Medical Specialty >> Orthopedics

Doctors Lounge - Orthopedics Answers

Back to Orthopedics Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/01/2017.

Forum Name: Spinal problems and back pain

Question: Severe chronic back pain with spasms/ no diagnosis

 Qu1nTeR - Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:06 am

I am a 21 year old male. I have been suffering with chronic back pain (severe burning pain) at the top of my spine, in between my shoulder blades, and slight neck pain for nearly 3 years( it came on gradually). There was never any known injury or trauma to the area or anywhere for that matter. I have had 3 MRI's, One of the cervical, one of the thorasic and one positional MRI of both with contrast. The MRI shows 3 degenerating discs in my neck (bulging but with no stenosis) but nothing abnormal in my back. The pain in my back is constantly present and is very severe almost all the time. The pain in my neck is nowhere near as severe as my upper back pain. I have lost weight, I am loseing sleep , and i hardly can manage to make it through work, let alone do chores around the house. I have seen about 5 doctors but not one of them could help me figure out what was going on. Most of the doctors acted like i was "making this up" or told me " there is no way you could be in this much pain". One of the doctors actually told me to " do arm circles". I have seen physical therapists, tried creams and patches, i have tried ice/heat Stim and heat, Ultrasound, trackton and most likely everything else. I am now seeing a chiropracter (3 times a week!) that realizes there is a problem, and understands my pain but has been unable to diagnose it. The chiropractor does manipulations on my spine and massages but the pain returns about 30 minutes after i leave. The chiropracter says i have severe muscle spasms and my back and neck muscles are extreamly tight. She tells me that " there is ovbiously something else going on here" and realizes this isnt just normal aches and pains. I also should note that the burning in my back starts right next to my spine and spreads outwards covering most of my upper back. The bones in that area feel sore aswell and i have a habbit of cracking my back which can be done just by leaning backwards or forwards. Everytime i do this my back makes a pop sound and the pain goes away for about 5 seconds. This is basicaly the only relief i can find and i have developed a nasty habit of constantly doing this. I am perscribed Amrex 15mg (2/day) and vicodin 5mg ( 1-2 every 4hr as needed).. i don't think i could survive daily life without this..

Does this sound firmiliar to anyone? Can any doctor give me a lead in the right direction? I have an appointment with a neurologist who is going to do something called an EMG. I am praying that someone can identify this problem so i can get proper relief

Suffering on the east coast
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:59 pm

User avatar Hello,
This is a difficult case since the pain has continued despite multiple treatment plans, diagnostic scans, etc.
My impression from your description is a problem at a costovertebral joint or small facet joints in the thoracic spine.
The muscle spasms are a good clue that some underlying tissue or structure is involved. Plus, since cracking the back provides some temporary relief, I think this is a small joint problem.
You may check with the pain management team. Sometimes they can precisely inject steroids into these joints.
Take care.
 Qu1nTeR - Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:54 am

Thank you for your time sir, your advice is greatly appreciated!!

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us