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Undiagnosed flank pain and abdominal spasms

I have been living with chronic, debilitating pain for three years now without a diagnosis. Pain was mostly centralized in my left flank for over a year. I would experience frequent muscle cramps and spasms in my side, abdomen, and lower back. The pain and spasms are generally triggered by movement.

After a year and a half of dealing with this pain on my left side, the same symptoms began happening on the right side of my body while completely disappearing from my left. Since then, my pain has alternated between left and right. The pain is absolutely unbearable. Some days I cannot even walk without triggering intense flank spasms and abdominal cramps. The pain has even woken me up from my sleep on numerous occasions.

Some other symptoms that I frequently experience are night sweats, irritable bowel symptoms (such as the inability to have a solid bowel movement, loose "fluffy" stool, and also constipation), pain in the middle of my back, burning sensation between my shoulder blades, stuff neck, on and off sciatic nerve pain, dull ache in groin, and my newest symptom is a pulsing/throbbing pain in my lower right abdomen next to my belly button.

A history of my medical testing includes dozens of X-rays performed within the last three years. Orthopedist found no clear suggestion of a bulging or slipped disc to be present. Back when my pain was consistently on my left over the course of a year and a half I had three CT scans done. It was determined that I had kidney stones in my left kidney and that my pain was being caused when I was passing them, outside of that no abnormalities were found in my scans. I have seen two urologists since the discovery of these stones and was dismissed by both. They claimed my symptoms are not consistent with kidney stone pain. I pursued the help of a GI doctor and had some blood work ran. Due to my gastro-related issues and a high CRP count on my lab work, the GI felt it was possible that I had and IBD such as Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis. A colonoscopy was performed but no abnormalities were found. I pursued a urinary analysis to check for possible upper UTI or kidney infection and the results came back negative.

I am 26yrs old, 215lbs, and 6'0, but have been dealing with this condition since I was 23. I smoke about 1/3 a pack a day of menthol cigarettes, and have about 2-4 alcoholic beverages a night. I have had an ibuprofen abuse problem ever since high school to dull my sciatic nerve pain so I could play sports. For the last 7-8yrs I have taken upwards of 1,600mg of ibuprofen 4-7 days a week depending on the severity of my pain. Once I became of legal age to drink, I began consuming alcohol while still taking high amounts of ibuprofen. I feel I should mention my ibuprofen abuse in case it helps aid in a proper diagnosis.

This condition has completely invaded my life. I have been out of work on medical leave for over three months now. I am completely bed ridden some days, being unable to move without having intense and terrible flank spasms. It has put me in the ER three times in the last three years because the pain was so unbearable. I am unable to play sports, or do simple tasks like walk or run. Subtle movements like stepping in and out of the tub, getting in and out of the car, or even turning around to wipe my rear after using the restroom can all trigger excruciating muscle spasms in my flank, abdomen, and back. I sometimes even experience this pain while having sex. I've seen so many specialists and had so many tests ran without any conclusive findings to help with a diagnosis. It has completely taken over my life. Anyone have any ideas?
2 Responses
Avatar universal
"Abdominal migraine" variant, a clinical impression here.

http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/abdominal-migraines-children-adults
4851940 tn?1515698193
Flank pain with the night sweats, problems with bowel movement can all point to kidney stones.  Kidney stones can also produce what is called renal colic.  It depends on what type of kidney stone you have as to whether it shows up on xrays and CT scans.  A stone can be as small as a grain of sand, but can still cause lots of problems when it moves.

I would suggest that when you experience a bad phase of this pain accompanied by the night sweats and feeing unwell, that you take a urine specimen to be checked out.   You can purchase urine analysis dip sticks over the internet.  Other signs for urinary problems is going to urinate more than normal, cloudy urine, urine that smells strong.  A dark urine can indicate dehydration or blood.

Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids - this is  important for good health as well as dealing with any urinary problems.  2 litres a day is usually recommended, but more if you sweat a lot.

With taking lots of Ibuprofen, this may have caused damage to your guts.  If you are still taking Ibuprofen, I suggest that you stop taking them and any other anti-inflammatory drugs.  They can cause bleeding of the stomach as well as cause other problems.

Keep a food diary to record everything that you eat and drink to establish whether any of these things could be causing the stomach problem.  This will help you to find out which food/drink you should avoid.

Avoid all fried, highly spiced  processed and junk foods.  Avoid cakes, biscuits, sugary foods and fizzy drinks.  Eat more fresh fruit and veg, but as you are having tummy spasms avoid cabbage, sprouts as these can give you lots of wind.  Eat bland foods to allow your stomach to settle.
You may find eating natural yogurt helpful to encourage good bacteria in your gut.  

With the severe pains when you do certain movements, does appear to be muscular/skeletal related.  Have you had xrays on your spine, and hips.  If there is any degeneration in the spine, that can cause referred pain elsewhere.   Try the hot or cold packs to see if any help.  Having a bath with Epsom salts may help with to relax muscle spasm and also contains magnesium that is absorbed through the skin.  You would need to be in a large cupful of the salts into the bath water and some type of oil (I use a little coconut oil or baby oil), this is because Epsom Salts is very drying.

Have you been tested for Helicobacter Pylori?  This can cause severe tummy spasms.  A breath or stool test would show if you have that.  Blood tests for this are not reliable.

For your muscular/skeletal problem, ask your doctor to refer you for physiotherapy.  You may also benefit from massage.

The doctor can also prescribe different medications to reduce the pain and also sometimes antidepressants are also used for referred pain.  Keep off the anti-inflammatory drugs as they may be the cause of your gut problems.
Coconut oil is supposed to be a good anti-inflammatory and can be eaten, applied as a message, used in cooking etc.  Only buy the Virgin Coconut oil from a reputable supplier.  You can find more information on the benefits of coconut oil on the web.

I know you did say that no bulging or slipped disc was found, but were you ever told that you have any degenerative bone disease like osteoarthritis.  If so, that will explain the pains and spasms when you move and you not being able to turn to wipe after using the toilet.  The dull ache in the groin can indicate hip problems and a condition called meralgia paraesthetica.  You already mention that you suffer from a stiff neck and sciatica, which makes me think that you do have bone problems.  I presume that you did have blood tests to rule out any inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Take things slowly and pace yourself so that you do not overdo things or aggravate anything.  When you are not having acute spasms, do gentle exercises - when you see a physiotherapist they will be able to give you the type of exercises to do to firm up your core muscles and to help with mobility.

If you are having problems with getting in and out of the bath, you need to get some hand rails and perhaps a low step to help


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