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Forum Name: Spinal problems and back pain

Question: Moderate to severe back pain & back bruising


 as526 - Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:43 am

I have had chronic moderate to severe back pain ever since I had surgery for Scoliosis in December of 2002. I also have a dislodged screw on the lower left side of my back, which I think happened a year or two after surgery. I have also suffered from 'pain attacks', which all I can describe as severely painful. The pain radiates from my spine area and wraps around my lower abdomen. I mainly feel the pain in my stomach muscles and ribs. These 'pain attacks' come on gradually and for no real reason. They have also increased in how long they last, my last attack a couple months ago lasted about 6 hours and it was about a week after surgery when the first one happened, they used to last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. I also have deep pain in my right hip that seems to radiate from my lower back. I have a numb spot on my right hip/outer thigh area and another one that spreads just below both shoulder blades. I have also had unexplained bruising that appears mainly on the middle/upper right side of my back, but it has also appeared on the middle/lower left side and they usually run along side my surgery scar. I also have a lump that appears on my lower left back, where my screw is dislodged. That usually appears when I have been doing a lot of bending, or playing with my son. It doesn't take very much to upset my back pain, or to make that lump appear. I'm also very sleepy a lot, even if I've had enough sleep. My back is also very itchy all of the time, I don't know of that matters but I thought I'd add that anyway. I have been to my orthopaedic doctor, but he doesn't know why I'm in all this pain or why I have these strange symptoms. His advice was to go to a pain management clinic, but I would really like that to be a last resort. I have also tried physical therapy, but it only increased my back pain. I would really appreciate any advice! Thank you very much for reading my post.

Sarah
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Mon Jan 19, 2009 11:57 am

User avatar Hello Sarah,
Thanks for your message. Your scoliosis must have been severe and progressive to warrant rod and screw placement.

I am sorry that the back is still causing you pain.

The screw that has backed out. Any chance of getting this fixed? What does the surgeon say about this screw. It may be causing a local reaction (itching, redness).

The tiredness can be caused by lots of physical reasons. Increased back pain is certainly one, have you been screened for thyroid issues?

Pain management may actually turn out to be a good option since physical therapy has failed.

Have you tried aquatic therapy yet?

Keep us posted and let us know how things are going.
 as526 - Wed Jan 21, 2009 5:08 pm

Thank you so much for responding to my post! Well, to answer your questions, I had my surgery in Baltimore MD, and since I live in Ohio and it's not very easy for me to make a trip to Baltimore. There's only one orthopaedic surgeon in my area and he has said that if the screw is not moving and/or the rods are not moving then he's not going to do anything about it. He has run a few different tests, mainly to look at my spine to see if anything is wrong with it, such as numerous X-Rays, a bone scan, and I believe if I'm not mistaken a CT scan. I can't be quite sure about the last one I listed because honestly I can't remember! I know they put me into a long tube and had me hold my breath. Anyway, I've never had any other tests then the ones I have mentioned above. With this thyroid, do you believe that it could possibly be contributing to my symptoms? Is there some sort of specalist I could request from my family doctor to be referred to? I'd like to try to investigate as many possibilities as I can before deciding to go to pain managment. The bruising has me very worried, I have one now as I write this. It feels very stiff and painful where the buise is and it's round this time whereas they are usually perpendicular to my scar. Like I said in my original post they appear for no reason, as this one also did. Anyway, no I have never tried aquatic therapy before, but a few years ago I was in a swimming class. The swimming didn't seem to bring me much pain, but this was before my pain and symptoms increased. I also forgot to mention that I had a baby in April of 2007 naturally with no epidural. Do you think that maybe by me having a baby that it somehow hurt my back? Wouldn't it show up on X-Ray or any of the other scans I've had? Again thank you so much for your time I greatly appreciate it!
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:05 pm

User avatar Hello,
Unless there were evidence from the xray showing a change in the spine or in the instrumentation, I would not think childbearing would cause a problem with the scoliosis repair.

A thyroid problem may contribute to the fatigue but not neccesarily the pain. Your family physician can order a screening blood test (TSH and free T4) and palpate the thyroid for nodules or enlargement.

If bruising is a problem, may want to check a CBC (checking red blood cell and platelet counts).

Back to the spine, if the spine is structurally sound, then exercise within painfree limits may help. Aquatic therapy would be a good starting place.

Keep us posted on your progress.

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