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Justin Mandel
Justin Mandel, Acupuncture Specialist Dipl.OM.L.Ac
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 135
Experience:  Trained in Western Medicine, Board Certifed Oriental Medicine, seeing patients for 10+years
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I have back spasm on the left side. What causes this pain?

Resolved Question:

I have back spasms on the left side only. Have used muscle relaxants, anti inflammatories, had physical therapy, electrode therapy, sports medicine message, chipropratic, acupuncture, cortisone and novicaine injections, nothing has helped. No known injury. Pain is 24 hrs a day. Cannot lay on back to sleep. I exercise, ride a well-trained horse, clean stalls, walk dog and garden. What causes this pain, tired of treating symptoms and not getting at the cause. I have Kaiser Permanente coverage.

Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Justin Mandel replied 9 years ago.

How long has this been happening for?

What part of your back is in spasm?

Please describe exactly what you are feeling besides "pain"!
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Justin Mandel's Post: I have had this pain for 6-7 years. It is on the left side, inch or two from spine and runs laterally across the back about arm pit level. It at times radiates around to the front of the ribs. I go to bed with it and wake up several times during the night. 3 ibuprofen every 4 hours and an hour on the heating pad are needed before I can function. No known injury. Had MRI's, xrays, etc, spine is fine, except for very mild scoleosis and some arthritis. The pain is a cold piercing sensation that radiates out from the muscle. Any use of the left arm will agrivate it, as well as vibration from the car. Mild sleeping pills help at night but hard to get through the day. Just the pressure of clothes over the muscle will start a spasm, its very touchy. Very hard pressure will stop it for a few minutes, a hard wall corner works well to apply just the right amount of pressure in the right spot. Need more info??
Expert:  Justin Mandel replied 9 years ago.

Does there seem to be a direct focal point of where the pain is stemming from?

Perhaps when you went to the massage therapist they were able to locate such a spot?

This area might be more hard and painful in the center and fade out when pressed upon further away from that center point?
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Justin Mandel's Post: There does seem to be a focal point. Only one message therapist was able to find it and by the time she worked on it, I hurt for a week! I am active, horse riding,( I show my horse during the summer) stall cleaning, gardening, painting and papering my house. I no longer work 8 hours at the computer. The pain is there 24 hours a day. Ibuprofen and heat every 3-4 hours needed to get thru the day. I cannot sleep on my back. What causes this pain and how can I get rid of it?? I have been on ibuprofen for 20 years for severe TMJ and need to get off it as it is causing its own problems withs spasm of the spincter of Odie. Blood work is still ok for liver function. Right now my back burns and aches something fierce.
Expert:  Justin Mandel replied 9 years ago.


OK, based on the fact that there is a focal point and based on all of the treatments that you did failed (muscle relaxants physical therapy electrode therapy sports medicine message chiropractor exercise acupuncture cortisone shot novicaine shot anti inflammatories), "Very hard pressure will stop it for a few minutes", "radiates around to the front of the ribs", and the burning and aching that you feel right now my assessment is that you have a knot in your thoracic paraspinal on your left side.

Only a knot would not respond to any of the above therapies that you have already tried. What has to happen is that the knot needs to be un-knotted in order for you to get any relief. Without that you can go for the rest of your life and nothing else will be able to help you.

As far as how to treat this, my suggestion is to go to a practitioner who specializes in ART, which helps to get rid of painful knots and restores muscle to health. ART is a treatment I used for my own upper back and neck area 7 years ago and I have been pain-free ever since after 3 months of treatments, so I am a big believer in it! As a matter of fact I use the same techniques in my office with a 90% success rate as my patients would attest to. You can read more about ART here:

P.S. Please call A.R.T. Active Release Technique at 1(***) ***-**** or go to to try to get a local practioner's phone number who does this particular technique. Perhaps you can get in to see him/her for a free consultation?

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