MOST of the time back pain is nothing to worry about and it’s usually caused by a pulled muscle.

This usually happens if you’ve strained yourself and you might also experience discomfort if you have certain medical conditions.


The image above is computed tomography of the thoracic spine and points to parts of the centre of the spine which show a ‘sandwich vertebrae’. This led medics to detect Albers-Schönberg’s diseaseCredit: The New England Journal of Medicine
The arrows here show where the condition has led to a 'bone within a bone' appearance - but the woman had no other fractures


The arrows here show where the condition has led to a ‘bone within a bone’ appearance – but the woman had no other fracturesCredit: The New England Journal of Medicine

But shocking images have now revealed why you should never dismiss your pain.

One 38-year-old woman attended a clinic in Portugal after struggling with back pain for two months.

The NHS states that if you experience pain for longer than a few weeks and home remedies haven’t worked, then you should speak to your GP.

However, this woman had waited a considerable amount of time before seeking help.

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Medics performed a physical examination on the woman and writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, they said there was ‘nothing remarkable’.

When arriving at the hospital, the patient had informed medics that her aunts had a history or osteopetrosis.

This is a rare disorder that causes bones to grow abnormally and become dense.

X-rays performed on the 38-year-old showed what is known as a ‘sandwich vertebrae’.

This is a condition whereby the thoracic spine has sclerotics bands – this means that the bones have reacted badly to the growing process.

Doctors also found that because of this, her body had created a ‘bone within a bone’ appearance.

Despite this, no fractures were present and the experts sent the woman for further tests.

It was during these tests that experts found a gene mutation.

This is known as autosomal dominant osteopetrosis, or Albers-Schönberg’s disease.

What are the symptoms of osteopetrosis that you need to know?

While the woman tested in Portugal only experienced back pain, there are other signs you should be on the look out for.

These include:

  • low blood cell production
  • facial nerve paralysis
  • infections in the teeth
  • infections in the bone in the jaw
  • issues with sight and hearing

The illness was previously referred to as ‘marble bones’ and was first described by Albers-Schönbergin in 1904.

It’s a condition that usually starts in late childhood or adolescence.

It causes the bones to calcify, therefore making the skeleton more dense.

This means that you’re more prone to pain and breakages.

In most cases, the condition can be inherited, and this is the case with adult diagnosis of the illness.

Experts at the University Minho School of Medicine in Braga, Portugal said: “Osteoclasts in patients with this condition are unable to resorb bone, which causes bone density to increase, primarily
in the spine, the pelvis, and the base of the skull.

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“The radiographic findings of sandwich vertebrae and bone within bone strongly suggest the diagnosis and should prompt genetic testing.”

They added that with the correct care, the patient’s back improved and that after four years, no fractures had developed.