CLINICAL FEATURES: A 36-year-old male student experienced midback pain that occurred primarily at night in conjunction with fever and unexplained weight loss. Minor trauma induced a significant fracture and an occult fracture in the upper extremity. Physical examination revealed an elevated temperature indicating a fever of undetermined etiology. Plain radiographs revealed diffuse osteoporosis of the thoracic spine. Laboratory tests revealed anemia, hypercalcemia, and abnormal monoclonal paraprotein. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a fracture with poor healing and an occult fracture in the upper extremity.
INTERVENTION AND OUTCOME: The patient was initially assessed for fever of undetermined etiology in association with nocturnal midback pain. Although considered a disease of the geriatric population, subsequent laboratory and radiologic evaluations established a diagnosis of early-onset multiple myeloma. Early recognition and referral with comanagement by an oncologist provided optimum care. Early-onset cases of multiple myeloma tend to have a more favorable response to treatment as compared with cases diagnosed in the geriatric population.
CONCLUSION: Multiple myeloma should be a consideration when a patient presents with nocturnal back pain and fever of undetermined etiology. Differentiating multiple myeloma from other causes of back pain is especially important in making management decisions. With a precise history and physical diagnosis, the diagnosis may be suspected, but confirmation must rely on ancillary investigations. Multiple myeloma is frequently accompanied by a poor prognosis, but early-onset cases generally respond more favorably to interventions.
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