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21 years old 3 years Upper Back Pain

melevinemmelevine Posts: 1
edited 12/07/2013 - 7:04 PM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Hello all, I am new here. This is a long story so forgive me for rambling. I've been suffering for 3 years now and am incredibly isolated by my pain so I thought I'd reach out. I began having pain when I was 18 (I'm 21 now). I was a swimmer for 13 years, and did a lot of weight lifting, a lot of which was unsupervised and was definitely overkill (stupid teenage years...) since I was swimming 6-8 practices per week in addition to lifting 5-6 days a week. When I was 18 I stopped swimming, and began only weight lifting, this time much more moderately, perhaps 3 days a week. I began to experience mild pain at the end of my workouts so I decided to stop. I then took up yoga. My pain continued to increase, only UPPER BACK, between my left shoulder blade and spine, sometimes radiating up into my neck especially when i was sleeping. It only occures on the LEFT side and NEVER on the right side. I began stretching, and doing physical therapy to help with postural muscles. I was planning on a doing a 30 day backpacking trip through the rockies and my doctor (I cannot believe his advice in hindsight) said it would be fine for me to go ahead and do the backpacking trip, since i had no structural problems and he thought it was just normal teenage bad posture and stress. So I went on the trip and day 1 my back was KILLING ME. However it was a non-refundable trip and so in my 18 year old naivety I decided I would tough it out. So in intense pain for 30 days I toughed it out. WHen i got home I went through 9 months of seeing every doctor you could imagine. First physiatrist who recommended physical therapy to help with postural muscles. DId that for 3 months, did nothing. Then I tried trigger point injections, which did nothing. Had X-ray and MRI no abnormalities except a tiny bulge on my T7 disc, which the radiologist thought was so small that it was likely a normal abnormality. But since my doctor was out of ideas, he had me see a spine surgeon who give me epideral injections which also did not help. I then saw a chiropractor which gave me some relief but when i stopped the pain just came back. I then tried acupuncture which provided temporary relief, but then that ended and the pain returned. I now stretch 1-2 hours a day, swim GENTLY 3-4 days a week, eat incredibly healthy, get 9 hours of a sleep a night, and the pain remains. It occurs in the SAME place predictabliy--right at the lower end of my LEFT shoulder blade in between my scapula and spine (the pain feels DEEP in there not superficial) and radiates into my neck on the LEFT SIDE ONLY when I am horizontal. The left trapezius and romboid muscles feel totally shredded when i use a corner of a wall to massage them--like an abraded rope, and i have lost a lot of sensation in them when I massage them very intensley. Perhaps they are somehow damaged? Can this be fixed? I am 21, and a painter, and trying to be a normal college student, and this pain is really interfering with every aspect of everyday life. It prevents me from being social as I am often in too much pain to really give anyone my full attention, it interferes with my love life, academic life--just about everything. Does anyone have any advice, encouragement, or perhaps a success story to share that might give me a bit of hope? Any treatments anyone could recommend? I can't imagine spending the rest of my life like this. Should I just be waiting to grow out of it if it is muscular? It seems like it is probably a result of the abuse I put my body through through my teenage years--is there any hope of recovering from this or did I totally screw myself up for life?
Any help would be a blessing.


  • I hope this helps. I had excruciating pain, deep pain like you describe, on my right side only for 8 years without a diagnosis, My T5 was 80% crushed in an accident and they assumed it was crushed anteriorly. No MRI showed up that it was crushed to the right and consequently my T4, the one above, was slipping out to the right, as my T5 was only 20% there on the right side.not holding my T4 in place, and giving me incredible pain only on the right side.

    I eventually found a sports physio who has to get professional athletes back playing sport. I am so glad I found her so I would try a sports physio - if you go ask them to feel your spine, don't let them put you on a tens machine and leave you. Make sure you ask them if any vertebrae are out to the left. Sometimes it takes her an hour to get mine back in. She pushes on my ribs as well. Don't let anyone touch you unless they are trained.

    if it is like mine you will have vertebrae out on the left side. I now only bend to the right as if I bend to the left it comes out again. Taping is pretty important as it has been out for a while and my muscles try and spasm it straight back out again. I can't promise this is what happened but it is really worth a try as I had the same type of pain to the right - it kept getting worse as well.

    I had so many tests, MRIs, specialists, pain clinics, acupuncture, every conceivable treatment both eastern and western, all which made it worse and cost me around $30,000. After 8 years I found a physio who felt no T5 to the right and that my T4 was way out to the right, as there was nothing to hold it in. When she put my T4 into the correct mechanical position and taped it as my muscles just spasmed it straight out again, the tape holds it in place. It was instant pain relief after 8 years of pain I thought I couldn't take anymore.

    It's worth a try - if you do please let me know how you go. Mine was complex and no-one, even every specialist, could work it out. Another thing was my hips were not aligned as my right leg was shorter from the accident so your left leg maybe shorter - you can check yourself if your hips are aligned so now I wear built up shoes 10cm on the right to keep my hips aligned. If I don't I really pay for it with pain.

    Interestingly I went to art school and I was also a swimmer and walked the Camino Santiago without a pack , went light and the person I did it with knew I couldn't carry a pack, 18 months ago - couldn't even handle carrying my camera - walked through the pain. I was right into gym and light weights as well before the accident. I have PMed you a link so look in your in box.
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