I spent 30 years as a nurse and my reward was having constant back pain. My back pain started to change in intensity and character. My pain had been mostly generalized discomfort, on a level of 2 at rest and up to 6 or 7 when I overdid physical activity, like moving patients in bed and moving heavy equipment. It changed to a sharp, pinpoint pain that was 4 or 5 at rest and up to 9 or 10 with almost any activity.
The back pain change is what took me to the doctor. I thought I had a slipped or ruptured disc. Activity and sometimes just breathing was more then uncomfortable. There was days at work in the ICU where I would be repositioning a patient and the stabbing pain was so bad I would have tears running down my face that I could not stop.
The doctor ordered a PET scan to figure out the pain. That was when I found out I had breast cancer, stage 4, with mets to 3 spots in my thoracic spine - T2, T3, T10. The location in the thoracic was what caused me to have more pain with breathing. I also had mets to 1 ovary, the uterus, 2 spots on my left femur, 4 spots on my pelvis, and 5 breast tumors not large enough to palpate or show on mammogram. I had no other symptoms of bc. No other pains or discomforts anywhere. Just the incredible back pain that was debilitating.
My oncologist ran blood work and none of my tumor markers were out of range, even with all those tumors. You can not depend just on lab work because only a portion of us have tumor marker elevation when tumors are present. Depend on how you body feels to you. It the pain new? It is pinpoint and intense? If you already have back pain has the location or characteristic of the pain change?
Go with what your body is saying and go to the doctor if and when something feels different. Better to be there when you don't need to, instead of not being there when you really need it. The only bad patient is the one who doesn't tell the doctor what is going on. Believe the doctor when you are told if you have bone mets you will know it because it is far different from arthritis or degenerative disc pain. Try to not worry about bone mets. If it does raise its ugly head it is treatable. I was diagnosed in 2002 and so far so good. I have had recurrences and did well with chemo. I have been in remission for more time then not over the last 14 years. Hope that helps.
take GOoD care