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Chronic upper back /neck pain. Looking for help

Turk1TTurk1 Posts: 4
edited 08/09/2014 - 5:57 PM in Chronic Pain
I injured my upper back /neck on my right side 2 years ago while lifting weights. I thought it was a sprain and continued to workout until I realized it wasn't getting better. I think my existing pain is as much to do with my job being on computers all day as it is the original injury.

I have a constant ache and tightness in my upper and mid trap, right side of my neck (mostly base of skull) , under my right shoulder blade, as well as my sc joint and first few ribs. I have tightness in my sternum bring referred. It is bad when I am standing still or sitting upright, especially without arm rests. It seems to get a little better during light exercise /walking, or when laying down. I realize the pain is most likely muscular, but have seen doctors and several therapists who cannot find exactly what is wrong. I have developed some scapular winging as well.

I am 24 years old and love playing sports, but haven't in years. I am also planning to have kids and want to be able to play with them. Anyone who has any ideas or experience, it would be appreciated.


  • Hi, I'm older than you (42) but I also have had chronic neck/upper back/shoulder/trap pain for years. No trauma or injury, I think for me just the overuse issues of being in a desk job for 10 years. The neck always hurts and those muscles are always tight. Have you had an MRI or any scans done to see what is going on in there for sure? Mine showed some mild disc degeneration, a bone spur and an abnormal facet joint. I'm now working with a pain doctor to try to break this pain cycle. So I get it when you say you want to play sports but haven't in years, me also (love to run but can't.)
  • I had an Mri and x-ray over a year ago when the injury was more acute. Everything came back normal. I have been working with a new therapist the last few weeks. She was very optimistic going into it, but I'm a little more doubtful due to my past experiences. She has been taping my shoulder for stability and I see a decent reduction in pain. I just don't believe instability is the root cause
  • Have you consulted with a spine doctor? Not a chiropractor or a physical therapist, but a board certified spine surgeon to see what he thinks may be causing the problem?

  • I met with 2 different spinal doctors and they really just analyzed Mri abs x-ray results. They told me they didn't see any abnormalities and told me to stretch. I am aware it is muscle tightness, but haven't had much of any luck reducing it for more than a day.
  • I've had similar issues in the past. I'm 43 and I've basically sat behind a computer most of my adult life. Tension starts between the shoulder blades and once it starts you can't seem to get rid of the tension and it just continues to build. I've gone through some mild physical therapy twice and both times it helped tremendously. Have you tried massage therapy? Having gone through this a couple of times I've learned to quit holding up my shoulders and let them hang to release the tension, but you have to release the muscles before you can focus of letting your shoulders hang. Anyway, maybe some PT would help. Good luck.
  • I did some physical therapy for about 3 months a while back. I am now trying it again for the first time in a year. I am on week 3, focusing on mobilization /stability. She also has done some dry needling. I find most of my relief comes when she tapes my shoulder to to help support it. I really struggle to keep my shoulders back at the end of the day and constantly find myself unknowingly lifting them up towards my ear.
  • If the McConnell taping ( I think that's what it is called but not 100% sure), it might be worthwhile to visit a regular sports ortho to see if the problem is stemming from your shoulder( s) and not your upper back at all.
  • Bamaboy100BBamaboy100 Posts: 40
    edited 08/12/2014 - 6:33 AM
    Turk1 said:
    I really struggle to keep my shoulders back at the end of the day and constantly find myself unknowingly lifting them up towards my ear.
    This was the exact same reaction I used to have and in my situation they therapist said this will continue to cause problems until you can learn to keep your shoulders relaxed. Not sure if that will work for you...just letting you know that it sounds similar to my problem and it worked for me. I found myself every ten seconds focusing on relaxing my shoulders and over the course of a few weeks it became second nature. This is such a common problem when people type on computers all day because they raise their shoulders to get to the keyboard. Good luck and keep us up to date

    I believe that the tapped shoulder helps because you aren't using the muscle to lift the shoulder, thus the muscle can relax and not stiffen up from the constant tension. Just my $.02 cents
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