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Old 04-16-2011, 01:04 PM   #1
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Sharp Pain in Thoracic Region

*I apologize for the novel below, but I feel whoever reads this needs the entire story.

So, I've been dealing with back pain for about two years. It started when I woke up one morning and couldn't move my neck. I went to urgent care and was diagnosed with muscle spasms. For the last couple of years I have had extreme spasming in the thoracic and cervical region. I also get a subtle stinging pain up the side of neck from my traps to just below my earlobe. Whenever I go to the doctor it's the same thing: muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories. I took a fall down some carpeted stairs in January and it aggravated my pain even more. I basically have pain when I am stressed or sit through my long lectures at school, or long car rides.

Eventually, I accepted that I'd never figure out what is wrong. Due to my age and absence of other alerting symptoms, I figured doctors would always brush me off, so why bother wasting my day and co-pay? I began to just ignore the pain and roll with it. I started yoga, pilates, and dancing again and just picked back up with my life. A couple of days ago I was cooking and suddenly got a sharp pain in my thoracic region. It intensified as I inhaled and also tightened. You know the kind of pain you get in your side when you run? That's what it felt like! I called Kaiser and and advice nurse told me I should come in but there were no appointments and apparenlty you need appointments for urgent care now. I wasn't about to pay $150 for an ER visit. I held off, stayed in bed and took my usual meds. No relief! The next morning I woke up and I couldn't cross my midline without pain. I couldn't drive because I can't cross my midline without excruciating pain, so I took the bus. The doctor barely touched me and said I was in spasm and sent me off. Really?!

Now, I've dealt with spasms for two years and I know what they feel like. This definitely did not feel like a spasm. Not to mention I am three days in and the pain is still the same. I asked for an x-ray at my parents' request and the doctor put in an order. She also mentioned she didn't think an x-ray would help. Maybe not, but it's better than the treatment I received from her.

I know there's no certain answer but if anyone has experienced anything like this or has some insight into what this could be, I'd greatly appreciate it. I just don't want to wait until I'm 70 and need back surgery for someone to take me seriously.

 
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Old 04-16-2011, 05:48 PM   #2
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Re: Sharp Pain in Thoracic Region

[FONT="Comic Sans MS"][COLOR="Navy"]Raya,

If no one has to this point, let me be one of the first to welcome you to the boards here. It is a wealth of information from alot of people who do care tons more than any doctors ever will. None of us are docs by an means but draw on a lot of personal experiance. Unfourtunately it is a lot of bad experiance as most of the people who have healed no longer have a need for the board and have moved on.

Sounds like you need an MRI for sure. It will definately show what you have going on in the disks and soft tissue that a CT or Xray will not show very will. Also you may want to take the time to do a google search for something called a dermatone chart. It shows where those disks in your cervical, thorasic and lumbar spine have a tendancy to radiate pain to. I was dumbfounded by how far some of those actually go. It may tend to shed some light one some of the pains that you are feeling.

Be vigilaint and [U]persistant [/U]with the doctors. Sometimes it's what it takes for them to take you seriously without brushing you aside. Unfourtunately the doctor's standard of care for most people experiancing back pains without, a diagnosis of herniated disk, stenosis etc., is to call it muscle spasms, medicate with some light narcotics, muscle relaxers and a steriod dose pack.

I wish you the best of luck and pray that your pains lessen in intensity. We are all here if you need us.

"Joe" [/COLOR][/FONT]
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Herniated L5-S1 in 2005
Herniated L2-L3 in 2008
Dynamic stabilization L2-L3 in 2008 (failed-spondylolesthis of L2)
PLIF L2-L3 in 2009
PLIF failed to fuse

 
Old 04-18-2011, 05:50 PM   #3
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Re: Sharp Pain in Thoracic Region

Joe,

Thank you for the welcome and advice. I think I need an MRI too but I probably have a zero chance of getting one. It has been six days now with the sharp pain and it still gets worse with a deep inhale or exhale. I also cannot turn my torso. I saw another doctor and she suggested a chiropractor but I've always been iffy on that alternative. I guess I just have to suffer through this mystery. =/

 
Old 04-18-2011, 06:03 PM   #4
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Re: Sharp Pain in Thoracic Region

[FONT="Comic Sans MS"][COLOR="Navy"]Raya,

Stay persistant with the doc, if he/she is unwilling then it may be time to find a new doc. I'm not sure what your insurance situation is and I know that it is frustrating. I just don't understand why so many so called doctors refuse to listen to what the patient is telling them. I am fourtunate in that regard. The one time my surgeon seemed doubtfull in what I was telling him, my suspicion and what my body was telling me was proven correct within four months. I don't see why your doctor would be so unwilling to give you an MRI especially since it is one of the key diagnostic tools for your problems. There is also the other alterantive of you paying for it yourself but if you are like me, that's out of the question. Keep the faith!! As for the finding another doctor thing, trust what your body is telling you. On the other hand, persistance with your current doctor may show to him/her that you are not simply a pill seeker and are VERY serious about getting proper helf for your back.

As for the chiropractor, I am very leery of them. I refuse to see one for my back, especially now that I have had a surgery or two. Others will definately disagree with me however. I know a lot of paramedics and when my back problems first kicked off their advice on that matter was overwhelming. I will not repeat their advice as it may be construed as me giving you medical advice. The one thing that I can repeat is that they said it would be a shame if we had to carry you out . I'm sure others have had very positive experiances. I just don't see how they can put a disk back in if it is out.

I wish you the very best,
"JOE" [/COLOR][/FONT]
__________________
Herniated L5-S1 in 2005
Herniated L2-L3 in 2008
Dynamic stabilization L2-L3 in 2008 (failed-spondylolesthis of L2)
PLIF L2-L3 in 2009
PLIF failed to fuse

 
Old 04-18-2011, 06:59 PM   #5
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Re: Sharp Pain in Thoracic Region

Thanks Joe! I guess Kaiser is too cheap to order an MRI and I think I get the run around because of my age (still in my 20s and didn't have any trauma other than the slip down the stairs in January). They didn't even want to give me a simple x-ray. If I had the money, I'd pay for an MRI myself just to get some resolve. So, I guess I have to resort to being a drama queen if I get what you're saying. Maybe it is just spasms but my gut tells me it's not. I e-mailed my doctor and she said musculoskeletal pain can be intense for weeks if not months. So my labored breathing to avoid the pain I feel, is normal? I think not.

It seems you have been through a lot. I have a family member who has had multiple back surgeries and I really feel for her. I just hope I get a resolution because at this point it's affecting everything I do. I'm in graduate school and it's really hard to do well when you don't feel well. Thanks again!

 
Old 04-26-2011, 07:18 PM   #6
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Re: Sharp Pain in Thoracic Region

[QUOTE=raya09;4734200]Thanks Joe! I guess Kaiser is too cheap to order an MRI and I think I get the run around because of my age (still in my 20s and didn't have any trauma other than the slip down the stairs in January). They didn't even want to give me a simple x-ray. If I had the money, I'd pay for an MRI myself just to get some resolve. So, I guess I have to resort to being a drama queen if I get what you're saying. Maybe it is just spasms but my gut tells me it's not. I e-mailed my doctor and she said musculoskeletal pain can be intense for weeks if not months. So my labored breathing to avoid the pain I feel, is normal? I think not.

It seems you have been through a lot. I have a family member who has had multiple back surgeries and I really feel for her. I just hope I get a resolution because at this point it's affecting everything I do. I'm in graduate school and it's really hard to do well when you don't feel well. Thanks again![/QUOTE]

You sound as if you have a facet joint or a spinal rib articulation dysfunction. Deep breaths in and out are typical of the pain you get. No meed for exrays and certainly not a MRI, with that you will always see "red herrings" and you will be referred to a surgeon, heaven forbid. See a manual physical therapist, phone a clinic and ask if they do such work, ask to talk to the head PT preferrably in a clinic owned by a PT. Dont let it get chronic or you will be asking for advice again and again.
James

 
Old 04-26-2011, 07:47 PM   #7
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Re: Sharp Pain in Thoracic Region

James,

Thanks, I needed to hear that. I saw my school's nurse practitioner one day last week because I was in so much pain in class after being ignored by my doctor. The NP told me that unfortunately, western medicine was not going to help me. She also thought it was a facet issue and it makes sense. The pain I feel in my back is similar to the pain you feel near your ribs when you've run too much or the costochondritis that I get at least once a month. My brain is so fried from school, but I soon realized, duh!!! The ribs go around the back as well. She recommended that I see a chiropractor that does myofascial release (I'm against the snap, crackle, and pop methods) and accupressure. Too bad my insurance doesn't cover any of it. Thanks again. Once school is over, I'm going to properly address this issue.

 
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