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Newbie with chronic neck and shoulder problem ..HELP PLS!

chilli-redcchilli-red Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in New Member Introductions
hello all,
this is my 1st post on this forum so i would greatly appreciate anyones help on this.. please excuse my lengthy post but i thought rather than posting bits of information i would write it up in one go.

i am a 27 year old male suffering from severe chronic neck and shoulder related pain. To give you some background information I am computer technician which means I sit at a desk most of the day. I have been told I have slightly rounded shoulders due to this but I have never suffered from any bone or muscular related problems. I had a car accident in Jan 2009 which resulted in impact from the right hand side. There was no initial injuries or symptoms related to this.

This problem started in oct 2009 where originally it was neck pain on the right hand side in the C1-C2 area. It was mild/tolerable pain which I had treatment for by a physiotherapist who diagnosed me with a slipped/herniated disk. To no avail the symptoms progressed and I went to an osteopath who was unable to diagnose what the problem was but stated the problem area is in the levator scapular, the rhomboid muscle, behind the shoulder blade which is what is causing the pain in the neck.

The treatment from the osteopath included some spinal/neck manipulation which provided temporary relief. However the problem still persisted which led me to a chiropractor. This provided no relief at all and may have aggravated the problem further

I have had an mri scan of the neck about 7 months ago which showed no obtrusions of the neck. The symptoms have become progressively worse and have or include upper back/ neck and shoulder tension. Dizziness/feeling off balance/ chronic headaches from the back of the neck, an episode of severe migraine which led to temporary memory loss, a clicking sound in the lower neck region when tilting my head back, strained, taut muscles in most part of the neck and muscle knots pretty much in the whole right side of the neck /upper back and shoulder region.

I am now receiving treatment from a sport massage therapist for the last 4 months who provides temporary relief with acupressure and deep massage but requires me to re-visit every 2 weeks. Again the diagnosis of this practitioner corresponds to the diagnosis of the osteopath however he is unable to specify on what the cause is i.e. pinched nerve, slipped disc, nerve damage. In addition to this I am now experiencing a noticeable numbing pain from the back of my arm down to the elbow.

Other non- muscoskeletal symptoms include IBS, anxiety and mild depression, sporadic muscle spasms around the whole body and consistent foot cramps at night. I refuse to take pain killers on a regular basis due to my IBS.

Any ideas/ thoughts/ suggestions are welcome as i am on my last tethers.



  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of great articles on this site and the members of the forums are very helpful, knowledgeable and supportive. Many of us have felt what you're feeling and understand your frustration.

    I'm wondering why you haven't been to a spine specialist since you received one diagnosis of a herniated disc by a physiotherapist. It seems you've been hopping from one manipulation technique to another and I feel like you would benefit from a more thorough diagnostic testing through a spine specialist.

    If you have a herniated disc in your cervical spine and it progresses to touching your spinal cord (which can be possible with radicular arm symptoms including numbness, tingling and/or pain), you may be making more problems for yourself than helping treat the problem. One thing we know here is that you can take your MRI to ten different doctors and get ten different interpretations, so second, third and even more opinions are invaluable.

    You also may be getting muscle spasms - do you take any muscle relaxants? I can't tell you how bad they were for me in my upper back and shoulders before we discovered my severe cervical problems. Muscle spasms are very common with cervical problems because the muscles are working overtime to compensate for a problem and can't keep carrying the load.

    So, with all that said, in my experience and my opinion only, I'd suggest you find a fellowship-trained spine specialist, a surgeon even (that doesn't mean surgery, they can prescribe physio and PT specifically designed with your particular problems in mind). Cervical problems are nothing to mess with and it worries me that you're getting manipulation after manipulation without knowing exactly what's going on. Getting to the root of the problem is imperative, especially if your symptoms are progressing.

    Take care and know that this is my opinion only, but I do understand cervical issues.

  • hi cath111,
    thank you for your detailed response. To answer your question regarding consultation with a spine specialist, i didn't consider the physicians diagnosis convinving enough because he didnt use any equipment to diagnose and simply had a feel of my neck and said 'yep you've got a slipped disc'.

    after speaking to a number of people including osteo, physio, chiro.. they all said that was rubbish as its too difficult to tell if something is out of place in the neck by simply having a feel and squeezing the neck. Plus i would say i still have preety much full mobility of the neck. so i can move it up/ down, left/right.

    the osteo and physio that i am currently seeing have both said that i had the wrong area scanned and i should get the shoulder/ upper back region scanned or have a CT scan done.

    Having said that the pain reduces and flares up again and now its moved to the left hand side so im getting tension related pain on the left hand side aswell.

    the general consesus is it is a muscoskeletal related disorder but what does that mean.. nobody can explain to me.

    cath where would i find a trained spine specialist. im from the uk btw.
  • Fidning a specialist can be as simple as looking in a phone book or going to your gp and have them suggest 1. I have problems on my right side, the pain/tingling etc. started just as your did and got progressively to the point that many times i cnnot use my arm at all.

    I also suggest that you have more tests done before you have more manipulation done as you may be making your overall condition worse.

    I am not a medical professional this is just my opinion from my own experiences.
  • I agree with Cathie - don't mess around with neck issues - my advice would be to push doctors and/or find specialists until you get a definite diagnosis. I had 2 cervical disc compressing my spinal cord. Originally thought I pulled something when I lifted something very heavy over my head. I started with my General Doctor who gave me steroids and anti-inflammatory meds and sent me to a physical therapist as they thought I bulged a disk. Well 8 weeks later when the pain was completely unbearable in my right shoulder and down my arm - no neck pain at all - I went for a Cervical Spine MRI which should 2 disks compressing my spinal cord to a point where I could become paralyzed. Don't want or mean to scare you as your situation could be completely different. You may not have any pain in your neck with disk issues in your neck... You mentioned that you had an MRI months ago - was it specific to your Cervical Spine??? My specialist was a neurosurgeon who reviewed and showed me my MRI twice and explained the risks to my spinal cord these disks were causing. I decided to have the surgery to correct it which is a personal decision for everyone. I could not bare the pain anymore and have small children to care for. I have no regrets - still recovering and not 100% but way better now than I was before the surgery! I wish you well and just urge you to really push the doctors to find out what is really wrong. We are here to listen if you need us- I hope it works out and you find out what is wrong so you can then begin your journey to heal! Again I am not a Doctor and only sharing my experience with you. Well Wishes!
  • thank you so much for your heart felt and concerning replies. this is probably the friendliest and most welcoming forum i have come across and i am on loads of forums.lol

    anyways getting back to the point, unfortunatley mary i can't answer that question on whether or not it was a specialist neurosurgeon who looked at my mri.. im quite sure it wasn't and it wasn't specific to my cervical spine either, as far as i know it was of my neck only.

    but you guys are right though .. i've left it long enough and i've just been pushed from one place to another. thing is it's not easy finding the right person and the waiting time on our so called national health service is ridiculous.. i am really considering going private to avoid the long waiting times. but i've been told or so i read that it would be better if i had an mri done standing up, so that the neck is under normal load which would give better results..

    would a ct scan yield better results.. i really dont know, im confused.
  • I am not sure what a CT scan would show. I only had the MRI and I was lying down like a normal MRI - they took and showed me several pictures - one was a view looking down my spinal cord from my brain to show where the 2 disks were stopping the spinal fluid and pressing on the cord and the other views were of the disks and vertibrae and you could just see the 2 were not where they should be .. the brain view was very alarming I have to say as I never saw my brain before.. not sure about a standing up MRI - never did that .. I am sorry you are having so much trouble just finding someone to help you but be your own advocate and keep pushing - wish you the best!
  • I wrote back a long reply yesterday before I had to go to work and then lost internet access. I hate it when that happens, but it looks like other members have been keeping you busy and giving you good advice.

    Maybe a good place to start with understanding how doctors work and why and when they do imaging is reading this article:


    Although they mention lumbar, it's really not much different for cervical. I tells you that imaging, such as an MRI or CT scan is only part of the whole picture. A specialist will know what image needs to be done, will understand your symptoms, etc. It's kind of strange because when I went to see my surgeon for the first time, it was obvious from looking at my MRI that I had no discs at three levels. But they did finger-flipping tests, strength testing, all kinds of other things.

    That's why we're suggesting one of two routes: starting at the beginning again with your GP and going the normal route to a specialist or going straight to a specialist.

    You can't make the decision whether you need an x-ray, CT scan or MRI - on the person diagnosing the problem can decide what's the next plan of action.

    Read around the site and get informed on what all this stuff is. I think you'll find that you'll start understanding more and more and will be able to be your own advocate in no time.

    Take care and please keep us posted.
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