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severe back and sternum pain
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severe back and sternum pain

I noticed a dialogue on 5-07-04 from Chris OZ and another one  from grey grump on 5-10-04, regarding symptoms identical to what my wife has been going through for a long time.  We have the same frustration, as we have not found a cure for the problem.  The typical answer given by the docs is a general statement such as the one provided on the forum from 5-07-04.  We have been to the ER three times and to three specialists.  
The docs have attempted diagnosis and provided medications, but the pains continue.  
My wife has described it to me a pain that starts in the middle of her back and then wraps around her rib cage and into her sternum.  It has gradually worsened over the past couple of months.  It typically happens at 5:00 AM and will last for a couple of hours.  She often feels the initial onset then the "attack" occurs 30 minutes to an hour later.  The pain is so severe that she vomits, becomes weak and unable to bear weight and she passed from it about three weeks ago.  

My objective is to find out if any of the individuals who initially inquired on this forum found the reason for the pains and/or a cure for it.
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If you are interested in contacting individuals on the forum, this can be directed to the administration at ***@****.

GI causes of back pain can be caused by pancreatitis or an ulcer.  A CT scan along with pancreatic enzymes, as well as an upper GI series and/or upper endoscopy can be considered to evaluate for these causes.  If negative, I would also consider an abdominal ultrasound to look at the liver and gallbladder (although the CT scan can image these organs as well).  

If the tests remain negative, a HIDA scan with CCK stimulation can be considered to evaluate gallbladder ejection fraction.  If low, this can cause some of the symptoms.

These options can be discussed with your personal physician.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
kevinmd_
7 Comments
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If she has severe pain located on the right side (right upper quadrant) or in the upper middle of the abdomen (epigastric) area, she probably ishaving a gallbladder attack. If it gets worse during deep intake of breath, radiates to back or below the right shoulder blade, is worse after eating or drinking fatty foods or fluids, has fever, nausea and vomiting, heartburn, chills and shaking and chest pain under the breastbone, have doc get blood chem 20, and also check for levels for Lipase, Amylase, and have a urine test.

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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for the advice.  My husband posted the question and now I am responding.

I had my gallbaldder removed which was full of stones 10 years ago and this severe pain began about 5 years ago.  It used to only happen once every 5 or 6 months.  Now the pain happens every few weeks.  I had a HIDA scan which was abnorbal meaning best is a 1 and worst is a 12 and I scored a 9.  He said I have a dilated bile duct but there is not much that can be done besides an ERCP which I risky and could cause severe pancreatitis.  I still am not totally convinced this is what causes the pain.  Could something in my large or small intestine cause severe back pain like a blockage or a stone?  Should I suggest the doctor do a test to test this?  What test checks the intestines?  The doc wants to do a colonoscopy to check for Crohns Diesase but that is all he has suggested...
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We feel your pain....and very interested in your questions. My  husband is experiencing the exact sypmptoms as you even at the same time of day.  He recently suffered is third attack (this year) of this kind.  The first one was in January and showed flu like sypmptoms so after a day in bed with a hot water bottle and lots of rest and with no further flare ups he wrote it off to that.  

In March it was so severe that I rushed him to the ER, they shot him up with pain meds, did a cat scan and diagnosed that it must have been kidney stones which may have passed...let them know when they passed and they never did again no further flare ups.  

More recent we were on vacation, he woke early in the a.m (around 3) with severe pain...vomitting started by 5 and we were in the ER by 8:30.  They gave him pain meds which stopped the pain but did an ultrasound which showed "questionable" gall stones.  They prescribed a daily pain and nausea med with heavy duty meds to follow if pain did not subside. This time he had two more attacks within a weeks time--not nearly as severe but enough that we cancelled the rest of vacation to get back.  Our family doctor has ordered a HIDA scan for him going with the gallstone theory.

Have you had any success with further diagnosis?  If you don't mind me asking have you ever experienced bowel problems?
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I am experiencing similar pain but I don't think I can help you out. Mine is right under the ribs, mid upper back, my sides, and groin. ITS BAD AND ALL THE TIME. I been vomiting, I lost 55lbs. I feel so week and bruised you can't even touch me. Sometimes I stop urinating.(hospitalized for that once for days)  It's been going on for months, I had every test known done. I even traveled to the third top hospital in the United States or so they say.. and they are trying to help me. I keep commuting to there constantly and they don't know whats wrong with me. It's so frustrating! I wish I could help you out. The best tests to get done is the gall bladder test where they shoot the dye and an IVP to look for hidden kidney stones because they make you feel sick too. Thats all the advice I can offer from doctor hopping.
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I have yet to get a diagnosis....  I have another test on Aug 14.  Its a colonoscopy.  The attacks are more frequent now and are just like a gallbaldder attack but I don't have a gallbladder.  I experience a severe attack about once every 7 days now.

And to answer your question...yes I have bowel problems and I am convinced that is what is causing the attacks.

The HIDA scan is great.  It did determinne I have a dilated bile duct and determined that it takes a long long time to filter through.  

Let me know if find something out.  ***@****
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I have severe sternum pain that also radiates to my right clavicle. Strange shock like pains at night up and through my face. No vomiting, but I have no appetite and I have a headache. Today my doctor tested for Low Magnesium levels because he said that this could possibly be a cause. The pains in my face are more than likely TMJ and also be a result of the tissue around the nerve being swollen and putting pressure. After researching Low Magnesium symptoms, I see that musleskelital pain is a symptom. We'll have the results in a couple of days. A lot of things can cause low magnesium and the symptoms are similar to the sternum, upper back & rib pain.
I'll let you know the results. Annamarie
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I have been getting this aching pain in my upper back which radiates around my rib cage and into my sternum. It is unlike any pain I have experienced in that it is not a sharp shooting pain but more a very bad ache that often feels 'hot' inside.

It also feels very 'deep' but does not hurt to press and gives me no feelings of nausea etc.

I have had an X Ray but nothing shows up and I am really stumped.

Pain is at its worst during the night and I am finding it hard to get a good night's sleep.
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A related discussion, Severe Back Pain was started.
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