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Chronic B. pain Have to pop my back dozens of times a day..

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:20 AM in Chronic Pain
Hi everyone- new member here. I cannot believe I never joined this group years ago!

So I've had chronic back pain since I was 23 and I'm 30 now
My MRI doesn't show anything unusual, no relief from phys therapy, exercise or painkillers or chiropractors. X rays are fine. Epidurals helped , but only for 3 weeks.
The only thing that gives me relief is stretching my back and popping it. I distinctly feel that each one of my spine joints or ligaments are locking up and going out of alignment. I am thus forced to "unlock" or "set right" the joints by popping them. This I do by either grabbing onto the chair handles and twisting my body( for the lower back) or tightening my back muscle and pulling my arm across my chest wit the other arm for the mid back. Also I have to pull my neck towards my shoulder, and this very audibly pops my upper back.

Whenever I tell doctors this, they seem disinterested like it is unimportant. It IS important because a) Its extremely unusual ( how many folks pop their back 100 times a day?) b) its very audible- kind of like bubble wrap and c) it is the only thing that alleviates the pain and sensation of tightness.
In other words it is a very important symptom that's telling me something about my condition. I'm wondering how many of you pain sufferers out there have the same things happen to your back?


  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i am sorry to hear you are having trouble getting a diagnosis. this can be so difficult to deal with and have chronic pain. you will find people with all kinds of symptoms and i am sure someone will stop by and say hi! check out the Upper Back section for some more input. good luck and see you around the forum! Jenny :)
  • Welcome GuitarWhiz.

    I don't have any ideas, but wanted to ask you what kinds of doctors have you seen and exactly what kinds of xrays did you have.

    Can you tell us a little more about your symptoms?

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  • Thanks for your interest Julie,

    I've seen pain specialists, orthopedic surgeons, and pysical therapy specialists

    I have had lumbar and cervical x rays- in multiple standing positions. MRI, Bone scan, and disckectomy are all fairly normal looking. Epidural shots in L4-5 have helped but only for 3 weeks. Have done physical therapy 5 times in my life and continue to do the exercizes at home as well as stretching.

    Pain is worst while I stand or sit for long.
    The only thing that gives relief is massage, stretching and aerobic exercise ( running etc)

    any ideas would help. Im pretty sure the problem is mechanical in nature.

  • Mechanical is the key. Your facet joints are responsible for motion. I used to have to get my husband to pick me up from behind and kind of bounce me until my back cracked in all areas. I would suggest asking your doc to check you for bone spurs or arthritis in your facet joints. I have arthritis in my facet joints and it is at it's worst when I sit or stand fo awhile. That is my only suggestion. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
  • Thats interesting. I will have to look into that- the docs have not brought that up before.
    What do you take for relief for facet joint pain? Whic medications work ( if any do at all), and what other treatments have you tried.

    Thanks a bunch for your useful suggestion
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  • I am only 21 and have been chronically popped my back, neck, wrist, and knuckles for years. In the past year I've added my ankles to this list. I've been very active my entire life which could be the cause for my joint discomfort. Popping or resetting is the ONLY way i can feel relief. I've had a chiropractor x-ray my back and he said that everything is just fine. I'm so glad to find that I'm not the only one who does this. Will i just have to deal with this my whole life? It's quite unlady-like so i really wish there was some treatment for this.
  • hello,

    I have EXACTLY the same problems that you posted and I too just finished having PT after seeing an orthopedic surgeon. I happen to be a second year medical student at an osteopathic medical school (we are called DO's and we learn manipulation on top of traditional medical training) and we learn a treatment called HVLA where you use a high velocity thrust to reset the joint surface (similar to chiropractors). when I have this done by a class mate or I do it myself (50 times a day!)I get instant relief, but the relief only lasts 20 or 30 mins. I have an MRI scheduled for next week, but I honestly don't think they will find anything. I recently bought a TENS device, and I m waiting for it in the mail. It's an instrument that provides relief from spasming muscles by repetively stimulating the muscle w electrical impulses. I really hope it helps. Even if this is arthritis at the facet joint (zygopophyseal joint) I still don't understand how 1) popping it provides relief; and 2) how this causes muscle spasms. I really hope to find some relief some time in my life. If you (the poster) happen to look at this again, I have a question for you --> have you ever had thoracic surgery in which your ribs had to be spread? I had open heart surgery and I am wondering if this is a possible manifestation. thank you.
  • I agree with paininthe back I've had facet joint injections also. Ask your pain management Dr. One of the things he asked me to do is from the waist,standing bend backward at the hips. I thought I was going back fairly far like normal but after the injections I was able to move better. Also to look at someone I'd have to turn my whole body instead of turning,twisting, at the waist. So my movents are more easier to do and the desire to crack my back is not there as it was before. But I also have referred pain from the herniated disc in my case. Take care and good luck. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • i Have had this very same problem for 4 years now. i injured my back training for special forces, and was treated with steroids, to which i had an adverse reaction. It has steadily gotten worse and worse. I crack my neck literally hundreds of times in a day, and my back several. I was finally told i had spondylosis in t3-t6, but that they could not do anything until i became incontinent. They have me prescribed flexorall to take some of the edge off the resulting muscle pain, which is limited. i wish there were something that could be done...
  • I too have these same problems and am glad to hear I'm not the only one like I was starting to wonder..I have had these back pains sence I was prob 16 I'm now 23 and they seem to only get worse..like more and more joints are needed to be cracked or piped to temporarily releave the tightness/pressure/pain...when I wake up I can hardly move until I pop my back and neck joints...I have gone to diffrent drs about the issue and after ex rays and other scans they always say my back is fine...they say I have some narrowing of the disks and some bulging in some areas and some other words I never understand..but then they assure my that these issues are minor any that my back shouldn't be in any pain...but it is...after a few visits and a failed attempt on physical therapy doing any good...I started going straight to the er when my back and neck was in a lot of pain...they got very rude and accused me of trying to abuse pain pills and continued to tell me there should be no pain...I told them many times pain pills and mussel relaxers did not work anyway but they clame that surgery would only make my condition worse and that I'm too young to even qualify..they have never checked for arthritis ether because they say I'm too young for that as well...they contuned to prescribe diffrent pain pills mussel relaxers and stairoids until I had an adverse reaction...they sent me to have epidural shots in two of my lower joints..but apon arrival the dr refused to do the shots because he said they wouldent help me and prescribed yet another mussel relaxer that only makes me tired throughout the day and seems to only make my joints bother me more...I began to seek help from chiropractors who seemed to help but only to the same extent as poping myself and I found myself on a set schedule 3 sometimes 4 times a week to his office...and he only could tell me that my back seemed rubbery..and he wasent sure what was causing any of it...so I was forced to stop going because I couldn't afford it..during that time I also tried the physical therapy again and a therapist to see if the problem was in my head..with the combination of mussel relaxers, depression pills,and physical therapy it seemed to not bother me as much for a couple months but came right back...
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