Chronic back pain, have to pop/crack dozens of times a day



  • valadeasvvaladeas Posts: 2
    edited 08/17/2019 - 3:08 PM
    Hello all,

    I am yet another one with the same conditions. I signed up to write my story because I felt like this forum is the best consolidated for people like us and we should all help keep this forum active. I want to be detailed, so this is going to be a long one, so get your popcorn... :)

    Here is my story. Right about when I was 22 (fresh out of school), I decided to change my lifestyle by increasing my exercise level from 0 to 2.5 hours of Cardio and Resistance training a day while also starting a desk job sitting at my computer whenever I wasn’t exercising. I would run up a 20 story building 5 times in a row (elevator down), run outside, make new records in my running speed, lift 5 times a day.

    All that went great for my lifestyle plan, except that little by little I started developing lower back pain, initially right side, then across my lower back. Then I discovered cracking in the middle of my stretch. I never forget the first time I cracked my lower back. It scared me but also made me felt really amazing. Then over time the cracking increased, and so did my visits to Physiotherapists, Osteopathy Specialists, GP, Chrio. Chiro only made me worse by introducing cracking to my neck. I felt so terrible that my entire right side froze immediately after Chiro and I had to sleep on the floor for like two days to feel better. After that, I was cracking my lower back and my neck. Then thoracic, hip, sternum (yet I crack my sternum), the shoulder you name it.

    My chest and sternum pain is usually the most unbearable one when it flares up (it has a burning sensation around the sternum), then it’s rhomboid. When my rhomboids are tight, it even interferes with my breathing(sleeping on a massage ball usually helps). Also, my upper back pain usually switched from one side to another with either my left side being super tight or my right side. As for my lower back, I am so used to it. Just crack it 50 times a day and live with the pain. The situation got progressively worse where every year I discovered a new area of pain, and then cracking and then getting used to that area is painful. This eventually hit my head last year. One day I felt a sharp pain going to my head from behind my ear and I had crazy pain in my head and ear (something was pinching the nerve). Then the cracking started at my jaw which is really annoying when I chew. It eventually got better after 6 months and now like everything else comes and goes. And I do get pain around my face muscles if itis one of those fats where I am really right around my neck. It’s hard for me to move my eyebrows down and I have a headache as well.I have had a history of anxiety related to this pain and unrelated to this pain as well, but I made my peace with it now. I have learned that I can battle this pain for the rest of my life and I will be fine.

    I tried sleeping on the floor, Yoga, no lifting, a lot of lifting, only cardio, no cardio, no activity at all, resting, not sitting as often (standing desk). I had good days and bad days with all of them. I also tried to stop cracking. That only worked for like a couple of weeks and I discovered I can only decide and succeed in NOT CRACKING if I am already feeling a bit better. Normally, the thought of not cracking (as I am sure you all know) is a joke! After about 5 years, I am not focused on this back pain all the time. I sometimes just give up trying to make it better. Sometimes like now, I decide to pick up again and try a few things. In terms of diagnosis, I have had pretty much what others mentioned. Slipping Rib Syndrome (Sometimes when I wake up, I can move my rib to its right place and it’s audible), Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, Pelvic tilt, etc.

    Over the years, and with the support of my loving partner who is also a Personal Training Specialist, this is what i have come to.
    Disclaimer: This is my personal experience and theories and I am nowhere close to someone who can advise or diagnose.

    I was the one who started my back pain by putting a lot of strain on it without giving it enough rest. That caused my muscles to tighten. Tight muscles put pressure on joints. You change the mechanics by cracking and momentarily getting a relief. But if the muscle is tight or needs to be tight, it will go back again. This is why over the years I have realized that the cracking is not the problem. The problem is why the muscles are tight. This might sound very simple for many of you guys, but it took me a while to discover. For example, when I decided not to crack and I was successful for two weeks, it was because at that time and for some reason, my muscles weren’t tight, hence reducing the urge to crack. When my mid-back muscles are tight, I DO HAVE Slipping Rib Syndrome. When they aren’t tight, I don't.

    What I have also realized in my body is that cracking is one of the things that makes your muscles tight (think about all the strain you put on it). So usually I am in this cycle that my muscle is tight, then I crack it, then it stays tight, then more cracking then...Sitting also makes my lower back very tight which eventually takes my whole back all the way up to the neck. Lifting also (obviously) makes my muscles tight, even tightness in my legs contribute to my urge to crack my lower back which then contributes to the rest of cracking.

    But I know for sure that not lifting at all also isn’t helpful for me since it makes my joint lazy and hypermobile, WHICH muscles tighten to protect it, WHICH leads to more cracking. I even think bad sleeping habits and matters is the cause of my stiffness in the morning, which guess what, I crack to address it. I also know that after 5 years, my nervous system has gotten really good at experiencing pain and experienced pain for almost anything and my muscles EASILY react and tighten to anything. For example, pain from lifting is not the same as when I didn’t have these issues. Right now when I lift, my muscles hurt and tighten like I crashed my car into a tree and broke my spine! Also, anxiety and stress for sure are one of the biggest cause.

    What I have come to (again very personal and I can be 100% wrong) is that my muscles and nervous system have gotten really good at experiencing pain and getting tight, so somehow I have to live my day that stops them from doing that. Light exercise and stability work that doesn’t make your muscles too sore(again sore in my life means terrible tightness), avoiding stress and anxiety, not sitting too much, taking frequent walks, yoga, sleeping on the matt to relax, telling your nervous system that things are ok in the back and relax, All that....

    Keeping this balance is obviously hard for me. I go to the office and something is broken. I get stress and I sit for hours trying to fix it ... bam next day comes extremely tight muscles and cracking. I go to the gym and get excited and overwork my muscles and bam ... I pass out without consciously thinking about my sleeping position and bam ...

    Sorry for a ridiculously long message. I really want this forum to win!
  • I have been dealing with multiple issues which I think are mostly stemming from my back since the beginning of the year. I am 45 and have been in good health and weight most of my life.  I am hyper mobile and have had troubles with my hands since my late teens.  Developed carpal tunnel and just dealt with it and changed the way I do things. In my 30’s I twisted my ankle badly and it healed ok but it is my bad ankle, so if things are going to happen it is alway that one.  Other than hands, things have been ok.  

    Fast forward to my 40’s.  Hands still bad and also arthritis in fingertips.   Hurt my same bad foot, this time on the side by they little toe, foot just gave out and rolled over. Pretty sure I broke a bone but it healed. Then a year after my feet  started hurting in the mornings.  Waking up with sausage fingers and walking like penguin.  

    I’m 45 now and finally went to the podiatrist and he gave me orthotics.  Bad right foot is flat and a nagging swelling of the muscle by my arch.  Then since the beginning of this year I have had pain in my left elbow, which travelled up to my shoulder. Muscle spasms and pain in shoulder was miserable.  I had my arm dry needled by PT and Osteopath seemed to fix my shoulder.  PT figured it was T4 causing all my hand problems and also T10.  Pelvis is tilted and uneven, so forward to left and up on right.  Back was super sore for awhile and using a foam roller every night in order to get a good sleep.  Figured out that if I don’t sleep on my sides that my hands were ok in the mornings, only took 20 plus years to figure that one out. 

    Next pain in right elbow and sore t10, left ankle and hip, right foot is turning out and right knee is sore, right wrist and left pointer finger.   Back it still sore and also having a tight band around chest, nerve pain in fingertips, tingling upper lip, upper shoulders and back and feeling like my ribs are digging into my stomach when I sit too much.  Also had a couple weeks of frightening dizzy spells which put me in bed for the rest of the day.  Now tight hamstrings and snapping on left side when I walk.  I have been foam rolling every night and sometimes in the morning to crack my t4 and t10’and above to get relief.  It helps with my elbow pain.  My neck has been acting up too and it feels like it needs to crack and also my right shoulder.  I have been off work since end of April and I am feeling pressure to get back to work. 

    Avalanche of symptoms this year has made me question is it my age, perimenopause,  new iud with progesterone or the horrible flu that I came down with on Christmas Eve that could have precipitated things.  I also started taking steroid nasal sprays this last year to finally get rid of chronic sinus infections.  Who knows what got this ball rolling.

    So now I’m going to massage therapy, PT and seeing an osteopath.  I am much better if I don’t sit and do anything with my hands out in front of me, driving is uncomfortable but at least bearable now.  However, I can’t afford to get all this therapy!

    All of this has led to searching like yourselves and I have come across this post and am like, these are my people.  I have also done a lot of reading on Ehlera Danlos syndrome and am thinking of bringing it up to my dr for my next appt.  Has anyone else looked into this?  Still looking for answers and waiting for the next body part to start hurting.

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  • Hello. I am 32 years old. I am experiencing most of the symptoms that all of you are. I'm currently going to neurologist for pain management. I have been to orthopedic surgeon and a chiropractor. I have had an EEG and two EMG tests done. I have been told so far that I have degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and a spot of arthritis in my neck,(which is where most of my pain is, but I have only had am MRI done on my lumbar and thoracic.), Carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and nerve damage to both legs. I have multiple bulging discs and a few slipped in my back. I also have two pinched nerves in my back. I am glad that I ran into this forum. I have been searching for something online because they told me I was too young for surgery that I'm desperately begging for!!! Everyone I see says that my condition doesn't look serious except for my neurologist , who recommended me to see a surgeon. He said he didn't see it as a medical emergency. I asked him how many patients he had in his room that we're worse off or better than me. his answer was I wouldn't recommend you to see a surgeon if your back was normal. I am almost too exhausted to try and continue to find the right option for myself because of the pain. I have a toddler who I would love to be able to play with and a lot of life goals that I feel like I am never going to be able to achieve. I am not really sure where to go from here.I work a retail job that requires heavy lifting and they can fire me at any point in time if I am not able to do the tasks that are put in front of me. Basically I am killing myself trying to get my health insurance to figure out a solution that will fix me. I have the popping sensation all over my body but it's not intentional. I feel like if somebody dropped me from the sky out of a plane and I landed on my back that I would feel better. I hope that all of you get the answers that you need, I hope that you all feel better. Do any of you have tingling sensation s in any other extremities of your body? I  must add degenerative disc disease ran in my family, and unfortunately I also have dentures after many years of taking good care of my teeth. Along with TMJ. 

  • @nayfur I know what you mean about if you fell out of a plane and landed on your back you would feel better. I wish I could say I've found something that helps, but unfortunately for me it is getting worse. I'm only 31 and this started about 5 years ago for me. Currently going through another bout of what feels like either a subluxated rib at the back, or inflamed joint. I'm sleeping on the floor tonight and drugged up on opiods and muscle relaxers. My advice is to not give up. Eventually hopefully one of us at least will find something that helps and can share it on here. I've found its important to not focus on the pain or the sensation as it makes it worse. 

    I'm currently waiting to see a sports physician, and also trying to dead hang from a bar for 1 min every day to stretch the shoulder and decompress the spine. I'm also trying to stretch the shoulders more and do more back pulling exercises. I've had my genes tested as well as food intolerances, and it turns out I have some auto immune problems resulting to food allergies. This could be a part of the problem, so will be interesting to see if I can find relief with ruling out the reactive foods. 

    Does anyone else get the feeling like one side of the vertebrae gets d so you have to bend sideways to clunk it loose? 

  • I just read this thread and saw crackit mention using BPC-157 and TB-500 to try to heal the ligaments of the spine. I have similar problems but mostly in my cervical spine and have also been thinking about using these peptides. Has anyone had any luck with them?

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  • Hello, I am in from Northern Ohio and checking in. I am 36 and suffering for about a decade. I was very athletic up to 29 y/o and participated in lots of contact sports, barbell, and traditional lifting. I am still in moderately good shape, but feel like my spine is 100 years old. I am NOT hyper mobile, and lack normal flexibility. I have had and still have a high stress professional career. I have disc degradation in the L-spine (not the cracking area) and minor/medium overall spinal curvature abnormalities.

    I have the common symptom everyone here seams to have here, and few outside this group understand. I crack 50-100x a day on bad days. The tightness is nerve racking, painful, and uncomfortable and cracking is the only way to relieve it. When it’s really bad, the area becomes sore to palpation and at that point 800 mg Ibuprofen helps immensely. Sometimes it’s easy to crack other times I look like some sort of weirdo contortionist/extrocist trying to get it to pop any way I can. When it’s bad, I definitely also crack my hands much more, it’s like the tension travels right down my arms.

    I signed up with veritas just for this thread and I see many of you did the same. This is the most information I have found on this condition in one place by far! I hope we can find something that really helps, and I am definitely going to check out the subluxating rib theory. Like most of you, I have tried everything, and always get excited about what theory to try or the next PT device to buy. You have to love the human spirit, it never gives up.

    I have tried:

    X-rays, MRI’s, orthopedic surgeons, a spinal surgeon, chiropractors, dry needling, athletic deep massage therapy, physical therapy, the McKenzie method, rolling, standing desks, $1K chairs, postural work, sleep posture, mobility training, and much more! It is actually one of the reasons/motivations I am now enrolled as an M3 in Medical School.

    Some stuff works better than others and other stuff turns out downright pernicious, but I would be remiss to say I ever found “the answer”.

    Nice meeting all of you, I hope we can find the answer together!

  • Yes, @crackit

    I sometimes wake up feeling my right side muscle is half it’s size and as I bend one side to stretch it, my ribs go into its place one at a time!

    I also agree that trying some stuff is just BAD! while trying some other stuff is much better! 

    for example, holding my abs enraged at all time and making sure that I don’t extend my lower back definitely helps me most of the time!

    I am also trying a bunch of mobility work, but no definitive answer so far ... 

  • Has anyone tried amitriptyline (endep) or Orphenadrine (Norflex) for pain/inflammation/muscle spasms? 

    Has anyone had any luck with cortisone injections in the thoracic spine area? 

  • SchlitzSSchlitz Posts: 4
    edited 09/27/2019 - 8:45 AM

    Hey crackit....have had same issues as your describe after multiple compression fractures last year (6 total). Nothing works! One thing I have found to help take the "edge" off a bit is being on diclofenac. Twice a day pill. It is not a narcotic. Also as Valadeas has said, if I really focus on breathing through my abs/stomach and not my chest, it helps calm down my back a bit.

  • I’ve had similar issues for a couple of years. I’m unable to sit/ stand in the position for very long. I’ve tried heated pads, sleeping positions and even received 6 shots in my back, the shots only provided temporary relief. I feel like I always need to crack my back even though most of the time I’m unable to. I have minor  scoliosis . Going to visit another doctor soon ! 

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