I am having a great deal of difficulty with my lower back. I am beginning to become depressed because spring is coming and I find myself unable to stand much more than a few minutes without terrible pain. When I wake in the morning, I am in no pain. By the time I get out of bed and move into the kitchen for coffee, I can barely stand. It seems to be in my lower back and the pain radiates all the way up. I have to find a chair quickly because it is so severe. I have been unable to shop with friends or run like I used to. When I sit, I am in no pain...maybe a slight discomfort in my hip. I took four Aleve's before shopping yesterday and was unable to do any. It didn't touch the pain. I will also say I have something happening with circulation in my right hand and foot. They seem to go cold on me. I went to a chiropractor. He saw very little damage to my back except maybe a small amount of arthrisis. Trust me, it cannot be a small amount of have caused so much pain. He took an xray ...so I guess there is no damage to my spine...Any ideas???
Sorry for your pain - you're in the right place for some advice.
I'm no doctor, of course, but it really sounds like a condition called stenosis. I suffer from this and your description sounds so much like it could have been made by me! Stenosis is essentially a narrowing of the spinal canal and/or the foramina (where the nerve roots exit to the side of the spine). There are many things that can narrow these areas, but one of them are bone spurs or nodules which form on the spine (assoicated with aging and arthritic changes). The pain on being upright (and with me this includes sitting upright) is caused by the narrowing preventing blood and oxygen getting to the nerves - its called claudication, but there can also be a degree of inflammation and nerve compression causing sciatic pain too. Like you, painkillers and anti-inflammatories do absolutely nothing for my stenosis pains (but do help some of the general achiness and sciatic pains I get later in the day).
A standard xray only shows the bones, therefore, it can pick up slippage of the vertabra, bony spurs (if the xray is decent) and disc degeneration (by a narrowing of the space between the vertabra) but you really need an MRI or CT scan to look for narrowing of the canal and/or foramina and nerve compression.
Okay, thats all the theory but PLEASE see a spine specialist and get an MRI before seeing the chiropractor again (or at least allowing them to do any manipulations!!). I originally did exactly what you've done, and it made it a lot worse. One of the key things with stenosis, if that's what it is, is that extending the spine narrows the canal even more, and traps/squeezes nerves in the foramina. So, standing up and/or bending backwards are the triggers, whereas flexing the spine (bending fowrads) widens the canal, hence relieving the pain (do you find yourself, squatting, leaning over a shopping cart to relieve it all?). Unfortunately, many chiropractors use extension techniques on suspected herniated discs (which again you need a scan to diagnose!)
Most of the time, stenosis just gets worse and worse over time (like you mine started off just with standing, then progressed to sitting too) - because its associated with the aging process and general degenerative processes, suchas arthritis. I'm having steroid injections at the moment, with no luck so far, but I'm hoping that it doesn't come to surgery.
Good luck in getting diagnosed and let us all know how you are getting on.
Oops, just reread your post and noticed one key difference --with me the pain is all in my lower back and legs --- the stenosis with me is in my lumbar area. I could guess that if the stenosis is further up, it will effect the nerves in your upper back, shoulders and arms, rather than the legs, but guessing from amateurs such as me is not what you need! Please see a spine specialist and get an MRI asap!
Good luck again and take it easy until you know what's going on! Alice
I can't agree more with Alice. It's time to see a spine specialist or neurosurgeon to have a complete work up. I pray that you are able to find some much needed relief soon. Back Pain stinks and there is no reason for you to be suffering so much. Good Luck.
That thank you was for everyone. I am just learning how to post here...
The information is so helpful. I was beginning to think I was falling totally apart...not linking all the stuff together...Thank you.
Yes, I find myself leaning over the cart when I shop. It does relieve the pain more so than standing upright. It is so severe at this time I cannot even shop. I cried over Christmas time when I had to use a wheelchair to finish our shopping. I guess I have ignored it and it has become progressively worse. I owned a retail store and found myself...going back now about three years...just having a lot of lower back pain that I could not relieve...and now to this point. I am 57 years old and feel 200. Depressed..very...and sad that spring will come and again my garden suffers.
It sounds alot like it could be stenosis or disc compression but an X-Ray won't see this. You really should see a spine specialist and have an MRI done. I had the same issues, couldnt walk anymore or go anywhere where I had to stand or sit for any lenght of time. Food shopping is all I went because I could lean my weight onto the shopping cart. Especially if you're having numbness in your leg or foot...that is definitely a red flag. ANd if you have pain going up your back and/or to the sides, it could be bad spasms. My spasms not only went into my rear and legs, but also up my entire back, into my shoulders, arms, hands, neck, throat, and face. It truly was horrible. It was probably because of walking stooped over for so long. So when you are to the point that the pain does not go away and you're quality of life is suffering, you really need to see a specialist because whatever is wrong can usually fixed or at helped in some way with various of types of treatments, including surgery if necessary. Don't wait too long, either, because you could end up with possible permanent damage somewhere. Not to scare you, but it does sound to me, anyway, like it could be serious. Mine was very serious, but i've since had surgery and have a big chunk of my life back again so it was very well worth it. Please ask us if you have any other questions or concerns! Or just come back to vent or whatever!
I keep looking in my phone book but there are no spinal doctors listed. Is there another name for them? What is their speciality called? Do you know?
Thank you for answering my post. I am now to the point of knowing it is rather serious. It has gone on too long to be a pulled muscle pressing on nerves or something. I wish that darn chiropractor had sent me on...No help to me at all.
Last edited by Sumanadevii; 03-04-2007 at 10:35 AM.
Generally a spine specialist would be either an orthopaedist or neurologist who's specialty is the spine. I first brought my spine problems to the attention of my rheumatologist who ordered my xrays and MRI's and got a diagnosis that way. He then explained to me I should see a spine specialist if my treatments didn't work, etc. I was also going to PT at the time and my PT actually gave me the name & phone # of the spine specialist I ended up using as my surgeon. If there are no ads in the phone book indicating a doc as specializing in spine, calling their office & asking if anyone is a spine specialist would be an option. Or you could ask your GP for a referral. Or if you or anyone you know goes to physical therapy, they could ask the PT if they know of any good spine docs.
Sorry for not replying again earlier..unfortunately I'm in Europe where things are slightly different, but Baybreeze's advice about finding a specialist sounds good.
I went through the GP who ordered the scan, and then once the radiologist had seen me, the GP referred me on to a neurosurgeon. Just wanted to point out that not all chiropractors are bad! Mine is great now he knows what it is that's causing the problems and for now just gives me light massages to keep things moving smoothly, sometimes some light strecthing for the same reason, and a normally a session on the TENS. All this is nice and relaxing and helps with the muscle soreness and sciatica, (but doesn't touch the stenosis) but the first guy I saw (recommended by a colleague) flung me around like a ragdoll then just gave me a prescription for 6 sessions of re-education and said it was a blockage that he had de-blocked Like you, I just thought, I've had this way too long (about a year at that point) for it all to be cured in six sessions that appear to be making it so much worse!!
Seriously, there are some really hopeless ones out there, but also a lot of very good ones too! Its just important to know what's going on before anyway plays with your spine!