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Why has a viral bug caused my back to 'go'? Wtf?

(36 Posts)
PavlovtheEasterBunny Thu 28-Mar-13 19:10:23

Ok. It's quite bloody odd.

I have a back problem you might or might not have read me banging on about it. It's been diagnosed as most likely caused by dehydrated L5/S1 lumbar disc, annular disc tear, disc bulge/prolapse - thse either irritating or impinging sciatic nerve - plus probable unstable spinal segment, due to dehydration of disc.

My back 'goes' periodically, resulting in muscle spasms, inability to stand straight, can't walk without severe psin in back and down legs. It takes a while to control spasms, and sciatic pain has not gone of a long tie now (in permanent pins p, needles and dumbness in calf and foot).

Often, with these 'relapses' I get, just before, either a day or two, or couple of hours, a flu like feeling, suggesting it might go, my muscles, or rather my 'blood' hurts, and sometimes I throw up. Sometimes this coincides almost immediately with the back going. But there is definitively a pattern. I personally put it down to possibly gunk leaking from the tear and my body reacting to its toxic properties by producing Inflammtory responses. The GP looked at me like this hmm and dismissed it. The physio told me the disc doesn't technically leak and so it is is not possible to do this (yeah, right love) and dismissed me so it has remained a theory of my own.

The most significant time this happened was a major setback in my back problem. It was in June last year, and I felt sick, flu like, in particular in my back area, swept the floor, one pull of the broom and my back went very badly. I have not really recovered from that. I have had it since, but not to such a devastating degree.

Anyway, all this time, it has never manifested into flu or a cold, once the back 'goes' the flu feeling either passes or gets dealt with by me taking huge amounts of painkillers for back pain (haven't worked out which).

Over the last day or so, my back has felt a little delicate. This morning I woke feeling a bit coldy, and as the day has gone on I have now have a viral bug of some kind, sore throat, sore skin, muscles, painful blood, feel sick and my back has started to seize up through the early evening.

I have just gone to get p from the sofa and it's 'gone' again. I can move bent over but I know soon it will be completely fucked. It's the same flu type symptoms but this time has fully manifested into a bug of some kind (I presume due to sore throat, swollen glands, ears hurt too) but also largely in lower back.

Does anyone recognise what the fuck I am talking about? Tell me what is going on? It can't be coincidence, it really can't, the way the pain moves through my blood or my nerves seems intrinsically linked to my back.

Someone out there must have an idea? Or am I actually going mad?

Delatron Thu 28-Mar-13 19:52:22

Not sure if this is exactly the same thing but last week it felt as though I had pulled a muscle in my back, couldn't walk, could only sit in a certain position etc. Called the doc and apparently lots of people in the area have had the same thing(?) and therefore he concluded that it was a virus that must have moved from chest to back and caused muscle spasms. Never heard of such a thing before!

I had a cold the previous week so I guess it does make sense but would never have linked back pain to a virus.

PavlovtheEasterBunny Thu 28-Mar-13 22:09:15

wow that's weird! virus' are very odd things. I really dont know. It does however make me wonder how much of a wild guess many medical conditions are, from a virus to back problems. I wonder if my own diagnosis is actually pretty far out and it's something utterly different. Having a prolapsed or bulging disc is not entirely unusual to some degree or other in most people over 30, so that could be completely coincidental and happen to match my symptoms (although, i think the sciatic nerve damage, tear, dehydration, bulge all in the same disc indicate it's probably relatively accurate hmm) maybe it's more than one thing.

This feeling has been present in most of my relapses since My first major back incident leading to invetigations starting, in Dec 2011. I just didn't link it to the flu like symptoms until much later, but when I looked back, I had been suffering from a viral infection just before my back went, and then I had thought 'oh marvelous, back gone AND a bug, great'.

So, maybe it's coincidental and is now actually a virus, or maybe not.

weegiemum Thu 28-Mar-13 22:18:48

Viruses are really odd. There's no such thing as "just" a virus!

Last November I got a viral ear infection (2011). I was dizzy for a few days, felt better or maybe a week then got very dizzy again, couldn't walk well, wasn't able to come down the stairs etc ....

Turned out my immune system had "read" the virus wrong, and instead of attacking it, my immune system has "eaten" my own nerves - I've no feeling below the knee, in my hands or lower face. Its been contained, but its unlikely to ever get better. My condition is called CIDP but there are many variants.

If something s affecting your back/legs/arms etc after a viral bug go to your GP, ask for neurological referral. My GP was crap so my dh (also a GP!) took me to a&e, I was diagnosed 6 weeks later (after many scans, nerve testing, 20+ blood tests and 3 lumbar punctures).

Hope it gets sorted out. But don't be lured in by the "it's only a virus" thing!

PavlovtheEasterBunny Thu 28-Mar-13 22:39:16

weegie just feel so daft talking about it to GP, as it sounds so far fetched and my response was so 'meh' and dismissive.

But I am almost certain that my back problem and this viral feeling is linked somehow. I had thought I found the cause, but seems not. I had wondered if I had some kind of viral infection in my spine that returns? (but then, I had also thought I found the reason for it a while ago - i did in terms of the tear, but not the rest).

PavlovtheEasterBunny Thu 28-Mar-13 22:39:28

and that's shocking what it did to you!

PavlovtheEasterBunny Thu 28-Mar-13 22:40:09

and my sciatic nerve is dying too - there is now likely permanent damage to my toes for example.

ouryve Thu 28-Mar-13 22:50:27

Having a virus of some sort can often affect your muscle strength, which means that weak joints that you normally manage to support are a little less supportive.

I had my hypermobility syndrome diagnosed after a virus really knocked me for six. I'd had lots of pain before then, in many places, including my back, but that was the point when it all became unbearable and I got no relief.

I went back a few times before I got a referral to a rheumatologist, though. The most useful thing I had was to see a physio who realised the stiff hands I'd presented with were just the tip of the iceberg, noticed straight away that I had problems with my back (I'd almost forgotten them because they'd become such a constant) and gave me some really useful exercises to build up the strength and flexibility in my lower back.

PavlovtheEasterBunny Thu 28-Mar-13 22:51:14

weegie just googled CIPD shock

MrSlant Thu 28-Mar-13 22:57:54

I think that it's the inflammatory response your body has that knocks you for six in these circumstances, I can almost predict a cold or illness by having increased pain in the lead up. I think that if you already have compromised space around your nerves any illness provokes inflammation in your body and then that will make it worse. Muscle spasm is your body trying to protect the injured joint. I totally believe in 'chemical pain' from a torn disc and so does my physio, sometimes Drs seem to pull the hmm face to make it look like they know it all when it is something new to them.

It's me btw, your friend in tramadol, I had a name change. Had a nuclear med bone scan this week as my consultant is trying to pass me on to rheumatology because he is stuck. The sod.

MrSlant Thu 28-Mar-13 23:00:53

Jeepers weegie, CIPD sounds horrible, sorry.

ouryve Thu 28-Mar-13 23:24:52

In my case, the surprise was the lack of inflammatory factors. It was the first thing that was tested by my GP, for all his otherwise uselessness.

ouryve Thu 28-Mar-13 23:27:14

And agreeing about CIPD. Not pleasant.

I'll keep my inappropriatebendiness except where I've worn it out, coupled with reynauds' syndrome (not diagnosed but why else would I need gloves above 20C?), tyvm.

chickensaladagain Thu 28-Mar-13 23:36:28

I know exactly what you mean

Every time I have a bug of any type my back goes

I have no idea why but just wanted to reassure you that you aren't barking grin

PavlovtheEasterBunny Fri 29-Mar-13 07:22:20

chickensalad thank you, it's good to know it's not just me! It's horrible though, as it does go at other times to, but these times just knock me sideways and my sciatic pain takes sooooo long to go again (tbh, it doesnt anymore, it's always there now to a greater or lesser degree). Do you find your back pain lasts longer than the bug itself?

mrsslant <waves> that's a very good theory actually, that this is how my body responds, and with less space around the nerves. That makes a lot of sense. God I can be so dense, it sounds pretty obvious! I am so cross as I have been back at work 4 weeks, been almost on top form, as good as I have for such a long time. I have been moving pretty freely and able to almost push my leg pain to the back of my mind when at work and just get on with things (even enjoy doing things shock) and now backwards again. Although I can move this morning, just very stiff and not 100% straight which is an improvement on past times this has happened. And I have to remember that I have had a good spell, to spur me on again.

What on earth is a nuclear bone scan? shock what is he hoping/thinking he might/wanting to find? I have finally, finally got my neurosurgeon appt in May. After 17wks on waiting list, and after almost a year since I should have fist been referred. And same with pain clinic, 15wks since referral to appt in April but, best not complain, least it's happening.

In terms of my bug, my arm muscles feel like I have been carrying very heavy bags, my throat hurts to swallow and my headache is more painful than I have had in long time. But, I don't have a fever, i don't think anyway.

weegie is there any hope of recovery for your illness? Are the symptoms manageable?

PavlovtheEasterBunny Fri 29-Mar-13 07:26:08

ouryve so, if I were to go and tell the GP my symptoms again re the flu feelings, he/she (have two that I see) might do an inflammatory marker test? I guess it's worth a go. I have just spent sooooo long going to the GP already, and it's taken such a long time to get this far that I have finally been referred to a neurosurgeon for my back and leg pain/numbess that I am quite nervous about going in with something 'new' (although I have mentioned it before, I have not laboured the point after the hmm face).

chickensaladagain Fri 29-Mar-13 07:28:04

Bug typically lasts a few days, back pain can go on for weeks

Sometimes it just goes of its own accord but more often than not its virus related

PavlovtheEasterBunny Fri 29-Mar-13 07:41:31

oh, so it sounds a lot like me then! Has it ever been investigated at all? or hav you just got on with it?

saintlyjimjams Fri 29-Mar-13 07:50:38

Same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. I went riding in the morning (which is what I do partly to stop my back going as it's stress release). By the afternoon my back was killing me, by the evening temp was up, next morning sore throat, swollen tonsils (and if you get the conjunctivitis that goes with this virus then marvel at its awfulness).

My back is mainly fine now after years of problems - it is very sensitive to stress though - sometimes it's how I realise I'm stressed - eg it used to go every time a certain family member came to visit, (which is why I horse ride, swim etc to try & stay chilled) so I think it must be sensitive to stress from illness - I think of it as a weak spot.

saintlyjimjams Fri 29-Mar-13 07:51:57

Oh the virus I had was the worst illness I've had for ages - my back doesn't usually go before something although it can go during it. But I suspect it was doing it's viral stuff before I was aware

chickensaladagain Fri 29-Mar-13 07:58:13

Various painkillers and 2 referrals to the physio and no investigation ever been suggested, I just thought it was one of those things really as my dad has had a bad back since I can remember and I thought I must just be prone to it

Gp seems very reluctant to even examine back pain, generally I get asked if I have a sensation of pouring water down my leg, say no and out comes the prescription pad!

PavlovtheEasterBunny Fri 29-Mar-13 07:59:06

saintly <waves> you know, that's quite true for me about stress, I do find it goes when I am stressed, at certain times such as christmas, MIL visiting, that kind of thing, but, I have always put it down to me overdoing things physically at that time. Like at christmas last year DH had an abscess on his tooth immediately before we went away for xmas, MIL had arrived, and I had a bug all over the week before she arrived on the tuesday. My back was starting to go by the tues when she arrived, but I had dusted and hoovered etc to make the place sparkle like we always live in a tidy home wink, and when DH's tooth hurt, he was given tramadol after not sleeping at all that night, which rendered him useless, and so I had to pack the car, organise the children and elderly MIL. By the time we got to our destination it was fucked beyond belief. But, maybe the stress had some part? definitely the bug.

I like the idea of riding to improve my back wink. I have actually just bought two bodyboards (for DD as well) as I have figured the cobra style posture can only be good for my back. I am very excited about going out. Maybe this weekend even! (if I am not layed up, fingers crossed).

mrsslant was your consultant a neurosurgeon? or ortho? the one sending you to neurology? did he order tests? I am worried that this neurosurgery appt will just send me away saying 'nah nothing major wrong that we can do anything about' and do nothing to investigate further. Or, say 'yep lets fuse the spine' as the lumbar pathway physio suggested he would say without checking out other stuff first.

saintlyjimjams Fri 29-Mar-13 08:17:02

Pavlov it's FREEZING at the moment - even the guys who surf every day have been complaining about how cold it is in the water. Ds1 hasn't been in for ages because even with gloves his fingers will shut down in this. I'd wait until it's warmer. If we have a warm week I will get him out but it needs to be 8-10 air temp rather than 0-4!!!

I can recommend a fab riding stables if you ever decide to give that a go. They've taught me to actually ride rather than what I used to do as a kid. And they have an indoor arena so rain never stops play (or makes it miserable)

PavlovtheEasterBunny Fri 29-Mar-13 08:25:19

chicken my gp would have happily sent me out with painkillers and that's all too. I insisted he did something about it. I told I was in the prime of my life and he cannot possibly expect me to walk out of there accepting a disabling level of reocurring pain without trying to help me fix it. he has since conceded that I was right to pursue it, and that I can't live like this. I seem to speak to so many people who accept back pain as their GPs just send them away, sometimes with highly addictive painkillers and no real guidance. It's like we have to ask isn't it? But I always presumed they would tell me when something needed checking out, but that has rarely happened. It's always been me instigating the conversation (can you please refer me to pain clinic/physio/lumbar spine team etc).

But he thinks it is disc related, and that spinal fusion is the best bet (for some reason he thinks he knows all about backs now!).

PavlovtheEasterBunny Fri 29-Mar-13 08:28:02

saintly really? oh boo sad tomorrow is meant to be warmer? [hopeful] well, soon then. I am just sooooo desperate to be out on the water again.

I would love to ride, not sure there is enough time in the week at the moment grin but maybe at some point I will check it out. I have only been like three times but have heard from others too that it's great for improving back strength.

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