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I have had back pain, and related body pain, for the 7-8 years. I have seen a number of doctors and specialists, and have not been able to find any remedy or even treatment that relieves my pain.

My pain is as follows,

  • constant mid to upper back pain (lower back generally fine)
  • sharp pains in my chest, hurts to apply pressure to my sternum (no shortness of breath)
  • pain is worst when sleeping – sleeping on my back is best, sleeping on stomach or side is impossible. This pain will last for the following day at least. I use some special pillows with moderate success.
  • sharp/shooting pains in my hips and knee that come and go (predominantly right side)

I have tried the following over the past few years,

  • seen several chiropractors, general practitioners, and a spinal surgeon for his opinion
  • several x-rays of back/chest (nothing conclusive)
  • several MRIs of back (nothing conclusive)
  • been prescribed some medications to manage pain (and seen a physiatrist), none have been effective
  • have ended up in ER once when hip pain prevented me from walking
  • have taken serious strides to work on posture
  • physical exercise (biking, running, weight training), including core strength workouts

About me,

  • I am a 28 year old male, 6' 2" tall, 200 lbs.
  • I work on a computer, however use a standing desk for the majority of the day (to combat the pain and work on posture, however it hasn't really helped over sitting).
  • I live in NYC, walk everywhere, and am fairly active (somewhat regular exercise, recreational sports).

I am asking,

  • what should I try next? I am open to any treatment or lifestyle change that will help. I am not interested in taking medication regularly.

I realize back pain causes and treatments are difficult to pinpoint, and everyone is different. I appreciate anyone that has any insight on where I can go from here!

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For now, I can provide only a very limited answer:

The pain in your chest possibly arises from the joints between the sternum and the cartilages of the ribs. The condition is called costochondritis. There are no blood or imaging tests to confirm it, so a doctor can make diagnosis solely from a physical examination.

You've said you can lie on the back. By lying on the side or stomach, you are applying more pressure to the rib cage and this slightly changes the angles between the sternum and ribs and causes pain, which further speaks for my hypothesis about costochondritis.

I by no means can say if this is what you really have but if you do, try to avoid everything what affects the movements in the joints between the sternum and ribs: running, biking and swimming (arm swinging), twisting your upper body, weight lifting, carrying or lifting heavy objects, carrying a backpack and sleeping positions that cause you pain.

Walking should be fine. For chest pain, sitting might be better than standing.

  • Thank you so much for sharing. Costochondritis does sound like what I may be experiencing specifically for the chest pain, I'll consult with my primary doctor on that one. – Benjamin Smith Apr 25 '16 at 20:39

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