I have had severe thoracic pain for over 4 years now. I have a slight herniated disc T-7/T-8 area but the docs keep telling me it wouldnt be causing me any pain. I also have a mass/cyst/tumor in between my brain and brain stem thats growing but the docs tell me that it too wouldnt be causing me pain. I've seen over 70+ doctors in the last four years. I've tried everything anyone can suggest. Nothing has helped except certain pain meds. The pain has gotten so bad that I cant work or do simple things like fold laundry. I'm only 26 years old. Im trying not to lose the little hope that I have left but if something doesnt change soon, Im not going to fight the pain anymore. I hope u find something that works. I know how frustrated u must be. Just remember- ur not alone. There are alot of people with thoracic pain, most know whats wrong but some dont (like me). Good luck!
Actually, exercising is helping a bit and I recomend it (walking, swimming, pilates..) although now I know now it is not going to elimintate the pain. I can't still do certain things like taking any weight, working on the PC for a long period, drive (and I feel a bit handicaped) but at least now I can sit down for a "longer period" than before. I am still on medication.
Hi, I'm a usually fit 43 year old male Family Doc - but please don't take this as definative Medical advice - no-one knows much about T discs!
I prolapsed a T8/9 disc 8 months ago lifting and twisting a 4 year old with my arms outstretched. I felt like I was shot and have battled marked pain with radiation around the chest. The MRI showed a big tear and right nerve root displacement and although the right dermatome has been numb the pain is on both sides. The numbness has settled as the disc swelling has resolved but the diffuse discogenic pain has been bad - especially with prolonged sitting and at the end of the day.
Initial physio and osteopathic manipulation worsened my symptoms. Acupuncture and massage was no help.
Lying on my stomach has been a help.
Time has helped, along with taking 5-7.5mg of Nortriptyline at night for a good sleep and modified pain - not as intense.
Walking has helped a lot and avoiding flexion, lifting and rotation - especially stopping swimming has helped. I would recommend Pilates when you are painfree.
The biggest help has been recently. Seeing a Physio versed in Mckenzie direction preference technique has been a revelation. Basically they work out what movement helps and get you to do it every 2 hours in the day. It gives huge relief and has hurried the improvement for the first time in the 8 months.
For me it entails lying on my stomach with my hands not quite outstretched and doing 10 minipush-ups, trying to leave as much of my stomach on the floor as I can and arching my thoracic spine. Breathing out at the end and after a few gives extra extension. I have also been doing a few weird chest push exercises laterally to straighten a scoliosis that is more spasm than congenital and I can monitor that by looking in a mirror from time to time. Please don't do what I have described - get assessed - it is all about frequent movement to put the disc in a more normal place. But each individual is different.
NSAIDs: I use Celecoxib 200mg 1-3 x a week and have found it has had good effects too for the flare ups and it seems to last 2-3 days.
I have spinal surgeon and neurosurgeon friends who say that I should only get surgery if I am getting bowel/bladder or leg coord difficulty - even then they would hate the risk of a poor outcome in very difficult surgery.
I have the same thoracic pain as well as cervical and lumbar.
The only thing that helped was Demerol, which I have taken extremely sparingly and would not recommend it because you can't think straight on it.
I spread one month's prescription to over a year because of being spaced out, which is dangerous and I don't want to become an addict.
Early last January I took Lyrica. I didn't gain any weight for the first 10 days and thought I found the answer. The neck pain went away! I hadn't been able to move my neck for 16+ years! I gained 25 pounds in 2 months and went off Lyrica at the end of March because I didn't want to gain any more weight.
The Lyrica did not help my thoracic and lumbar pain, BUT Ican still move my neck without pain!
I lost the weight I gained by doing water aerobics in a WARM pool 5 days a week.
It also hurts to wash dishes for 15 seconds and fold laundry for a minute and can't carry anything heavy, like groceries and wear a very light purse.
I can sympathize with you and hope we can find a way to get completely better. My back hurts now as I'm writing, so gotta go.
I also found out I have thoracic disc herniations. 2 1/2 yrs ago I was diagnosed with 5 of them and 3 bulging lumbar discs. 16 yrs ago I had lower lumbar disc surgery for 2 herniated lumbar discs. It was very successful. I walk briskly 3-4 hrs weekly. I take 2 Arthritis Tylenol every am when I get up. I seldom take other pain meds but I have Tramadol and low dose Flexeril for back up. Most days I'm comfortable. Some days I feel totally normal. These past 2 weeks, in upstate Ny the cold has me stiff and a bit uncomfortable. I also do all the back exercises PT gave me for my upper back issues. Ice works much better for me than heat. I have found that if I keep moving even with discomfort I feel better. I also work 4 days a week and commute 2 hrs daily. I try hard to avoid being the patient..that makes me feel sad and it would be too easy to give up on being actively involved in life. 16 yrs ago I was advised to go on disability. I refused and went into a rehab back program called "Med-x". It worked wonders for the lumbar issues. Keeping weight off is also helpful and challenging. Good luck..
I’ve been a long time without visiting the forum, but having it in mind everyday!
Thank you for this answer, it has been really helpful for me. We have some things in common; I am also a 43 year old (mum), and not a doctor, but come from a family with a medical background. And I think we have the same kind of pain as I also feel pain sitting down and relieved on my stomach or stretching my arms (I had not heard before about mckenzie direction).
I have had a quite a good summer with even some days with no pain (I even thought the pain was going to disappear -I was taking medication, btw-). But after the autumn the situation is coming back to be the same.
Well, now after more than a year with regular pain in my dorsal back due to the hernation, I would like to share here some of the things that work for me, in case they are of good use for you or for others with this kind of pain.
a) Actions that improve the situation:
It should always be with soft soles, and of course not with heels. I find “shape-ups” shoes (or MBT, or similar brands) really helpful. They are quite expensive, but I have made good use of them.
It is also important not to carry weights, I tend to buy jackets or coat with pockets, so I can carry the keys, mobile etc.. in them and not in a handbag.
I would recommend:
• Regularly doing exercises meant for dorsal muscles at home (like standing “on all fours” and extending one arm and the other leg. Regularly doing stretching exercises as well.
• Doing specific exercises to build up dorsal muscles. The problem with this is that they can be done only in the gym, which is a bit time consuming and quite expensive if you only go to the gym to do so.
Regarding, Pilates and yoga I have tried both and mixed feelings. I do not recommend typical Pilates exercises where you have to be in a v shape, nor the torsions in yoga.
Specific exercises that relieve pain would be the ones where you lay down on your stomach and raise your upper body. Also hang from monkey bars or doing a stand up.
Swimming… But be careful!! Regarding style, I would only recommend swimming backstroke and freestyle. Breaststroke swimming s not recommended for cervical or lumbar herniations. I don´t think is particularly bad for the dorsal area of my back, but I try not to swim so much in this style as there seems to be a consensus about it being bad for the other areas of the back.
Regarding the rhythm, I have experience if I swim at a high speed it worsens my pain. Therefore, I find swimming useful if it is for a long period (like 40 minutes) and at a medium rhythm.
It also, works especially well to swim with a pullbouy between the legs at freestyle; this makes your dorsal muscles starch and work.
Fisiotherapist? ...In my opinion it works if you have muscle contraction (spam). If it is just a column pain, it is not helpful.
b) Actions that worsen my pain
• Working on the computer
• Taking weights
• In general, sitting down for a long period.
According to some doctors we should take pauses when sitting down and get up from time to time (let’s say each half an hour). These pauses don´t need to be long, it would be as if when you are diving you surface to breathe.
Sometimes I feel I would like to have my back in a plaster cast to relieve pain… this must be common as they sell corsets for this purpose (not for dorsal, as we are oddities ) …BUT this won´t really work, as this would relieve the pain in the short term but deteriorate the back muscles in the long term.
well, in the end, I have had a reduction of the quality of live since my accident, as I can´t work at the pace I used to, and can´t do things with my family that I used to as well. This is quite difficult to take in for me. But I feel I need to learn the things I can´t do and things I should do, and do not rely in medication.
I am sorry for such a long post, I just hope it is helpful for others…
OMG ! I am so happy I found this thread! I started reading this and thought I wrote it! This is almost exactly what happened to me, last year I was in a car accident where someone rear ended me. Pain started in neck/back, thought it was just whiplash. Few weeks later constant pain in my mid back (and still pain in my neck and lower back). Had MRI of thoracic, have herniated disc at T11-T12. I have done 8 months of physical therapy, a month of a back brace, 2 months of acupuncture, and 3 spinal injections for the pain, not to mention a ton of pain killers....the pain is continuously worsening. My specialist is now recommending thoracic surgery for fusion at T-11 T12. The first thing we are doing is a discogram which I have heard is the worst pain anyone has ever experienced. My whole thing is the dangers of thoracic surgery and recovery time. This has put my family life on hold, my son is almost two and we wanted to start trying for baby #2 months ago but couldn't because of my injuries. Anyone have this surgery can tell me recovery time and info about it????
I´ve seen three spine doctors and all of them said I should only have the operation in case of bowel/bladder or arm/leg moving difficulty. Then I have not considered it at all. I am afraid I don´t know of anyone who has had the operation. Please keep in touch and GOOD LUCK!!
Hi Maria, Well I'm going to have a discogram done probably March 8th to see if the herniated disk location is exactly where the pain is coming from. If this test/procedure is positive then I'm going to schedule the surgery. My specialist said he is able to do the surgery without having to break my ribs or collapsing my lungs. He said he will use laser to make an incision in my back and do it from there. I'm still very nervous but I cannot live in pain like this anymore!!!!
Have not been back to this because after 13 months the 4-6/10 pain drifted away. I was all set for an epidural steroid injection and it faded away for 3 days, returned for a week and then faded away again.
Poor posture and a few days without walking will spark it up to 1-2/10 but it's trivial in comparison.
Our couch in the lounge is a big leather thing which is terrible for my T spine - I often use the floor or other chairs. Being really conscious of my sitting posture and keyboard set up has helped.
Time has healed this - thank goodness I didn't opt for surgery when I was desperate.
Like you I found walking helped a lot. Helped with fitness, gave a break from the pain and I am sure gives a bit of core stability.
Increasing the Nortriptyline slowly from 10 to 37.5mg was a revealation.
To me it has been time, walking, really thinking about seating and not being scared of higher dose Nortriptyline that have been the keys. My pain physician said he is often amazed at how pain gets rewired.
Good luck to anyone who reads this in desperation.
Hi. I too have a herniated disc. T10. I am on 8 months. No work, spent 3 months laying flat in bed in agony. I am up now swimming and just found a new Physio after my surgeon said if I was ok being in pain forever don't do anything but if I wanted rid of the pain I should have the disc removed. This is a pretty hefty op, goin in through the chest. I am seeing another specialist who may consider burning the nerves away with laser. It strikes me as most Doctors have no idea about the thoracic region and rally don't know how to help us. It's bloody agony, comes and goes. I just sat in the cinema for a film and now I'm back on the floor all pained up!! Would love to hear what you are doing to try and heal. You have my understanding, people say "oh yeH, I had that, it's nearly always a lumbar thing, and it's really not in the sAme league.
Hi amy, my doctor has recommended me corticstereoid injection in my back. My pain is still persisting everyday even though If I do exercise. Standing in the same posture is very bad for me. If I go to the cinema or dinner I need to "make a break" and stand up and for example go to the toilet. If I don't do I have a greater pain later. What works better for me is to walk, without taking any weight.
Hi, I found out I have a thoracic disc herniation t8-t9 in Feb. 2011 after almost 3 months of steadily increasing pain. My pain is aggravated by hand and arm movement and also lifting. It started out as a little tingling non painful feeling in my mid back when I washed my hands in mid November 2010. Now it is hellish and is pressure like in my mid back then radiates to the left and right. There has also been occasional pain in the back of my left leg. I am taking vicodin which does not help much and other pain killers I've tried helped even less. Laying in bed is my best bet for pain relief. I've tried 2 shots and they did not work. The pain doctor agreed we should stop the shots. In fact the last one was painful and might have made things worse. I went to see a surgeon in Baltimore Md. in March 2011 and he said he was not impressed with my herniation and suggested increased therapy. I am tired of it all and reading stories of people that have had this for 3 years or more is discouraging. I hope the shots work for you. I wish I could find a surgeon that has done successful thoracic surgery and has a good rep in the states.