How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Abby Your Own Question
Dr. Abby
Dr. Abby, US Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 10330
Experience:  Family Physician practicing medicine for over 10 years, United States
Type Your Medical Question Here...
Dr. Abby is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I have serious back pain - left side middle of back.

Resolved Question:

I have had serious back pain, left side, middle of back. (I had a cold about a week ago, and a mild cough.) I have not had a bowel movement for more than two days. I am wondering about intestinal obstruction. I am wondering about pleurisy. My back really hurts on the left side. Ice does not help. Heating pad helps a little bit.

Already Tried:
Heating pad. Drinking fluids. Used ibuprofen twice, but it doesn't seem to help. I am on low-dose prednisone, recovering from polymyalgia rheumatica over the past two years. This pain does not feel like the pain from that ailment. It does not move around. And I have no pain anywhere else. The cold seems to be gone. This pain has been acute now for nearly 48 hours and I am getting afraid. I've been wondering about pleurisy. I also am wondering about intestinal obstruction.

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 5 years ago.

I am sorry you are not feeling well...
Is the pain sharp? Worse with deep breathing?
Do you have any shortness of breath?
Are you passing gas?
Have you ever had surgery on your abdomen?
Is your abdomen bloated? Any pain in your abdomen?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The pain is sharp and always there. about half way down my back on the far left side. It hurts when I breathe deeply. I do not have shortness of breath. I have been burping a lot, passing gas just a little.

I had a rectocele repair about three years ago.

My abdomen is not greatly bloated. No abdomenal pain.
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 5 years ago.
Ok, thank you.

Just a few more questions if you don't mind.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain you have ever had, what would you rate it?
Are you coughing?
Any fever?
Any urinary symptoms? Groin pain?
Have you taken a stool softener?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I rate the pain an 8. It is persistent -- sitting, walking, lying down.

I am not coughing now (not today or yesterday, although I had been coughing for a month following my recent cold).

No fever currently. No urinary symptoms or groin pain. I have not taken a stool softener. I am allergic to doculate sodium.
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 5 years ago.

Ok, thank you.

The back pain may be due to a few things.
I believe that a bowel obstruction is less likely given the fact that you are passing gas and you do not have abdominal pain or bloating. You can try milk of magnesia as long as you have healthy kidneys.

Pleurisy is a definite possibility given the fact that the pain is sharp and worse with deep breathing. It can occur after a recent viral infection. However, ibuprofen typically helps with the pain...

Muscular back pain is a third possibility but also should improve a bit with ibuprofen. Kidney stones can also cause severe back pain that, when moving down the urinary tract, radiates to the groin.

The severity of your pain is concerning. I feel that you need a chest xray at the very least and possibly an abdominal xray to see what is going on (to look for kidney stone).

Rare causes of severe back pain include aortic aneurysms and blood clots (usually shortness of breath present with clots, though).

I would go to the ER given the severity of your pain so that you can be evaluated as well as get relief.

Feel free to ask any follow up questions,

Dr Abby

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I think I will wait until morning and see if I can see my physician. Or maybe I will go to the emergency room in the morning. Since the pain has been constant and is not getting worse, do you think this is safe? Or is waiting irresponsible?
Expert:  Dr. Abby replied 5 years ago.

If you develop any of these symptoms go to the ER immediately:

Increasing pain
Chest pain
Shortness of breath
Abdominal pain
Nausea or vomiting
Heart palpitations (heart skipping beats)

Dr Abby

Dr. Abby and 3 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you