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Dr says shouldnt cause pain

Hi everyone, I'm new to this site so bear with me. I've been having upper back pain for over 2 years and about 6 months ago I went to Dr. She ordered X-ray that showed nothing and I was referred to a bone and joint specialist. They ordered an MRI and I finally had that done today. Before she went over results with me she felt my back and I told her where the pain was and she wrote it down then we reviewed the MRI. She found a bulge in the exact area I told her it was but then said it shouldn't produce pain and especially the pain level I described. I was so confused and angry that I really didn't listen to anything else she said. I know she said T5. She went on to say that what I thought were spasms was just in my head and I was probably just cold. She did refer me to pain management to start trigger point injections but didn't seem concerned with anything I tried to say. The pain I'm in is real and it effects my work and home life. I can't even play with my kids. The only thing that helps sleep is the hydrocodone from my pcp. And even then I can only sleep on. My stomach since being on my back or side causes way to much pain. I'm wondering if anyone else has had any experiences like this and what I should look into next. Maybe the pain really isn't from the bulging disc, but I know it's not in my head. I just want to not be pain, or be looked at like I'm crazy or not being truthful about it from this Dr. I've had the same pcp since high school so she knows how I handle pain from my many sports injuries through out high school so at least I have one Dr on my side. It's just all very confusing and is making me very frustrated. Thanks


  • hello, timtoad729!

    it's so hard to maintain your composure when you know you're in real pain, but are being told it's in your head!!  i'm glad to hear you'll be getting in to see a pain management doctor.  hopefully, the minimization and invalidation you experienced with the spine specialist will not continue once you are being treated by a pain management physician.  i'm sorry that this happened to you, and sorrier yet that you are not the only one who has had an experience like that!

    i'd like to welcome you to spine-health!  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!
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561
    Annular tears can cause pain in thoracic and they often won't be seen on MRI.
    That is a disgusting comment from the doctor who then proceeds to cover their butt by sending you for trigger point injections which are often done for spasms.  Never ok for a dr to say it's in your head.
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,518
    hi timtoad
    please take a look at pain - real or fake is it in your head?

    so many times i have read similar discussions that you made today.  its sad, because you as the individual know that you are in pain and are looking for help.  so when all the tests come back with no problem found and the doctor says 
    ok, your fine,  its easy to see how upsetting that can be.   you almost want to take your pain and give it to them right now so they can understand you.

    diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult at times.  its easy when all the tests come back and there is no question what the problem is and what should be done.  unfortunately, that is not always the cause.  here is where you need a doctor who will not give up and continue to investigate to understand what is the root of your pain.   you can't force them to do that, but if they start to push you out because of no problem, then it may be time for you to look for another doctor.

    it may take time, perhaps a long time.  talk with aaron (itsautonomic) he went basically un-diagnosed for a long time, but because he wouldn't take no as an answer and would do research on his on, he know has a diagnosis he can work with.

    please keep in mind that during this troubleshooting period, different tests may be suggested and perhaps a visit to a pain counselor to look at the non-physical aspects.

    i think 3 words that aaron has stated before and something everyone should listen to:    don't give up
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561
    Everyone in diagnsosis phase has to reach a crossroad that only you can decide to take.  It takes a lot of self reflection, trusting your feelings and signs the body is telling you, education, deduction, review of your own history ( have I ever been a hypochondriac or had low tolerance of pain from little things) and the idea that everything should be questioned in health unless it's proven for or against an issue.
    When you do that the answer is right there in our faces yet we often choose to let Drs convince us of something different than what we already know.

    Something that's in our heart and mind....instinct.  The human body will often tell you all you need to know if you listen and trust it.  If you listen you will not give up because you know something isn't right, now you need the medical field to help you figure out exactly what that is.  Instinct or gut feeling is a strong motivator as is pain.  But each of us have to decide to forward thought the humiliation, the tears, the thoughts you are crazy because in the end there is always a reason it's just figuring out what it is and the impact it has
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • This is going to be long and I am sorry for that. I joined the group just to respond to your post because I know this story and I know it well. Hopefully your condition will not progress to the level mine has. Dr s do not seem to know how to respond to thoracic pain. About 11 years ago I went to my primary md after having progressive thoracic pain in a very specific spot for ten *years*. It was a very slow progression, typically getting worse as the day went on, especially during work days. At that point my spine was sore to the touch but also possessed a deep ache that I have always described as almost feeling as though I could not hold my back up . I had tried seeing an NP about it a couple of years prior who told me, "Yeah everyone's back hurts at the end of the day". I had reached a point where I could not work with the pain, I literally could think of nothing else but going home to lie down I was in such pain. I went on a medical leave back then, having a feeling that this was going to be a long diagnosis process, and it was.

    My initial x rays showed mild arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and scoliosis, all at around the T6-7 region. Exactly where my pain was. However, I was told those things were all "mild" and there was no way I should be having that much pain from it. I was told the thoracic spine is very stable, and long term pain there just is not a issue. I was then told I must have fibromyalgia to respond the way I was. I did not agree, as I did not have any of the typical symptoms of fbromyalgia, just pain at a very specific spot in my back. I requested an MRI, she told me none was indicated because I just had fibro, and sent me to a pain specialist. He, thank goodness, immediately ordered an MRI and agreed that I did not have fibro. The MRI showed a bulging disc at T6-7. He told me that indeed it was the likely culprit of my pain, that typically when people have injured discs in the thoracic spine they heal on their own, but for some reason mine was likely injured at some point in my early life, and just never did . He also advised that I was a poor surgical candidate due to the difficulty of accessing the area, and that likely surgery would only be done if I were having paralytic symptoms. He turned out to be correct about that.

    Fast fwd eleven years. My thoracic spine continues to worsen. The bulging disc at T6-7 is now partially compressing my spinal cord. I also have discs bulging at T3-4 and T8-9 which I have been told is likely due to the T6-7 weak spot putting pressure on other areas trying to compensate for it. My pain has progressed to near constant, it now often radiates around my rib cage and it dramatically worsens when I have to sit or stand upright for more than 10-15 minutes. I had to stop working last year, I had worked for ten years going to pain management and on fairly high dose pain meds. I have tried PT, epidural steroid injections, nerve ablation attempts, massage, acupuncture. Nothing helps anymore, except the pain meds, and they are limited to me being able to keep a comfortable , basically, reclined. I would have likely taken my own life were it not for the pain meds over these years. The surgeon I saw recently still feels the risks outweigh any potential pain relief benefit at this point and is afraid of making my condition worse. I have a tremendous amount of inflammation in my whole thoracic spine.

    Believe it or not, I try to stay active. I can walk for quite a while and not worsen my pain much and I have an exercise and activity routine I stick close to. Any change in that can set off a pain exacerbation that can last weeks. I have a supportive pain specialist and primary md and an amazing husband. I am doing the best I can to enjoy my life. I am sick to death of explaining my condition to people. Many interventions used for lumbar or cervical pain are either not used or not approved by insurance for thoracic pain because it is so much less common. I get tired of people asking, "Have you tried this or that?" I feel like screaming because in over twenty years worth of pain I feel like I have tried most everything, or else it had been ruled out by my docs as not likely to help for various reasons.

    Again, sorry so long, and I really hope your path is not the same as mine. But I understand attitude of "there is no way you are having pain from that" attitude.
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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    hello tpainsux !
    welcome to spine-health

    please click on link for helpful information!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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