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Undiagnosed Chronic Back Pain
WaldoJ posted:
I've had mild lower back pain going on for over a year now, though recently it has gotten worse for no apparent reason. It's interfering with my sleep schedule, in addition to (seemingly) my appetite. The pain seems to be above/around the hips a lot of the time, and often is located to one side (which changes infrequently). As a result, I have poor posture and sometimes limp without noticing.

Only recently have I been able to arrange a doctor's appointment to have my back examined, and no deformities were found... They took x-rays as well, and there were no abnormalities at all. The only recommendation was physical therapy, which my parents can't afford.
I have another appointment scheduled in about six weeks, but I'm doubtful that anything will really come out of it.

Painkillers (I've tried Tylenol, Excedrin, Aspirin, and hot/cold packs) never seem to work; when they do, then it is only briefly. I'd appreciate it if anyone could suggest typical techniques that would be used in programs like physical therapy that I could try on my own.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you!
darlyn05 responded:
You didn't mention how old you are or if you had injured your back at some point or how. I'm assuming that the Dr you saw was a GP or PCP.?. Are you covered under any type of insurance, even state provided? There may be something going on with your back that an X-ray would not pick up on/show. An MRI is more through. And it took me seeing an Orthopedic Spine Specialist/Surgeon to have my MRI read correctly and have a proper diagnosis(as many others on the board). Is there a teaching university near you that has spine specialists? They may be able to help with little or no cost, and get an MRI to help in getting a proper diagnosis.

You could start out with some lower back stretching exercises and core strengthening exercises. This can be dangerous/deterimental to any condition you may have without a diagnosis. So I wouldn't suggest it or anything until you have a real diagnosis.
bj1208 responded:
Hi WaldoJ - welcome to the support group -

As Darlyn05 stated it's best to be seen my either a Orthopedic Spine Specialist or Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist and have either a MRI or CT Scan done. X-rays read only the bones and if any issues like breakage can be seen this way. There are a few spine problems that can be seen by X-rays but MRI's, CT Scans will pick up soft tissue and if there are problems with disc(s). Spine Specialists are the only ones that can examine your spine and read the film reports to give you the proper diagnosis and offer the best type of treatment plans. They always do this and never suggest surgery (unless in emergency situations) until all treatment options have failed.

Sometimes a bulging disc(s) can press on the nerve roots which go thru the hip area causing pains that can travel down the legs.

During the examination the specialist will ask questions i.e., if you hurt your back recently etc, even if you haven't try thinking back to when you were younger and see if you hurt it then.

My problems started when I was younger being bucked off horses too many times. I was very active and finally I had a blown disc. There is also family history as Degenerative Disc Disease runs on my moms side as her sister and brothers all have bad backs. So my brother and I have back problems.

Write down anything you can think of especially family history. Try to pinpoint when your back started to hurt, what you were doing at that time etc., This will be vital information to the doctor.

If insurance is a problem, as Darlyn05 said see if there is a big University Hospital around - they do have programs for those that do not have insurance where they will offer visits at reduced prices and/or free visits.

When sleeping try using extra pillows. put one between your knees when sleeping on your side or under you knees when sleeping on your back and propping the pillows behind you so that you are in a reclining position. this will help keep the spine more straight taking pressure off and reducing pain levels. Never sleep on your stomach as this will increase pains and pressure.

Please keep us posted~~
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Take care ~~ God Bless ~~

~~ Joy ~~

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