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Lower back pain & painful indentation in left of back, had surgery for melanoma

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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 2565 Questions
I have had moderate lower back pain for the last 4 days. No heavy lifting or falls. Tonight I noticed an indentation in my left side. Very painful when touched. I have never had this type of problem before. I am a 41 years old female. Two years ago I had melanoma I was treated just by surgery. It had not gone XXXXXXX enough to require additional treatment. However this indentation in my back has me frightened.
Posted Tue, 8 May 2012 in Back Pain
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 8 hours later
Hello and thanks for the query.

Your question is a very good one and I will work on providing some good information and recommendations regarding what is going on.

The symptoms you describe require a clinical exam by an experienced physician. With your history it becomes essential to rule out recurrence of the melanoma. A recurrence is unlikely but is still somethiing that needs to be ruled out.

A simple muscle pull or tear could create an indentation as you describe as well. The fact that the indentation is painful is more reassuring that what you are experiencing is a musculoskeletal phenomenon related to a strain, pull or sprain.

For now, I recommend ice therapy to the affected area, 8 times per day for 15 to 12 minutes at a time.

In the mean time as above please schedule visit with your doctor for a good physical exam and consultation. This will help give you the reassurance you need regarding your history of the melanoma. Having an early stage melanoma as you did leads to a cure in the majority of cases again making a recurrence unlikely but remotely possible.

Thanks again for the query. I hope you found my response to be helpful and informative. If you have any additional concerns I would be happy to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Lower back pain & painful indentation in left of back, had surgery for melanoma 25 minutes later
Thank you for your answer but I just can't figure out how I could have strained it or experienced a tear isn't that usually a major injury you would be aware of when it happened? I am scheduling an appointment first thing this morning. Again thank you
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 24 hours later
Hello and thank you for your follow-up question.

You are absolutely correct in your statement that with atypical injury involving a tear of a muscle, one would certainly most likely be aware. Sometimes however individuals can endure an injury without necessarily becoming aware of it. This is more commonly the case in injuries which occur over a period of time. For example if a muscle is slightly injured and then gradually stressed again at some point close to the future of that initial injury this could create a situation of a true injury where someone might not be aware.

I generally take a very conservative approach with my patients. By this I mean that if someone complains of a particular symptom I want to block all the most worrisome issues before focusing on the most likely cause. In your case the major thing we need to rule out is any recurrence of cancer. Again I don't think it is very likely that you're dealing with cancer but it certainly needs to be ruled out from a medical standpoint and also from a psychological standpoint.

I am very happy to know that you have made a follow up appointment with your doctor. If you would like to share the findings of your appointment with me I would be happy to discuss them with you as well.

I thank you again for submitting your question and follow up. I hope you found this exchange to be helpful. If you have other concerns I would be happy to address them. Please accept my answer in case you have no follow up queries.


Dr. Robert
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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