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Thoracic issues; input appreciated

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Old 12-12-2012, 05:23 PM   #1
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Thoracic issues; input appreciated


The good folks on the Back Problems board said that this was the place for thoracic issues, so I had some questions. First, I have had increasing thoracic back pain for the past few years. I will try to describe the pain, as well as ask about my recent MRI.

I am a 47 year old male. I get pain in my mid to upper back. This pain is a bit different as it isn't really a sore feeling, or the classic sciatic pain that you get in your low back and leg if you have those problems, it's more of a burning, raw sensation that is not surface, but deep. I almost picture in my mind's eye a "bone on bone" thing. The pain seems to travel around to my chest, my sternum feel sore, but not to touch. I have an aching/burning sensation on my xyphoid process, as well as what can be best described as a deep burning or raw sensation in two fixed locations on my chest. These areas are about 3 inches below either side of my collar bone, or about halfway between my nipples and collarbone. It feels like the pain is deep and not superficial.

If I lay on a hard surface with a heat back wadded up and put directly under my mid back, that seems to help. I also get a fair amount of pain throughout my chest when I stretch or twist, as well as pain radiating throughout my abdomen, the abdomen especially when getting up in the morning. I have tried all kinds of acid reflux meds to rule out any connections, and I've had my share of heart tests. The pain gets especially bad when I am standing for any length of time in one spot, say at a counter, or after sitting for too long. However it seem to lessen considerably when I lay down.

With that said, here is my rather unremarkable MRI results:

Technique: Multiplanar multisequence MR images of the thoracic spine
were obtained without contrast.
Findings: Alignment is within normal limits. The thoracic spinal cord
appears normal in signal intensity. The paravertebral soft tissues
are unremarkable.

C7-T1, unremarkable.
T1-2, unremarkable.
T2-3, tiny posterior central disc protrusion. Otherwise, unremarkable.
T3-4, small posterior central disc protrusion. Minimal canal
narrowing. No foraminal stenosis.
T4-5, mild facet arthropathy. Otherwise, unremarkable.
T5-6, mild facet arthropathy.
T6-7, tiny posterior right paracentral disc protrusion. Otherwise,
T7-8, mild facet arthropathy.
T8-9, mild facet arthropathy.
T9-1,0, minimal disc bulge. Mild facet arthropathy. Otherwise,
T10-11, mild facet arthropathy.

T11-T12, mild facet arthropathy.
T12-L1, unremarkable.

There are small anterior osteophytes at the thoracic spine.


Mild multilevel degenerative disc disease, facet arthropathy, and
anterior osteophytosis at the thoracic spine. No cord impingement. No
foraminal stenosis or canal stenosis.

So, am I barking up the wrong tree with my back, or can someone with a result like this still have considerable pain? Given the fact I was lying down for the MRI, and that is when I feel the least pain, could this factor into it?

Thanks for any input.

Regards, Brenden.

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Old 12-12-2012, 09:02 PM   #2
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Re: Thoracic issues; input appreciated

I cant tell you about your mri results as I had to ask for help with mine, but I do have 5 disc herniations in my thoracic spine and I can tell you that your pain sounds a lot like mine. I always describe the pain on my spine as the feeling of an open wound with salt being poured on it my chest and ribs hurt constantly with small breaks and I used to have small bouts of abdominal pain but recently have it constant for the last 9 days. I saw my neurologists today who wants to do a brain and cervical mri next to test for Ms. I am unsure he knows what he is talking about because as far as the research I have done my arm tingling and pain probably come from my neck and my foot tingling probably comes from my lumbar... he said he wasn't going to mri my lumbar because if they are in my neck like they are in my thoracic then he is sure they are in my lumbar? Wouldn't you want to check then to see how severe? Rubs me the wrong way! Your not alone with your pain. Get answers you need and deserve and like everyone keeps telling me get 2nd and 3rd opinions

Old 12-12-2012, 10:56 PM   #3
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Re: Thoracic issues; input appreciated

Hi Brookie,

Yes, exactly, the salt thing. It is different from when I have "thrown out" my lower back before. That feels more like a pulled muscle or something. This feels like an open wound, but deeper in. I assume that since laying down helps aleviate the pain then likely the back is repositioned or what not. It seems as though doing the MRI standing up would be the way to actually see what is going on. Thanks for the input.

Regards, Brenden.

Old 12-13-2012, 06:32 AM   #4
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Re: Thoracic issues; input appreciated

To me, that looks like a very benign MRI. A lot of people would be happy to trade with you. If you can get a standing MRI, I don't see why you shouldn't, but I think the root of your problems is somewhere else....

Old 12-20-2012, 02:12 AM   #5
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Smile Re: Thoracic issues; input appreciated

Your back pain issues sound a lot like mine. Particularly, I have pain that I would describe as deep and burning that seems to be under my shoulder blades in back and runs through my thorax to the front of my chest. On the front of my chest I too have 2 "hot spots," one on each side of my chest and each is located about halfway between my collarbone and my breasts. If you search for my old posts you will find descriptions of my MRI's, but in a nutshell I have a total of 16 herniated disks in my spine that encompass the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. Additionally, I have abnormalities in my actual vertebraes including Schmorls Nodes which have been described to me as vertical disk herniations where the disk bursts through the vertebral end plate above or below the disk, spilling the disk contents into the interior of the vertebrae. I've been on a long journey to discover the full nature of the spine and pain problems I have. Last year I was diagnosed with Scheuermann's Disease (aka: Scheuermann's Kyphosis) which is a developmental abnormality in the formation of the vertebrae causing at least 3 adjacent vertebrae to be wedge shaped rather than columnar shaped. Search for my post from Oct 2011 for more information on that disease. Additionally, I was just diagnosed this fall with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which is a disorder of the connective tissue. Persons with EDS have defective protein production in their body which leads to soft, weak, friable cartilage that wears out and causes arthritis at a very young age. Between the Scheuermann's and the EDS, I have the "perfect storm" for back pain and disability. I have been told that the sub scapular pain and the chest pain that I have is related to each other and is being referred into those muscles from my spine. I suspect referred pain could be an issue for you too. To my understanding, it doesn't take a whole lot of pathology to develop referred pain and trigger points in the muscles that are severe enough to make life miserable. Massage therapy can help relieve trigger points and may even be covered by your insurances if ordered as part of a physical therapy program.
Please feel free to ask me any questions you like if you think I can be of further help. Otherwise, good luck to you as you embark on your own journey for answers. This board was a wonderful resource for me as I was searching for answers, I'm sure you will find it to be helpful too.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type 3
Scheuermann's Kyphosis
Severe DDD with multiple herniations and areas of stenosis, 16 affected disks!
C4-5 ACDF 2006
C3-6 ACDF 2013
Chronic Myofaschial Pain Syndrome

Old 12-20-2012, 07:59 PM   #6
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Re: Thoracic issues; input appreciated

Hi Laenini,

Sorry to hear you have had such a time of it. I think your description of the pain is spot on. As another poster said, all considered my MRI seems pretty harmless. Though I am inclined to think that since the pain abates by 60% or more when I lay down, the issues must be greatly exacerbated by standing. So, I am not sure how much an MRI taken when laying down is reflective of what is going on when I am standing. I have come to the tentative conclusion that my varied health issues are a combination of of several things. It would be nice to figure out at least one or two of them though. How long did it take for you to get a complete picture and what was the first thing that you noticed in yourself?

Regards, Brenden.

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