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Chronic lower back pain spreading down legs and resulting in swelling

Age: 24
Gender: Male
Date: 09/2016

First time writer, apologies for the lengthy post!

I've always been quite athletic and played sports regularly since I can remember. 

6 years ago, I started getting a pain around my lower back, between thoracic 11 and 12. I visited a variety of doctors and medical professionals at the time, ranging from physiotherapists to orthopedics. I also had an MRI scan, which showed everything was fine. The pain was never substantial enough to get in the way of every day activities or sports.

Late last year, after spending 3 months travelling, the pain came back even stronger, to the point I have stopped playing sports as running aggravates the pain. Over the following 9 months, I have got a wide range of strange symptoms. The left side of my lower back gradually started feeling heavier, with the muscle constantly feeling strained. One night, it suddenly felt like my spine between thoracic 11 and 12 had fused, or burnt out. In conjunction with this, my left lower back swole. Over the following months, the swelling spread to my ribs. I went private to get an MRI scan on my thoracic spine, which again came back fine. As the pain has spread into my back and my rib, the original pain in my thoracic has subsided and only returns when my lower back is stressed. 

Around the same time, I started feeling like my legs constantly needed stretched, although stretching never actually helped. This pain gradually went away but came back in the last month or so with greater force, with my legs now constantly feeling heavy, tired and drained, more so my left than my right. The weak feeling also sometimes comes and goes in both my wrists. I get pins and needles in both feet that come and go as well as my left hand. I also get a strange stress behind my left ear.

I visited the emergency department after an episode last week where I got intense pins and needles down my left leg, in my left cheekbone and behind my left ear, as well as my left hand feeling numb (again, this feeling came and went). I have been referred for an MRI for my brain as well as my spine this time, however nobody seems to know what is wrong with me. I have had all bloods done, with no deficiencies and arthritis ruled out. 

In the last 9 months, I have again visited all sorts of different medical professionals, to no avail. A podiatrist picked up that one of my legs is longer than the other a few months back, resulting in me buying in soles to correct the imbalance in my pelvis. This, however, has not made a difference and my symptoms and pain have only seemed to worsen over time.

Again, apologies for the lengthy message! If you have any suggestions on what the problem may be, please reply!

Thank you, I hope we all find the answers to our pains. 


  • hello, iprince!

    no worries about the lengthy message--rarely do we "spineys" have a short story to tell!!!

    you mentioned mri studies, but have you had ct/bone scans, or flexion-extension x-rays?  sometimes, these tests can be a bit more revealing than an mri--especially if there are small fractures along the vertebral column.  also, it is not unusual to experience "referred pain" (pain that seems to come from one area, but is actually being generated from another).  perhaps you could ask about having some of these other types of imaging tests done? 

    i'd like to welcome you to the forums!  please click on the following link for some helpful information to get you started!

    welcome to spine-health 
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • IPrinceIIPrince IrelandPosts: 10
    Thanks for your response Kimmy72 and the introduction. 

    I have had x rays done, both standing and lying down. The standing x rays showed that one leg was longer than the other, with my right side of my pelvis higher than the other, but nothing else. I am due to have another MRI of my brain as well as my spine this time, but I am convinced there is a problem with my spine rather than a neuropathic condition. My only worry about it being a neuropathic condition has been the feeling of heaviness and fatigue in my legs, however these pains have only appeared when my back pain went another level!

    The only thing that has thus far subdued the pain and reduced the mentioned swelling is kinesiology tape...otherwise, other physiotherapy exercises haven't helped.

    I may go down the route of a CT/bone scan next if the MRI comes up clear (which I am expecting, although hopefully it might pick up something in my spine this time round!) 

    Any idea what the problem might be?
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  • You're quite welcome!

    It can sometimes take a while before a diagnosis becomes clear.  I'm one of those people for whom the diagnostic process was a long and winding road!!! 

    Only a medical professional would be able to definitively tell you what is going on with your spine, and there aren't any of those here on these forums!  What you will find here are a whole lot of understanding people, and perhaps some good "company" as you work your way towards feeling better!!! 
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • IPrinceIIPrince IrelandPosts: 10
    Visiting a chiropractor tomorrow, hopefully he can help clarify what the problem may be!
  • IPrinceIIPrince IrelandPosts: 10
    The chiropractic thinks my back problems are due to a structural problem, namely my right shoulder being lower than my left mixed with my right pelvis being higher than my left which cause cause my spine to press on several nerves in an attempt to stay functional. Over time, this has got worse until the condition that I have now!

    I'm gonna give him a go, hopefully this is the one!
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  • I wish you the best of luck!!!  Let us know how you make out, ok?
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
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