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Old 08-13-2007, 06:43 PM   #1
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My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

I will chronicle my fight with thoracic back and chest pain and my fight with doctors:

1. MRI- Thoracic spine t8/t9 small central herniation; Fractured costa chondral joints all a result of accident in September 2006

My symptoms- burning, tingling, numbness in thoracic spine. Discomfort, sharp pains, aching pains up and down both chest and thoracic spine. Inability to rotate. Trouble sleeping. Painful labored breathing.

I tried the following therapies:

* Accupuncture- Ineffective
* DRX9000- Ineffective
* TEMS- Ineffectice
* Chiropractic- Ineffective
*Physical Therapy/ Mckenzie stretches- Ineffective
*Drugs- Neurontin, Mobic, Percoset- Ineffective
*Neuromassage- Ineffective
*Vitamins and Juices- Ineffective

I consulted with two very prominent spine surgeons. They both said after these therapies that there was nothing more they could do. That operating on the thoracic spine was too risky. That I should live with the pain.

I researched the area and found that these docs were not experts in thoracic surgery nor were they experienced in the minimally invasive methods. They were old school fusion guys. The research from acclaimed journals say that using traditional thoracic surgical methods would result in a 50% complication rate. With the VATS (Video Assisted....)method, the complication rate was 14% with a 6% risk of paralysis or death.

Today I saw a surgeon experienced in the thoracic spine and he told me there is plenty of hope and that surgery may not be necessary. He, unlike the other bozos, told me he that in order to fully evaluat me he needed the following:

1. Flexion/Extension x ray
2. CT scan of thoracic spine

From this he could discover whether bony material was irritating the nerve. If it is then he could either operate or nerve block. If the CT scan is inconclusive he would order a CT myelogram and also order facet injections. He mentioned the facet injections could solve the problem because they have therapeutic value. If the facet injections do not solve the problem then the injections would still serve the purpose of allowing him to zone in on the areas which are causing the pain. He mentioned that diagnosing the exact cause of pain from a thoracic injury is difficult but it can be done. He must further determine whether my back is causing the chest pain or the chest is causing the back pain. This guy sat for an hour with me patiently answering questions while the other prominent bozos sat with me for five minutes and then ran to the next patient. I will keep any of those interested and upon my recovery recommend.

 
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Old 08-13-2007, 07:35 PM   #2
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

mka290, I am indeed interested, I have been having a variety of problem, which alot are symtomatic of thoracic spine problems, although the test so far have not proven anything, interesting enough went for an EMG today excellant Dr. right way explained that the test was not always reliable on its own, he thought for sure the problem was in the cspine before he began the test, as he went to the thoracic back area he recieved a response from the EMG, he did say that is extremely rare, he did not doudt it was correct beause alot of my symptoms can be thoracic, including chest pain, which had ended me in ER & hospital numerous times over the last two years. It is extremely painful & since May have not had one day pain free. Also been through a range of test & meds. It is without a doubt a very scary painful & frustrating thing to go through, had blood work, bone scan & EMG done with in the last two weeks, May I ask you to list your complete Symptoms? I have heard not alot of docs experianced in thoracic area. I am not sure at this point where my problem lies, but I am convinced it is effecting that area. Like I said the DR. today was shocked, very rare for him to see problems in this area with an EMG, of course we will see what the Neuro surgeon says. Please keep us posted there other with some simulair symptoms. Sammy

 
Old 08-13-2007, 09:51 PM   #3
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

MKA,

I take offense to you calling those 2 doctors Bozos. Bozo the Clown was a great entertainer and my childhood hero. I don't see anything the least bit funny in what those guys had to say to you. LOL

It sounds like both you and Sammy have come across good informative and insightful doctors. I hope you both get a proper diagnosis and treatment. Keep us posted.

 
Old 08-15-2007, 05:47 AM   #4
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

You are correct about Bozo!

My symptoms are non stop aching and restricted movement throughout my entire thoracic spine with sharp pains as well. I am having my ct scan done this week and then flying to NY to the HSS for an evaluation. I have done a ton of research on the thoracic area and will only be seen by experienced knowledgeable thoracic back surgeons which are rare indeed. There are about 20 in America I believe who are qualified to opine on this subject. That is why thoracic back pain persons are generally screwed and receive the wrong advice. Most doctors wont allow their egos or pocketbooks to admit they are not qualified. Be careful all who have thoracic problems.

 
Old 08-15-2007, 02:26 PM   #5
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

I think it's great you're sharing your experiences and information. I had a T6-7 discectomy and fusion in Feb. this year that likely will have to be done again because the surgeon used the wrong hardware. My spinal cord is way more compressed now than it was before! I'm in the process of seeing what can be done. Hopefully something.

Be strong, stick together, stay in touch and good luck!

- Margaret

 
Old 08-15-2007, 06:28 PM   #6
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

That is horrifying to hear. I will be seeing next week a maverick surgeon who does what other very prominent doctors cant. I will let you know his recommendations for me.

 
Old 08-15-2007, 06:47 PM   #7
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

That would be great. This is an ongoing learning process - even after surgery! You are right on the mark researching and researching some more. I had minimally invasive, VATS at T6-7. So, they went in and apparently didn't have the right sized hardware and the surgeon "made do" and "cut the pieces to fit." He actually told this to my husband right after the surgery! I didn't know what normal sized hardware was, but everyone who sees my images (MRI's, x-ray's) is shocked by their size. The side view shows significant impingement of my spinal cord because of it. I'm meeting with 3 spine guys in the next 2 weeks to find out my options. My pain specialist said there's really nothing that will help (injections, RFA, etc.) because this is such a structural problem. At this point, I'd love to just get it out. I'd wear a brace. I'd be on bedrest. I'd do anything to go in the right direction! I just want to go in a positive direction!

OK... maybe I started venting there... I'm a little excited to find some thoracic folks...

Please stay in touch. I love the details.

- Margaret

 
Old 08-15-2007, 06:52 PM   #8
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

I will. We will find the competent surgeons and recover.

 
Old 09-26-2007, 07:47 AM   #9
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

Hi MKA290 & others;

I am 36 and have a 3mm (central) t7-t8 herniation. I have seen "the best surgeons" in my metropolis with no success. I am very interested in anyones' success using VATS, because at this point, nothing alleviates the pain, despite having an excellent pain specialist, and my life is subsequently spiralling downward. In short, I am looking for a good surgeon(s), and will go anywhere to find them.

-Tuckerman

Last edited by tuckerman; 09-26-2007 at 07:51 AM.

 
Old 09-26-2007, 12:35 PM   #10
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

I just got back from an appointment with Dr. Bobby Tay at UC San Francisco. He came highly recommended. His peer Christopher Ames is has a great reputation, too, though I haven't met him. Dr. Tay spent an hour with me and laid out a very reasonable, rational, aggressive plan for me. I see that you are in NH, Tuckerman. Perhaps you could fax or send your info and request a phone consult? I know these specialists do these types of things. I can let you know how things play out for me, as well.

You can read a little history on me on my previous posts on this thread. So, at today's app't, Dr. Tay scheduled a myelogram because after reviewing my CT's and MRI's (twice!) he couldn't clearly see if the cage has some bony growth. It very likely could and that would likely be causing my worse symptoms. In addition, there may be scar tissue building up because of the bony growth, causing nerve grumpiness. So, the myelogram/CT is scheduled and we scheduled a surgery for December. Granted, the plan may change with the results of the myelogram, but I appreciate the parallel processing. Dr. Tay offered 2 surgical options. He slightly encouraged the open vs. the minimally invasive for me because it is not clear what is wrong. He said minimally invasive is only successful if you know exactly what is wrong and exactly how to fix it. Otherwise, you're shooting in the dark and you might have to go back in later on. Like my case! Argh!

Perhaps TMI, but there you go. Best of luck in your search. I know it's really hard finding competent people. It's really worth it because you're going to have to live with their work in your body the rest of your life.

Please stay in touch - there are so few thoracics out there!
- Margaret

 
Old 09-29-2007, 06:49 PM   #11
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

Chatterboxsd,

I'm a thoracic several disk bulge and a leat one herniation sufferer...and live in San Diego...you say ya went to SF...so, no doc here in SD? I have had three back surgeries and two neck surgeries..nothing but pain, nerve damage, etc, etc.. disks below and above fusion worse then the disks were when fused..I'm stuck in Worker's Comp..Don't trust them...do you have good pain management doc? who is it? ten bloody years of this...

 
Old 09-30-2007, 10:19 AM   #12
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

I actually recently moved to SF - haven't changed my profile yet. I must say, the medical community here is impressive. There's just more of them. In SD, I went to UCSD Thornton. Went to Wallace in Pain Management. He's the head of the dept. Difficult to get into, but he's pretty good. Taylor was my Neurosurgeon. I think I could have done better. If I were still living in SD, I'd check out to Cedars in LA. Very good Dr's there, if you don't know of any more in SD. Sadly, I don't know of any others.

Please let me know how things go. I feel your frustration. Really I do. Keep up the search to help yourself.
- Margaret

 
Old 01-10-2008, 03:56 PM   #13
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Re: My Thoracic Back Pain Experience and Potential Guide

I have not heard any of you speak of the other issues that go along with thoracic cord impingement. I started in 2003 with severe back and chest pain but I also began with severe sweating and then tachycardia where my resting heartrate is over 150 then I went on to develop gastroparesis which is paralysis of the stomach and bowel. I vomited for over 2 years off and on and was very backed up all the time I was told at first it was because of my pain meds but later I learned on my own accord that the nerve roots come together in the thoracic spine both up and down and it can cause Autonomic Nervous system dysfunction when the cord become damaged as mine has. I later went on to have problems with fluid in my lungs and chronic cough I was told that the muscles of the ribcage do not work appropriately so it can cause a problem with breathing and getting deep enough breaths to clear the bases of the lungs. I had a wonderful Physiatrist who worked with me to help me understand what had happened to me. She is someone who works with parapalegics and she told me that I had what she would call an Incomplete parapalegia. I have never heard anyone tell me that before or since. In my case my cord died around the area ( could have been cause by a vascular accident in the area or by the disc but either way it killed off part of my cord. I think my most difficult problem has come that I look normal but have so many things going on that people cannot see. I am so glad to find you guys . I have been so along dealing with this and to think that I may have to have anothe Thoracotomay freaks me out. It was very painful and I feel like I was very lucky to have gotten through the first one without being paralyzes now what??????
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