2 Years of Back Pain With no Real Progress

Hello all,

I've had chronic low back pain on the right side for two years, now.

I've seen 8 doctors (osteopaths, orthopedic surgeon, physiatrist, rheumatologist, musculoskeletal radiologist, etc.), multiple physical therapists, had two MRI's, Xrays, physical examinations, etc.
My doctors can't agree completely, but it's looking like a multi-faceted issue, but the main problem is that I don't heal. I've tried prolotherapy, which has so far only increased my symptoms (not changed them).

I'm starting to lose any hope as I'm running out of treatment options. I've seen a rheumatologists and had two rounds of blood work that all came back negative, except for being positive for HLA-B27, but I got a hip xray, and everything was normal.

Has anyone else experience a lack of a clear diagnosis and treatment? I just don't even know what I'm really suffering from and therefore have no idea how to treat it. PT has either made me stay the same or get worse for the most part.

Any insight would be much appreciated.



  • Travis_Brown - I'm sure you are aware that several conditions are associated with positive HLA-B27, but I'm also sure that you are  aware that being positive for HLA-B27 does not necessarily indicate that you will develop any of those those conditions. 

    Have you considered a second opinion from another rheumatologist?  Just an idea.....

    Feel free to private message me if you want to discuss more details.
  • Don't give up, some problems are a lot harder to diagnose than others, especially certain kinds of arthritis, it took 5 appointments to confirm that I had RA, rheumatologist have to run all kinds of test, put everything together to make a diagnosis, there are really no certain test for certain types of arthritis, the main thing is keep trying.

    Take care and keep us posted


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  • Thank you both for your comments.
    I am scheduling with another rheumatologist to see if they have any further insight.

    I was told that being HLA-B27 positive makes it more likely to have one of the diseases, but there's still a 98% chance I don't. That coupled with a normal hip xray made me hesitant to spend the money on an MRI of my hips. Maybe I'll end up doing that. We'll see what the new doctor thinks.

    Chip, can I ask where your pain manifested? I pretty much only have pain in my low back/SI joint. None of my other joints hurt, but maybe that's not uncommon for rheumatological conditions, and maybe, since I've injured that area, it won't heal due to a particular condition or disease that is yet undiagnosed.

    I'm only 33, and everyone keeps telling me I'm too young to have this problem. I have the problem, nonetheless.

  • Travis

    I have had multiple spine surgeries, some of my back and neck pain are associated with the arthritis, other joints are both hands and wrist and right knee, for now that seems to be it. It was explained to me that the blood test are only part of the equation, it took x-rays, ultrasound and an EMG for me to get the diagnosis, I was also positive for the blood markers also.

    Keep trying, somebody will find it, I know how frustrating it can be, I was told I had gout at first.

    Take care and keep us posted


  • I have multiple chronic inflammatory conditions.  One lifestyle change that I have made is to go to a low carbohydrate diet.  It has greatly helped improved my pain management (less pain) and managing other autoimmune syndromes.

    I am NOT on any formal diet, but cutting out high carb foods, sugars and foods with high fructose corn syrup.

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  • I'm going to see what other tests I can do.

    I already eat a pretty low-carb diet, but there may be other nutritional alterations I could try.

  • Travis

    There are some very good articles on Arthritis Health about anti inflammatory foods and some recipes also, just go to the top of your screen and click on it.


  • Thanks all for the replies.
    The increased inflammation and worsening of my symptoms has remained after the prolotherapy - even though it's been 8 weeks since I had it. From what I can find, that's quite unusual.
    The new rheumatologist doesn't believe I have anything other than a mechanical problem, but she's ordering an MRI to be sure.
    After that, if nothing shows up, I'll likely go the route of nerve ablation.

  • Travis, I am in a similar situation. I had a laminectomy on my left side. My back has never been the same since. I have seen 7 different doctors, several injections, radio frequency, pt, acupunture, I don't know what to do at this point. I don't have a straight answer as to why I'm still in pain. Getting another MRI and going to someone else (don't know yet) to see what they say. How frustrating, hang in there. 

  • I'm genuinely sorry to hear that.
    I really hope your new images show something useful.
    I definitely know how frustrating it is - I've had 2 back MRI's, 1 x-ray, 1 MRI of my pelvis, 1 x-ray of my legs and many, many examinations.
    It's just about enough to drive a person crazy.

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