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23, Thoracic Pain, No Relief (not a dating pick up line)

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Hi all! I would be incredibly thankful for any insight or suggestions & I thank you for reading this post.

I turned 23 in December. In October, I was asleep and woke up screaming in pain. The pain is in my back, about where the bottom of my ribcage lies. I first went to a chiropractor, who saw nothing wrong, but thought he could adjust me, so I left after the first two treatments with no results. In January, I began seeing a pain management specialist. I daily physical therapy for about 2 months without results. I have had two MRIs, one just thoracic, one full back, with no reported abnormalities. The doctor went ahead with two epidural injections in my lower spine, and one in my thoracic spine, none of which have worked. The second one gave me one of the spine-headaches and hurt quite a bit, but I doubt that's relevant. My doctors have put me onto a dose of Gabapentin (I'm now around 1000mg) but have only experienced negative side effects, and will be reducing. I am on a low dose of Norco (I don't remember the dose), but my doctor also wants to reduce that because "I might be one of those people" who reacts to drugs with pain. This does not seem logical to me, although I understand the issue with hydrocodone, and would really love to get off it. I still have the same level of pain, if not worse. At its best, it is mild, predictably the week before I ought to have my period, but I have not had one since getting the Mirena IUD in January (but had similar issues on the pill too, for about the past year). I also suffer from severe migraines, which have been reduced from 5-7/week to 1-2/week with the Botox injections, and sumatriptan/sumavel dosepro as needed. I also have eczema, which some doctors debate is psoriasis. I had a severe outbreak on my scalp for about a year, but thankfully cleared itself in June 2013, right before my wedding (that was close!). I also had an outbreak on my right arm (on the back side, below the elbow moving towards the hand), but this too has cleared up recently. For comprehension, I also take adderall 20mg/10mg in morning and at noon respectively.

I have had blood tests, looking at thyroid, ANA, CBC and vitamin D. I had slightly low levels of vitamin D and took a month of supplements (which was all my doctor prescribed). I have a family history of thyroid disease, diabetes, and poor vision, but I have been vegetarian for 7 years (but eat various proteins and am not a crab-only vegetarian), don't test for thyroid disease and well, my sight was bad, but I had Lasik. Otherwise, migraines, but I've already discussed that.

If it is of any help, I hit puberty hard and early, and have had pain issues since then. At my heaviest (2008) I weighed almost 200 pounds (I'm 5'5). I lost weight rapidly after stopping Cymbalta (for what was thought to be depression at 10-12) and starting Topamax for my headaches. At my lightest (2013) I was around 105, but I was around that number from 2010-2013. I am currently 125-130, but I believe the majority is water weight. However, none have been as severe and constant, and never in this specific spot. The pain is located on the spine, occasionally wraps around. I also have some sciatica and had an almost-frozen shoulder approximately 5 years ago. I have cold hands (which is not abnormal for me), but lately I have had certain fingers (usually my left pinky or right pointer) become extremely cold--to the point that the last time I was in the urgent care with a migraine, the nurse got a low oxygen reading.

My pain specialist sent me to another pain specialist and he sent me back to the first doctor. The first wanted me to look into nerve ablation, but the second thought it would be unnecessary since the pain does not seem to be disk related. The general consensus is that no one knows what to do, so they aren't doing anything. I'm in my first year of graduate school in Literature, pursuing a PhD, and not being able to sit for more than a few hours does not bode well for my future career. I've had to quit my job at the State Capitol, readjust my graduate school to a worse program closer to me. I am frustrated and concerned that this will never be resolved, and I'll be in pain forever. I mean, there are worse things, but I would really like to go to my first choice PhD program--not the school closest to my home.

Thank you for your time reading this. I am past my wit's end, but despite my protest, and best bribery, my back still aches (I'm sorry, I'm a Lit student, we write for a living...) Any and all advice is welcome, even if it means thrusting more needles into my spine. I truly, truly can express enough how appreciative I am for you taking the time to look at this.


Edit--I should also mention my shoulders become very tense. This is the majority of where my migraines come from. I've had xrays there from previous neurologists and MRI's of my head which show that my neck is a bit out of line, but nothing drastic, new or caused by anything but life itself. When I receive the Botox injections, the one into the neck/shoulder area makes me dizzy from relief (but I actually go black when receiving that shot, never in any of the others). If my shoulders become tense, they do not loosen naturally, and I have to take muscle relaxants which may or may not work. Likewise, when pain doctor 2 was manipulating my back to look for the injection location, he made me do the bending tests, and trigger point tests. He said that I responded inversely to what would normally be expected. In 2006, I saw a rheumatologist who also noted this. In the places I hurt, outside pressure feels better than no pressure. It still hurts, but it is not painful to the touch as such.
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replied April 21st, 2014
Active User, very eHealthy
Quote:
I am frustrated and concerned that this will never be resolved, and I'll be in pain forever.

IMHO and you probably will be forever if you keep on the pill/ surgery path you are following now. They are palliative, NOT curative. 98% of back pain is structural in origin. So you need to fix your back's structure. Chiro is not the best solution and sometimes it can injure you more.
Quote:
The pain is in my back, about where the bottom of my ribcage lies.....Edit--I should also mention my shoulders become very tense.

Bottom of ribcage is L1. Pain in that area is from inability to reach overhead - which is also relates to your shoulder issue. They are probably rounded forwards or twisted. Doing overhead reaching decompresses that area of your back. If there is a twist in your back at L1, you would need specific exercises for that as well.

Quote:
but lately I have had certain fingers (usually my left pinky or right pointer).........MRI's of my head which show that my neck is a bit out of line,

If you have certain fingers only, that is probably from a specific disc in your neck compressing the nerve to that finger.
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