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  • Lower back discomfort

    I've been having on and off lower back discomfort for a while now - not pain, but an ache, that gets worse through the day. But the past two weeks it has gotten pretty steady, and feels like there is pressure on my lower back (the best way I could describe it was like carrying a backpack). I had a visit with my RT doctor earlier this week and described it to him, and he said it was not related to my RT, and that I probably needed to do some exercises to strengthen my abs and back (yes, I do have a beer belly) - but that if it get worse I should call my oncologist.

    Well, today I decided it was time - its not going away or getting better, actually getting worse. So, I called my oncologist and he worked me in at the end of the day for an examination. He told me that what I described does not really sound like a strain or other typical back problems. He said it could be a symptom of a relapse, but for me not assume the worse (boy, that's easier said than done). He also said that sometimes after RT, scar tissue builds up and that could potentially be a cause of the back discomfort - but then changed the subject when I asked what we could do if that was the cause. So, looks like tomorrow (assuming I can get scheduled and my insurance does not cause problems) I will be going in for a CT and bloodwork.

    I am trying not to freak out too much about the whole thing, but here I am up late looking for clues on the internet. I hope it is not a relapse, but if it is I think I know where that would take me. Maybe it is just normal back problems, or perhaps it is being caused by post-RT scar tissue. I did find sites that mention formation of scar tissue after RT, so that sounds possible - but no mention of what you would do about it, so that is a bit concerning as well.

    Anyway, it will be an anxious weekend.
    Right I/O 4/17/06, Seminoma Stage Ib
    RT (15 days) completed 6/1/06
    All clear as of 5/8/09

  • #2
    Sans:

    I know it very stressful, but hang in there. A relapse in the radiation field is extremely, extremely rare. Also if you were all clear in August, it seems unlikely that seminoma could grow fast enough to cause pain by October. I've had back issues most of my adult life due to degenerative disk disease, and the pain can be quite variable, from the pressure/ache you describe -especially as the day wears on- to sharp pain, muscle spasms and pain radiating into the arms/legs. So I would't be too concerned that an oncologist doesn't think it's typical back pain. What's typical?????

    But it is best to get it checked.

    Hopefully it's not TC related.
    Best wishes.
    Fish
    TC1
    Right I/O 4/22/1988
    RPLND 6/20/1988
    TC2
    Left I/O 9/17/2003
    Surveillance

    Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will; to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

    Comment


    • #3
      To be honest I don't think is anything serious... my boyfriend has had back pain even before TC and, he even got some back X-Rays and the Doc told him it was just ordinary back problems , you might even had it before and did not even notice, but it's natural that you are aware of every single symptom now, it's good that you are checking if everything is OK.. But don't worry; the chances of being a relapse are very very low............
      Keysi

      Fiance with Stage 1a classical seminoma, RT for 15 days
      Left I/O 3/1/06
      Firts follow up-Clear!!!

      Comment


      • #4
        Sans, i had similar pains a few months back. The pain i was having was coming from the left side of the groin area and radiating through the back. it felt like a muscle strain, a dull ache. very similar to what i felt on the other side that made me go to the doctor to begin with when i was diagnosed. so like you i assumed the worst. i called radiation, urology and was told highly unlikely in the field would something relapse. it didn't get any better after a couple of days do i callled my oncologist and she said lets scan just to be sure. it was nothing there!!! my urologist called me to find out results (yeah... he called me...one of a few docs that i really feel 100% confident in) and he said that i would probably have pains for awhile in that area. maybe for life since some nerves were cut during the I/O's. scar tissue would develop and could cause discomfort as well. this week i've had a pain similar in kidney region but it has subsided to nothing and guess what.....i thought the worst! like keysi says ..these aches have probably been there all along but now we notice them more. But that peace of mind is worth alot so get it checked out if need be!! best of luck!

        my thoughts and prayers,

        Brian
        diagnosed 01/15/2005 bi-lateral seminoma stage IIa,4cm lymph node, right I/O & partial left I/O mar/2005, 18 days of radiation, remaining left I/O- aug/2005, surveillance, Wife did IVF oct/2005, DAD OF BABY GIRL born 08-02-2006!!! testosterone implants May 2008

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the encouragement. It is good to hear of others that have had scares that have turned OK.

          I know that the odds are fairly slim that this is anything to be too worried about, but still needed to get it checked out as it was not going away. Just spoke with my oncologist's scheduling person, and I probably won't get everything cleared in time to get scheduled for a CT today, so looks to be Monday or maybe even Tuesday anyway. Backache and pressure feeling still there, but I have a plan in place and can relax a bit knowing that we are doing something and next week I will know more.

          One good thing is that as I am getting to know my oncologist better. I was off to a rocky start with him, mostly I think due to my not asking enough follow-up questions so I misunderstood some things. I am gaining confidence that he is very thorough, so I am in good hands if I ever need it (and hopefully this scare is not the time). My RT doctor told me that my oncologist was a bit of a pain to deal with - always asking for more information and was very nit-picky about details. It sounded like he did not mean it as a compliment towards my oncologist, but to me, that is just the kind of oncologist I want working for me.

          Again, thanks for the support.
          Last edited by Sans rt1; 10-13-06, 04:00 PM.
          Right I/O 4/17/06, Seminoma Stage Ib
          RT (15 days) completed 6/1/06
          All clear as of 5/8/09

          Comment


          • #6
            My CT scan has been delayed until Friday. I thought I had a CT appointment this afternoon, but yesterday my insurance denied it (by mistake), so my appointment was cancelled (given to someone else). I spent the morning on the the phone and understand that there was a comedy of miscommunication - it turns out I never needed insurance company prior approval after all!

            So, I wait until Friday. I am on the list for a cancellation, but they told me that those are rare (I guess except for mine, of course) - and they only try to squeeze in "emergencies".

            No improvement in my back discomfort - just not going away - ache, not a real pain, just a feeling of pressure on my lower back. In addition to the CT, I am scheduled for "bone windows for spine" X-ray work, so hopefully we can get to the bottom of this one way or the other.
            Right I/O 4/17/06, Seminoma Stage Ib
            RT (15 days) completed 6/1/06
            All clear as of 5/8/09

            Comment


            • #7
              As soon as you get results please post them.
              Son Jason diagnosed 4/30/04, stage III. Right I/O 4/30/04. Graduated College 5/13/04. 4XEP 6/7/04 - 8/13/04. Full open RPLND 10/13/04. All Clear since.

              Treated by Dr. Rakowski of Midland Park, NJ. Visited Sloan Kettering for protocol advice. RPLND done at Sloan Kettering.

              Comment


              • #8
                Just got off the phone - bloodwork and CT scan all clear! What a relief, I was pretty worried.

                I am still having lower back discomfort - about the same, but no worse thankfully. It isn't pain, just a nagging discomfort, but if it isn't a symptom of something more serious, I can deal with it. I guess the 'bone window for spine' images still need to be looked at more closely to see if anything indicates what might be the cause, but I was told nothing obvious stood out to the radiologist. My oncologist still suspects it may be from scar tissue caused by my RT, and speculated that some physical therapy, or maybe just time, will help. I guess I will report more when I know something on that part.

                Thanks for the prayers and encouragment, they sure helped to keep me thinking positive.
                Right I/O 4/17/06, Seminoma Stage Ib
                RT (15 days) completed 6/1/06
                All clear as of 5/8/09

                Comment


                • #9
                  Congratulations on that all clear. It's good that you stay aware of anything that doesn't feel right. Have your tried some light streaching? I'm sure it's annoying but I bet your back didn't hurt when you were hugging your daughter after her party. I'm still smiling because of that story.
                  Last edited by dadmo; 10-23-06, 09:53 PM.
                  Son Jason diagnosed 4/30/04, stage III. Right I/O 4/30/04. Graduated College 5/13/04. 4XEP 6/7/04 - 8/13/04. Full open RPLND 10/13/04. All Clear since.

                  Treated by Dr. Rakowski of Midland Park, NJ. Visited Sloan Kettering for protocol advice. RPLND done at Sloan Kettering.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    upper back pain

                    Hi
                    I got upper back pain at level of right spare ribs
                    and few days later extension to spine and got unbearably worse that I quit work and went to rest at home, dafalgan didn't work

                    I was sure it was something to do with my 1st cycle of chemo
                    however during GP doctor control the same night it is found to be related to my body posture in front of computer
                    he just asked me to do certain moves to check muscles etc.

                    in detail the material between spine bones got out of place and damage the
                    layer covering spine marrow (in very simple terms

                    he recommend sitting upright and it is gone in 2 days
                    actually I had similar rib pain since years time to time but never this much
                    and it is not the rib hurting but the nerve being pushed in spine
                    similar example is a siyatik of you know

                    I hope it helps to somebody
                    diagnose 18 Aug 06
                    Orchiectomy 24 Aug 06
                    pure Seminoma, markers normal, PALP positive
                    CT 35x45x60 mm at L3
                    EPx4 cycle from 6 Oct 2006
                    CT no shrinkage after 4 cycle, PET negative 12 Jan 07
                    Post chemo mass resection 14 Feb 07
                    Found mature teratoma (unusual for seminoma)
                    Surveillance !

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Dadmo - -

                      Oh yeah, that hug from my daughter made all my cares go away! I am glad you enjoyed the story.

                      Wannalive, I am glad you found some found relief. Hang in there, you are doing great - I have been following your progress, as are many others on this Forum. Slouching over the computer can definitely affect the back - and if you are resting a lot that can make it worse.

                      I hope they can give some indication of the cause of my back problems, but I am just very relieved that it is not a recurrence. The scar tissue from the radiation treatment makes some sense - I've always scarred badly - my I/O is pretty wicked, but I don't get much chance to show it off. I do have several others that are 20 years old that look like I got them yesterday. Radiation therapy damages good cells in addition to the cancer cells. That includes bone, muscle, connective tissues, and nerves. So perhaps if you are prone to scar tissue formation, some could form in the areas around your spine. I am not sure what I will be able to do about it, but it would seem that some sort of stretching and exercise would help.

                      I guess I need to go back to the gym . . .
                      Right I/O 4/17/06, Seminoma Stage Ib
                      RT (15 days) completed 6/1/06
                      All clear as of 5/8/09

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sans:

                        Glad to hear your tests came back clear. Hopefully, you'll get rid of that back pain. Interesting thought about scar tissue. My body doesn't make very tough scar tissue at all. The color of the scar is more pink (darker) than my other skin, but the texture is identical to normal skin. Oh well...

                        If your pain persists, you might want to look into an MRI of the back/spine. At least for now you can relax and know it's not TC related.

                        Best wishes.
                        Fish
                        TC1
                        Right I/O 4/22/1988
                        RPLND 6/20/1988
                        TC2
                        Left I/O 9/17/2003
                        Surveillance

                        Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will; to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Spoke with the oncologist at length this morning. He is now using the word "adhesions" rather than scar tissue, but either way it sounds like something that I need to deal with - probably exercise and perhaps some physical therapy will help over time.

                          I googled 'adhesions after radiation therapy' and did find references to it, mostly from massage therapy sites (actually, a massage does sound like it would help), and here is what one said:

                          . . . radiation therapy can cause moderate to severe adhesion formation, attaching organs to other organs, muscles, bones, connective tissues and their support structures . . . causing a variety of symptoms. When nerves are involved, pain results . . .

                          So, it makes sense this could happen after radiation therapy - but since no one has mentioned it this on this Forum (the word does not show up on a search), it must be a pretty rare side effect from abdominal RT.
                          Right I/O 4/17/06, Seminoma Stage Ib
                          RT (15 days) completed 6/1/06
                          All clear as of 5/8/09

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            SANS,

                            Just ran across your post. Oddly enough, I was at my GP today for some lower back pain along with other pain. Until I underwent Radiation (15x -- 27Gy) I had normal pains from working, etc. However, now I get pain in my lower back along with other areas. Maybe I should have done a little more research before treatment. If I had, I wouldn't have let them radiate my pelvic area. I now have pain in areas that I don't like to mention as well as my back. I asked my Radiation Oncologist as well as Urologist about my pain and was told that I probably have radiation proctitis. Great. I told my Urologist I thought this was odd because I finished treatment 12 weeks ago I was told it may never go away. Nice. My GP did an exam for other cancers today (the abducted by aliens type of exam) and told me he neither saw or felt anything out of the ordinary. He also mentioned that along with scarring this pain could be from radiation induced nerve damage and has set up an appointment with a Proctologist. The hits just keep on coming. And, to boot, 12 weeks out my digestive system is still not completely settled. I could be "normal" for weeks at a time then something triggers it and my stomache acts just like it did when going through the treatment. I can honestly say the pain does make me question my choice between radiation and surveillance. Sorry for the long post, but I want to see if it has taken anyone else longer than they anticipated to return to 100%.
                            tlh
                            diagnosed 28 June 06. Orchiectomy 29 June 06. Stage 1 Seminoma with no evidence of spread or Vasc invasion. Finished adjuvant RT (27Gy) to abdominal and pelvic area August 28th, 2006.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I wanted to follow-up on a string I started last year on my lower back discomfort following RT last year. From the private messages I received, I know others have had similar problems, so perhaps my experience will be helpful.

                              About 3 months after RT, I started getting a weird back discomfort – a feeling of pressure and ache – always there, but would be worse after exercise (and before RT I had never had any back problems). Immediate concerns of a recurrence were relieved by clear CT and bloodwork. My oncologist said it was likely radiation-induced fibrosis (scar tissue and adhesions) – but the radiation doctor strongly disagreed because my dosage was below where scarring is a concern.

                              My doctors disagreed on the cause for months, and none would come up with any real recommendations. Finally, my GP suggested I focus on strengthening my core muscles, and try to lose some weight (get rid of the beer gut) and see if that would help – if it did not, he promised to get me approved for physical therapy. So, I worked out regularly and lost about 35 pounds, but my back got worse. I was referred to a spine specialist, and after back scans and X-rays, no reasons for back pain could be identified. The specialist said he felt there was fibrosis and nerve damage present from the RT, which was the source of the stiffness and the feeling of pressure (numbness), but he did not feel that was the cause of my pain. So, after 6 months, I finally got approved for some physical therapy.

                              Now, after 8 weeks of physical therapist visits and focused exercises and stretches, I can report that my back is much better. I still have that feeling of pressure and dull ache, and maybe it is a little bit better. But I do have much better flexibility – and the pain after activity or exercise is much less. My physical therapist tells me that he is certain that I have nerve issues and adhesions in my back – I was very stiff and he is working to loosen that up over time. But, he thinks the real cause of my pain was the fact that I was out of shape before my diagnosis, then very inactive for several months during and after RT, meaning my muscles turned to mush. When I became active again, my dominant side carried the load, tweaking my back and causing pain. Even when I started exercising, trying to strengthen my core on my own, it was my dominant side that carried the load, so it got stronger and the weak side stayed weak – and my back worsened. He and the other therapists in his practice could tell how off balance I was by watching me walk, bend and stretch. Hence, the goal of my physical therapy was to loosen things up, get the muscles all working together, strengthen my core (especially the weak side), and help my body re-learn how to distribute the load without tweaking my back when I exercise, bend and stretch. I am also told that except for a little more deep tissue massage and stretching, this is the standard treatment for back pain.

                              So, to make a long story short, my back pain was probably not “caused” by my RT. Yes, some nerve damage and fibrosis are present, but the pain was most likely from my being out of shape to begin with. I would definitely recommend that anyone going through RT try to stay active and exercise and stretch daily – keep those muscles moving and it will help your ultimate recovery. If you do develop back pain after your RT, it may be something has been aggravated by your RT, but probably just as likely from inactivity or just your back acting up. Yes, definitely let your doctor know, so that any worries about recurrence can be addressed. But, hopefully any discomfort can be handled through exercise or physical therapy and hopefully it will not take you 9 months to find relief.
                              Right I/O 4/17/06, Seminoma Stage Ib
                              RT (15 days) completed 6/1/06
                              All clear as of 5/8/09

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