Chronic stiffness and pain in the midback

by Lauren
(Atlanta, GA)

Chronic stiffness and pain in the midback is a very common malady.

I've been to my primary physician, who ordered an MRI...The results were basically that I had a slight degeneration on the right side of my T9 which makes sense because that's where I feel numbness, tingling, etc...and the burning and aching that I have had for years. It usually comes and goes which I have been able to handle, but this past year it's been awful, and basically hasn't gone away. It's proceeded to run up the right side of my back, and into my neck and shoulders.

But before I get into that, the Primary basically told me that I could do stretching, physical therapy, take Advil, etc, but the disc isn't even that bad, so he's not sure why I am in so much pain.

I scheduled an appointment with an orthopedist to see if there was anything I could do or if he saw anything else that the primary didn't. He said the same thing about my back as far as the disc, but then diagnosed me with 'text neck' which he said may be causing the back pain (he took an xray). He recommended physical therapy. I did that for a while, which I have been through before in the past, and I already do those daily, which don't help. I am still in pain.

I have had my back adjusted 4 times and my neck the first time last Tuesday by a chiropractor. I'm not sure what he did, but I have never been in more pain. As I type, my back in the spot is tingling, throbbing, etc. I have to get up all the time to relieve pressure. Going up my spine from that spot is burning, tightness, and it basically feels like I did a strenuous workout when I didn't. The tightness is the worst. It's all around my neck, and in the front in my chest and throat. Everything burns. I feel like my entire upper spine is swollen and inflamed and at this point, I don't know what the next step should be.

Is this normal to still feel this way? Do you think i just feel this way because I sit in a crappy chair on hard tile floor all day? Another thought was I have never given up weight lifting during this time, and I'm wondering if I am not letting my body heal? I don't know what to do. I just need some advice.

Hello Lauren,
Firstly, some pain after treatment for a chronic condition is not unusual; perhaps he was over enthusiastic. Talk to your chiropractor frankly about this reaction to his treatment; if he refuses to take it seriously, go elsewhere.

Secondly, numbness and tingling from slight degenerative change in the midback is unusual. If it continues, I'd ask for an MRI; other conditions unseen on plain film may lurk; they are rare but do happen.

Thirdly, continuing with weight lifting whilst having treatment is not wise in my book; I would have advised you to stop for a period. Your spine is vulnerable during chiropractic treatment. It's a time to be a little more cautious.

Do you have any pain under the armpit, or around the breastbone?

I just lifted this from concerning Advil; Advil may also cause stomach or intestinal bleeding, which can be fatal.

There's no easy solution to chronic spinal pain; I won't pretend that chiropractic is a magical potion. Also be looking at gentle daily exercise, support for your elbow if using a mouse for long periods and a regular massage. And then the less obvious things like when did you last have a proper restful holiday, and what's your diet like?

Health is additive and it's not impossible that all of these, and more, are contributing to your misery.

I hope this gives you something to think about.

Dr B

» Chronic stiffness and pain in the midback

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