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Lower back pain and heart rate/anxiety

Hi everyone, I've been reading up on the forums for a while now trying to find some information around my situation but have struggled to find anyone with my symptoms so hoping someone can shed some light on the issue if they've experienced the same.

My story: Around three years ago I had a herniation at L5-S1 with a bulge at L4-L5. This resulted in some pretty bad lower back pain and sciatica. Thankfully this resolved after a few months to where I was pretty much back to my old self. Unfortunately around 4 months back I managed to aggravate the injury and over time this resulted in me being unable to sit for any period of time due to an escalation in the lower back pain over the following few weeks - no sciatica this time but a visit to a chiropractor did aggravate things further and added some hip pain on my left side along with numbness of the hip area if I sleep on my left side.

After the back pain and lower back stiffness peaked in intensity around a month later it slowly began to subside somewhat over the next month or so but has not completely gone away and sitting is still uncomfortable but not impossible.

Now this is where it gets a little weird - as the back pain began to reduce I noticed another symptom which may have been there previously but was may be overshadowed by the back pain. This is a general feeling of anxiety which as best as I can describe is in my chest area almost like a restless feeling. Along with this symptom which I would now class as almost worse than the back pain at times, I have noticed that my heart rate in general is a lot higher than it was prior to this whole incident (and the first month or so of the re-aggravation of the injury) and there does appear to be a link between the heart rate and the restless feeling I get (higher HR= restless feeling worse). This is verified via my heart tracker that I've worn for over a year. My heart beat also feels a lot more pronounced than before as I can most times feel my chest and stomach area moving in correlation to my heart beat any time I am at rest and this can be quite disconcerting! To give you an idea of the difference, before this all happened my heart rate whilst at rest would hover between 62-70 bpm (I exercised regularly so was pretty fit) now this doesn't seem to drop below 80 bpm even when I am just laying down and tends to hover between 84-90 bpm!

I have tried to attribute this to the lower back pain but even when I am most comfortable and the pain is barely noticeable (laying down) the HR does not drop below 80bpm.

I've also compared my HR when sleeping to what it was previously and again there is a significant difference - where my HR would drop to between 50-60 bpm previously now it hovers between 62-72 and I wake up early feeling lower back stiffness and some mild discomfort but the worst of it is my heart pounding at around 80bpm and this restless feeling in my chest! This has been going on for over a month now with no real improvement and initially I hadn't put too much thought into it as I thought it would eventually go away as the lower back pain was getting better but this hasn't happened. I have to add that I did take my HR tracker off for a while after this happened as I didn't see the point in continuing to charge it every few days when I was no longer being active! This unfortunately means I cannot pinpoint exactly when the HR issues started after the back pain started again. I began wearing it again a week ago when I decided I had to get to the bottom of this HR and restlessness issue as they are rally beginning to get to me now and making life even more miserable along with the back issues!

I have been to my GP and had an ECG and although my HR was said to be a little fast, it was within normal range with no anomalies found and no palpitations (I do get these but very rarely and these were something I would get on the odd occasion previously so those are normal for me). My GP was of the opinion that my HR was within normal range and wouldn't listen to my reasoning that although it was within normal range, it wasn't my 'normal' range! She put the restlessness/anxious feeling down to stress dealing with the back issues and suggested an SSRI but I do not believe this to be the case and politely declined.

The best way to describe the restless/anxious feeling I get - I've had to take codeine based painkillers previously for an injury and the anxiety/restlessness I get is pretty much the exact feeling I had when I stopped taking those after a few weeks (withdrawals). On this occasion I have not taken anything stronger than NSAIDs for pain relief so I know it is not anything related to medication. Any ideas would be appreciated - sorry for the long post!
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Comments

  • Ellen625EEllen625 New Jersey, USPosts: 757
    Hi anxious
    Can you get a second opinion or go see a cardiologist? I had a nerve issue with my upper back/neck. I had pain and numbness through my shoulder, down my arm to my finger tips. To this day I still have slight numbness at the tip of a couple of my fingers but after testing was told it was in the normal range. Like you say, not normal for me. I have gotten used to it so just let it be. But in yor case I might go see a cardiologist to rule out anything serious.
    Ellen
  • Hi Ellen,

    Thanks for your response. I do have a follow up appointment where I'll be wearing an ECG for 24hrs but not sure if this is going to help. Are you saying that the nerve issue you had caused in increased heart rate? The other main issue is this constant anxiety/restless feeling I have which does not allow me to focus on anything without it getting worse! It's a constant uneasy feeling which means that for a long while now I have not felt 'relaxed' just always on edge along with this constant thumping of my heart in my chest. It gets me down constantly thinking it's never gonna go away and I'll never be able to have that feeling of being relaxed again and all this on top of my lower back pain.

    Also although i've never had any issues with my upper back before, I have noticed that since I became less active due to my lower back issues I did start having some pain in my middle and upper back but this has reduced a lot since it started and thankfully hasn't presented any nerve type issues into my arms.

    I'm starting to wonder if perhaps there's is a certain level of pain from my lower back that I've become accustomed to and so even when I think it's not hurting too much it is enough to keep my heart rate elevated but I haven't found anyone commenting on this specifically so it doesn't seem to be a common symptom and it's not something I think people would not notice!
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  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 385
    Are you male or female? The heartrate abnormalities and anxiety can be attributed to hormonal changes, especially if you're middleaged? Also, the medication you are taking can sometimes have that effect on the body. A conversation with a pharmacist may give you some insight to ease your mind.
  • Hi smartens162,

    I am male and 34yrs old. As per my earlier post the most I have taken are NSAIDs and they don't correspond with how I have been feeling and the symptoms don't go away if I stop taking them. This is really beginning to affect me now as its difficult to fix something when you can't pinpoint the problem.

    I have read many people's experiences with disc issues and back pain. No one has ever mentioned a constant feeling of anxiety or an increased heart rate as symptoms but as they started shortly after the back issue they would appear to be linked. On the other hand, the raised heart rate and anxious/restless feeling is present even when my lower back is not hurting much such as when I'm lying down. I sometimes think the chiropractor did something with her adjustments to bring this on as that was when my symptoms where made worse - I later found out that they are not supposed to adjust you in that manner if you have a disc issue which I told them about. I definitely remember not feeling quite right after that final adjustment as soon as I left and the symptoms escalated from there. Prior to seeing that chiro, I'd only ever felt the discomfort on the lower left side of my back but a day later the symptoms were now on the lower right as well and the symptoms on the left were much worse. I'm not sure what to expect but I'm hoping these symptoms will subside soon as it makes it difficult to focus on much else and then there is the lower back pain to contend with as well.
  • Ellen625EEllen625 New Jersey, USPosts: 757
    Hi anxious
    My condition did not cause an increased heart rate. I was just commenting about the fact that even if an issue is in what the doctor calls "normal" range, we, as the patient know its not OUR normal.

    Good luck!
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  • Hi, I am experiencing the exact same symptoms! Lower back pain, rapid heart rate, just weird symptoms all at once. Have you found any information on what could be causing your symptoms? Thanks for any info!!

  • LizLiz Posts: 8,914

    The member that created this discussion has not been back to the forum for more than 12 months so I am closing it

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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