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Shoulder blade and arm pain with arm numbness.

Kevin_OKKevin_O Posts: 4
edited 05/13/2014 - 4:48 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic

Hi,

I am hoping to find some answers or clues to what has been going on with an on-going issue. I'll try to summarize below.

I have had lower back pain and stiffness since I was in my 20s, but this issue with my lower back is fairly new.

Symptoms:

*Past 6 months: Tingling in my fingertips (all four on my left hand) and pain and numbness at the inside of my upper, left arm and mild pain in my left shoulder blade.

*Past 2 weeks: Over the course of the day while at work (computer technician, no heavy lifting) the above symptoms increased quite a bit. I went home and was feeling a litter better and walked on my treadmill for about 40 minutes and then jogged for about 3 minutes. Did some back stretches afterwords.

The next morning I woke up feeling like someone stabbed me in the back (left shoulder blade) with a knife. Upon sitting up in bed the symptoms increased dramatically. This was my routine for about 10 days. The only thing that I have found to relieve the pain is to walk for 10-30 minutes.

The past 3-4 days the pain has slowly gotten better but is still a big issue when getting up from lying down.

Today, while sitting at my desk at work I have numbness in my arm while working on a computer out if front of me and while sitting. That almost entirely goes away if I pull my arm back away from my work. It is also relieved if I go for a walk.

My doctor (in January before it got much worse) said it was a pinched nerve in my neck (around C6-8 I believe he said). Monday I saw him again and he did some strength tests (I did fine) and movement test (I did fine) and he cracked my neck and upper back. He said that probably wouldn't do much but he wanted to make sure everything was aligned. I asked if he thought it was a disc issue and he said he wasn’t ready to say that. He said I have spasms and inflammation and prescribed a muscle relaxer and anti-inflammatory.

Any feedback on what may be going on would be much appreciated.

Thanks!!

Kevin

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Comments

  • Kevin,
    Ask the doctor about the possibility of a scan to rule out spinal injury.
    Mick
    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
  • Kevin, I would have to agree with mickkr about getting a mri done, do not settle for just an x-ray, an x-ray will not show soft tissue or disc issues. I have issue similar to yours, and mine seem to derive at least partially from nerve damage from the C4 - C7 area of my neck. Currently get the nerves burned off (radio-frequency ablation) every 4 months to try and keep the pain in check from my neck. Do not give up if the scan does not show anything that the doctors think would cause your issues, go see a pain specialist (do your research on clinics first) and talk to them, there are things they can do to help pinpoint where your issues are coming from.
    Posterior L4-S1 fusion/implementation
    Anterior C5-T1 fusion/implementation with continuing nerve pain issues RFA procedures every 4 months to help w/pain
  • Thank you for the replies. I am currently doing physical therapy (past two weeks) but it has not really changed anything. Not much has changed since my first post but I do have one new symptom. The skin on the top of my hand, mostly around my index finger knuckle and part of my hand has gone numb. The tip of the same finger has been about 50% numb for quite some time now.

    If the PT cannot help me then I will next push for the MRI. I have not even had an xray ordered yet. If it is suggested I will push for the MRI. Thanks again and I will try to remember to post updates sooner.
  • Hi Kevin.
    Has you doctor or physical therapist mentioned the possibility you are suffering from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)? Your symptoms are certainly consistent with this diagnosis and TOS should be a differential diagnosis your doctor is exploring. In basic terms TOS occurs when the bundle of nerves from your lower neck (cervical spine) get compressed by the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) our your upper back and/or shoulder region.

    You mentioned your symptoms are decreased when you get up and walk around or pull your shoulders back. This tells me that your sitting posture is contributing to your symptoms. Chances are you are slouching and/or rounding your shoulders when your sit, commonly know as bad posture. Ask you therapist to evaluate your sitting posture and make suggestions on how you can improve it. Also light stretching and applying an ice pack (15-20 minutes duration) to your lower neck, upper back and around your shoulder should help diminish your symptoms.

    If none of these suggestions improves your condition then I agree with appengineer, for these type of symptoms of 6+ months duration you need an MRI.
  • Kevin_OKKevin_O Posts: 4
    edited 06/14/2016 - 2:20 PM
    Thank you for your reply Ilyne!

    I saw a different PT this morning and after reading a bit about TOS, it sounds like he was investing that possibility. He did mention that the issue might be vascular. He had me lay flat on my back and he pushed on my collar bones. No issues with the right side but pushing on my left collar bone did increase pain in my left shoulder blade.

    He also pulled upward (toward my head) along my neck with his fingertips while on my back and said that I definitely have some muscle tightness.

    While standing, he also checked my pulse with my left arm and neck in different positions and said that my pulse was weakened when my arm was straight out to my side and bent up at the elbow.

    He gave me two new exercises in addition to what I have been doing. I will add rows with a TheraBand and will pull my shoulders back for several reps with no band.

    I recently discovered that if I sit with my back very straight with no back support the tingling in my left arm slowly comes on. If I reach forward the tingling worsens. If I tilt my head to the right, the tingling fades away. There is no change if I tilt to the left. The tingling also fades if I sit back in my chair with good or bad posture.

    There is a definite connection between reaching forward and the tingling in my left arm. I can bring on the tingling by reaching forward and make it easy up when I lower my arm.

    Thanks again. My next apt. with the same PT is next Monday. I will mention TSO him and reply back.

    Kevin
  • Kevin,

    I too, suffer from the shoulder, arm and hand pain with numbness. I had a cervical laminectomy in 2008 and recently I was diagnosed with ostephytes (bone spurs) due to my cervical stenosis with myelopathy. I would recommend seeing a neurosurgeon, request an EMG/NCS (electromylogram and nerve conduction study) This will help determine some nerve damage but it could also lead the way to other tests that could determine spinal cord impingement. I know a lot about this as I was recently diagnosed with incomplete tetraplegia (C3-C6) with Nuerogenic bowel and bladder. In May, I will be undergoing a Costotransversectomy, T6-T7 discectomy with a T4-T9 fusion. I wish you luck because you sound like what I started with but everyone's details are somewhat different.
  • Kevin,

    I experience the exact same pain as you, and this prompted a Thoracic Spine MRI, the results of which I just received on Friday. I do have two small herniated discs, one barely sitting on the cord, but no work from neurologist yet (it's the weekend). I am also in PT but have been unable to attend as it has been aggravating the condition. Same thing for me ... they were working out the knots from the spasms but the pain was so severe afterwards that I couldn't go to work. No bueno. So, I would suggest further imagine esp. considering that I, too, was told it may be TOS. My PT did the exact same tests with me ... weakened pulse, though neurologist could not repeat this finding. Let me know how it goes. Best of luck. I'll be in touch.
    Suzanne Hill

    Keep your head up ... you'll see better days : )
  • Did you ever get the issue solved with your arm. I’m having the same issue. My whole arm, all the way to the outside area of my hand (pinky, ring, middle fingers), goes numb and tingles when my head is looking down, and slightly to the right. I’ve been trying different therapies for it, but no luck yet. I will be trying Prolotherapy and maybe acupuncture. I may try high doses of Vitamin C (nearly toxic levels through an IV) to take down all the inflammation. Supposedly, this treatment has been very effective with some doctors in CA. My neck swells up really bad now, and I’m stuck taking heavy duty pain RX to breakthrough the pain and get rest/sleep.

    Also, I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon and back surgeon since this may be a nerve that's being pinched in the anterior region, or on the front side of my spine. Which means Prolotherapy may not work since the injections my not be able to reach the affected area, the front side of my spine which means the dr. would have to go through my throat area to reach the area.

    I truly hope you’ve resolved the issue with your neck/arm. At least that will give me some hope, and maybe you can recommend what worked for you.

    Thanks and Good Luck with everything.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,556
    edited 10/04/2013 - 5:19 AM
    have you been evaluated for ulnar nerve entrapment? It sounds like that might be the problem , rather than a cervical problem. I have it in both arms, and hands, it the symptoms sound exactly as you are describing. Prolotherapy is not going to help that. A simple emg test to test the conduction of the nerves will tell you if it is ulnar nerve problems.
    See a neuro .
  • I was so relieved to find this thread and find some people that suffer the same symptoms as me - right shoulder and neck pain with tingling in right arm and fingers - and find out about what steps to take and which to avoid. I am making an appointment with a neurosurgeon on Monday because this situation is unbearable. Can't sit, can't stand, can't walk. All I can do is lay down and the situation has become incredibly painful, prohibitive and frustrating. Thanks to all. I have had this before, three or four times in my life, but it's always gone away after a few weeks. Not so this time however. So next week is the time to stare it in the eye and get it out of my life!!
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,951
    This is an old thread, for the best responses and support I suggest you make a new post, you can do this by clicking on 'Create forum post' on the left column.

    Welcome to Spine-Health and how to get started here

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

  • Hi Kevin.. I am having the same kind of pain in back and arm. Could you please reply with your progress and also please share if it got cured for you. Thanks
  • softcutemom44ssoftcutemom44 Posts: 1
    edited 02/08/2015 - 3:20 PM
    I HAVE HAD THIS PAIN AND NUMBNESS IN MY RIGHT ARM STARTED WITH A DEEP PAIN IN MY SHOULDER AND WENT DOWN MY HOLE ARM I HAVE PAIN AND NUMBNESS THREW OUT MY ARM I HAVE HAD CORTISONE SHOTS IN MY SHOULDER AND PAIN MEDS LIKE IBUPROFEN ARE NOT WORKING .ITS BEEN ABOUT 4 MONTHS KEEPS ME AWAKE AT NIGHT .HAPPENS ALL DIFFERENT TIMES NOT ANY CRETIN THINGS I DO MAKE IT WORSE OR BRINGS IT ON
    wendy s dineen
  • OK so I've read all the comments here and it's plain to see that I am not alone . We are all suffering from the same thing. Thing that bothers me is that no one has come back here and said their problem has been cured, or what they did to get rid of this aggravating pain . Does anyone have a remedy for this......Please let me know where to go. Countless tests from everyone and their brother is not what I can afford to do..........
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 4,784
    Are you seeing a pain management specialist?
    Curious what kinds of testing have you had done?

    My primary Doctor tried to work with my pain about two years before referring me to pain management.
    Best thing for me!

    Re no comments about a cure...many times when people are feeling better, they get back to their lives without need of support for pain from forum.

    That is good for them! But I understand your frustration.

    If you use search, icon very right top of page, you may be led to more current posts on your topics and older posts that you may more better relate to.

    Also, may be led to articles and videos with much information.
    Sometimes search leads me to more questions that I jot down to ask my doctor.

    moderator, ~~savage

  • Seems like issues at that level cause similar symptoms. I am having similar symptoms on both arms. Pain in my left arm and shoulder, numbness to my ring and little fingers. Severe pain shoots down both my arms if I sneeze.

    MRI shows spinal cord compression at C5/C6 and C6/C7 because of stenosis and disc bulges. Still going through the process of getting a treatment. The worst symptom I've been having recently is full body tremors if I stand for more than 10 minutes. Yesterday my doc prescribed Valium and while it didn't help any other symptoms it certainly stopped the tremors for me.
    All questions and answers are given from a personal perspective only. I have congenital stenosis from C4-C7, and T7-S1. I am actively being seen my by doctor and following his advice. I strongly suggest that you do the same.
  • pegpawppegpaw Posts: 1
    edited 11/25/2015 - 12:27 PM
    I'm glad to see this post is still alive. Quick background; 2 weeks ago (no prior issues except one chronic I'll mention in a bit) I performed a yoga-like stretch where I put my forearms to the ground. Immediately after that I could tell I stretched something (no pop), but definite ache in my left side, under my underarm. Hurt to turn and esp bend over (felt like intensified then). Used Tylenol, heat & ice for a couple of days, no better. Went to see my GP; she didn't think it was a tear but prescribed a stronger anti-inflam and also muscle relaxants (these have not had much effect). At this point I'll mention that I have MS because I started to notice tingling in my index and middle finger left hand. (I'm not suggesting MS for anything in this post but it's relevant for the symptom I had). My neuro wants to watch things for about a week to see if they worsen. I notice that I can't sit in my car seat nor a plain office chair; sitting straight up will result in left side pain. Anytime I bend over, my fingers get more numb. (This tells me it's not an MS relapse, which is reassuring but at the same time something is definitely wrong). My trainer today asked if I had seen a chiropractor, which I did not consider (and have had good results with them on other issues). I'm planning on seeing one in a couple of days to see if there's some relief there.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 4,784
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!

    moderator, ~~savage

  • Hey PegPaw, please tell me what the chiropractor does for you. My story is almost identical to yours except I actually heard a *pop* during my stretch/pose. Already been to the Chiropractor, and despite getting some amazing cracks in my neck, the numbness, pain and tingling down my left arm into my fingers is still present. They did an x-ray there at the Chiro office too, and because things were normal, he basically told me to go straight to an Orthopedic M.D. because MRI's are needed to look for bulging or herniated disks. I'm not on my wife's insurance yet, so unfortunately just this isn't a realistic route for me to start heading down.

    My wife is previously a massage therapist now a nurse. She works on my neck/back where the attachment points for the left arm/shoulder blade meet. If she didn't do this for me almost every night, I don't know how I would get by without muscle relaxers and/or pain killers. Having someone to work on the knots the nerve tension is causing is IMO, key to staying ahead of the pain. Until I take further steps towards an MRI, I wear a clavicle-type back brace to improve my posture when I sit down as it seems to help. Sitting is the worst, but I do find that if I move my back off the chair and lean SLIGHTLY forward (just a few inches no more), and keep my shoulders straight in the brace, I have much more control over the pain. The only other position with relative comfort is standing/moving around, or laying down. Sitting in a chair regularly or leaning forward .... pain beyond measure.

    Find someone you know to help you stay ahead of your knots PegPaw if you've got them in your neck and shoulder there on your left side like I do. And to all of the rest of you, take just a little time as you get better to keep the rest of us informed as to how you progress what is working. I will as well.

    Thanks and good luck folks
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 4,784
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!

    moderator, ~~savage

  • Hi Kevin, How are you doing now ? did you solve your left hand plain problem. Can you please advise us in details how you have solved it. Please email me at : arun.vils@gmail.com

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 4,784
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!

    moderator, ~~savage

  • Susie51SSusie51 Somerset Ky Posts: 2
    Maybe someone will read this soon. I was in a car accident 3/1/16 today is 3/5/16, my left collar bone is broken. As I was lying down about to drift off to sleep all of a sudden the sharpest pain struck my left shoulder blade it was so bad I just about passed out. My husband, bless his heart, rubbed gently the area but I couldn't stand it. I'm just wondering if anyone might know what that could be? I was thinking pinched nerve. I have appointment with a Orthorpeditic Dr on 3/9, I didn't go to the ER (yet) debating. Our ER is not a place that is very well known as a "good" hospital. It's very painful breathing also. I have taken my pain medication my muscle relaxer & I am currently on a heating pad. If I seat in one position it's not too bad if I even raise my right arm it's painful. I'm curious if anyone has experienced anything like what I have? If so what have you done to ease the pain? Lord I hurt in my chest as well. Childbirth wasn't nothing! Thank you 
  • Susie51SSusie51 Somerset Ky Posts: 2
    Maybe someone will read this soon. I was in a car accident 3/1/16 today is 3/5/16, my left collar bone is broken. As I was lying down about to drift off to sleep all of a sudden the sharpest pain struck my left shoulder blade it was so bad I just about passed out. My husband, bless his heart, rubbed gently the area but I couldn't stand it. I'm just wondering if anyone might know what that could be? I was thinking pinched nerve. I have appointment with a Orthorpeditic Dr on 3/9, I didn't go to the ER (yet) debating. Our ER is not a place that is very well known as a "good" hospital. It's very painful breathing also. I have taken my pain medication my muscle relaxer & I am currently on a heating pad. If I seat in one position it's not too bad if I even raise my right arm it's painful. I'm curious if anyone has experienced anything like what I have? If so what have you done to ease the pain? Lord I hurt in my chest as well. Childbirth wasn't nothing! Thank you 
  • aice72aaice72 Jersey CityPosts: 1
    Hi I'm having the same problem right now, whoever posted here any progress. I feel a stabbing pain on my right arm (back area) and numbness at the hole on the back of my arm. Each time I wake up, although this doesn't happen often. My right arm and fingers are numb. The chiropractor said It would take 70-75 visits to correct my spine. Instead of 45 degrees angle , mine is -2 (neck). I've had 3 adjustments however I can still feel the pain. :(
  • DaveAGDDaveAG Michigan USAPosts: 1
    I'm just another one to add to this apparently ever growing list, sorry about that. I read every comment and sadly 75% of the symptoms are the same as mine. Although I was sitting enjoying a very good double IPA at the moment my neck pain seemed to start. In other words I believe posture had very little to do with the onset since it's difficult to drink without having your head tilted back unless you are using a straw.. Which is probably not the recommended mode of consumption for alcohol. So now to the and since bit.. That was 6 weeks ago, 12 hours after the onset my upper back, around the left shoulder blade, left arm and pinky and #4 felt 'odd'. Not numb but 24 hours later the numbness, the tingling and the stabbing feelings were very prevelant. 5 weeks, 6 days later I've had ibuprofen, Valium (or whatever the generic is called) and I am absolutely no further forward. My doctor, whom I place up there with the "will one day be an icon of integrity" has pretty much gone way above and beyond, x-ray, MRI and suggestions that certainly seem to alleviate the pain but, not withstanding I am still waiting for the MRI's feedback, I am still unable to function.. My job is at risk, my family is at the end of the tether and frankly I'm tired (little to no sleep in 6 weeks!). I was shot by a 762 (in ToOp's-not by accident BTW) in my right shoulder and this is so frustrating I'd sooner have another round in the left shoulder than this! Reading what I am, I am beginning to think that there is no hope, in fact when the pain gets just a little more than frustrating, I wish the devil that shot me had been a better shot..
    If anyone can share something positive, some procedure that worked for them, I'd love to just mention it to my PCP to see what he thinks..  BTW I have been warned that Chiro can sometimes make it worse. And if I can give one piece of experience away it would be this: if your spouse likes a soft mattress, buy 2" thick polystyrene exactly half the size of your bed and carefully have it lined up between the base and the mattress on your side of the bed, then avoid the middle so you don't roll on them! It's amazing how much firmer it makes my side, is cheaper than those fancy split mattresses and helps me at least get something close to sleep when used with the ice packs!
    Sorry for the verbosity.
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