Extreme pain in upper back only left side since 2008 when I fell on the ice

by Jodi
(Edmonton, Alberta, Canada )


Extreme pain in upper back only left side since 2008 when I fell on the ice is always going to be problematic if your fracture a vertebra.

Hi, I fell on ice walking down a hill in 2008, landed completely on my upper back, knocked the wind out of myself and hit the back of my head hard enough to break my hair clip. Had a belt on for work that weighs about 25 pounds at the time and I weighed 125 pounds. X-ray 3 days later showed nothing but another one a month later showed a T4 compression fracture. In increasing pain since, now severe. Pain is only on left side. From middle of spine and over to the left starting around the height of bra strap up to almost my shoulder. Pain also wraps around my trunk to the front about to the nipples on each side at the level of bra strap and feels like a vice grip getting tighter and tighter.

The worst part though feels like a knife is sticking out of the area of my left scapula. No neck pain or not often.

When my upper back pain is really bad I do sometimes feel it on left side of neck but not usually. I've done physio (made it much worse) as did chiropractor. Nothing has helped. Ct scan done in 2011 showed facet joints damaged from T4-T7 I think it was.

Desperate for help. Only small bit of relief from cortisone injection and pain killers but still in significant pain all the time. 24-7. Pain gets worse if doing anything where I need to lift arms above my head or out in front of me such as driving. I need to keep arms at my side hanging. Can't twist from side to side and laying, sitting or standing if in one position too long all hurt.

When sleeping though it feels better if I lie on my left side (the side that hurts) as opposed to lying on my right side. I can't lay on my back at all and laying on my stomach causes all kinds of muscle spasms in my left upper back area. Please tell me what you think this could be. Thank you, Jodi

Hello Jodi,
A few questions:

1. Think hard. Did the chiropractor adjust your back hard whilst lying on you tum? And did s/he adjust it with you lying on your back with his hand under your back. Can you remember? Try and describe the treatment to me.

2. If you take in a deep breath does it hurt; was it ever painful with deep inspiration?

3. Run your fingers down your breastbone. Is it more painful on one of the ribs where they join the sternum? Is there a lump?

4. Lie on your right side and ask a friend/ partner to run their fingers using a little oil from the painful area in the midback, along the ribs, under the armpit, under the breast and then to joint with the sternum. Now compare with the naughty side whilst lying on your left. Is there a significant difference?

5. Could you type out a copy of the x-ray resport?

Let me know.

Dr B



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