Edited April 2014 from letter dated November 2009
First of all, let me thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I obtained your name from a coworker of my wife’s. He spoke quite highly of you when I asked him for references of doctors or physiotherapists that might be able to help me with a chronic pain issue. I would like to take a few moments to share a bit of my story in hopes that you can help me out. As I live two hours away, becoming a patient isn’t the most convenient, so I’m hoping there might be a colleague you could recommend to me in my city.
I’ll try to be brief. For seven and a half years now I’ve been suffering from a mystery illness that showed up 2 days before my 30th birthday. Mostly I just felt exhausted all the time. Even after the slightest physical activity such as beer league slow pitch, my fatigue would flare up. There were other symptoms as well including various aches and pains that came and went and an odd sensation in my throat when tired. Eventually I was relegated to couch potato/desk jockey status for the most part and just did less and less. I slowly began to feel better and could do more but never felt anywhere near 100% recovered. After years of tests and various doctors a series of events led to my diagnosis with Pulmonary Sarcoidosis in late summer of 2008. There’s a lot more to this story but no need to ramble unless warranted at a later time.
While the above was going on, I started experiencing additional symptoms that weren’t readily attributable to the Sarcoidosis. One of the most difficult is an acute pain deep in my upper back, kind of under the right shoulder blade to the right of my spine. This pain flares up when I sit in an upright position such as working at a table or desk or most noticeably when driving a car. After about 20 minutes in an upright position the pain in this spot becomes quite annoying and begins radiating across my back. So consider a two hour drive, halfway through that drive the pain will have my upper back and neck almost numb feeling and very tight and uncomfortable. I can “pull” a muscle by bending my head forward that stretches right to the source point of the discomfort. I will also feel a milder pain in the front of my chest pretty much directly “across” from the back pain. But when I lie down, recline, or stand up the pain is alleviated. So I’ve spent the past three plus years in those various positions as much as possible.
I have seen my doctor many times regarding this issue and was referred to physiotherapy and evaluation by another doctor. The physiotherapy which included a few exercises, some chiropractic manipulation, and deep needling (forget the technical name) did little to fix the problem. I also had several massage appointments but that too proved unhelpful. All of this felt good during the appointment as I was usually lying on a table, a position which on its own would dissipate the pain. But within 20 minutes of leaving the appointment and getting in my car or back to the office, the pain would return. The doctor wanted to put me on a regimen of prolotherapy, but I wasn’t comfortable with that idea so I never went ahead with treatments.
During these ongoing physio appointments I had an MRI performed on my upper back and neck. I have attached the MRI results for your perusal. Based on these results I was told by my doctor that with all the problems in the MRI appearing on the left side they were unlikely to be causing the pain on my right side. This was partially refuted by an Internist I saw afterwards though additional therapy or resolution was not provided.
I have not done anything in over a year or so now and am back to being angry enough that I’m ready to try and fix this once again. Chronic illness such as Sarcoidosis is none to fun, but I can adapt; it’s not the worst thing in the world to be given a good excuse to be lazy. But the pain when sitting upright really messes up one’s life. With a young family I really need to get this addressed if at all possible. Any ideas you may have and/or professionals you can refer me to would be most appreciated. And I’m more than happy to provide further details to the above. I could go on and on!
Picture by See page for author [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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