly believe that there is an underlying cause for all pain problems so please keep pushing for diagnostics to identify your pain generator.

    For me trigger point/pressure point injections of Botox & steroids into those muscles really, really helped. The lidocaine & steroids helped a bit but not as good & didn't last as long. I found the botox worked best if I iced straight after, continued to stretch following the advise of my PT & massage specialist AND took muscle relaxants. After the initial ice to reduce the swelling from the shots a nice hot water bottle became my friend!

    We're all different. I hope this routine will help you as much as it did me. I'm sorry, I know how crippling that pain can be. Best of luck ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • EnglishGirl said:
    Mala, I strongly believe that there is an underlying cause for all pain problems so please keep pushing for diagnostics to identify your pain generator.

    For me trigger point/pressure point injections of Botox & steroids into those muscles really, really helped. The lidocaine & steroids helped a bit but not as good & didn't last as long. I found the botox worked best if I iced straight after, continued to stretch following the advise of my PT & massage specialist AND took muscle relaxants. After the initial ice to reduce the swelling from the shots a nice hot water bottle became my friend!

    We're all different. I hope this routine will help you as much as it did me. I'm sorry, I know how crippling that pain can be. Best of luck ;-)
    Thankyou for your reply, i am still yet to find out what is going on, i cant live like this...
    I think i also have winged shoulder and i feel thats where my pain is coming from.. im so scared!
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  • Pain is frightening. Chronic unrelenting pain is terrifying!! So many of us here have been through this. You're not alone, what you're feeling is completely normal. You'd be a weird one if you weren't scared! ;-)

    I've been on the chronic pain (not so merry) merry-go-round for about 9 years now. To begin with I just went to the spine clinic, did what I was told, took what I was told & hoped for some miracle. What I've learnt over the years is you have to be your own strong advocate. Research & try to educate yourself but most of all push for answers. All of this is easier to handle once you know what's causing it. Sometimes doctors get a little jaded in my experience. If they don't seem driven to get to the bottom of this & help you, a new pair of eyes can make all the difference. A large hospital could offer a broader approach when diagnosing you.

    What diagnostic tests, treatments, therapy etc have you tried so far? What doctors & specialists have you seen?

    Use the "I can't live like this!" to motivate yourself. I know how exhausting pain is. I'm so sorry you're suffering like this without any answers. I like to believe there's ALWAYS something else to try. Please push for the care you need.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • unrelenting painuunrelenting pain Posts: 20
    edited 04/17/2015 - 3:26 PM
    Hello everyone. I have been dealing with severe pain in lower thoracic for 16 months now. Today my spine doctor is recommending more facet block injections at t9-t11. My t10 is herniated with cord compression. I did these injections last year at this time and severe side effects. Pain doc sent me home with bp at 185/125. Stayed high for two weeks. Had fever, vomiting, blacking out, menstual irregularity, and missed several days of work. Cannot understand why doc would want me to try this procedure again. Injections gave me absolutely no relief. Any ideas anyone?
    Unrelenting pain
  • Anuraag88AAnuraag88 Posts: 1
    edited 06/27/2015 - 1:47 PM
    been very active with sports. football and gym. i have all the exact same problems you have mentioned here. did everything. doc visits. massages. xrays. everything was normal. all my muscles were stiff. entire body. back pain on one side. got my blood test done for an enzyme cpk(creatinine phosphokinase). turns out i have muscle myopathy.

    welcome to spine-health
    please click on welcome and learn more about sh and how to navigate this site to best benefit you.
  • There are different injections ,in different areas that have different purposes. Some are done to confirm a suspected area is in fact the area causing pain, some are temporary nerve blocks done to see if it temporarily relieves pain, if so, then another procedure is performed that offers longer term pain relief, some injection types are done to try to relieve pain and inflammation in an area.
    Steroids used in some of the injections can cause temporary side effects such as you describe, and usually diaper after a few days. Discuss your concerns with your doctor regarding the steroids and he may opt not to use the steroids or change the type of injection or steroid used.


  • Devon1123DDevon1123 Posts: 1
    edited 07/19/2015 - 12:10 AM
    i have lived with this problem for 20 years now and when i saw your article, i just had to say something. i've been through it all. everything from pain management, muscle relaxers, deep tissue massages, acupuncture, chiropractors, physical therapy, ect. nothing has helped. sorry for the bad news. the last doctor i saw a few years ago, was very bright. he gave me a cortisone injection, which actually didn't help. but during the procedure to my thoracic area of t5, he went to give me the shot and i screamed in pain, because he obviously hit the area that was causing the spams. he told me he was convinced i had degenerative disc disease (which is more common than you might think). it's when the spacing between your discs begins to compress. it causes the lat muscles to spasm uncontrollably. very painful. he told me i would live with this the rest of my life. they also found a herniated disc at t-6, which wasn't helping the problem. surgery in this area of the spine is not an option. don't ever try it. i spoke to an amazing surgeon and he said even the worlds most amazing surgeons should never attempt to operate in the thoracic location. it could paralyze you. the advise i tend to get after 20 years more than anything, is to continue a healthy diet, moderate exercise, pain meds or muscle relaxers, and be sure to keep yourself hydrated with water. even cortisone shots once in a while can't hurt. one thing i have found that helps quite a bit, is ice packs or a bag of ice. place it on the area giving you the problem for 10-15 minutes on and off, to lower inflammation of the lat muscles, and ibuprofen daily. ibuprofen is a great anti inflammatory and it helps. if you've found anything else which works, i am all ears after 20 years of frustrating pain.

    welcome to spine-health
    please click on link for helpful information!
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