8 months ago, I injured my back while weight lifting in the gym at college. I'm only 20 years old and I am generally very active. I went to the chiropractor about a week after my back injury and he said that I pulled multiple ribs out of place, damaged some nerves, and that I had a bulging disc very close to herniation. I went to the chiropractor 16 times total within 4 months and received traction each time. He also put my ribs back into place each time because they kept going out. The ribs are in the shoulder blade region mainly on the left side. It's been 8 months since the injury and I am still in major pain. My disc is not herniated, but my chiropractor suspects I am experiencing both cervical and thoracic spinal stenosis as well as a continuous bulging disc. I get numbness in my upper back as well as pain and numbness in my arms and fingers. Sometimes the pain is so bad that I feel nauseous and dizzy with small movements. This is very frustrating because it interferes with my ability to run and do Zumba which are my biggest hobbies. My insurance no longer covers chiropractor appointments for this year so I started going to the emergency room for pain killers. The ER did X Rays of both my cervical and thoracic regions, but they didn't see anything wrong. Should I have an MRI done to see if there is something that needs further treatment? I hate to have this problem at such a young age. Please help!
Spinal stenosis isn't something that is generally seen in 20 year olds. I'd start with seeing your primary, and getting a referral to a spine specialist. If you don't have a primary, maybe the ER can refer you to one. Make sure you get a copy of the X-rays to take with you.
Hope you feel better, and let us know what you find out, I'm curious.
I went to the doctor to get a referral to a spine specialist, and they suggested that I try physical therapy first. I have gone 4 times so far, and it is going well! The physical therapist said that besides a bulging disc I'm extremely hypermobile and weak in the neck with a very stiff thoracic region. She said the arm pain was definitely being caused by the lowest of my cervical discs, rather than a thoracic disc. She gave me some thoracic stretches to do as well as some strengthening exercises for increasing upper back mobility, so that there isn't so much strain on my neck. These exercises actually helped reduce my bulging disc pain as well as stiffness. I'm still not able to run or lift overhead weights, but I suspect I will probably never lift over my head again, just to be safe. She is gradually helping me be able to run again without major pain. Other treatment she has been doing include electrotherapy, an arm bike, and exercises with a thoracic spine foam roller. I'm glad the doctor referred me to a physical therapist before a spine specialist, because it seems to be working!
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