Back Pain Questions and Answers
Archive 2010 Part 3

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: What would cause me to have numbness that goes down the outside of my left leg and foot? I also have pain in my lower back around the top of my hip. I have seen a doctor and have had and MRI done, cortisone shot in the flexor and some chiropractic work. I also take Cymbalta. Nothing seems to help and it seems to be getting worse. Help! Cindy

Q: Hi my name is Jesse, I'm 20 years old and 10 months ago I was in a car accident that severed my spine at C5/C6 and compressed T11/T12 so I'm paralyzed from my chest down. I take neurontin for nerve pain and baclofen for my spasms. About 2 weeks ago I suddenly felt a very painful stabbing feeling at the bottom of my spine and any movement made it much worse so I went to the ER. I had x-rays, urine tests and blood tests done and found nothing so the Dr. just gave me some pain killers and told me to see how I felt in a few days. The pain slowly went away after about a week but 2 days ago it came back just like before except it only lasted about a day. So I'm asking for ideas on what could be causing it because I think it'll just keep coming back or suggestions on what to do. Thank you.

Q: First, I have to say I like the website and 100% agree back pain is related to our mind!! I have back pain when I sit down for a while specially at work! The pain is gone when I run play tennis or even archery, yup even archery. you know what, just you think about something else and the pain is gone that is the key, even if I sit down with friend and have fun I do not feel pain. Mehrshad

Q: Hi i've been looking at back braces for kyphosis for a design and technology project, would you be able to tell me the material used to make a brace for kyphosis? thanks for your time regards, paul

Q: I've had the opposite experience that most people have with back pain. When I started having severe back pain about a year ago my first thought was "Man am I stressing myself out, I have to slow down!" so I did. I replaced a lot of "work" with recreational things like biking and music and took a leave of absence from school to chill out and take a break. I even saw a therapist for a while and got to the point where I don't feel like I need to "prove" anything to anyone and tackled a few other issues that were lying around.

I must say that emotionally I feel great, but physically I felt worse and worse as time went on. One night I woke up screaming in pain and was carted off to the ER - I don't remember a thing until I was injected with Fentanyl (which I'm now on in patch form - hate the stuff). I found out then that a DEXA scan done over the summer to assess why I've broken over 25 bones at age 21 came back positive for osteoporosis (-2.7: and here I was assuming they would call if anything was off!) and that a routine follow up MRI for epilepsy showed bulging discs in the exact locations that I am having pain.

I'm reading a lot about "normal aging" but the thing is, I'm 21, have always been active and was in good health until the pain began. Even still, aside from the pain, my health is fine unless you count the side effects of the fentanyl. I do know that I have scoliosis and ehlers-danlos syndrome but I never bothered "treating" them and just learned to deal with the routine dislocations and enjoyed freaking my friends out with bizarre flexibility. I have a high pain tolerance and was shocked to find out that all of these things were wrong with my back. What shocked me the most was that the bulging discs were in the exact spots where I have pain; literally you can press on those locations and I yelp. Nowhere else in my back hurts except those three spots. I have numbness and weakness in my arms and face, but that's all (there are 2 cervical bulges, 1 thoracic)

I requested a brace because sitting through a single class put me in so much pain that I literally had to go into the hall and lie down and I realized that supporting my neck almost eliminated the pain. Now that I have the brace, I'm fine as long as it's on or if it's off and I'm lying down.

I'm reading a lot and getting a lot of "lectures" from doctors about psychosomatic pain and how these abnormalities "don't cause pain", and while it does reinforce my initial belief that I was wigging out and needed to chill and reassess my life, after lightening my emotional load and becoming a more balanced person, the pain persists with physiological findings that aren't typical in an active, strong 21-year old.

Now I'm being referred to a pain clinic and a non-surgical spine center, and I am reassessing the emotional load just in case. But while I am a very firm believer that your mind is your healer or killer a good 95% of the time, I'm beginning to wonder if my physiological findings are the cause of my pain, especially since something as simple as a brace (while uncomfortable) gave a lot of relief to my pain and the bulged discs correlate with the exact points of pain. I'm hoping to get off the fentanyl and the brace and on with my life, but at the same time I'm also aware that at this point it's probably going to involve some sort of treatment.

I'm very cautious of "treatment" making things worse - even with the brace I'm cautious to only use it when I'm at the threshold of pain where I literally can't stand it any more, and even then no more than half an hour at a time to avoid any muscle atrophy. I will (and have) flat out refuse bisphosphonates, more pain medication or surgery. I'm a firm believer that if given the chance, the body will heal itself just fine.

What I'm wondering is what treatments are out there that will "enable" my body's ability to heal itself. I think those sorts of treatments are ignored even more then psychological causes - after all, who would tell a patient that they can do a simple thing to enable their own healing when you have treatments that will just cause a chain reaction of more problems? Knowledge therapy is a great example of "enabling" treatment, but only for pain of a mostly psychosomatic origin. Another great example is diet and exercise for obesity and osteoporosis - but what about when diet and exercise aren't an issue and someone (like myself) has osteoporosis? Obviously being on anticonvulsants for a few years didn't help but there's something else missing here. I really do think my body can heal itself if I can give it what it needs.

I'm also wondering if "normal aging processes" happening to healthy, active young adults is at all common or if this could be related to having ehlers-danlos syndrome at all? When a "normal" process happens abnormally, maybe it can hurt. Maria

Q: Hi,My sister has horrible back pain. She went to physical therapy but it didn't really seem to help. She sits allot at her desk and doesn't exercise enough. Her muscles are constantly tense. She wakes up and she has back pain and when she sits. She is only 16 and I don't want this problem to get worse and I am very scared for her health. I was wondering if you have any ideas or ways we can help her? If there are any good medications or exercises? I really don't know what else I can do. Thank you so much, Theresa

Q: I have a disc problem L4/L5 which causes the pain down to my big toe. doing all the physical exercises to ameliorate the situation. Question is why does my hip hurt when walking feels almost like ITB syndrome. Is this normal or could I have a worn out hip joint. I am 51 years and classed as a superfit runner till this episode. Barry

Q: Hi, My mother is suffering through D4 frature and c6/c7 spine decompression , bcoz of this she is facing extreme pain and stiffness in her body, please let me know any solution. We have tried all these medicine, Nugaba, Baclofen, Toll free 150 mg. she has BP and sugar also. Monika

Q: Dear Adam, Hello, my name is Annmarie. I have suffered from severe chronic pain from my lower back to my upper back. I cannot sit, stand or lie down without being in pain. I never have a moment where I'm not in pain. I am 33 years old, a single mother and I literally have no money to get even an evaluation. I have no health insurance. I worry that there is something very wrong with me. I can't afford to take care of myself. If you could help me in any way I would be eternally grateful. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Annmarie

Comment: I had a spine fusion years ago and my spine didn't fuse. They used cadaver bone. The instrumentation that they put in my spine began to move, causing me pain, so they went back in to take it out. They removed the hardware, and put BMP on my spine. A gram negative bacteria infection almost killed me from this surgery. So here I am a few years later, still a non-union spine L4-L5, and the doctor says I need another surgery. He wants to put my bone from the iliac crest in my spine. I don't know what to do. Stuart

Comment: i do not consider myself to have a bad back as such. its just when i walk my back muscles tighten up so much so i have to stop every 200 yards or so crouch down or lean on something. the faster i walk, the more tension in my back. this all started about two years ago walking with a colleague. i thought it was a one off as he was walking fast and it was at the end of a fourteen hour day. i've been to my doctor who gave me very strong pain killers and sent me for physiotherapy the only trouble with the physio is that all the positions they put me in were comfortable for me... crouching, lying on my back moving my legs in the air etc. the painkillers were good except i am diabetic and they stopped me from eating and you cant stop eating with diabetes. i try all sorts of exercises but nothing seems to work. i am considering going back on strong pain killers and trying to force myself to eat. don't know if this will work, will let you know if the temporary relief works but in the long term. i will have to find out what this condition is called and how to help myself. Arthur

Q: Within the span of only three years I've undergone back surgery (bulging disc operation) two times. But still I am feeling pain especially after sleep. my sex power reduced to 90% and also affected my vision. Kindly advise me what step should I take in future. Ghazali

Q: I have back pain since Jul 2005. When I lift weight about 20 Kg or above or bend forward my times I had swelling at mid of my back and also pain. Back pain is relieved a lot when I apply ice at the back. Please advise the possible cause of my pain and swelling at my back. Sunder

Q: Hi, I have recently started working out on the elliptical at my gym. I've been working out at least four times a week for a month now, and today I barely bent over, heard a pop, and had excruciating pain in my lower back, focused mainly in between my hips. I've tried taking pills, icing and heating the spot, but nothing has worked so far. I'm worried that I might need to go to the doctor. Do you think you can help me? Ariana

Q: I have 2 ruptured disk (DDD) at L4-5&S1 & disk bulge and 4-5 mm retrolesis and mild arthropathy; i have been in pain for 2 years and have tried everything: decompression tables, Physical therapy, pilates, purchased and used the following: tens machine and nerve regenerator, inversion table, a decompression system that uses gravity, a posture pump to restore lordodic curve... injected 2 epidural and 1 facet/nerve block. my condition is getting worse. as a matter of fact my back could no longer tolerates too much inversion, decompression or exercise as any will fire up the nerve pain and the parasthesia and radiculopathy, have seen 6 orthopedics and neurosurgeons, they say my only option is an anterior/posterior fusion, pls help. Mazz

Q: Given how busy you must be, can you say anything about alternatives to back surgery that I can consider? If appropriate, I can send more details about my own case. Thank you for your gracious spirit. Angela

Q: I am 17 years old. I have had 2 years of severe hip/back/leg pain. I still haven't been to a specialist, but i have been to an acupuncturist, and 2 chiropractors. I didn't try acupuncture for long enough, so I'm uncertain whether it would have worked or not. The first chiro I went to told me i had sciatica and scoliosis he only helped me temporarily. This summer i pulled my back and everything got worse. Then i went to another chiro that healed my cousin with the drx 9000, a decompression machine. So she sent me to get an mri and the results showed that i have 3 herniated discs, along with scoliosis, sciatica, and stenosis. I've been doing the drx treatment for almost 5 months, with no improvement. I'm am suffering every day of the week with the pain shooting down my right leg. My mother is completely against surgery, which is out of the question. I recently got one of Dr. Sarno's books, which I just started reading. Please answer me back if you have any advice for me. Thank you, Emily

Q: Hi! My name is Donna hope u can help. I fell on concrete July l5th and dislocated my rt elbow and crushed my radial head, 3 fractures to my left knee. I have had 2 surgeries on my elbow, they removed the radial head and put in a prosthetic and then did a reconstruction and remove the prosthetic it was to big and slipped out of place. My arm doesn't work like it use to - I can't flex forward and don't have the rotation or extension my arm doesn't have much strength in it. Oh well my main concern right now is my BACK. I was also complaining of upper and lower back pain. I had a injury in 2007 strained my si joint so the pain I had at that time was in my lower back L1 & L2 showed bulging disc ....I was custom to that pain but was feeling pain in the center of my back which was a concern to me since I had never felt pain in that area before my physician sent me for MRI since I had done so much damage to my knee and arm he figured I may have also my have hurt my back he checked my reflexes and they were poor so he was concerned. My back has a numb feeling low and very sharp/aching pain like a tooth ache but also have pain like if I bend over I have like a stinging pinch like someone has stuck me with something sharp and will turn around like some one has poked me really hard, of course no one is there the pain is so intense it will take my breath. If I set to long or stand to long my pain intensifies, walking is a NO barley can walk in to the store and back out time I get to my car I am hurting so bad. I noticed my poor circulation in my left leg it feels like it is a sleep and I have restless leg syndrome in both, also have notice a urine frequency and can't hold to good. I just wanted you to know about symptoms I currently take a muscle relaxer and Hydrocodone for the pain. My physician scared me and told me that I need to see a specialist he was concerned about the impingement of the spinal cord and said it could cause me to be paralyzed from waist down Please review my MRI and tell me what you think & options are. My MRI report states: Kyphosis at the level of D11-12 is noted with wedging of D-11 and D12 and with narrowing of the joint space between D11-D12, and with central protrusion of disc. Spinal stenosis is seen at the level of kyphosis (D-ll) with IMPINGEMENT of cord. Circumferential bulging disc is seen between L3-4 with minimal central protrusion. No significant disc herniation in the remainder of the disc spaces. Conclusion on the report: 1. Kyphosis at the level of D11-12 with wedging of D11, D12 and with narrowing of joint space between D11-D12, and with central protrusion of disc. 2. Spinal stenosis at the level of kyphosis (D11-12) with impingement of cord. 3. Circumferential bulging disc between L3-4 with minimal central protrusion. 4. No significant disc herniation in the remainder of the disc spaces. Thank You, Donna

Q: Hi, I have been suffering for two 1/2 years with lower back pain, sometimes to a degree that I can't move. I was recently given an MRI and diagnosed with a worn disc, a bulging disc which is in the center therefore pain radiates from side to side and is pushing on a ligament not a nerve, and some signs of arthritis. My question really is what can I do to cure this. I am very active and have layed off a lot of what I used to do, I feel I don't have to prove myself anymore and end up in pain like I used too, I am able to do spin classes (on a stationary bike), and I am able to use most machines at the gym (not running anymore though!. Could you help me with exercises to help this. Many Thanks, Lisa

Comment: fifteen years ago i stepped on a grenade and my life was instantly changed. i was in the military and am now 100% permanently service-connected disabled. the VA does NOTHING TO CURE MY HORRIBLE CHRONIC PAIN. i have monthly shipments of vicoden, naproxen, muscle relaxants, depression drugs and a host of other drugs sent right to my door. i have given up trying to find help because the VA hospitals do nothing. everything is a fight with them. i have no insurance and can only go to the VA. i am only 41 and have a wife and three young boys, and am SO DESPERATE to live without this pain. i dont know where to turn. i have DDD, hern. discs, pinched nerves, spinal name it. i also have several pieces of shrapnel still lodged in my spine. i feel so lost and inept. Scott

Q: Hi, my name is Rachel. I have suffered with tms pain symptoms for 2 years now, but i still have difficulty trusting myself with this diagnosis frequently. All my other symptoms only went away once i understood about tms, whereas all physical treatments never cured my pain at all. At present i am getting tightness in my left hip and buttock region and some twinge like sensations. I run and am unsure if hip flexor muscle weakness on my left side is the culprit or not. My hips tend to tilt out of alignment you see, so i was told it may be muscle imbalances. However i have ran for months without this hip region pain, so i am a bit skeptical as to why i now suddenly have the tightness/pain. When i say tightness, it isn't a type of tightness that gos away when i stretch/massage the muscles. Do you think this sounds too odd to be a physical problem? I won't to trust and believe it is tms again, it is just that i hear so many physio's etc, who put the fear of god into me you see. I will continue to do the muscle exercises to see if this helps, but in your opinion when a person is used to running is this likely to happen? Also, if it simply as muscle imbalances, shouldn't i expect improvement soon with these correction exercises. I am aware that when i worry i can't stop until i get reassurance, the problem is i don't personally know tms sufferers and i have no faith anymore in the medical profession at large. Sorry this is so long, many thanks if you can find time to reply to me with your opinion, thanks so much again. Rachel

Q: My husband is suffering from backache from last 4-5 years. this all started due to excessive traveling on bike. please advice me what to do, i do home remedies like giving garlic, having vitamin C etc. suggest me something more that can help him? Nidhi

Q: Have you learned much about Spinal Injury Decompression? Michelle

Q: I have a bulging disc pointing to the right side and a burning sensation. I don't want to do surgery, I am not sure which way to go. I did the physical therapy, help some but not a cure the disc doesn't seem to want to go back into place. I want a permanent fix, the doctor told me that she could give me a shot, do surgery etc. but they probably wouldn't last. Some say this will go away on its own. Disc L5/S1 is the one that is bulged, should I give up or keep trying stuff. I don't have much money to keep playing with stuff that isn't going to work ie books,therapy and surgery. Seems every one on the web has a cure. Do you have a true cure or relief idea? Dawn

Q: Hello and thank you for your wonderful site! I am 29-years old and recently my chronic lower back pain has become very acute. I have been a long distance runner for awhile and after my first marathon 3 years ago I realized that my knee's and lower back where much more painful than normal. This was a low chronic pain, mostly felt in the mornings or at night that went away with light stretching. 2 months ago I had a major cross-country move and due to the preparations it required I was unable to work out or run for the entire 2 months. I could feel my body stiffening but (to my chagrin) I ignored it. 2 weeks ago I woke up and it felt like my back had "gone out." I have stabbing pain in my extreme lower back and left buttocks whenever I transition from standing to sitting or vice versa. That is, whenever I bend 45 degrees. The pain is so acute it usually causes me to scream and hobble around bent over 45-degrees. I spend about 20 minutes every morning trying to touc h my toes. Eventually I get my flexibility back, but the pain remains. This happens every day. A few days ago I could feel the pain spreading into the ham string of my left leg. Now, my left buttocks is in chronic and acute pain (it has a numb, buzz to it like a wound) and the back of my left leg has shooting pain occasionally. There is minor relief from the pain when I receive an intense, deep massage on the problem areas. This usually lasts about an hour before the pain sets in again.

I'm wondering if this sounds like a sports/muscle injury or something more serious that might require medical attention? I would have already visited a doctor except I don't have health insurance and can't afford a check-up at this point. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks again for creating a wonderful site, Jim

Q: I have been to see a Pain Specialists. He is wanting to do Epidural Steroid Injection for my neck. I have read something about it, but it still scares me. Before I had lower back surgery, I had three injections where they used x-ray to do it. They did nothing at all. When I had shoulder surgery I had steroid injections. they never did anything as well. After surgery I have never had any problems in either area. Back was done in "95" shoulders 2years ago. I hate to spend all that money having something like this done and not work and have to have surgery. anyway. I had an MRI 2 weeks ago.

FINDINGS: Alignment & bony structures: Mild dextoscoliosis. Mid cervical straightening. C3-4 & C6-7 mild type I Modic changes. Spinal cord: Norma signal & caliber. Craniocervical junction: Unremarkable central elements & junction as visualized. findings by level. C2-3: Mild facet hypertrophy. No stenosis. C3-4: Shallow disc-osteophyte complex slight more prominent left paracentrally. Uncovertebral & facet hypertrophy. Mild exit & central narrowing. Mild anterior cord flattening. C4-5: Mild disc bulge. Mild uncovertebral & facet hypertrophy. Mild anterior cord flattening. C5-6: shallow dic-osteophyte complex more focal right paracentrally. Uncovertebral & facet hypertrophy. Moderate right & mild left exit stenosis. Mild central narrowing. Mild anterior cord flattening. There could be effect on exiting right C6 or its ventral nerve rootlet. C6-7: shallow disc-osteophyte complex more focal right intraformainally. uncovertebral & facet hypertrophy. Mild right exit narrowing with possible effect on the exiting right C7. C7-T1: Mild facet hypertrophy. No stenosis. IMPRESSION: diffuse spondylosis with severe moderate exit stenoses and described, potential neural effects given about no severe stenosis.

I'm 61 and other than my neck problem I'm in perfect heath. I guess my question is what is your opinion. I'm scheduled to have this done in about two weeks. Thanks, Jewel

Q: i have some levels of osteophytes at the level of t12/l1 which are encroaching on my nerve root foramen. i also have degenerative changes further down. i have had one course of facet injections. i had pain relief for 5 weeks at present pain is getting worse. what is the long term affects. waiting on next appointment. Paula

Q: I get extreme pain in my stomach which travels from the top of my rib cage to my pelvic bones also with this i get pain that shoots up and down my spine but more pain at the bottom of back HELP? Jennifer

Q: It all started when I caught a cold going to church. It turned into a severe bronchitis attach with a bacterial infection. I was given steroids for this and antibiotics, and the bronchitis is nearly gone...but, since all this began, my neck got stiff, then began jerking like I had a stroke or something. I also have speech impairment, my right leg and arm go numb, I drop things and have vertigo and a feeling like ...I don't know...(out of body feeling)?!! Just recently I have started swelling and I have difficulty swallowing. The doctor has me scheduled for a neurologist but that isn't for weeks from now and I'M AFRAID! Should I insist on going in sooner. These symptoms are intermittent but they happen frequently and daily. I am on flexeril and ibuprophen, which helps the pain some but I feel like I am losing my mind. I even lose track of what I am saying at times now. What to do? Any idea what could have caused this or what it may be ? Where do I begin looking ? There are so many symptoms I don't know where to begin. My bloodwork the doctor says indicates a problem with my spine but no idea what yet! HELP! Thanks, Alexa

Q: I am a 48 year old woman and have suffered from pain in my left buttock/lower back (I also am now getting pain in my hips/groin/leg) since a car accident 4 years ago in which I had lower back whiplash. I was very active and healthy before this. The pain is much worse on sitting/lying on my back - ie - any sort of pressure on the area. I had an MRI scan 2 years ago but at the follow-up appointment the Musculo-skeletal clnic said the results could not explain my pain and despite further pelvic x-ray and MRI say they cannot diagnose me. I have recently obtained the original (lumber back) MRI report the conclusion of which is as follows: Left sided foraminal disc protrusion at L3/L4 level impinging on the left neural foramen with possible affect on outgoing L3 nerve root. Right sided foraminal disc protrusion at L4/L5 level impinging on the right neural foramen with possible affect on outgoing L4 nerve root. Please could you say whether or not this could explain my pain. I am getting desperate as the constant pain is really affecting my quality of life and state of mind. I cant take strong painkillers as the side effects are so awful. I've spent thousands of pounds which I cant afford on various therapists who have mostly suggested piriformis syndrome (although their treatments haven't cured the problem) but an occupational health therapist I saw recently (before I obtained my medical records) thinks there may also be a problem with my lower back and/or sacroiliac joint Thank you Liz

Q: About 6 months ago I suddenly developed back pain. It was severe,and I had to start walking with a cane. I had been doing some digging in the yard, and also I had a spill on my driveway on that same afternoon. About three days later the pain developed. I tried resting it, then visited a chiropractor for about two weeks with no results. I then made an appointment with a neurologist who ordered x-rays and gave me pain pills. A month later I was no better, went to another neurologist who ordered an MRI and informed me I had a pinched nerve (from what he said was degenerative discs in the back.) He described some surgery (removing disc and freeing nerve then fusion of two discs) but did not recommend this. He ordered physical therapy which was very helpful. I am able to walk and sleep with veru little pain. I am doing water aerobics in an effort to improve. However, I still have a lot of stiffness and some pain in the lower back and also in the pelvic/groin muscle e. Am I doing the right thing by doing water aerobics? Is there anything else that would be of more benefit? He recommended strengthening core muscles--and that is all. Am I ever going to be any better? Anita

Q: For three months since I had to run and catch a tv that was about to fall on my children I have been having middle back pain on the left side by my spine. It hurts when I sit not straight as can be or lean over slumped and when I wake up in the morning. I have had x-ray and mri that came back normal. Any idea what may be causing it that would not show up in x-ray mri? Is there any other test I should take?? Lynne

Q: The past two days I have experienced severe pain under my right shoulder blade with certain movement and breathing. I don't have insurance and can't afford another bill. (I have suffered from ulcerative colitis for 14 years now, even though I'm only 26) I took 2 muscle relaxers tonight and still no relief. Could this be serious? Is there anything I can do at home to help? Should I just suck it up and go see a DR? Pain just seems to get worse even sitting down is hurting now. Please help. Misty

Q: I had a laminectomy of l-5 in 2003. Just before Christmas of 2009 I pulled some scar tissue from around the disk. Not good. Have had problems off and on up until pulling the scar tissue, really my back pain never went away. All the leg pain was gone but the pain in my lower back wasn't cured just not as constant. This pain though had me in a wheelchair for a couple of days and crutches for few days and severely limits my everyday capabilities. Is there anything to do for this besides another surgery. The doc says fusion is really the only thing left to do to the disk as far as another surgery. Maybe decompression therapy or something. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I'm 32 years old and need to figure this out cause its a long road ahead.. Matt

Q: I am having back pain last 2 years when i am sitting chair. i will get this so how can i prevent this problem? i am not able to bend to much forward and what is solution for its by using yoga? anything happen. Srinivas

Q: Hello, I stumbled upon this site when searching for laymen terms in my recent MRI report from the C-3-C4 disc in the neck. I am a carpenter for 30 years now and have always used my body in unconventional lifting,supporting materials to accomplish my work. I have had 2 shoulder surgeries already [2nd one due to botched 1st surgery] for impingement on tendons and torn cartilage. About 2.5 years ago my wife had me use a garden tool to chop out some grass to lay river stone down, the next day I noticed my neck really hurt, I had an appointment with my orthopedic Dr. for my shoulder and told him about my neck, he wanted to do an x-ray but I told him to wait until the following month and see if it was still an issue or if maybe I just pulled a muscle that would clear up by then. Unfortunately it did not clear up and we did an MRI and he said I had a bulging disc and their was nothing he could do but prescribe meds for the pain. I soon just found a pain management Dr. who basically just treated me for the pain of the neck and shoulder. I am now 48 yrs old and finally decided my career as a carpenter could not go on without me getting some of this pain or what was causing it repaired, I soon had my 2nd shoulder surgery which seems to have helped and now I'm stuck with the neck issues. The recent MRI said mild straightening of usual cervical lordosis, canal is patent and cord is normal, there is an endplate degenerative change at the C-3/C-4 level. Endplate and uncinate osteophyte on the left contributes to moderate left foraminal stenosis. Neural formina are otherwise patent. Focal Degenerative change primarily endplate/uncinate osteophyte on left at the C-3-4 level contributing to moderate foraminal narrowing. No cord impingement. With all this said I just wonder from a medical opinion the pain that is associated with this? I am not a big baby with pain but this pain is like always their right in your face and I really have to look for hopes of some changes with it somehow. I know of the disc fusing but I would be the last one to go under the knife unless their are no alternatives. Id would like to hear your opinion on what exactly this is [laymens terms] and the best way to deal with this? Thanks, Bob

Q: In December of 2007 I was having trouble walking, pain in the upper back and always pain in he lower back. I went to the emergency of our local hospital had an MRI of the complete spine, was told I needed surgery "cervical" for the upper and had spinal stenosis of the lower I had the surgery for the upper two weeks later. After about three months I still could walk very well was Neurologist, had an EMG, was told I had neuropathy, and nothing could be done, was told my problem was the stenosis and had lumbar fusion with instrumentation one year later, still could not walk very well, same old back pain. Sent to another neurologist. had an EMG, had neuropathy nothing can be done, went to another Neurologist, had EMG was told no neuropathy, did a MRI of the brain, spinal tap and other tests, came back with demyelination and most likely MS, will know for sure Feb 10th. Was also told that the lower back surgery was not necessary. My life has not been good for the past two years, it seems I have been in the black hole of Doctors not knowing what they were doing. This is a short story of the ALL the things I have been going through for the past two years. I am in Tucson, Arizona. Doctors you would think would know what they were doing. Thanks, Steve

Q: My friend Stephen has had back issues from I met him almost 30 years ago but he always took it in stride. I might add that Stephen has always been a bit intense. Two months ago he went to the hospital complaining of electrical shocks through his whole body as he fell asleep. Once he stood up, the shooting pains would go away but when he laid back down after 10 - 15 minutes the shockwaves would return. Also, whenever he did get to sleep, he would wake up gasping for air and experiencing severe chest pains. A month prior to being hospitalized, a brain CAT scan was done because Stephen had complained to his primary care physician about serious fatigue / low energy. Heart palpitations.

At the hospital they did all kinds of tests and found no hart problem but blood test revealed electrolytes extremely low. He was put on drip for 3 days. Doctors indicated no further medical attention was necessary but problems persisted. He decided to seek attention elsewhere and was referred to a neurologist. While waiting a week to see the neurologist Stephen decided to see a chiropractor (in the vicinity of the hospital he had traveled to) because, although there was no severe back pain, his was walking with a noticeable limp on his right hip (which he attributed to his 6 day stay in a hospital bed). After 2 visits to the chiropractor he started feeling stinging, tingling, numbness and extremes of hot and cold in all extremities one after the other. He also experienced dizziness, headaches, tingling in his face and the sensation of blood rushing to his head (smell blood). This was the first time he had experienced anything like this.

Stephen then saw the neurologist where lumbar & cervical MRI's were done. The results of the MRI revealed that Stephen has 5 herniated discs (3 cervical & 2 lumbar). After hearing of the symptoms the neurologist wanted to prescribe Neurontin and pain management but Stephen declined. A nerve test was ordered which Stephen never took. A blood test was ordered which came back fine. Subsequently Stephen went to another chiropractor where he did experience some relief. At the completion of two weeks of treatment the symptoms that persisted were fatigue (this got even worse) and tingling in his legs & feet, but Stephen now felt well enough to return home. Once there he immediately sought the care of his primary chiropractor where even more progress was achieved.

The only debilitating symptom that now remains is chronic fatigue. It is now to the point where after 12 hours of sleep he wakes up tired (as if he never went to sleep). When he goes to get out of bed in the morning his teeth chatters, his chest feels taught and his arms tremble. He describes it as feeling faint. As far as medications Stephen is or has been taking. Ativan (2mg) was prescribed to be taken once daily but he only took half a pill when he really felt anxious. His PCP switched him to 5mg of Xanax once daily and Stephen has promised to take it as prescribed. Stephen requested Flexeril (he has used it in the past whenever his back went out) to keep on hand in the event of a flare up. I'm not sure how or if you can help but once you've read this you might be able to tell me. Wayde

Q: My Kaiser doctor has recently diagnosed me as having spinal stenosis. He showed me the Xray and I saw clearly in the lower lumbar region where the bottom two nerves emerge that the holes were opaque. Those above were clear. A recent MRI confirmed that diagnosis. I get leg numbness when standing or walking too long. I have no pain whatsoever and there didn't seem to be any degenerative condition in that area of discs or vertebra. With all the risks involved would I be a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure? Thank you. Ron

Q: I have had chronic back pain for years, treated with chiropractor for long time with bad results, x-rayed 3 years ago and diagnosed with grade 1 spondylolisthesis. Most pain is when getting up off couch and sleeping. Very active country life, wood splitting, gardening, horses, etc. Feel like it is time to have a back support for heavy work. Have resisted because I don't want to get where I rely on one. I read that symptoms are usually simple, mine are getting to be to constant. Any suggestions on what kind of brace to go with. Very confusing trying to decide. Thanks, Darlene

Comment: I think it's absolutely criminal what the medical profession has done/is doing with regards to back/neck pain issues. I can only say we all know what fuels their desire to do these surgeries. You have a better chance of being struck by a meteorite than getting "cured" through back surgeries--I think for most people. People with severe congenital problems or accident trauma might be legitimate exceptions. As an RN and an impatient "patient," ha, I've seen what the medical profession has done to "medicalize" everything-even a common cold can be turned into an ominous event. Have we all lost our minds? We've become a nation of hypochondriacs and the Gods/Goddesses that promise to heal us have become our torturers. Kick the doctor habit unless absolutely necessary, and for acute problems or those that can be properly treated by an MD, but for chronic stuff, find alternatives, if you can. Your site is very good and you are trying to wake people up! Nancy

Q: My son was just diagnosed with ddd at 17. I read your article and was curious about your treatment. Or if you think he was misdiagnosed or what happened. He received a football injury about 1.5 yrs ago in his right lower growth plate an was prescribed therapy for it. It seemed to help a little, but the pain recurred, and he was just given pain pills for abut 1 yr. Do you think the initial problem was the cause and it was never fixed? What treatment do you recommend other than surgery or shots. Would a chiropractor really help? He is to see a specialists this coming week and any info. would greatly help with us talking to the doctor. They all ready said that the cortisone shot or surgery is the only way to out a "bandaid" on his back. Thank You, Randy

Q: I been a movie stuntman for many years without professional injury... but have take a my fair share of falls over the years. I am 60 now and recently had an MRI as s result of excruciating lower back pain which has laid me low for almost a month. I have suffered back pain about once a year in the past, but never more than a couple of days laid up. This time the pain shoots from the back to the knee. I agree with you on your view of the medical field, I have used acupuncture with the most relief and chiropractic less successfully. During the last three weeks, I have had two epidurals, with partial relief, first was in L5, and second in L2-3, and L3-4. Here is the report of the MRI, please give me your impression ... any help would be greatly appreciated.

Findings: The ones are well aligned. The vertebral body heights are wll maintained. The conus terminates at T12, demonstrating normal morphology and signal.T11-12, T12-L1 Sagittal imaging demonstrates the discs to be well preserved. The central spinal canal and foramina remain widely patent.

L1-2 There is disc dessication. The disc contour is preserved. The central canal and foramina remind widely patent.

L2-3 There is posterior and lateral bulging of the disc, extending into the right-side forament (7 mm AP dimension). There is minimal fact hypertrophy. The central canal and left foramen remain patent. The posteriolateral disc protrusion causes moderate to severe narrowing of the right-sided foramen.

L3-4 There is minimal disc space narrowing and desiccation. There is diffuse concentric bulging of the disc, right greater than left, measuring 4 mm. There is minimal fact arthropathy. The central canal is low-normal. There is minimal narrowing of the left foramen. There is moderate narrowing of the right foramen.

L4-5 There is diffuse concentric bulding of the disc, most prominent posterolaterally (3-4 mm). There is moderate facet and ligamentum flavum hypertrophy. These findings are causing minimum central stensosis. there is moderate left and minimal right foraminal narrowing.

L5-S1 There is disc desiccation of this level. There is an annual fissure posterolaterally on the right. There is very slight concentric bulging of the disc. there is minimal facet arthropathy. the central spine remains widely patent. minimal foraminal narrowing is present.

I look forward to hearing from you with your insight, JP

Q: I am 53 years of age and reasonably fit, having done a lot of running in previous years. For the past year I have mainly just been walking though. For a couple of years I have been experiencing some sciatic nerve pain, but nothing too bad. Today I decided to go for a slight jog, and had been jogging for about 10 minutes, and I did feel that my lower back felt tight. Without warning I lost complete feeling in my right leg and fell flat on my face. I now have a pain going from my right lower back to my glut, and a little sciatic pain. Should I see a chiropractor ? I am worried about ever jogging again as this was a pretty awful experience, with my leg just totally giving way. Any advice would be appreciated. Regards Judy

Q: i was in a car accident that caused me back problems..lower only through the years i haven't had to take medications...i'm just bent over about a week couple times a year...14months ago started having real bad lower back pains....mri says i have 2 herniated discs one bulging..this lower pain goes into my midback and i'm locked like in a spasm that wont quit...i've dealt with that n it goes away....this last time....went from lower to mid back and is now in my left shoulder with pressuring pain felt in my left chest behind my breast and upper rib cage....i know this is all related and don't think i'm having a heart attack..cuz this has been going on for four weeks and the pain is nonstop......affects my breathing...finally yesterday i got a few hours of relief it back even question is this.......could this be a pinched nerve? My physician took xrays and thinks it might be a crushed vertabrae and sending me for bone density tests......I would like to read your opinion....this feels like not sure what to do.......Shea

Q: I have stiffness of my neck especially in A.M. and having problem turning my neck fully towards my left. I have been told that I have chronic arthritis to my spine or is it a pinched nerve. I play tennis and deliver mail. Angel