Back and Neck Injury/Chronic low Back Pain
QUESTION: I have been dealing with a back injury for about 2 years now and have been to several doctors and no one can seem to tell me where the pain is coming from and it is getting really frustrating.
back in 2011, I started having issues with my mid-back right next to my shoulder blade. That area started getting so tight that it felt like I really needed a massage to help stretch the knot out, but as the days went by it only seemed to be getting tighter and tighter. Then finally while I was at work I felt and heard and felt what seemed to me like a "twig snapping". After the snap I felt pain shoot from my back through my right arm causing severe pain when I tried to use my right arm.
I was taken to urgent care and was told that I had a back sprain and a rib had popped out. I was told that I would be referred to a chiropractor to try and place it right back in. Every visit that I had from the chiropractor was hell because every time he tried to push my rib back in it hurt to the point where I wanted to cry. After several visits the rib was not placed back and the pain was still there and after 1 month of being placed on light duty I was sent back to work on full duty.
After being on full duty for about 2 months I felt the exact samething in the same area and the pain was terribly bad again. I was sent to urgent care again and was told that I once again had sprained my back and a rib popped out. I was not satisfied with what they told me so I went to my personal doctor only to be told that my back was really swollen and after x-rays I also had a fractured rib at my T6 level.
The doctors I have been to for some reason find it hard to beleive that I was not in any type of accident that may have caused my rib to fracture.
I was sent to have an MRI taken and their was nothing that was not out of the ordinary. the report states: L2-L3 1mm disc bulge, L3-L4 1mm disc bulge, L4-L5 1mm disc bulge, and L5-S1 2mm disc bulge. Then minimal bone spurs on L3, L4, L5, all of which I have been told is normal/incidental findings, which sounds like good news to me.
I have been treated by my personal doctor and an orthopedic that I was referred to and was told that I have Chronic Low Back Pain by my personal doctor and Chronic Muscleskeletal Pain by the orthodpedic, but that I do not have any objective findings.
I also have a visible bulge/lump on the area where I fractured my rib and it is really hard and boney. My personal doctor said it seems to be a cyst, however the orthopedic and his co-worker both agree that the bulge is too broad based to be a cyst and that it feels like bone grew over the rib that I had fractured. I was told that the fractured rib actually rolls over one of the nerves that goes to each of the ribs and that this is a very good possibility as to what is causing my back pain.
After being told all this and telling my personal doctor he is telling me that their is no way that this could be causing my Low Back Pain.
Now I have to deal with my back hurting when I sit for a long period of time, I get really bad back spasms when I walk far, and I get really bad back spasms when I try to do anything physical to the point where I really need to stop what I am doing because of the pain.
I really need help in trying to figure out what is going on with me at this point!
ANSWER: Hi, Mark,
I'm going to give you my take on what's going on with you and then, what you can do about it.
The bulging discs are telltale: contracted back muscles.
See this page for more. | http://somatics.com/back_pain_terms.htm
Ribs don't just kind of "pop out". They're pulled or squeezed out of position. Same culprit: contracted back muscles.
Another word for that: back spasms.
Same thing with bone spurs. They grow along the line of muscle pull.
Please see this page for more detail on chronic back pain and typical treatment methods:
and this page for what you can do:
You can get started alleviating your back spasms with what's on that page.
If you want more, the access to the self-relief resource is shown on that page.
If you had no accident to fracture your rib, then the "twig snapping" might have been that event. The next possible culprit is the chiropractic adjustment, if forceful.
By the way, "chronic back pain", as a diagnosis, has no descriptive or explanatory power. "Chronic" just means, "lasting through time"; it says nothing about your prognosis.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: I was actually lectured by a doctor that said breaking a rib in the T6 level in my back area was extremely dangerous because of the fact that puncturing a lung would be really easy to do.
I also forgot to mention that I have tried getting light tissue massages and my back turns a really bright red color that almost looks like a burn mark. Any idea what could be causing this?
So, it is possible that the fractured rib was caused by the tightening of the back in other words?
As for the chiropractor visits that I was sent to the chiropractor had me bite down on a hand towel while he tried pushing on my rib. The pushing that he had done was not muniplation techniques rather the chiropractor seemed to be trying really hard to push the rib back into place. I honestly think that the chiropractor was the cause of my continuous injury/chronic back pain that I have been dealing with, but that is just my opinion.
You are right about the chronic back pain issue. I am currently having trouble at my work location because of this issue. My job title is an apprentice lineman and have to climb utility poles everyday all day and with the pain that I have it is almost impossible for me to do that work. I was told by my personal doctor, his collegue and an orthopedic doctor that because of the injury that I will be limited to doing my usual work duties.
The company insurance company is saying I should be able to do my normal duties at work with no restrictions and my personal doctor, his collegue and the orthopedic doctor is saying that I will be limited and need to change positions because I have already been injured in the same area in a span of 2 months.
Im just really frustrated.
The redness in the photos looks like an inflammatory response -- force-feeding body fluids into an injured region for extra nutrition, to support healing.
As to what caused the fracture, I don't have enough information to say. Possibly, the combination of movement into an extreme position under a state of muscular compression -- although that seems a bit far-fetched.
The rest of my recommendations stand.