Case of Mistaken Thoracic Pathology?

My story began two years ago, when I awoke from an ordinary night's sleep with a "heavy" feeling on my side, July 2009.

I had had gallbladder surgery 4 months prior and it was a big, diseased gallbladder that had come out. It has pushed my entire right chest out; that is how bad it was.

I went back to the surgeon who said that it "wasn't him". Went to my GP and he declared that the spot which was most sensitive (around my scars) had "nothing" there to cause pain.

I have health anxiety, so nobody knowing nothing drove me to the point of a nervous breakdown in the space of a couple of months. Meanwhile, my side was aching and had that "heavy" feeling.

In Nov 2009, went to a neurologist who did a prickly test on my right side and noticed the nerves jumped when he ran a pin across it. He declared that I had a mid-back disc herniation, and that it was rare. An MRI confirmed it. I had a T/7-8 disc protruding to the left and no other things wrong with my spine: no disc compression, clear appearance of the neural foramina, good cord caliber and a "normal" signal. My disc protrusion was not touching the spinal cord.

This set me off into the world of rare and horrible back problems. I was so anxious and now depressed that my entire back spasmed and I developed enraged nerves around my intercostal area. My entire abdomen was aflame. No pain pill could touch it. There was a horrible pressure on my chest and around my right side.

I was treated by one chiropractor who gave me exercises to do, but also warned me that I would probably never be the "same" or "100%" again.

To really shorten this, I'm going to say that mid-back disc herniations are rare; that they are symptomatic even rarer. That they never seem to heal, even rarer.

I eventually read Dr. Sarno and bought Adam's book and took some TMS classes.

What started not to make sense was the disc pathology. It was to the left and the symptoms to the right.

I eventually restarted all activity and am now jogging, riding my bike and lifting weights. The back muscles all calmed down with the help of knowledge therapy and returning to activity.

However, the side problem remains, so this isn't a Hollywood ending. Except that I went back to consider some of the obvious: that perhaps the scar tissue, which is lumpy and still sensitive, is putting traction on the nerves in my rectus abdominis muscles.

This situation can happen whether or not you have surgery, and according to what I've read, and it's been a lot,  that undiagnosed abdominal pain often is caused by a condition called abdominal cutaneous nerve entrapment (ACNES).

If you have had an MRI that shows a thoracic disc protrusion and you can't remember how you got it, or the "symptoms" came on way after the fall or accident, consider two things. One that it is a knowledge based problem, or that you could have some type of nerve involvement or it could be a combination of both, since we now know that pain can be learned, and even a short period of acute pain can cause biochemical changes.

I am no doctor, of course, but I do know now thanks to this website and knowledge therapy, that 15% of the population at random has a mid-back disc protrusion. If you have symptoms that don't fit the pathology of your MRI, or that have lingered long past a normal "healing" time, consider the above. I'm wondering if most mid-back herniations that are not the result of horrible trauma may involve nerve type of entrapments?

But always see your doctor, and if your doctor won't listen to you, find another.

I'm exploring my scar area, and it it proves out that it cannot be responsible for my ongoing symptoms, then I will assume that my mind has enlivened the entire thing, and work from there. - Richard



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