Back Pain Questions and Answers
Archive 2010 Part 1

This Q&A section is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Any medical condition should be referred to a qualified medical professional. The Q&A is now closed for new submissions.


Q: My mother has lung cancer which the doctor advises at her age 82 is inoperable. She went and had the chemo treatments and the doctor advised that this has slowed the process. @ days ago she started to complain about the pain in her lower back area. Took into the hospital and they took a xray and advised that she has a broken back L2 disc? Is this connected to the lung cancer? What could she take for the pain. Thanks, Randy

Q: Hi there... is have suffered severe back spasms since the age of 8 yrs old. I have been to hospital several times but x rays etc show nothing. The only thing i now can think is that is psychosomatic due to being beaten on my back as a child. However, as i say nothing is physically wrong yet the pain is worse than giving birth, truly excruciating. All my doctor has done is prescribed dicoflex and diazapam. My spasms can be triggered at anytime, the last time washing up and i sneezed! I can go months free from this condition, but it can strike at anytime. Although the medication works, i do not like taking it as it makes me feel 'away with the fairies', if you know what i mean. Is there anything psychological that i can try??? Doctor also gave me exercises to do which made my symptoms worse. Sara

Q: Adam, I have had back pain for over 30 years and it was sporadic annoyance as a child and once I hit 30, I couldn't sit for over a year the pain was so intolerable. I went to physical therapy religiously for almost 20 years for "stability" control of my back. I "Rolfed", accupuntured, gin shined, tried the alexander method, pilates, yoga, read Sarno, been in a writing class for over 3 years journaling and writing about my pain, prolotherapy, 2 epidurals, 3 nerve blocks which worked for a few months at a time for the sacrum and hip pain but not the back pain ... You name it and I have tried it. The modalities that seems to be the most helpful to date are the feldenkrais method and isolated stretching. That being said every day I still have pain, these modality lessen the degree of the pain for a period of time, and are both long term modalities. Some days the pain is intolerable and it takes me an hour to reduce the symptoms. I don't take medications because I am concern ed with the side affects and I have low functioning liver, kidney and adrenals according to eastern medicine. Probably from all the advils I use to take for terrible period cramps for over 30 years. Not to mention how grogged out I get on medicine, which seems to run in my family.

I have been diagnosed with severe central stenosis at the 4/3 along with moderate foraminal stenosis and spondylolisthesis at the 4/3 the 4/5 also has moderate stenosis and severe degenerative disc disease. I have been to 4 neurosurgeons who have all echoed the same treatment: double fusion. I have avoided fusion for over 30 years and I really don't want to go now but I am concerned about the lost of bladder control or sexual function that may occur -over time or over night- with severe stenosis. Not to mention that the pain is beginning to bring me down into a depression. I am terrified of fusion and now terrified not to have it. Any suggestions? Jay

Q: sir my father of age 58 years a railway employee (driver) is suffering from a back pain in right leg which extends from his buttocks till about the knees (back portion) whenever he suddenly stands or sometimes simply stands after sitting, sir i want your suggestions about this conditions and also ur advice for treatment. please sir.... Deepak

Comment: Awesome site. The best out there! Julia

Q: i have terrible spasms that come and go. i also have rectocele and it aches very bad at the back part of the rectum. i get the spasms in the lower back and into my pelvis. also when i sit, it seems for a long time pressure across the bottom of my butt. i'm on narcotics for pain and try not to take them as much only when i get desperate. i'm 68 yrs female also have had 4 epidurals, several mris and ct scan. i went to several doctor and one week from now, i have another appt with another neurosurgeon. the last one i saw said well that rules out a herniated disc so you don't need me and sent me for the epidurals of which did not help at all. sorry for making this so long. please if you can help me. could this be muscles like a levator nerve ect? here is some info on my mri etc..of 5/09

w/o contrast lumbar spine multisequential t1t2 obtained w/ axial images from t12 thru s1 the largest lower most intervertebral disk space is refered to l5 s1 t12-l1 demonstrates diffuse bulging osteophyte disk complex with mild facet hypertrophy minimally effacing the anterior epidural space and producing mild spinal canal, butno significant neural foraminal stenosis l1-2 level same almost as above except and ligamentum flavum and mild neural forminal stenosis l2-3 dems broad based mod osteophyte disk complex and mild neural foraminal stenosis l4-s1 moderate facet arthropathy mild discogenic changes are seen at l2-3 and with mild fluid in the interverebral disk space at l4-5 the conus ends at t12-l1 and is unremarkable mild lumbar lordosis is demonstrated with narrowed intervertebral disk spaces from l2-3 thru l4-5...a ct scan 4/09 multi level disc disease with foraminal stenosis noted at all levels

I don't have spondylolisthesis no obvious disk herniation, however there is degeneration of all disk levels with bulging not only into the canal but into the foramina..the epdural shows narrow spinal canal and bilateral neural forminal stenosis was noted at t12-l1 and l1-l2 neural foramina..sacroiliac joints are ok. i'm type 2 diabetic had two knee replacements in late o8 and 2/09 total knee replacement..my emg, of which i will never do again, showed abnormal study due to electrophysiological evidence of a mild axonopathic peripheral neuropathy as seen with patients with dm. acute denervation signs found in the medial gastrocnemius muscles could be either neuropathy or a super imposed bilateral si lumbosacral radiculopathy. then i had the lumbar spine of which i told you about above. i'm on a 3 day patch and sometimes in between i have to take a small dose of morphine of which i try not to very often the dr and pharmacy said that i wouldn't get addicted to the morphine as long as i had severe pain as the pain absorbs the morphine, but i don't trust it. sorry for so long but i thought i might as well give you everything now.. what do you think? i went to a uro/gyn and they gave me therapy 2x a wk for muscles in butt and lower back but i quit finally didn't seem to help after 2 months. maybe i shouldn't have quit what about an osteopath? i'm desperate after one year of this... it seems after i did my knees i got worse help. Judith

Q: Thank you for an informative web site! Over the years I have had continual back problems. In fact, when I was born in 1960 I had scoliosis and wore braces on my feet until I was two. I didn't learn of the scoliosis until processing OUT of the Army. I guess they wanted me :)

Years of a hard life in law enforcement on some pretty mean streets took a toll. In 1991 I wrestled with a 300+ pounder and lost. I ripped both sides of my groin and had bi-lateral hernia surgery.

My biggest issue, however, has been neck and shoulder pain. I have been seeing a Chiropractor for years and at first his adjustments helped although knowing my days were numbered. But last year we had 11 feet of snow and I shoveled and shoveled, plus I fought the "monster," a 10HP tractor driven snow blower that needed one fix after another and had to be pushed more than it's tractors pulled.

I finally blew C4-5, 5-6 and 7-8 were suspect. Surgery only made it worse. To date I am in significant neck and sacroiliac pain that was not present before the surgery. My hands and forearms are numb down through the forth and fifth finger on both hands, although the pre-surgical complaint was extreme left elbow pain. A Posiatrist diagnosed through exam and radiology that C7-8 and were left / created impinged. I personally believe that the Orthopedic Surgeon, who stated that the x-rays showed nothing in spite of differing opinions, screwed up the surgery.

Post-surgically I also have debilitating sacroillitus pain down the right leg causing extreme hip pain and numbness to my toes. No amount of aspirin, Tylenol, Vicodin, or Motrin alleviates the pain. Even a chiropractic adjustment is short lived.

MY QUESTION of you is this. I have noticed that when I press on my right hip where the nerve appears to be impinged or otherwise I definitely feel it in my neck at C7-8! Is it possible that the condition of the neck is causing "something" in the lower back? Bob

Q: Hi, I'm Jay, 23. I have a lower back problem for about 10 months now primarily due to lifting and also sitting for a long period of time. I don't feel any numbness in my legs or any other areas of my body. my lower back pain occurs when i sit for a longer period or when I try to stretch. I had an xray last year and it showed no abnormalities.

Last december I finally consulted a doctor and he recommended me to have an MRI scan, so last week i finally had it and the result of the scan are the following:

-The lumbar spine shows straightening of the normal lordotic curve. -There is compression of the L4-5 intervertebral disk with diffuse disk bulge showing central to left moderately narrowed while the right neural foramen is mildly narrowed -The adjacent L3-4 and L5-S1 levels likewise show mild posterior central disk protrusion indenting the thecal sac. The corresponding neural foramina do not exhibit significant narrowing.

IMPRESSION: -L4-5 slight disk compression and diffuse bulge with central to left foraminal marked protrusion/extrusion producing moderate central canal and left foraminal stenosis and slight right foraminal stenosis. -L3-4 and L5-S1 mild posterior disk protrusions indenting the thecal sac. -Lumbar straightening may be due to muscle spasm.

My doctor recommended me to have an operation/surgery cos according to him this will eliminate the pain for life. According to him if the treatment will be based on therapy or medication alone there is a possibility that the pain may occur again. Having heard from him, what are the therapies that he is mentioning? I still like to keep my options open... Is surgery the only best solution to this problem? Thanks very much for the time. Jay

Q: I have had 5 surgeries over the the past 6 years. I have had 2 discectomies a bone spur removal, a fusion L5/S1 and then I had the hardware from my fusion removed. I have pain in my L-leg and foot along with numbness in 90% of the L-foot. I also have pain in my toes if I do not take my pain medicine. I have just recently had another MRI the said I have scare tissue forming around my nerve and a bulge in my L3/L4. What do you recommend for me to do to keep the the budge from herniating. My pain management doctor says to take my meds. At this time I am on Lyrica and Tramadol. I refuse to take sleeping pills and muscle relaxers. I have to go to work. This all started in 2004 when I worked in a cafeteria and had to do alot of lifting. What would you recommend I do? Terri

Q: HI MY NAME IS SANDIP. I AM A GRADUATE BOY. RECENTLY I AM WORKING IN AS A COMPUTER OPERATOR IN AN PRIVATE FIRM. MY AGE IS 24. I HAVE BACKPAIN SINCE WHEN MY AGE IS 19. THEN I HAD GONE TO A ORTHOPADIC DOCTOR, WHERE HE HAD DONE MY BACK BONE X RAY. AND AFTER SEEING THE REPORT HE HAD SUGGESTED THAT I HAVE A SPONDYLOLYSIS IN MY BACKBONE OF L6 AND L5. THEN AFTER I HAD EATEN SOME MEDICINE FOR 6 MONTHS BUT IT HAD NOT NOT CURED. BUT AT LAST I HAD GONE TO A PHYSIOTHERAPIST WHERE HE HAD TAUGHT ME SOME YOGA. IN DOING THAT YOGA'S IN HAD CURED VERY MUCH. THEN AFTER 1 YEAR. I FELT THAT I HAD CURED BUT AGAIN AFTER 2 YEARS MY SAME PAIN STARTED AND I AM AGAIN SUFFERING FROM THAT BACKBONE PAIN. PLEASE SUGGEST ME WHAT TO DO AND HOW CAN I GET RID OF THAT DISEASE. Sandip

Q: I blew out my L-5 disc in 93, had surgery which helped and had minor problems since then. Now I have a chunk of my L-3 disc laying between my L-4 vertebra and my nerves. A first round of steroids helped and I felt better. My doctor said I could go on with life so I walked 18 holes of golf and now I am in agony. I have been hurting for weeks and nothing is working as far as meds. I have done back exercises and rehab stuff but I am still hurting horribly every day. I am supposed to have surgery this wed where they want to put in some screws and stuff. I am very afraid of this surgery but so desperate for relief that I am going to do it. I need an answer quick if you have an alternative to this. I just don't see how I can fix this without them physically taking the broken chunk out. Mac

Q: hello! My name is Alla, I am a middle age professional. I have been suffering back pain since August 2009 (about 6 mos now). The pain came gradually, there was no impact or incident. My MRI has shown obvious herniated disc L5 that pinched the sciatic nerve and gives me hard time to sit/lay down/etc. I have been recommended to undergo physical therapy, which I have, with no good results, in my opinion. The pain is there and if I don't use pain killers I can't sleep, sit, work. I have had 3 independent orthopedics opinions. One rushed to surgery, 2 others said to try all other options (therapy, injections, etc. before going under the knife). I am exhausted of that pain and wish sometimes that I scheduled that surgery asap. But I have read about the risks of surgeries and hesitate to do that. My life is miserable, i am in constant pain, I think the painkillers will stop working soon, what will i do then ? How do i interview the orthopaedic surgeon?, how do i know is is very good at surgeries ? I do I make the most right decision ? thank you for any suggestion/advice, Alla.

Q: please help me, my father has mild spondylodegenerative changes with mild disc bulge at D11-12 with no compression please advise us, Akram

Q: Hi there! My name is Tara and I am writing on behalf of my daughter, who is 16 and has been diagnosed with DDD. We are starting PT for the 2nd time, 1st time didn't help much...But I am just trying to get some information to make some informed decisions. Anything that you could relay to me on this matter would be great! Thank you! Tara

Q: I have two herniated discs the L4 and L5 how would i be able to cure these back pains? Rene

Q: Hi, I am 26 weeks pregnant and developed what felt like a muscle strain in my upper back (left side). It went away after a few days. I then spent two 4 hour stretches (with one break each way) in a car over the course of two days and sat at a basketball game. When I got back home the pain seemed to come back. It got worse and a few days later, it was in my shoulder and chest. I had an OB appt and they sent me to the ER, where they ruled out anything heart related and a PE. Their diagnosis was Chest wall strain. That was two days ago. I don't have pain when I am sitting - just when I stand or try and lie down. I can't sleep on either side right now because of the pain, and I have gotten about 3 hours sleep the last two nights. I am a little panicky that it's something else. My husband did find what felt like a knot in my upper back and when he pressed on it it felt great. I am just wondering if I should be more worried and go back to the ER or if there is anything I can do to help heal it. I am bordering on exhausted and don't want to run myself down, as I have other medical issues concerning my pregnancy. Any advise would be greatly appreciated! Thank you! Stephanie

Q: I'm contacting you regarding back pain that my daughter has been experiencing for the past 9 months. Prior to the back pain she was an active, outgoing, high school student. After a never ending search for someone that can come up with a cause and cure for her back pain we came across Dr. Sarno and TMS. While my daughter has never experienced any traumatic events in her life, she has a very type A personality and has always been an overachiever. Her attitude and personality have definitely suffered due to the pain she has been experiencing. I have kept some detailed records of doctors visits, tests and various drugs that she's been on over the past 9 months. Please see that information below. I plan to purchase Dr. Sarno's Healing Back Pain book today, however if you know of a Doctor in the St. Louis, MO area that could help or if you have any other information that could help we would forever be in your debt. Kim

Q: hi i have a herniated disk in 6 & 7.. got it now for 3 months and i have my good and bad days... i've been to pt but got up one day after it all swollen.. did i do something to much for that.. what can i do to take this away and get back to my life?.. i feel like a lazy lump now...sorry to say.. i've always been very active and want to get back in the swing of things. is there something else i can do to speedy this up and get out of pain? i have the pain in my upper back still and near my elbow, not as much of the tingling has gone away... what can i do? please help me... i just want to get up int he morning pain free... Susan

Q: Hi there I was diagnosed two months ago after having an MRI of my lumbar spine with "Root compression at L5 and S1, disk dessication and annulus fibrosis. (sp?) I have severe sciatica on my left side all the way down to my toes with tingling,itching of feet,calf muscle spasm. My pain is worse when I lay down and sit down for a long period of time then try and walk again it just kills me. I am not one to take alot of pain killers so I try and deal with it best I can my Doc does have me on naproxen 1 bid and elavil 1 25 mg at night (which dont last all night). They are wanting to send me to PT and see if that helps , but they do have me setup to talk to a neuro consult. I am just wondering what are they going to do during PT to help me (exercises,massage?) I am young only 38 and I dont want to live with this for the rest of my life. I was a groomer for 5 years and recently closed my shop cause I just couldn't do it anymore. Thanks, Tanya

Q: my father diagnosed lumbar spondylotic & degenerative disc disease with diffuse bulge with overriding posterocentral & right paracentral extrusion of L3-L4. he is 66 yrs old. sir i want to know what problem is this n what is the treatment for that. Dr. C

Q: My son had 11 hour spinal fusion surgery for Kyphosis december 07..(at age 17) has been through physical therapy,occupational therapy for the nerve damage. this surgery has changed his life significantly he can not do a lot of things a normal 17 yr old can do. he is now 19. having another surgery due to hooks unhooking. so he has to go thru another surgery for revision of hardware upper thoracic spine with bone graft replace hooks and bend down rod. His doctor wants to put him on celebrex but i have read it has many class action law suits and i don't want this to be a permanent lifetime med (doc says he would have to take because he takes too much motrin etc)Im afraid of the future stomach issues.Liver and kidney issues..... I am trying to find natural remedies for his pain. I hate to him taking prescription meds for the rest of his life. i have printed out many things. but am wondering if you could guide me to a good site. I am willing to pay for anything that will work. but there are so many sites,,,so many different pricing I don't know where to begin. any help would be life changing !! thank you, Lisa

Q: I have a 12yr old daughter and this past August she started having severe lower back/ tailbone pain. Well now it has become worse. She can not sit, laydown or stand for very long. The pain is right around her tailbone area. She has never fell or injured her back in anyway so if you could please let me know what could be causing this. Thank You, Jimmie

Q: My elder brother (27yr) faced a RTA on 22nd December 2009. He was operated on 23rd Dec. Now he is in Paraplegia condition. My family is very anxious to know whether he can walk again or not. After 10 days of his operation he is referred to Indian Spinal Injuries Center, Delhi for rehabilitation through Physiotherapy. Please suggest what to do for his full recovery. I'll be grateful if you reply. Atanu

Q: Good day! I just turned 26 and in June of 2009 I underwent a2 level fusion with the ALIF procedure. I was never told of the fusion rate that was only 70 % with this type of surgery and was told that I would be able to go back to my normal activities which included playing with my children, working and riding horses, working in the job as a vet assistant. My husband had to move 6 weeks after surgery due to his career as a flyer in the Airforce, after our move I had to change to a different doctor to take over and was told that the results of this surgery are not in my favor and that I will never be able to go back to my life as once was. I am no longer allowed to play with my children which are 6 years old and a 1 year old little girl. I am deeply hurt because I am only 26 years old and all of my quality of life has been taken from me. I don't know what to do at this point and I am not sure how to feel or to make any of which has been done right. I am not a candidate for removal of the equipment or am I able to fix what has been done due to the procedure would kill me if they go back in through the front. So where does this leave me is what I am left asking myself. I have been told that a law suit would most likely rule in my favor because they are so hard to win. I am lost needless to say! Scared is another word for what I feel. Sincerely, Annemarie

Q: i had back surgery over two years ago. Fused my back i have titanium steel. My question is...is there anything i can do to correct this matter. I am always hour for hour in excruciating pain. Even though i am taking meds pain will go away for a while. I'm sick and tired and overwhelmed with. What can i do? Thank You! Norma

Q: Hello my name is Daniel I'm a 20 year old college basketball athlete and I've been having this constant pain in my right buttox/lower back and it really hurts when i m sitting and then I stand up it also hurts to stand up straight and touch my toes. Its been hurting for about 3 weeks it started after I took a 2 week break from basketball then went back to playing. Also it isn't that painful while playing basketball but when I'm done it really painful. Can you please tell me what's wrong and how to get rid of this pain. Daniel