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Delayed onset pain starts two days after exertion, lasts for weeks, started eight months ago, MRI sh

Last year I got heavy into P90X DVDs. One day after doing the back and leg program I woke up with excruciating pain just beneath my left shoulderblade. It was severe enough that I had trouble sleeping for a week. Now it is eight months later and I am still not okay. If I do jumping, squats, or lifting anything heavy using my legs, then two days after the exertion I experience the same excruciating pain beneath the left shoulderblade. The pain lasts for about two weeks. After that, the severe pain dies down to a dull roar. I can always feel it, although sometimes it is hardly noticeable.

I went to a chiropractor and had electric shock (muscle stimulation) treatment. Afterwards, I had muscle spasms in the affected area beneath the shoulderblade for weeks. The spasms were not painful, but were uncomfortable. I also had an MRI done. No problems were found on the MRI. The doctor, who specialized in sports medicine, mostly just looked at my spine and seemed confused and flustered when I told him where the pain was. His best theory was that I had injured the intercostal muscles between my ribs, but he did not sound very confident with that diagnosis. The pain occurs only just beneath the left shoulderblade and nowhere else. The pain dies down to a dull discomfort unless I do lifting or jumping (like when I recently moved to a third-floor apartment), in which case the pain becomes excruciating for about two weeks. During the exertion, however, I feel no pain at all. In fact, while I was moving apartments, I assumed that I was healed because carrying a couch up three flights of stairs did not hurt at all. I was very wrong. The pain later nearly brought me to tears. I started taking large doses of over-the-counter pain relief meds. Then pain has died down now, but at its worst I would have taken just about anything to stop it if I had something to take.

I don't know what is wrong with me. I have spent many hours on the internet reading forums and websites. Nothing that anyone else describes sounds like what I am going through. I can't be the only one with these symptoms though. A friend of mine said that it might be a pinched nerve and maybe all I need is a sports massage.

From what I can deduce, it must be muscle-related. The MRI showed nothing (although it was done on the spine, not the ribs, as far as I can tell from looking at it). The spasms indicate a problem with the muscle tissue. Also, the delayed onset points to muscle rather than cartilage, tendon, or ligament.

Please tell me if you have experienced anything like this or if you have any information. I have been in pain for eight months, now. I'm starting to worry that it is chronic and that I will never be able to lift and jump again without bringing on this horrible condition. I have done arm exercises with freeweights and the exercises do not affect this injury. Only lifting and jumping set it off, which makes no sense to me because the pain is NOT in my lower back. The pain is just beneath my left shoulderblade.

What is wrong with me and how do I fix it?


  • Have you had a good long break from high impact activities since this started? It might help to do just low-impact exercise (stretching, walking, swimming, yoga etc.) for a while, maybe 3 months, and take it pretty easy. You may not have been giving your body enough time to heal.
  • mcjimjam said:
    Have you had a good long break from high impact activities since this started? It might help to do just low-impact exercise (stretching, walking, swimming, yoga etc.) for a while, maybe 3 months, and take it pretty easy. You may not have been giving your body enough time to heal.
    Unfortunately, I kept working out for the first couple of months. I thought it was just a muscle strain that would heal. I may have aggravated the initial injury. I've only done low-impact since probably late September, until I moved all my furniture up three flights of stairs. Now the pain is excruciating and it doesn't let up. It's such a weird injury. It's frustrating that I can't figure out what is wrong.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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