Medical Q&As

Back pain - fear of cancer?

I have been to my GP with a pain along the right rib cage (following the line of the bone). She asked me if I had back pain as well which I have between my shoulder blades. Gallbladder disease was mentioned but then dismissed. On checking my back she said there was tenderness at both sides of my spine and was sending me for a spinal x-ray. I am 34 yrs old but I have to admit I am very reluctant to have a spinal x-ray as a person I know went for an x-ray for a pain in her back and it turned out to be cancer. I havenít been feeling well for a while, tired all the time, no energy etc. As I am sitting typing this I have a burning sensation between my shoulders. Please put my mind at ease as to what this could be.

I can understand your fear of spinal pain because of the experience of your friend who was found to have spinal cancer. However, surely your future well being is not being served by avoiding having the x-ray that your doctor has recommended. The whole point in doing the x-ray is to establish the fullest possible information so that your condition can be fully explained and dealt with. Spinal cancer is not a likely possibility since it is so uncommon. It is far more likely that your X-ray will be normal, which would indicate that your pain is either muscular or ligament related. It is also quite possible that your pain is posture related especially since you mention that you experienced discomfort while typing your question to me. If you donít have the x-ray you will not know the reason for your pain, which will not deal with your current anxiety.