Back Pain Questions and Answers
Archive 2010 Part 2

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: I have had two lower and one upper back surgery in the last five years. As usual my pain starts and gets worse after everyone. I just had an MRI done and and was hoping for a some answers as to what it says. At L2-L3, Disc Buldge, Ligamentoous redundancy and facet overgrowth contribute to moderate acquired central ccanel stenosis. At L3-4 there is disc height loss. A small central disc protrusion is evident L4-5 patient appears to have a right paracentral disc protrusion that causes mass effect against the right L5 nerve root sleeve L5-S-1 there is degenerative change in facets

The impression says: Congenital type spinal stenosis which is exaggerated by multilevel interverebral osteochondrosis particularly at L2-3, and L3-4 At L4-5 there is a right paracentral disc protrusion which may cause mass effect against the right nerve root sleeve. That is the report I just got back. Any help with answers would be very helpful and appreciated. Thank You for your site, a wealth of knowledge. Just hoping to be pain free one day. Bob

Q: In 2007, I hurt my lower back by trying to avoid flipping a four wheeler. I had an MRI (showed a bulging disc L5/S1) and went through 3 months of physical therapy. Since then, my back has continued to get worse with lower back pain and over the last few months pain radiates down my right leg to the back of my knee. I had another MRI yesterday that showed the same bulging disk with a Synovial Cyst in the same area. I was also told that the fluid inside the disc itself had leaked out and there was an Annulus tear also. My doctor doesn't seem to think the cyst is causing any of my problems, but everything I have ready about it say's otherwise. My next step is an Epidural Steroid Injection. I am 36 years old and have been sleeping on the floor for the last 6 months. Any info you might can offer will be greatly appreciated. Shanna

Q: My wife has scoliosis. She had corrective surgery that failed in 2003 and was scheduled for further surgery in 2004. On the eve of the surgery the anesthesiologist found high creatin levels and canceled the surgery. We have been down a horror story of kidney failure heart problems and various and subdry problems in the past 4 yrs. Her back surgery had a plate installed w/screws in 2003. her spine is now twisting in a counterclockwise direction and a lump is protruding from her back about 1 1/2 inches with a diameter of 3 inches. All I have been able to do is create a nest of low density foam rubber. She has not been able to walk more that 3 to 4 ft in order to get to the commode for over a year. She is 64 yrs old, 5 ft 7 in and about 150 lbs. Have you heard of ant help in the twisting of the spine? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank You. Bob

Q: I have been diagnosed with military back yesterday and I slouch alot since I am top heavy. I am 43 and in serious back pain, doctor gave me nerve medicine lypros and it helped the pain. I need physical therapy and chiropractic...yet can't afford both...Which do you feel would be best one to help me get my curve back! Thank you so much, Gina

Q: Hi, I am 22 and I have chronic upper back pain. I first noticed it just after I graduated from high school (2006). I got a retail job and I was standing all day. Around this time I also started going to the gym. I never really noticed that my back was rounded until about 2 years ago. The pain I have is difficult to describe. It is in my upper back and it isn't acute. In fact, it doesn't even seem like pain. It really feels like muscular discomfort. If I am standing for long periods of time, it becomes almost unbearable. When I am walking, sitting , or laying down it mostly goes away. I think it might be Kyphosis that I have, but I'm not sure. I went to the doctor a year ago and had xrays done. He gave me some pain meds and told me to stretch a few times a day and it should go away. It hasn't and I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to have to live with this forever. When I don't have pain, I feel so good and optimistic and then it starts to creep back and I think "oh yea.. I have that to deal with". That is part of the reason why I never really sought serious treatment or another opinion. I just thought it would eventually go away. I'd like to find a permanent cure. Being on medication until I'm 80 is a big NO. I realize now though, that if nothing can be done about this, there is no point in living at all. Andrew

Q: about 9 years ago i turned to pick up my youngest in my sons bedroom and i got a pain in my back which i could not catch my breath with. At the time i thought i was having a heart attack. I managed to get to my bedroom where i lay on my bed, if i lay on one side i couldn't breath. if i lay on the other i could. The doctor said i pulled a muscle in my back. Over the past 5 years i have had the same thing happen when working (as a bricklayer) but the breathing not as bad about three times. Last week 20/01/2010, i've had same problem but when i've finished work and relaxed lay on the bed, i would try to get up and it feels like back is seizing and takes my breath away. Another visit to docs who refers me to physio but isn't clear as to what problem is and cause. part of back is middle 2" in from spine thanks, Graham

Q: Hi there Adam, You do great work. Keep it up. I have a question about weight lifting and back pain. Is it safe to lift heavy weights if you have a lot of sciatic pain? I have pain in my legs and in my neck. I have had MRI's and they are all just the normal bulging disks, etc. I'd like to start back on lifting weights but I don't want to do anything too risky. What are your thoughts and experiences with this? Thanks. Dan

Comment: I came across your site while doing a Google search. I applaud you for taking the time to create this site. I have to admit that I have sat here reading, wiping away tears as I read of the fate of the posters here. My life has been destroyed by this injury and the seemingly hit and miss approach of the medical help I have received. Unfortunately there isn't a day that goes by that I am not in pain. Some days it is awful, on others it strips the soul right out of you. The only thing the doctors seem to do is throw more and more narcotics my way, as if to just shut me up and not have to deal with it. I look forward to becoming a regular reader of the site and with any luck I will find the information I have been searching for to help alleviate some of the pain that has been with me for years. Keep up the good work. Marc

Q: Can a slightly bulging disk at L5-S1 that "may or may not be causing my pain" be TMS? I have had this discomfort for about two years now and it stems from a martial art workout. The discomfort is not bad just annoying and it hasn't gone away with a year of PT. I want to start working out again, but I don't want to do any damage. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help. Sean

Q: Hi, Sensei Adam, It's been about a month since I read your story and Dr. Sarno's book. All was going REMARKABLY WELL for me but now the pain is returning. Is this par for the course? I know it took you eight months to heal, but my pain wasn't as long standing as yours was. I keep trying to visualize your imagery--the blood going to and nourishing the problem area--and trying to accept conflicts. Do you have any comments for me? By the way, in my happiness about feeling better, I wrote Dr. Sarno a note to thank him for sharing his program in the book. I also mentioned that I found his name on your site. I'm still very grateful but probably need a little support getting past the bumps. Hannah

Q: Today is January 25, 2009. In two days, it will be six months since my neck pain started. On July 27, 2009, I awakened with a stiff and painful neck on the right side, so much so, I could not work(stenographer, clerical occupation). I was off for one week and returned to work to suffer for the next month until I could not take it anymore when my physician diagnosed me with cervical strain with features of occipital neuralgia. During this first month, I received steroid injections to the upper and lower occipital areas of my head and neck with little to no relief. During the month of September, I only got out of bed to get my six year old ready for school and minimal help to prepare a meal(my mother lives with me, Thank the good Lord above), to bath my son and help with his homework. My neck pain still did not resolve, I had also received more steroid injections(8 needles in each side), this time to the upper trapezius muscles on both sides as my neck pain had spread to the left side as well(the pain specialist said I had the tightest trapezius he had ever seen). This provided approximately one week of relief after 2 days of agonizing pain. I should also tell you that I would have to freeze my head and neck with ice packs to get enough relief to get some rest.

I am now into October with no real diagnosis and no relief. I go again to the pain specialist who injects me once again in the trapezius muscle on each side, again with minimal relief. I keep going on with daily agonizing pain and little to no activity( I can not sit up, watch TV, read a book, etc) and the last time I saw the pain specialist was in the latter part of October when he injected this time only the left upper occipital area. He told me there was nothing more he could do and he referred me to a Psychiatrist who I have my first appointment with this week of January, 2010.

I have seen a Neurologist who told me I have deep nerve pain and has ordered an MRI which I will have this week. I am still in pain although now getting a few hours of relief per day with Codeine Contin, 150mg q12h( I do not get to the 12 hour mark, it is more like 8 hours and I take them again) and Lyrica, 150mg q12h(q8h).

I am praying that the MRI will show something that can be fixed, but after reading your articles, I now think that you think the same as the pain specialist and my family physician (Psychotherapy). I will say I have nothing to be depressed over, I am happy in my life other than the fact that four years ago, I had a baby girl who died at age 6 months, but I really do not think that this is causing my neck pain. I have tried to go on with my life, I do have another child and feel that I have done well considering... Any thoughts? Tanya

Q: Hi Adam, I am a healthy 45 year old woman, who noticed flank pain on my left side almost a year ago, it then spread to the right side- I went for numerous tests, scans, back x rays etc and nothing significant showed up. The pain has now spread to both my hips and some morning's I actually feel so stiff and sore that I am slightly incapacitated (which worries me greatly as I do not know how this would feel at 90 , it is bad enough now). I am at my wits end and have started taking "Exit Pain" for arthritis- it is certainly helping but i is still pretty bad. Now I know you re not a GP- but I am unsure what other avenues to explore ? Any suggestions ? Kind regards, Francesca

Q: recently hurt myself at work, could not move in morning to painful to turnover, move legs, or put leg down. pain went down left leg to knee. Doctor says its a muscle strain. physio says the same lumbar strain/s1dysfunction. lots of therapy helping, acupuncture, exercises,pills etc.Now the question is I woke up the other day 30 min later felt sick, I went into sweat, threw up, and my back was on fire burning and tingling, I was stripping my clothes off to cool down. Any idea to whats going on? vee

Q: hi sensei Rostocki, i contacted you in 2008 about back surgery i was due to have. the surgery happened on march 23, 2009, at the absolute state of the art medical centre in canada. 7 vertebrae were reconfigured. the leg pain which was intractable was gone, but i was left with terrible lower back pain. since july 2008 i have been on oxycontin. i am an addict. i don't know how to stop. i asked my doctor to send me to a detox place, but he said no. he said that as soon as i got off the drug, i would be in his office asking for more, because the back pain would be intolerable. about 1 month ago i began taking a drug called Lyrica. it puts me to sleep so i take it at bedtime. but it has cut my oxycontin use by 25%. please tell me what to do. in 2008 i sent you an MRI scan. judith

Q: You should be a doctor. You know so much more about real pain than any doctor I have ever been to, including many spine specialists. Go to medical school and open a practice. You might save the world! Thankfully, Roberta

Q: Adam, I am in desperate need of your help. Back pain has taken over and ruined my life. I am a 39 year old male, married and father of 4 small girls, 10, 8 and 18 month old identical twins. I have had 3 surgeries, the latest being a 2 level lumbar fusion in NYC. I have been home from work for almost 2 years now and truly believe my problem is being controlled by my mind but can't seem to move forward in healing. I feel as though I am losing everything little by little. It is effecting my marriage and my friendships. Everytime I take one step forward I seem to end up taking 2 steps back. I am currently bed ridden with terrible spasms after what I felt was a very positive week of Yoga, Swimming and mild exercise. Your book is my life story except for the happy ending. PLEASE help me before I lose everything good I have left. I had a great job on wall street and was very much respected at my firm. I just can't seem to allow myself to heal. I am willing to do almost anything to get my life back but really don't know how to start. I have tried making lists and thinking positive but its just not enough. PLEASE HELP. I live close to NYC and would be willing to travel almost anywhere, my wife thinks I need to "get away" for a while but my family is all I have left. Anything you can do to help is greatly appreciated, Mark

Q: Hello. I never had a true dx for this but I'll try to keep short. I am looking for the correct direction to go with this: Before April 2009: never taken drugs/pills or been treated for any medical condition, 39 yrs male. April 2009 Gym incident--Squatting exercise, came up with shaking left arm and horrible dull head/neck pain. 2 days later Went to ER--CT MRI head and blood tests negative. One week later -MRA neck negative Placed on anti-anxiety and pain meds (xanax and Lyrica) Stopped taking both after 2 weeks. Given Zoloft by GP--stopped taking after 6 weeks (horrible side effects and not effective).

1 month later--went to Chiropractor -- said I have Scoliosis and 'unusual' curve in neck--taken from X-Rays. Treating with neck and lower back adjusts and phys therapy -- after 2 mos no improvement. Had NCV/EMG --no peripheral neuropathy Sx as of 6/09 --shaky/trembling arms/teeth chatter, dull back of neck pain/soreness. Foggy ears. No headaches. 6/09 Started taking Clonazepam .75 mg-- helped numb everything as a cover up. Took for 6 mos. Tapered and quit 12/10/09

12/09 MRI of neck revealed mild disc bulge c4 - c7. No indication of nerve irritation. Several docs said common and no treatment necessary. Current: Random periods of milder dull pain in back of neck with nervous irritation out to shoulders/arms causing me to be mildly shaky. A little tightness in very back of tongue/throat. Feels sore when applying pressure to lower right neck region. Tylenol 1000mg seems to help a little. As you can tell I have been on a long journey here. I just want to be treated for the cause now and am at wits end. The Chiro I went to see advises their treatment applies to disc bulge. Obviously it hasn't worked.. I still believe its nerve related and could be the disc bulge, but it apparently does not show on the MRI. Please direct me as to the best course of action to pursue going forward. Thank you, Michael

Q: I'm a 51yr old female and have had bi-lateral hip replacements and 3 back operation in the last 5yrs. The first operation was a failure, no fusion, the second operation was done to correct this and to accommodate the next level (L2-L5), in the third operation one half of the instruments had to be removed, the screws was loose. I now suffer from chronic pain and spasms. I am oesteopenic and was told to take Protos, I also visit my physio almost weekly, I ware a soft brace. Please help. Janet


Q: Hi,In 2007 I crushed my t9-11 inn an automobile accident.Since then I have had hardware implanted three times. Each time the hardware has come loose. I now have major complications with the Doctor who did these surgeries. He does not want to admit anything is wrong. I am in pain mgt. but they also have tied hands. How do I get a new PROFESSIONAL to help me. I have gone from functional to bedridden over the last month. My family and i need help. Joseph

Q: I have had off and on low-back pain for a little over 15 years now. It has recently become more consistent and an MRI has shown that I have two bulging discs. Over the last month or so, I have experienced a "paralyzing" type pain that will put me on the floor like a sack of potatoes if there is nothing near for me to grab on to. The pain in my back will often affect my left hip/thigh and I have recently experienced pain/numbness all the way down my left leg while having attention put to my hip during a massage. I am currently seeing a chiropractor who is doing adjustments to my spine. Can this pain dissipate or be fixed? Scott

Q: Hi, My name is dhanraj and i have been suffering from low back pain since 2 years, actually in initial stages i didn't get the correct way of treatment and then it became complicated, I have been taking different treatments like, Physiotherapy, Acupuncture, Ayurvedic Massage and many more and some strengthening exercise, they were all gave me temporary relief, Please advice how it gets cured. Dhanraj

Q: bad pain in the bottom of my left shoulder blade along the spine hurts through to my chest cant sit or stand without intense pain please help me, Kevin

Q: Hi, A Friend of mine has a history of back pain and has had several 'experts in Ireland' look at her and still no good. Can you help us? Back trouble started in 2002 at the age of 20, my doctor at the time administered injections into my back & I was relatively pain free until 2006. In 2006 I started complaining of upper back pain so I went to a physio for approx 1 year. June 2007 I started complaining of lower back pain also & under my physio's advice on 01/08/07, I had an MRI scan of the lumbar & thoracic spinal regions.

Results: Thoracic spine: Moderate degenerative change identified in the disc spaces between T6 and T11 inclusively in the mid and lower thoracic spine. Minimal disc bulging is identified on the right side at the T6/7 level.

Lumbar spine: At the L4/5 level, moderate central degenerative change is identified within the disc space with a relatively large midline broadbased protrusion and combined with ligamental flaval hypertrophy is resulting in a significant central canal stenosis at this level. Moderate degenerative change within L5/S1 disc space.

My MRI scans were sent to a surgeon in Cork University Hospital & in September 2007 I had an discectomy. In October 07 I was still complaining of thoracic pain but my surgeon put this down to muscular pain & gave me back care advise. On his advice I started swimming to help strengthen my back. In February 2008 I visited my surgeon again complaining of persistent thoracic pain which is right parascapular & radiating down the region of the paraspinal muscles. Again my surgeon put this pain down as muscular pain but arranged for me to have a chest x-ray & an isotope bone scan & checked some inflammatory markers like an ESR, CRP, muscle enzymes & rheumatoid factors. Both the chest x-ray & isotope bone scan were normal, therefore I was told it was musculoskeletal pain.

In Jan 08 I started getting physio for approx 1 year & acupuncture for approx 4 months & In Feb / March 07 I tried back massage. I was also seeing a chiropractor during this time as well. In May 08 I saw another consultant who performed an epidural (to no avail) & also administrated facet joint injections into my upper back. (Also to no avail). In Sept 08 I visited a chiropractor based in Hannover in Germany but I visited him in his hometown of Paris. He said my pelvis was out of line & that my thoracic spine was basically a mess - but he said nothing that couldn't be fixed. I spent 5 days with him working on my back. In December 08 / January 09 I visited a physio a number of times. In march 09 & April 09 I had two MRI scans. MRI cervical, Thoracic & Lumbar spine with IV contrast.

Findings: In the thoracic spine there is irregularity of the vertebral body endplates in the upper & lower thoracic spine. There is kyphosis at this level. Mild scoliosis of the upper thoracic spine.

In the lumbar spine there is mild enhancement of the L4/L5 disc consistent with surgical history. There is mild degenerative change in the L5/S1 disc. There is evidence of old Scheuermann's disease in the upper thoracic spine which is relatively mild. This can give rise to pain. The cervical spine appears normal apart from the loss of normal cervical lordosis suggesting muscle spasm. In September 09 I visited a consultant in the area of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine & I had Sacroiliac injections into my lower back - to no avail. Then in November 09 under the same consultant I had 3 steroid injections into my upper back.

Currently: Lower back pain - bearable. Upper back pain - Still in agony.

Do you know of any experts in UK or USA that treat Professional People or otherwise with success that we could contact ? Regards & Thanks, Eoin.

Q: Hello, I was wondering if it is possible to purchase your in book in paper back. My son is prison and the only way I can sent him books is by mail through a distribution center. He has chronic back pain. He has had a cat scan done in prison and they told him he has a Herniated disk and there was no cure, and his condition will only get worse. I paid for him to have a back brace and a cortisone shoot which did no good. Please let me know how I can order your book so he can receive it. Thank you, Mary

Q: hi i am 41 year old women and my lowest part of my back started hurting rel bad when i lay down its worst it feels as if it is ceasing up on me my pelvis hurts a little too and my buttock to it isn't sciatic i have had that before could u let me no anything please, Tracey

Q: Hi i am 26 yrs man.I had pain in my thighs 10 years ago shift from one to another Thigh, later pain moved to my lower back, after some time now it is paining at the sides of hip, and beside shoulder bone, pain keeps changing the place. i am unable sleep at nights, difficult to do my daily routine work,cannot lead a normal life. What kind of pain is this? what is the cause? Is there any cure for this pain? Rafi

Q: Good morning, Well before going to start to start let me tell you disk problem is the most dangerous and painful problem. I am 21 years old and for last 1.5 yrs i am suffering from this... The pain is severe, I can say to the extreme level that it gives you a feeling of handicapped. In my case the minor pain started in my left leg with numbness and eventually it increases and till date the pain is out of my mind. I had taken all sort of treatment ranging from simple consultation with the physician to expert consultation with the ortho spinal specialist. I have a problem of herniated disk in L4-L5. Kindly recommend me a treatment so that i can come out of this makes my life a hell. Karan

Q: I had a laminectomy, discectomy, facatectomy about 6 weeks ago. L4 L5. Told one unstable vertabra still. Herniation put back in also. Plan to I think return to work end of this week. Nerve pain gone, but in the morning need to get up as sore achy in hip area.Also moderate lumber pain continues. On paradex QID. Cannot sit for long, or stand around as pain intolerable. my job is a diversional therapist and I am a enrolled nurse. Is what I still have normal? I am getting frustrated and anxious about what I am able to do at work. I still need to lie down regularly, to relieve discomfort. Anne

Q: Are there any downsides to the treatment using the DRX? I am half way through treatments on this machine and have had some abdomen discomfort since about the second treatment. this machine puts a lot of pull on that particular area. Gayle

Q: what is the detail of mild scoliotic deformity dorsal vertebrae? Abid

Q: Hello, I think this is a great site. I'm 50 yrs. old, I was diagnosed with a Grade I-II anterolithesis of L5 on S1 in 2001. This caused back pain, sciatica in both legs. I refused to go for surgery (fusion), I kept exercising by walking and biking. In 2003 I got involved in heavy and extensive walking program for one month. At the end of the period the pain was gone. The pain kept coming back and forth in back only when I carry some heavy stuff but it was tolerable. A month a go which is almost after seven years, a severe back pain came back and sciatica to the right leg, the the pain moved to only the lower leg, then the pain was gone but leaving me with a very uncomfortable numbness in my right toes. I have been reading some articles which suggest that if numbness occurs it is serious and need immediate attention. What other option do I have to treat this case other than fusion of L5. I appreciate your answer and thank you in advance. Regards, Kam

Q: I hit my thoracic vertabrae .... no fracture on x ray, so contusion. its been a week. how long will pain from this continue? thanks, JP

Q: What is the difference in root nerve impingement and compression? Ina

Q: I was diagnosed with a fractured coccyx about 10 weeks ago. The first few weeks were absolute agony.... mainly with the simple things in life like getting up and down, in or out of the bath, emptying the dishwasher or washing machine! Pain relief was through prescribed medication from the A & E at the hospital I attended - and I was basically told there was nothing they could do, just wait and it will heal itself. I returned to work after 4 weeks as I was so depressed I needed to try to get to some kind of normal life... and my employer was very understanding to begin with and put me on light duties.... ie desk based

My problem is that people really don't seem to understand what this injury is and what the symptoms are. Some people even seem to think I am making this up! Pain relief is great and once taken I can do most things within reason, but the main factor in this is that I feel far more comfortable wearing heeled shoes rather than flat ones which people expect me to wear. My GP advised to wear whatever I felt more comfortable in so long as I was pain free. People now appear to question whether I am in pain or not which makes me so mad!! How do they know how I feel, or what pain I have, or what makes me more comfortable.... Every persons recovery rate is different as can be their recovery method surely injuries are individual and not collective? My employer is now querying everything I do, which is even more demoralizing and insulting..... I am dealing with this the best way I can so I can get some form of normality back into my life, something I think that people who have never suffered from back pain can understand.... I just wondered if anyone has any similar stories to mine as I don't know anyone who has had an injury like this and I am feeling very alone and isolated. Do you think it is ok to wear heels? Debbie

Q: my brother has a broken spine,its almost 3 months without him feeling his legs due to car accident.he can only fill the thighs will he ever be able to walk again. Anastacia