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Neck pain, swelling of muscles

jenny1jjenny1 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel six years ago and now it is so bad on my right arm, I have decided to do something about it. I am 32 years old and female. I suffered an accident when I was 22 and never got my neck or back checked out. Ever since I have gone to chiropractors and lately have taken a lot of meds. My neck gets swollen on the back, like a muscle is knotted up. I also have one inside my right shoulder blade that never goes away. Right now and for the past 4 weeks or so, it has been awful. Last year I smacked my right elbow full force against a metal pole and ever since my arm has hurt worse. I went to a orthopedic surgeon and he's ready to do carpal tunnel surgery without looking at my neck first. Should I let him? Until my next consult with him, I am going to a chiropractor and massage therapist for pain management. I am not wanting neck surgery but atleast then I would know what else is causing my pain, right? My neck hurts far more than my arm right now anyway. I just don't know how beneficial the cts surgery will be for me if my neck is messed up. Then what if he wants to cut on my elbow and shoulder? What should I do? Thank you in advance. Any input will help, please!!!


  • First off, a hearty Welcome to Spine Health!!! At the top of the web page is a search box that might be of help in your research for answers. None of us are medical professionals, so we are replying via our own personal experiences. :)

    I have CTS in my left wrist, but not bad enough for me to do anything with it presently. Question back to you if I may? Have you been to a spine specialist yet concerning your neck issues and concerns? For me, I had C5/6 and too I had Ulnar issues which as it turned out Cubital Tunnel Syndrome - Ulnar trapped in the elbow and the wrist/palm. I was a 'triple' area problem back then. I was found to have a hernia on the cord for the C5/6 and too 'crush' at the elbow and hand/wrist. I was fused at the C5/6 and 3 weeks later my surgeon (neuro for the neck, ortho for the elbow/wrist/hand) my Ulnar issues were taken care of.

    I would continue with the Carpal Tunnel issues and resolve, and then get with a spine trained specialist to see what is or might be going on with your neck. Have you had any imaging done for your cervical spine yet? There are many tests, and exams before they decide the neck is involved, as too there are other areas that can cause symptomatic issues that are or are not in the C-spine. Please let us know how it goes. Lots of folks on here are more than happy to help answer questions and offer support. Again, welcome aboard!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thank you for sharing with me. No, I have never seen a spine specialist, beyond the chiropractor. I am putting off the cts surgery until atleast November for work reasons and until then I am doing research. Also I am seeing my Chiropractor every few days and a Massage Therapist. I just want to know before I have any surgery, if my elbow and neck is okay. So I went to the orthopedic surgeons office and changed my pre-op into a consult. It's not for a couple of weeks and I want to tell him to MRI something before the surgery! My elbow atleast, maybe my shoulder and neck. I have insurance so why doesn't want to? He said that if he found something at my elbow, he couldn't say for sure it was causing my pain. Well, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? This all started I went to my doctor for an elbow injury pain and now they want to fix my carpal tunnel. I'm going to respectfully ask him to check out my elbow, if it's good then proceed with the cts treatment. Then if my neck is still bothering me I will go see that specialist. Spinal surgery sounds very scarey to me. My Chiropractor says my neck is in phase one and that I need to improve my posture in order for the treatments to be effective. I hope everything works out for you and again thank you for the reply. Has anyone had the carpal tunnel surgery? Did it work? Elbow injury or surgery? I want to read your story here. I am scared and in pain, please help.
  • Glad to see you are becoming an advocate in your own medical issues verses letting yourself be led by the nose as they say. :) My Chiropractor is the one that actually started suspecting issues in my neck, and he ordered the first MRI for the Cervical. Once he saw not only was I herniated, but that it was on the cord, he stopped manipulating my neck, and referred me to a Neurologist. The Neurologist did electrical studies, physical exam, and then referred me almost immediately to a surgeon - paralysis was the big threat here.

    As for the Cubital surgery in my elbow, wrist and hand. That *I* would say is about 90% successful. I thought it was starting to fail last December as I started (now fully) losing my ring and pinkie fingers again, and pain in my forearm. EMG was conducted, and my Ulnar is "unremarkable" at the elbow, but still deemed "Ulnar Neuropathy" since it starts above the elbow. Those issues now extend to the base of the neck, even an x-ray shows like > < much space between the bones there now, and large spurs, so that level is now a mess. Sigh...

    I was doing "Parallel" research with my doctors when my issues started going south. The sports Orthopedic Surgeon I went to, he helped many in my office. I don't require a referral with my insurance, so I went to him for my arm initially. He never called it Cubital tunnel (then it was a new term), just "your ulnar nerve is trapped in your elbow and hand." MRI wasn't needed to determine that, exams and EMG confirmed. He too referred me to a local Neurologist, but once he found I'd already had that covered, he focused (and did the surgery) on my elbow, wrist and hand. Best decision I could have made.

    Hopefully you will find that your doctor (Ortho?) will focus on his area of specialty, and if not a spine specialist, will determine that a Neuro is needed to look hard at the neck. He may determine that you are a double, triple crush: Shoulder, elbow, hand, and not associated - though can mimic pretty darn good - not the neck. Let them finish the exams and see how that works out. At least part of the puzzle is coming together. Welcome to the club of spines and nerves!! Support *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • As to the MRI of the shoulder or elbow. I asked the very same question when all this came up with me. I was told that unless I suffered trauma, it is presumed to be a compression or crush, and exams along with xray and EMG tells them what they need to know. It worked in my case.

    Now if for instance something happened a while ago, and now you're starting to have problems, bring that up, and an MRI might be on the table. That is how it was put to me. Not all doctors are the same of course, but so far, that has been my experience.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hi Jenny,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find many going through what you are. As far as your diagnoses of CTS how did they make that diagnoses? If it was a emg study did they run that all the way up your arm or was it just done by tapping on the nerve?

    It sounds to me like the knots you are talking about maybe what we refer to as trigger points. Look them up and that might help you out. Also look up myofascial pain syndrome and see if that is close to what you have. There is a good video here that you can watch on it. You might also want to google dermatones and see if any of that looks close to the pain you are talking about.

    I am with you about not doing a surgery till the diagnoses is confirmed, completely. If your having pain further up your arm and your not sure that it is CTS then I would keep looking for the answer till someone confirmed the diagnoses. So with any surgery i would go get a second opinion as another doctor may have a different take on what is going on. You may have CTS but secondary to another injury. Myself I see a plastic surgeon who deals with trauma to the nerves and while I have CTS he doesn't care much for that surgery and actually treated it with vitamin B and a custom made splint to sleep in. It actually made the pain more something i could manage. But you doing the right thing in keeping looking for answers. You neck most certainly could be putting pain into your arms it is called radicular(pain radiates out from the injury pain or radiculopathy, but that is if there is something wrong.
    Sense none of us our doctors it would be hard for any of us to guess what is going on, but I would get more opinions before you proceed with any surgery. The last thing you want is to do a surgery and still have pain and it wasn't the source of the pain generator.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health and if there is anything I can do don't hesitate to pm me. Take care and keep me posted.
  • I think your knots are trapezitis.
    Lookup the term in google and there are nice articles explaining that.

    About CTS as long as u dont have numbness in your hands and weakness in grip you dont have to worry about CTS.
  • Thank you for your reply. The Neurologist did EMG test and shocked my arm at the wrist, elbow and up my shoulder and neck. It produced a waveform. She concluded that my wrist was where it was at. I still don't think I want to have them cut on it though. I have my e.r. records and taking them with me to show the surgeon that I had a neck injury. My Chiropractor is working on my muscle knots/ trigger points. Reading back through my original post, I didn't decide to do something about the cts. A surgeon wants me to but I'm thinking about holding off until they look at my elbow injury first, my neck problems and my shoulder. My hands are so important to me and my livelihood. I don't want to end up worse off.
  • Welcome to Spine Health. As you will see, there are as many different opinions as there are members. Who you should see, what they should test, what the diagnosis should or should not be ... enough to drive a person crazy trying to sort through it all. That's why it is so important to have a single focal point in your medical care. For most, it is there primary care provider. We tend to get carried away here making recommendations on who to see for what and once again it is all personal opinion based on personal experiences. Generally a person has to be referred to a specialist and there has to be a reason for the referral based on another doctor's request.

    So here's my opinion... It never hurts to be completely evaluated before branching off into different worlds of different specialties. Getting surgery on your arm or hand and still having a swollen and sore neck, may cause things to be exacerbated or difficult to deal with as a minimum.

    There are several different things that can cause a muscle to "stand up" on the neck. For instance, I have one side of my neck that is extremely large, bulged and locked in spasm constantly. It is as a result of losing two muscles on the opposite side of my neck. Evaluation of my pain issues have to start from my neck and work outward and downward from there. Pain in my arms, hands and shoulders all ties back to it. My scapulas not being able to be held in (called winging scapulas) is a direct result of the problem in my neck. There's more but I hope you see what I'm trying to say. A good mechanic troubleshoots the entire machine to isolate the problem all the way back through to where it originated. No sense in putting new tires on a car if there's no gas in the tank to make it run.

    Anyway I thought I would say hi and like the others, welcome you to Spine Health.

  • Thanks Calvin. :) Yes that makes sense and very good metafore. I thought about asking the surgeon if he would alow his mechanic to replace a very expensive part on a hunch or would he want it properly diagnosed first, with a guarantee the part will fix it. So funny you mentioned that. I suffered a bad neck and back injury 8 years ago. I went to the E.R. after waiving the ambulance ride with bruises (contusions) on my neck and back (and everywhere else). I was in shock at the time and was sad my nose was broke. They did an MRI on my nose and sent me home! Ever since then I've had these problems with my neck, rib/ spine, shoulder and tingling in my right arm. Long story short, I am taking my E.R. records and gathering others from 8 years ago that documents all of this and going back to my Doctor (PCP) with it. Also taking it to my consultation with the surgeon. I can ask him what tests he would've wanted to do had he been the E.R. Doctor. I'm not letting him do anything to me until until I am fully diagnosed. Then I can decide what surgery is worth the risk. I'm just afraid he's going to be insulted and I'll have to find another specialist. He had me talked into the cts surgery but now I'm holding off. Any mechanic can throw parts at a car all day long, but a good one will tell you what part needs replaced to fix the problem. Cars are machines, we're not so I understand there is no 12 month warranty or guarantee of any kind! But I'm not going to be lead through like cattle into the surgeon's office. I will keep everyone posted. Who knows? :/
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