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Lumps on my spine?
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Lumps on my spine?

Hi.. I am a 27 year old female, and last night, I noticed these lumps on my spine.  They seem to be right over my spine, one is around where my bra strap hits, the other is a few inches lower.  They are painless (well the skin is a bit sore from where my husband and I have been pushing on them for the past 24 hours), and I don't feel them when I am standing up or doing an activity.  I was just rubbing my back before going to bed and noticed one, and have been freaking out since.  I have a lipoma on my right lower back (not on my spine) that I had my doctor feel three years ago.  She sent me to a general surgeon just to get a second opinion.  The GS said it felt very benign, and that he didn't feel that anything needed to be done about it (no pain with that lipoma at all.. and as far as I can tell, it hasn't grown or anything).  

As far as other symptoms, the past few weeks, I have had some joint pain (nothing severe), and I am wondering if I have some thyroid issues because my sister was diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroiditis a few years ago.  The joints that are sore every now and then are my shoulders and wrists.  I have also had some off and on pain in my right hip joint that seemed to start after having my daughter almost 2 years ago.  Other than that, I don't guess I have anything else to report.. no fevers, no chills, I'm not overly tired (at least not most of the time.. I am a stay at home mom, so my daughter can wear me out sometimes!), definitely no weight loss (I have actually been on weightwatchers for a year and have seen very little weight change in the past few months- I blamed it on the holidays!)

So the only other important piece to this puzzle is that I don't have health insurance.  I was up all night last night crying about the fact that I want to go to the doctor, but I am afraid that if I go and am diagnosed with something horrible that we wouldn't be able to afford treatment.

Any help, advise, encouragement, etc would be GREATLY appreciated!

Thanks so much,
Brittany
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Avatar_f_tn
Welcome to the Back and Neck Community.  Members are here to provide assistance and support to individuals experiencing symptoms related to possible abnormal conditions of the cervical and/or lumbar spine.  Advice given is non-professional and is primarily based on personal experiences.  Please post on the Expert Forum if additional medical advice is needed and one of the medical doctors will assist you as appropriate.

First thing, take a few deep breaths and relax.  I can understand your fears and concerns, especially with no medical insurance.  However, until you have more definite information, guessing at "unknowns" only increases your anxiety.  
You just noticed these "lumps" recently when you massaged your back but they are not evident when you are standing or doing any activity.  That would point to some sort of soft tissue problem (you can feel it when lying down, but not when you are up). Are the lumps soft or hard?  Do they appear to move with your touch?  It is difficult to assess the origin/nature of new symptoms without additional information,
You do have other concerns including possible thyroid disease,  Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an auto-immune disease in which anti-bodies in your blood system are attacking the  thyroid resulting in symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid).   These can include weight gain, fatigue, depression etc.  It is diagnosed with a blood test and is treated with replacement of thyroid hormone with oral medications.  It is not a life-threatening disease, although without treatment can interfere with your active lifestyle in caring for your family.
The joint pain can be related to many different causes including other changes in your hormones.  Have you noticed any connection of the joint pain with your menstrual cycle?  It can also be related to arthritis, viral infections and numerous other problems.
The only way to determine definitively what is occurring in your situation is to have a medical clinical exam and have appropriate blood tests and other diagnostic tests done as determined by the physician.
Do you have access to a low-cost walk-in clinic?  If you were going to school, you might be able to access healthcare through the student health program.  Many cities have public health departments where you can receive low cost health examinations (usually from a nurse practitioner) and be referred to the appropriate medical provider for treatment.
If it has been a period of time since any medical exam/physical exam, I would encourage you to try and investigate any or all of the above options.  Your daughter will probably be needing immunizations in the future and arrangements for these can also be made through the clinics.
If your lack of insurance is due to a job loss, I can understand your frustration given the current state of the economy.  We are all hoping the situation improves before more people are affected.
Do your best to obtain a medical exam and try not to let the "what-ifs" frighten you.  Chances are it is not something life-threatening.
Keep us posted on your progress and if you have any additional questions or concerns.
Best wishes -----.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you so much for your prompt reply!

My husband is a full time student (and works a part time job) so neither of us have health insurance.. and haven't since my 6 week check up after having my daughter (in 2007).  So we will be going tomorrow morning to get that fixed.. either through the school my husband attends, or we will just have to pay the price for individual insurance.  We have individual insurance for my daughter, so she is covered.

The lumps do move.. they are similar to the lipoma I had previously diagnosed.  I guess it is just freaking me out because they are over my spine.. that just sounds dangerous.  They aren't super hard, again, they kinda feel like the lipoma.  I can tell they are not attached to my spine.. or bone of any kind.. so I agree that they are in soft tissue.  I can't hardly feel them at all by touch unless I am bending over, arching my back.  I don't really know how long they have been there since they were painless when I found them... I guess they could have been there for a long time..  How fast can lipomas grow (if that is what this is..)?  If it were something life threatening, would I be in pain?  I have never had back problems or pain, so this is all new to me.  I wish I could feel someone elses spine/back to see if I am just freaking out over nothing... my husband's back is so different than mine.. lots of muscle covers his spine, so I can't feel is spine at all.

So I guess I will just have to try to calm myself down until I am able to get to the doctor... are there any symptoms I should be on the lookout for that would indicate something horrible is wrong?
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Avatar_f_tn
Based on your responses to my questions, I am more inclined to believe these lumps are soft tissue problems.  Whether they are lipomas or not can be determined only by a doctor's exam and possible needle biopsy.
I doubt that you have any significant spinal issues at this time. You are quite young and absent any trauma, I would not anticipate any major disc degenerative disease or other spinal conditions.  If you were to develop low back pain, changes in sensation such as numbness or tingling and/or weakness of your extremities,  disc problems and possible nerve involvement might be suspected.  I don't think you need to stress over that scenario!
Hopefully the student health program will assist you.
Good luck and post back with your results ----
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Avatar_n_tn
Well, I went to see if I could get insurance through my state, but we make too much money.. by their standards.  (For a family of 3, they said we would have to make $500 a month before taxes for me to qualify!)  I also researched the insurance associated with my husband's university, but it just doesn't compare to the individual insurance plans I have seen.  So now I am back at square one.. I am going to apply for insurance online tonight, but I am afraid it will take forever to process.  I was really hoping to see a doctor this week.  I don't think this can wait.. I have been a nervous/depressed wreck about this!  (And I am not usually a cryer!)

And now that I know these things are there, I feel them every time I lean back in a chair.. not necessarily pain, but I just feel them.. like I am leaning back on something bumpy.  They aren't very big.. at least not compared to the lipoma, but I guess I can feel them because they are right over my spine.  If I can move them around, that pretty much means they aren't growing ON my spine.. right?  I am just so new to this back problem thing...

Another question.. how fast do lipoma's grow.. or multiply?  And can this be some sort of fluid build up?  If so, are there any symptoms that would accompany that?

I feel a little crazy about all of this.. I keep going over every ache and pain in my body wondering if it could be related/caused by these things.  I have never wanted to go to a doctor more in my life!  (Even though I am scared of what I could find out.)

Thank you for answering my questions until I can get into the doctor's office!  I appreciate it more than you know!
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm sorry you weren't able to get good insurance through your  husband;s university. It really isn't necessary to obtain a major medical plan right away -- just something that allows you to get a physical exam from a medical doctor.  If these are fatty lipomas (as I suspect they might be), they are benign and not usually removed unless they are causing pain/discomfort.  The fact that you have already been diagnosed with a previous lipoma should reassure you.
You can always look for a more comprehensive health plan later.  To ease your anxiety it would be helpful to get an exam relatively soon.  It will make you rest much easier,
Lipomas are usually slow growing and can be present under the skin for a period of time before you notice them.  The fact that they move when you touch them with your fingers is significant.  Other forms of "lumps" that could be more suspect usually are not moveable and can be very painful.  You are at low risk for anything and until they can be definitively examined and diagnosed, you may be increasing your anxiety without sufficient reason.  Try and relax and all good things will follow!
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