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Forum Name: Spinal problems and back pain

Question: Pain from Neck to Lower Back, Rib Tenderness


 LivinLarge - Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:09 am

I currently have pain from my neck to my lower left back.

Starting from the top, my neck muscles are overly tight on a daily basis and sometimes become rock hard to the touch. I've read about trigger points and sometimes can cause the spasms to release by pushing on certain parts of my neck, but they always return.

My upper back has a constant ache between my left shoulder blade and my spine. If I lift my left shoulder toward my head a dull ache increases in intensity. I have a device called a Back Buddy and I can massage some of the muscles under my arm pit, where my arm and shoulder attach and to the inside lower right side of my left shoulder blade and this reduces the achiness temporarily.

My lower back aches right around the L3-L4 Vertebraes. I've had an MRI of this but the specialists I have shown it too have said it is normal to have some bulging in this area and the most adults do. Most of the time it feels like my paraspinal muscles are in extreme spasm compressing my vertebrates. I sometimes have pain down my but and into that op of my leg. The only thing I have found to help with this is by laying on my belly on an excercise ball, placing my hands on the floor directly in front of the ball, then while pushing my elbows into the ball allowing my lower back to get stretched by the traction I create. Often times I can feel the disc decompress and then it feels better for a little while

I often times have extreme tenderness in spots on my lower back ribs. Just really sensitive to the touch. I try to massage them out but it doesn't really work.

I twist my back often and it creates a feeling of realignment and often times it feels like discs are moving back in to place.

I have seen multiple Back Specialists, Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, a Kinesiologist and have had many massages and have also tried acupuncture. We have evaluated my posture, as I am a graphic designer, and have made adjustments to my posture and this hasn't helped. I have not spent an eight hour day in front of a computer in over a month and a half and the pain and tightness still seems to be the same. The pain is certainly worse when sitting as opposed to standing though. Nothing seems to work. I feel like I am in a constant state of stretching my lower back, neck or mid-back. My whole back feels like it is in spasm.

I'm wondering if there may be something chemical inside my body that is causing this. I did have a slight injury while snowboarding where I took a hard fall using my left arm to brace my body. There was some shoulder pain after that but that took place over a year before the onset of these more annoying symptoms. Other than that, there was no incident to create the onset of the back or neck pain it just slowly happened over a 2-week period about 3 years ago and has been the same ever since.

I am 31 years old and would like to know if anyone else out there may have some insight into this.

Thank you very much for your help!
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Thu Jan 08, 2009 7:55 pm

User avatar Hello,
Thank you for the case.
Although your case is common, it is not easy to remedy. If the integrity of the spine is good ie the MRI was normal, then you can have confidence about moving and exercising.

Stretching is important especially the anterior chest and neck muscles (scalenes). Strengthening the core muscles (transverse abdominus, and multifidi) are vital.
Checking for rib displacement is important.

These things can be done through guidance of an orthopedic physical therapist.

Otherwise, some folks have found relief with more activity vs less activity (eg a daily walking or swimming program). Exercise is good for blood flow to muscles. Muscles which are tight and painful tend to lack nutrients and oxygen. So increasing blood supply to these areas is vital.

Hope this gives some guidance.

Let us know how it goes.

p.s. I do not know of a specific chemical which would cause muscle pain although muscles can become toxic from medicine like statin drugs used for high cholesterol.

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