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Low Back Pain, what is my cause?

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Old 10-08-2006, 09:59 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: NC
Posts: 31
dogeyed HB User
Smile Low Back Pain, what is my cause?

I want to know what is the cause of my low back pain.

From the waistline to several inches below that, when I sit on a couch, either up or partially up, my lower back hurts. Sometimes when I get up in the morning, the pain is very intense in my lower back. This lower back pain has been progressive from about 1998, to almost unbearable now since 2004. I lay down all the time on the couch to watch TV, to keep the pain from bothering me. I also have to keep my head up because I have a problem with weight closing up my windpipe and feel like I can't breathe. I am overweight, 115 being normal for 5'2", but I weigh 175. I was not always this overweight. The weight has piled up in the last year or two because I spend so much time laying on the couch to relieve the pain.

I feel very sick all the time. My tummy is upset, and I sometimes when I just drink a little juice and some toast, I am really full and thus I am uncomfortable. I have no appetite. My digestion is normal, in that I go every day, usually a few times in the morning. My stomach area is swollen, but not to the point that my belly button flattens out. I have been trying to lose weight, with no success yet. Next week, I'm going to diet again, using a more tried and true method.

What I want to know is, what does my lower back pain sound like to those who know? My idea is that long time ago, due to arthritis, my lower back started crunching on itself, producing pain. If I laid down, the pain went away. That is why I spend a lot of time laying down. But now, even when I lay down, even when I am sitting bolt upright, or walking around, my lower back hurts very much. I take pain medicine for Restless Legs Syndrome, just two tablets of Tylenol #3 with Codeine. If I didn't have that, I would go out of my mind with my legs and back now. Whenever I get low on meds, my RLS gets jumpy and my lower back pain increases.

My last job (I'm aged 55) was lifting heavy newspaper inserts and putting them into a high-powered machine. I enjoyed the work, did it fairly well, but got to where I could not get along with some of my coworkers. In addition, my back pain in my MID back, which was from a car wreck 30 years ago, worsened so bad that I cried three days in a row when I ran out of pain medication. I was used to a certain dose, but when I started the job, I took more. The dose was increased and I was okay with that MID back problem. Every day that I got home, I went straight to the couch and moaned for an hour until the pain let up. But I don't work there any more. I don't imagine that job helped my lower back, but since it was chronic, I didn't worry about it. The MID back was much scarier.

Whenever I run a little low on my pain meds, my lower back fires up. In general my pain does not shoot down one leg or the other, altho I do tend to trip and walk unsteadily everywhere I go, have trouble on stairs. I am tired all the time. I cannot work at something physical for more than a half hour or so, because I feel like my heart is going to beat out of my chest. My cholesterol is high. A neurologist said I had no neuropathy, when I was checked out and diagnosed with RLS. That means, I guess, that the pain does not come from the back, rather from the feet up. I did hurt my ankle very badly a few years ago, and I think I have a heel nerve problem, which may affect my RLS.

So, I would like to know what it sounds like I have with my LOWER back? A slipped disk? What is that? Or bad arthritis, which is impinging on my spinal cord or some other nerve? Have I gone and fractured my back? Are the pain meds I'm taking adequate? What can I do in the meantime in terms of home care, like heat or exercise? I DID notice this lower back pain jumped to the forefront last week when I recently did some TV yoga exercises, where you've got to arch your spine both up and down from a four-legged position.

Any help or support for this I would appreciate. I don't have to explain my back pain. I have good tolerance to it. Most people would be hospitalized by now. So, I think it's important that I get a handle on what this is before I see my doc in December for my usual checkup. Thanks in advance. GG

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Old 10-08-2006, 11:21 AM   #2
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Berryville, Virginia
Posts: 2,381
Justoneofus HB User
Re: Low Back Pain, what is my cause?

HI GG. I dont think you are that overweight. And FYI, 115 is not ideal weight for a 55 year old female at 5'2". Normal to high I think is 135 - 148 I think it was. But 115.. that is the bottom of the twiggy look. I know.. Im 5'2" myself and everyone said I looked like a stick. I had no body fat from working out everyday, but I was still too lean. Im 44. I am not that stick anymore though. I am now a whopping 144 as the scale said this morn! I've gone from 115 to this in 3 years. I should have eaten better, as I know proper eating and am also sensitive and allergic to just about everything on the planet, but I eat it anyway! Well, I've not beaten myself up too much about it, as I have been watchful but just not careful enough. Now I can exercise some and really have no excuse to not be more diligent about it all. It's a mind set and most of us all have this problem. So dont beat yourself up too much.

Your pain in your back could be your arthritis, disc(s) issue(s) to include DDD. If your discs are beginning to degenerate, they emit a chemical in doing so that floats around there and really irritates the nerves that causes pain. Many people have DDD at somepoint, but just get a back ache and not much more. Then some it's very painful. Unfortunately.. the remedies offered for this is only meds, injections and therapy. If the discs are in tact and just hardening, surgery is usually not an option for pain relief, until or unless the DDD has caused other issues to happen to the disc, such as tear or collapse, bulge out, or herniate. Then depending on the severity.. then surgical options may be offered then.

I suggest you get some new meds for your RLS.. such as Neurontin, Lyrica, Topamax, etc. These are offer good results for leg pain and might help you better than the T3 does. the T3 is probably helping more of the back pain then anything? Have you had an MRI and recently? Hopefully your doctor will order one to see if anything is visible with your discs. DDD can show up on MRI. But it's not always the best in detecting all issues. My l4/l5 disc was showing signs of DDD but looked good on MRI. But doing a discogram proved the disc to be badly torn and leaking on on the verge of collapse. I am now fused there last April.

You could probably benefit greatly from other meds, injections, and some good rehab therapy/exercising. Sitting around and less movement makes things worse, and moving causes pain. So you need some meds to ease your pain, so you can stretch and exercise to ease your pain. You should take meds before exercise, get on a heat pad of sorts and then do some properly learned exercises to minimize risk of injury or more pain. Exercise is supposed to make you sore and sometime flare you up for learning the limits and such, but is not supposed to produce great pain of any kind. So I suggest a good medical rehab therapist to help you out some for awhile.

Hang in there and let us know how you are doing. Take care. Tammy

Old 10-08-2006, 11:52 AM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: St. Pete, FL, USA
Posts: 87
removedone HB User
Re: Low Back Pain, what is my cause?

It's wonderful to be able to empathize with others and to share our personal experiences on these 'health boards,' but please remember, unless someone is a physician they cannot give you a diagnosis.

Even a qualified physician would not diagnose your problem without seeing you, and gathering more information, by sending you for an x-ray to check out your spine and pelvic bone structure, and possibly an MRI.

Go to a spine specialist, either an orthopaedic MD who specializes in the spine, or a neurosurgeon MD who specializes in the spine.

Old 10-10-2006, 05:39 AM   #4
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,260
Re: Low Back Pain, what is my cause?

justoneofus-----i have to agree on the weight issue. i am also 5'2". at 45 i weighed 115-120. people always said i looked anorexic and needed to gain weight. well after alot of steroid use and being dx with diabetes i now weigh 150 and am told i look alot better.

Old 10-10-2006, 07:16 AM   #5
Senior Veteran
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Berryville, Virginia
Posts: 2,381
Justoneofus HB User
Re: Low Back Pain, what is my cause?

Hey, if T3 works.. use it! I understand that very well. When my fusion was done I was on the morophine pump the outfit most people with these days. I was in quite a bit of pain on that stuff, but was tolerating it pretty well. Im a tough cookie I guess. But when they took me off that and put me on the Vicodin (much less potent med), I acutally had better pain relief. The nurses commented on it, the improvement and relaxation was so noticeable. So I say whatever works for you stick with it then.

The discogram is a very indepth testing for the discs. This test is usually done after disc issues have already been diagnosed, and surgery is more needed. They perform this test to offer more conclusive and definitive exam of the discs to try and ensure the discs in question are in fact the discs causing the patients pain. Needles are placed into the discs individually (usually one healthy and others that may be causing pain), then they pressurize them to see if that causes pain, then they inject dye (with contrast) into each. If you have an issue with the disc, either the pressure or the dye will usually effectuate pain. The idea is to find and imitate the same pain you experience. Only under the test, it's 1000x worse. But that would make a positive discogram result. It's not a fun test, as you must be coherent for the test to tell them what if any pain is present. My doctor offered no sedation for this test. Some give that twilight med to ease things. My doctor doesnt like to use that to ensure the results are accurate and true as possible. Less margin for error by doing it this way. Hard on the patient though. This is done usually in a hospital on an outpatient basis and is very expensive. I truly felt I had willing allowed myself to be tortured. It was a traumatic experience to be honest. BUT, I WOULD DO IT AGAIN IN A HEARTBEAT! That test was what discovered my l4/l5 disc as being the culprit of my pain. MRI did not show this disc as being torn or on the verge of collapse. The doctor said he was totally surprised. I have a bulging disc at l5/s1, which the other surgeons I saw before him and he included, thought was causing my pain. He injected dye 3 times in the bulging disc and I never reacted once. The other was a different story. My leg flew off the table uncontrollably and I felt horrific pain and it was exactly where my pain had been for so long.

I was always a very active person and was athletic all through my teen years. After marrying young, I quit those activities and quickly put on weight. I had esteem issues a few times and my weight rose up to 192#. Had two kids, yadayada. It put pressure on my back for sure. My then ortho ordered me to aqua therapy a few times per week. I joined a gym and it changed my life. So I have been up and down the weight wagon myself. I was a size 2/4 3 years ago (was like that for about 5 years) and am now teetering between a 10/12. I would like to get back down to a 6/8. That would be ideal for me I think now & I could care less what the scale says so long as I look alright and burn some of this jello I seem to be carrying. hehehe.

Well know you aren't alone in this. It's terrible we all have issues like this, but it is comforting to speak with others that truly understand the pain and also gets alot of our chests and we dont have to put it all on our families and friends all the time. We can talk about some normal stuff inbetween and not make it our total focus. IT really helps. Im glad you found the board. I didnt find it until after my surgery, and it got me through the rough spots and still. There are some really wonderful people on here that are truly caring and very helpful.

If the weight factor is keeping you from moving that appointment to November. I say dont worry about that.. move the appointment if you can. No need for you to prolong your pain if you dont have to. An MRI will help them see things in your lumbar. Xrays are good for bones, MRI's can see the discs also and more indepth.

You stay strong and dont ever give up in trying to be free of the pain. It's a battle but worth the fight. I use humor to help me through it too! Take care and keep posting. Tammy

Old 10-11-2006, 03:25 AM   #6
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: NC
Posts: 31
dogeyed HB User
Re: Low Back Pain, what is my cause?

Thank you, Tammy.

I read with great interest all the ins and outs of your testing. This helps me understand some things about my back. I start the diet next week, which will give me three weeks on it before November, so I should be able to get some pretty good weight off then. Plus I'm going to a public clinic first week in November for some heart and circulation tests, very cheap, which has worried me for some time now. Also am going to go back on some cholesterol-lowering drugs during my diet that I still have. So, by first week in November, if I'm not feeling better (my upset stomach and such) and in my back, I WILL move up my appointment.

Last time I talked to my doc, she asked how I was, and I said I felt awful. So, even knowing my background, she did a couple blood tests, which came back normal, and that's the last I heard. Of course I still feel awful. This doc is driving me right up the wall. When I told her that one of the benzos was too strong and making me sleep too much in the day, she wouldn't change it to another; said I had to go to my psych to do it. So, next day, my psych switched me, and we both wondered why my doc had to be such a pain about it. See, I have a lot of problems, but the tests don't show much of anything, except restless legs syndrome. In the meantime, I am sick to my stomach every day, my back hurts, I'm overweight, my breathing is terrible, and I can't do anything physical, I lost my house, my jobs, and I had to retire, with NO compensation for the gov becuz my doc was not in my corner. I'm one of these people who has a problem that no one can figure out what it is, so they just assume you're pretending, I guess. My doc treats me very coldly and not very helpful. I may switch to another doc within the practice just to stop that kind of bs.

I have been falling down, gaining weight, have lost all endurance and strength in my body, lost my motivation, am depressed, very anxious too, busted up back, and I am constantly afraid I'm going to have an aneurysm or stroke. That's what the clinic tests look for, so that will eliminate one of my worries. But the weight is really crucial, I think, to eliminating some problems I've been having. And the exercise too. So, those things, with the tests, and if I STILL feel bad, I told my doc last time I saw her I was going to really lobby for SOMETHING to be done about me, that I couldnt take it anymore.

I appreciated your encouragement, Tammy, and i feel like you understand exactly what it's like to be sick, a female in this world, living with pain, for me lifelong, and nobody giving two cents abot it. And that in itself wouldn't carry much weight, as lots of us fit that category, but I was one of those folks who was really active and healthy and never missed a day of work. Then bam, it all went straight to hell.

I was also interested in the Vicodin, that it gave you relaxing pain relief. I may suggest some change to any orthopedist I see, to better address all my aches and pains. That's HALF of what drives me nuts and keeps me on the couch.

Well, I'll check back to this board in November and let you know what took place with weight, clinic tests, and finally my doc, and any referrals to some other doc. I pray I get better all by myself, but we'll see.
Sincerely, GG

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