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Date of last update: 10/01/2017.

Forum Name: Spinal problems and back pain

Question: Severe nerve root damage and rib cage slipping forward

 smilesonly - Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:57 pm


I have had problems with degenerative discs since my early 20's (am now 53) some days better then others. I lost 150 pounds about 5 years ago and the degeneration stopped. It did not get better but it stopped. Then a few months ago I started getting a burning (on top of pain that is normally in my lower back, although the degeneration had stopped I still experienced pain) right in the very low back. I went to see a doctor at a walk in clinic (mine was on holidays) and told him that the pain was not only there but there was a burning now and pain in both my leg joints where it joins the hip. The left leg was much worse then the right. He said it sounded like arthritis and sent me for xrays of my hips and sacral ileac areas. It came back as normal. He was quite surprised so sent me for xrays in my lumbar area and this time it came back as severe degeneration of L5-S1 disc with severe nerve root damage. He suggested I get in touch with my doctor which I did. She told me to not do anything at all that involved any twisting, any bending at the waist.. nothing. She sent me to a physiotherapist that she uses and that I have seen in the past. We had talked about doing Prolotherapy previously for my back. I had had that done about 15 years before with success.

I went and saw the Physiotherapist who when he checked my back asked me if I had problems anywhere else. I told him that by this time I had been waking up for the last few weeks with really really bad headaches and pain in my shoulder blade area leading up to my head. I thought it was my pillow and got an ergonomically correct one but there had been no relief. I told him it was much worse if I ended up sleeping on my back as the pain would wake me up. He said he asked because it looked like my right rib cage had slipped forward. He asked about xrays and I told him I had had lumbar ones done and the results. He told me I needed to go back to my doctor and have her send me for total back xrays so that he can see why it is like that.

So now I have an appointment but not for a few more days now. The pain in my shoulder blades is so much worse then it was a week ago when i saw the Physiotherapist. I have a portable TENS machine that I manage to hook up on my upper back and that gives me a little relief later in the day but when I try to do it first thing in the morning, the area is so painful it actually sends spasms along my upper back.

I have 2 questions.. what is your feedback on Prolotherapy? Although I had it done as I mentioned in the past with success, I didn't have nerve root damage before. And secondly if my rib cage has moved forward what would have caused that and what can I do for it to tide me over till I go see my doctor and then wait to go for xrays etc.

Thank you for listening and for your time.

 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:11 pm

User avatar Hello,
The ribs would be turned forward from a twist in the spine. I would expect to see a scoliotic spine if the the rib cage was more prominent on one side.

Regarding prolotherapy, I have not used it in my practice but have read of some success cases but these were in the peripheral joints and not in the back.
Since the problem is deep within the spine, it would be difficult to reach the disc or tissue surrounding it. Most spinal injections are done under flouroscope and therefore spinal prolotherapy should not be done outside an interventional radiologist's scope.

Take care.
 smilesonly - Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:38 am

Thank you very much. I have seen the Naturapath Physician who did a very thorough examination. He said I had the worse back and area that he had ever seen. I start my first injection on Tuesday. This gets done right in his office but I certainly will bring up you rpoint that if he is going to go that far down how is he going to get there without xrays etc.Thank you

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