Hi Kattsme -
I'm sorry you're having such a hard time! I know well the pain and frustration of unrelenting back pain. Mine also started with a herniated disc that was impinging on a nerve. Prednisone relieved the pain for a bit, but it seemed nothing had a long term effect. I think the constant and chronic pain sets up a whole host of other problems, that create other symptoms. For example, lack of sleep (because of pain) ends up in anxiety, and constant guarding (because of pain) results in soreness and shortening in other muscles as well, which creates more pain and fatigue.
You don't say whether you have already been diagnosed with Lupus or not. My own opinion is that connective tissue diseases can set up shop anywhere and however they want - there is no hard and fast rule. My back pain continued for quite an extended period of time, into and beyond the onset of the lupus type symptoms (fatigue, joint/muscle pain, hair loss, mouth sores, rash, fever). After 3 years on Plaquenil and almost as long on a Gluten Free diet with supplements for deficiencies like Vit. D - I am finally feeling very much better. For the last month I have been able to walk 2 miles each day. Makes my feet hurt - but as long as my back is handling it, I'm happy.
My advice to you is to persist in finding the reason for your pain. I heard everything from "it's all in your head" to "time to cauterize the nerve sheaths". I had a very hard time tolerating pain medication, so didn't use it, and when I took Prednisone initially for the pain and inflammation, it worked so well, I re-injured my back because I felt so good! When the doctors can't answer your question - ask if you should see an orthopedist, physical medicine specialist, neuromuscular massage therapist, etc. Get a Vit D. level tested, and an xray or MRI of your spine. If you haven't seen a rheumatologist - go there, too. Ankylosing Spondylitis can set up in the SI joints. Chronic back pain is awful - changes your life and your personality. Don't let it go on too long without some direct medical attention.
Good luck and keep us posted - hope you feel better soon!