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Rossleet 07-13-2012 09:22 PM

Undiagnosed upper and lower back pain
Hi all. I'm new here, hopefully I can gain some useful information during my time here.

I'll try best to explain my pain.
A year and a half ago at work I started to get an odd pain in my upper back (between spine and right shoulder blade), which has progressed into an awful, constant pain. Since then the pain seems to have spread to under the shoulder blade, and even towards my armpit. Sometimes the pain is worsened by breathing (worse when breathing in than when breathing out) and the only way I can seem to relieve it slightly is by putting something hard like an ice pack on the floor and rolling around on it, putting pressure on the muscle between spine and shoulder blade. Quite often the pain seems to travel down my arm making it ache and sore. Occasionally the pain feels as if it's coming through my chest? Just to the right of my nipple Only slightly, but it makes me wonder if it's something rib related? Or lung? I had an MRI last year which showed nothing except some disc dehydration in my lower back. I was given codeine which I've since replaced with Tramadol as the pain has gotten worse. I'm exhausted all the time for no reason. I'm a muscly guy, killer calf muscles, so why does walking up the stairs destroy them? It's as if my muscles have no endurance whatsoever.. I also seem to be hot all the time, don't know if it's related but it's definitely not normal. I also get pain in my wrists/hands, for example typing all this is killing my hands. Using the PC mouse for a short while hurts my wrist, sometimes my forearm. I can't even enjoy playing games whilst bed ridden, video games used to be my main source of entertainment..

After about 6 months of not working I started getting pain in my lower back, which slowly got worse until it was worse than the shoulder pain! It's just to the left and right of my spine, above the coccyx. A deep ache that wont go away unless I'm using my tens machine (Which is damned expensive and keeps needing to be replaced..) Shortly after the back pain started, the leg/thigh pain started. It seems a lot like sciatica, a burning pain down the outside of my left thigh and a bad ache/burning from my left buttock down the back of my thigh.. hurts to walk, tens doesn't help with this pain. It's SO frustrating. I'm 25, had no life, and at this rate won't be having one any time soon.

I started getting really depressed. I have a tendency towards being a sad monkey and feeling completely hopeless about my pain isn't helping. Since the MRI last year I've had physio that lasted 6 weeks, that didn't help me. I've had a couple of blood tests for a type of arthritis but nothing else. Surely there's more that can be done?? A year and a half now and it's all I can do to stop myself becoming an absolute wreck.. very depressed, the doctors don't seem to know what's going on - and don't seem to care - it's as if they think I'm making it all up?!

I don't know what to do next. In 2 weeks I have an appointment at a pain clinic and I hope they can offer something, Anything, to look in to my pain. I flatly REFUSE to engage in pain management, e.g how to deal with the pain. I'm not accepting that I'm going to be like this forever, I want a diagnosis and treatment, not to brush it all under the rug with anti depressants and coping techniques!

Does anyone have any insight? Any theories? Anything is appreciated muchly.

shadowcharmed 07-14-2012 04:15 PM

Re: Undiagnosed upper and lower back pain
If your MRI was last year and the pain is getting worse, then they should really be looking at getting another. I had 3 MRIs in 2 years for my herniated discs (1 completely out and 4 bulging).

Have you seen a nutritional therapist about the lack of energy, muscle tiredness etc? You could be severely lacking in a particular vitamin or mineral? A good nutritional therapist will do a proper medical history and ask you to keep a diary of food and symptoms before giving you any recommendations.

Did they check your thyroid function with blood tests? I have recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I experienced a massive loss of energy and lots of joint pain. My thyroxine level was on the floor!

janewhite1 07-14-2012 07:01 PM

Re: Undiagnosed upper and lower back pain
That sounds a lot like my experience with chronic myofascial pain. I got it at 18, I'm now 31. There's no cure, but I exercise carefully, stretch gently and frequently. I get professional massages as often as I can afford, and my doctor (a physiatrist) gives me trigger point injections when things get bad. It's made a big difference.

Look up "myofascial pain" and "trigger point." Then ask me any questions you have.

Rossleet 07-15-2012 05:07 AM

Re: Undiagnosed upper and lower back pain
Thanks very much for the responses.

Shadow I thought the same, perhaps I should speak to my doctor about getting another MRI - haven't actually had one since my lower back pain started - and I have had tests for vitamin deficiencies and thyroid problems, before and after my pain started respectively. Would Tramadol possibly make pain worse? Or cause some muscle problem due to it's muscle relaxant properties? It almost seems that the more I take the more shoulder/hand pain I get..

Jane, I looked up trigger points and myofacial pain syndrome, have to admit it's a bit confusing. It does look like it's within the realm of possibility, though. I see it can resemble fibromyalgia and I have previously asked the Dr about fibromyalgia to which I was told no since I don't have a lot of the symptoms. May I ask for a little more info on what your experience was? So I can get more of an idea what to look out for. How would a GP diagnose it or would I have to see a specialist? I will do more research later once my hands get a bit better after typing this!

shadowcharmed 07-15-2012 05:36 AM

Re: Undiagnosed upper and lower back pain
I was on Tramadol for 6 months after my first lot of back surgery. No-one told me it was addictive so when my 6-month supply was finished, I spent a terrifying night basically going cold turkey. So just be warned. How long have you been on it? I don't know if it can have side effects like that. Have you tried weaning yourself off the Tramadol down to nothing so that you can see what your "real" symptoms are like. Sorry, I don't mean that they're imaginary - I simply mean do you know now how painful it is without being dulled by painkillers?
I would certainly request another MRI or something to see if there's a visible cause for the pain.

Rossleet 07-15-2012 12:38 PM

Re: Undiagnosed upper and lower back pain
Well that's the thing..

I've been on them over a year, for the first few months I was on Codeine Phosphate. I always try not to take them unless I Have to because Tramadol are evil. Some days when I wake up I decide to not take any for as long as I can, quite a few times I've thought to myself "Oh man, I am in so much less pain today, what's going on??" But then I reach a point during the day where I get real anxious and depressed so I take my dose.

Once I went 2 days without them. This was a few months ago and it was one of the most horrible things I've experienced. The night of the 2nd day I tried to sleep but couldn't due to the pain, I slowly worked myself up into a frenzy, got very distressed and in the end - without trying to sound melodramatic (honest) - ended up hysterical on the floor, crying, angry, in so much pain and either sweating profusely or shivering.. I do really want to try and get off them but I'm terrified of trying.

So basically in answer to your question I'm really not sure how I feel without them, at first I feel better but then I get far worse and I'm not able to differentiate between normal pain and pain that's exacerbated by my anxiety/distress during the withdrawal.

shadowcharmed 07-15-2012 02:05 PM

Re: Undiagnosed upper and lower back pain
I can totally sympathise with that but I have to say it really is worth putting up with the withdrawal while you come off the Tramadol. Just don't do it all in one go. However many you're taking now, take one less tomorrow and the next day, then maybe half a tablet less for the next couple of days etc etc, until you're down to none. Of course, you can't guarantee that the pain won't be pretty bad if you don't take something else instead of the Tramadol but it's worth getting off them. I will never take them again. On a side note, my mum has been on Tramadol for only two weeks but ended up in hospital with constant vomiting which they finally attributed to those painkillers. They took her off them and the vomiting stopped almost immediately. So if that's the effect on the stomach etc after just two weeks for some people ...

janewhite1 07-16-2012 10:19 AM

Re: Undiagnosed upper and lower back pain
My pain started back in 1999. I had a dull ache in my back for a few weeks, which I ignored, but then I suddenly developed sharp pain in my forearms, along with numb fingers and slight weakness. That bout subsided, but it kept coming and going. Neck pain, jaw pain, worse lower-back pain. And always the knots between the spine and shoulder blade. I had an EMG, several x-rays, neck MRI, and many blood tests, all negative. I was still a teen then, and it seemed like my life was over.

In 2001 I was diagnosed with fibro, by a rheumatologist who was utterly useless treatment-wise. Since then, things have gotten somewhat better. I take nortriptyline 20 mg per day, and it reduces the pain. I read a book called the "trigger point self help manual" and learned a lot about how muscle problems can cause pain. Now I exercise a lot, carefully, and I get massages, stretch, and get trigger point injections. Life is pretty good.;)

sudhirmystery 07-16-2012 10:32 AM

Re: Undiagnosed upper and lower back pain
hi roseleet
sad to hear about yr situation, i have had back pain and unexplained pain in the muscles which is definitely not as severe as u, however i would suggest to go in for a check of the thyroid, urea and B6, B12 levels in the blood. good luck

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