What could severe back pain signify?

11 answers | Last updated: Nov 07, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am a 66 year old female diagnosed with dilated cardio-myopathy, fibromyalgia, IBS, migraines, GERD and arthritis. The only newer diagnosis is the heart failure. With my ICD implant and medication my EF is in the 60's which is excellent. My approach to the other "problems" has been to carry on and not let "them" keep me down. The last few months I find it very hard to keep up with my normal activities. My days are painful to the point that I can no longer ignore the pain and lack of energy. I can't empty my dishwasher without having to stop and sit down because I'm "pooped" or because I get a spasm in my lower back. This back pain is like someone has put a wide belt around me and is pulling tighter and tighter. I find I am always looking for the next chair so I can catch my breath or to relieve the back pain. I have always blamed the fibromyalgia for most of the pain but this is different and I have never felt such a lack of energy. Any ideas?

Expert Answers

Dan Tobin, M.D. is the CEO of Care Support of America, a national service providing telephonic and local nurse counsel to adult children caring for aging parents. Dr. Tobin is the author of books and articles focused on the practical and positive aspects of family caregiving.


Back pain and fatigue in your case is complex and it may be best to ask your treating doctors for their diagnosis and to possibly see a pain specialist. Be sure to take care of your emotional needs as well. Fibromyalgia is not easy to treat so keep looking for professional guidance in all areas .

All the best,

Dan Tobin

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

i have Fibromyalgia and it does hurt

A fellow caregiver answered...

I had a problem with back pain for over two years ,we tried every thing to find the cause,cat scans all kinds of tests,i spent a lot of money on acupunture that was not covered by insurance then, finally my doctor sent me for an mri and it found SOMETHING in my spine , I had not any pains down the back of my legs which they said was very unusual, but they did discover cancer in the L-1 vertebre. this was back in 2000.I was operated on at Buffalo General Hospital in Buffalo N.Y. I had 3 surgeons for a 16 hr surgery. they could not use radiation as it would have destroyed the spinal cord. Keep searching for answers, only YOU know when something is wrong with YOUR body. I was in the hospital and rehab for two months but that was almost TEN years ago and I an still alive and no reoccurance of the cancer. It was called,a Primary Carcinoma of the bone. which was totally resected and was called a "vertebrectomy" I have lots of hardware in my back but I am alive and still are able to do quite a bit and I am 75 years old now. THANK THE GOOD LORD

A fellow caregiver answered...

In 2003, I had surgury on my left foot and became disabled and could not walk or stand without suffering extream pain! So for 7 years I had to use a wheelchair continueally. Then I took some exercise classes at my local cmmunity college. Now I'M able to stand and waik more and more each day! I still have to use naproxan and tramadol as I suffer from artheritis.

A fellow caregiver answered...

o. Have you requested an MRI?

o. Some individuals with RR/MS (remitting-relapsing Multiple

Sclerosis at times experience a bandlike tightness that envelopes the torso....Please insist that your healthcare provider schedule you for an MRI

o Have your kidneys checked....lower back pain can be a sign of kidney problems DO NOT GIVE UP UNTIL YOU HAVE A PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ANSWER. YOU MUST BECOME/BE YOUR OWN LOBBYIST!

Connie2424 answered...

I too have fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, herniated disk in my neck, etc. I love your quote, "My approach to the other "problems" has been to carry on and not let "them" keep me down." You sound like me! I also "punch" thru the pain most of the time. I do have pain meds, but can't take them all the time. My Rheumatologist put me on a medicine, Lyrica, for my fibromyalgia. Boy has it helped! Ask your doctor about this medicine. Regarding your back pain, wow, it could be many things. I do agree you should get a MRI for sure. I hope you feel better fast! Good luck

Jtrempe answered...


I am a physical therapist. Unfortunately although you have a number of previously diagnosed conditions, your lower back pain could be a separate condition. Lower back pain is very common. And, it sounds like sitting gives you some relief which generally signifies a mechanical cause for your pain. Spinal stenosis is aggravated with standing and walking and relieved with sitting and bending.

Make sure you see an orthopedic doctor that can help determine if you have a specific low back condition or if it is related to some of your other issues. If you have a back condition seek help from a physical therapist.

To learn more about different types of low back conditions, visit:


Hope this helps.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I am just giving myself permission to forgive a PCP who insisted my pain, started off as generalised now it is more in my lower back, to be in my head. It was obvious to me! from his judgemental attitude that it was not real and that I was depressed, therefore he did not order the right test. I am greatful to the doctor who took the time to diagnose my condition after such sufferings and wasted time with the prior PCP. I am encouraged and would like to see more people with such pain keep on trying and learn to trust yourself, when no one else will. Oh! regardless, there are still caring doctors out there.

Whitefox42 answered...

I have had CFS & Fibromyalgia for 27years, a lower back disk malformation all my life, Lordosis(relation to scholiosis)back pain all my life,then add on diabetes 3yrs, sleep apnea both kinds 8yrs,arthritis,degenerative arthritis in lower back,chronic depression,PTSD,I have been totally disabled for 12yrs, I am on pain meds but if my pain gets any worse I can't have more meds because I would stop breathing. You definitely have to be your own advocate, you might even have to fire a doctor or two to get real help. But don't give up. Once I was able to get off Tegretol my mind woke up and I started feeling better. I am now going to college online to get a degree in digital design and animation and web design so I can work from home in a career that I will enjoy. I might not be able to do it full time as I am still mostly bed bound but my laptop and my mind make alot more possible than when I first got sick. You might try pool therapy. And if you have depression issues try DBT Therapy (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) theres a book by Marsha Linehan. Check it out. Always find out what ALL the side affects of a drug are and if you can put up with that before you take anything.

Rileyscout answered...

I have osteoathritis and have had it for many many years. I have chronic lower back and neck and shoulder pain from it. It also causes fatigue and depression at times from having to deal with the pain. I take Norco pain pills but take a lot less since I started getting steroid injections in the back and neck from my pain management specialist about a year ago. I walk 30min. twice a day now. I still cant stand in one place to long but those injections have given me my life back. I can do things I couldn't do for years. Please check out all the options with your Doctor.I also have migraines but they aren't near as often now that my pain is better and I don't stress as much.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I suffered with severe back and neck pain for almost four years. Regular treatments by physical therapists, chiropractors, and pain medicine did little to really help me. It did a lot to increase their revenue.

When my physician started me on hormone (testosterone) therapy, the pain gradually went away never to return. Today, I am pain free. Sometimes I am stiff in the morning but who isn't. Stiffness is nothing compared to the constant nagging pain I suffered from which affected my mobility.

My health history included almost five years on peritoneal dialysis, ten years ill, and a successful kidney transplant eleven years ago. My age is fifty-six today.