This will be an introduction/pain history, and may be more of a "venting" post than anything else... I'm rather frustrated.
Have been dealing with lower neck pain (like right at the base of the neck, where it meets the shoulder area) on the LEFT side for a little over a year. First started on the job, when having to look down for long periods of time. For months, it would only hurt during the last few hours of the shift, when I had to be looking down (writing; and left-handed, if that makes a difference?). I didn't think much of it, because I'd get home and go to bed, wake up and it would be gone. Figured it was just that position that hurt, and I just get sore from it every night. And "sore" meaning... on a scale of 1-10, it was a 10 by the end of the night.
It's a sharp, stabbing pain,
just to the left side of the base of my neck. Will radiate upwards through the left side of the neck to the base of the skull (no headaches), and downwards/outwards across the top of the shoulder blade.
The one day (11 months after pain initially began), it hurt at the start of the shift. And that's when I finally reported it at work, and went to our medical facility. Ergo got involved, and wanted ME to "design" some kind of stand/podium to take around with me to all the stations I had to write at, so I could write in an upright position. What?! You're Ergo, isn't that your job? I don't have time to make up a drawing of a portable podium! And plus, tons of other people have to use these stations, and write in these same positions! Wouldn't it be better to just standardize all these stations so they were all in a nice upright position? Instead of just "fixing" it for ME? Let's benefit everyone here... anyway, I never had time to sit down and draw anything for them, so my Ergo case is still open.
Boss took me off that job for a few days until I could see the doctor -- and while that particular pain ceased for that time, I did experience tingling in my neck and upper back area during that time.
The doctor at work (large employer, has nurses available during work hours, doctor available for each shift on different days) has thought it was a muscle issue from the start. My neck/upper back/shoulder muscles are always incredibly tight. Doctor offered no restrictions, so I went back to that job.
OTC pain relievers / anti-inflammatories provide no relief whatsoever. Ice packs make it hurt worse (bunch muscles up even tighter), while heating pads provide temporary relief/relaxation. I wore a stick-on heating pad at work a few times, and that really helped -- and as soon as it came off it was like it was never even on, hurt just the same.
Doctor referred me to physical therapy, 12 sessions. Felt no improvement.
Had an EMG, normal results.
Suffered a crazy muscle spasm one day. It was like a ball of pain in the middle of my back, between the lower part of the shoulder blades. Pain radiated to ribs/chest on either side of the source when trying to take a normal/deep breath. This was a one-time episode. Hurt/sore for a few days and was gone.
Switched jobs (same employer, different position within the company), to where I'm no longer having to look down for extended periods of time... and now it hurts ALL THE TIME. There is no relief anymore. The pain IS less when I get up at the start of the day, but it is still there, and gets worse throughout the day. I'd rank the constant pain at around a 6-8, with it climbing up to a 10 by the end of my workday. Everyday, wondering "How am I going to work through this?!" and forcing myself to plow through the pain and keep going because I have no other choice.
Doctor finally sent me for an MRI of the cervical spine. Results came back yesterday.Slight, SLIGHT bulge in the C6-7 disc; very tiny; lower middle, RIGHT SIDE, NOT touching/putting pressure on anything.
I'm so frustrated because I feel this news... means nothing about the pain on my left side! From my understanding, a slight, not-touching-anything bulge on the right side, should NOT be causing pain on the left side, correct?
If it was touching anything, I would understand pain on the right side... but being told that a right side bulge is the reason for my left side pain has me baffled.
The pain just gets worse and worse... I practically begged the doctor to send me home on comp, but she won't do it. She could offer restrictions, but what good would that do when it hurts non-stop? Restrict me from what? I'm doing probably one of the least stressful jobs on neck muscles, and it still kills me by the end of the night. Whatever is wrong, working 9 hours certainly isn't allowing it to heal! It's obviously making it worse.
Doctor has referred me to PM&R. Waiting to hear when my first appointment time/day is. I'm still rather convinced it is a muscle/soft tissue problem, so I am looking forward to meeting with the physiatrist -- I hope they can get me an ultrasound of that area...!
I just can't wait to find out what is really wrong (assuming it's not solely the disc!), and start treating it!!