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neck or shoulder causing excruciating pain down arm. Pain is truly horrendous

timothy0212ttimothy0212 Posts: 2
edited 12/27/2015 - 7:16 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical

I am a 38 yr old male and have been experiencing arm/shoulder pain for about 6 weeks and my physio has given me lots of shoulder strengthening exercises for rotary cuff, upper back, releasing pec minor etc and although I've seen a minor improvement it has not gone away. I drove to see family and after 5hrs in car I was in agony. Same pain in shoulder joints and triceps but also going down to elbow. It was so severe I went to see a physio local to family members and she said as there was no shoulder mobility issues, and the pain got better when lifting my arm behind head, the affected nerve was in my neck. The pain has been excruciating and has stopped me sleeping. Now i'm just confused that the physios are saying different things and I'm unsure what I should do to resolve the pain. How can I be sure that what I'm doing isn't making it worse - I. E pull downs for shoulder that worsens neck?! Previously the arm pain only happened when sitting but now I'm in constant pain and I'm not looking forward to the journey home. Any advice would be gratefully received.

Welcome to Spine-Health

It would be very helpful if you could provide us with more details. So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong,

Here are some questions that you should answer:

  • - When did this first start?
    - Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
    - What doctors have you seen? (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon, Spine Specialist, etc)
    - What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?
    - What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results (MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc)
    - What medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)
    - Has surgery been discussed as an option? (If so, what kind)
    - Is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
    - What is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
of your situation and make it easier to respond.

Please take a look at our forum rules: Forum Rules

Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.
As such, no member is permitted to provide

  • - Analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie MRI, CTscan, Xray, etc)
    - Medical advice of any kind
    - Recommendations in terms of Medications, Treatments, Exercises, etc

What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are
I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways its like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then its up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Liz,Spine-Health System Moderator


  • White BeardWWhite Beard Posts: 1
    edited 12/27/2015 - 3:42 PM
    Sorry to hear your having all this pain, I agree with Liz it would be helpful if you could provide more information about your condition, What test if any have they done on you? Have you had X-rays, or MRI of your cervical spine or nerve conduction testing done? I am more than familiar with the symptoms that your describing. My first experience with the pain you have described was over 30 years ago, I was in the military at the time and after several months of seeing various doctors, and having spinal manipulation done,(That darn near paralyzed me!) and even seeing a ""shrink"" because an Army orthopedic surgeon thought I was malingering and sent me to get a psych evaluation. Anyway after many months of extreme pain ( I honestly thought I was going to die!) as did my commander, I was finally sent to another base to see a neurologist, and he had me get a myelogram. Make a long story short, I ended up in there local civilian hospital, getting emergency surgery, as I had a massive herniated disc at C6/7, with free floating fragments in my spinal canal! They did a ACDF (Anterior Cervical Disc Fusion,) on me and took the bone graft from my pelvis. The surgery immediately ended my arm pain! It was quite an ordeal especially at that time because the ACDF was a relative new type of surgery to fix this condition. I might add I was 34 years old at that time and this was my first experience with this type of thing! As I have aged and gotten older I have become more familiar with this condition as in the last six years I have had two more cervical fusions done in my neck! And also lumbar surgery.

    I will tell you that this is nothing to play around with, if you are not getting relief or adequate treatment from your current doctors, then if you can see someone else! At least get the proper test done to hopefully find out what is going on! There are allot of other things that could possibly be causing your pain, but with the symptoms your describing I feel it is extremely important that you get this thoroughly checked out and find out what is causing your pain!

    I wish you well and hope that you can get some answers and some relief from your pain! Good Luck to you!

    White Beard
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Spine-Health Moderator
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  • Hi White beard

    Thanks for the response. This all started 3 months ago when I put my back out, physio advised it was a disk issue, and it hung around for a few weeks before settling down. It did however leave me with sciatic symptoms down my right leg. About a month in to this I started to get the pain in the arm - I'm pretty sure they're related. My physio has had me building up the shoulder muscles and I've been doing it religiously twice a day for sometime. I then wake up one morning and it's worse than ever. I have previously pushed my physio in to going for mri and he said we would if it doesn't improve over Christmas period.

    So its got a whole lot worse, and as the therapist at Christmas gave me a different diagnosis, saying it was a neck issue rather than shoulder, i'm now left questioning whether the 1.5hr (shoulder, glutes, core) of exercises are pointless.

    I know I need to get a scan and find out what's going on but in the UK they seem reluctant to do so until I've gone through a programme. It's truly miserable though. I drove 5hrs yesterday and was in eye watering pain throughout.
  • I've been doctoring for severely injured arms/shoulders (work related) for nearly 10 months. My ortho surgeon felt that the pain in my arms was due to my injuries. When my strength improved, I was sent to "work hardening" for yet more strengthening. The first day, lifting 15 lbs, I suddenly experienced pain in my lower back. By the third day, my legs were on fire and I had shooting pain all the way up my spine to my neck. I was in utter agony - and shock! I had never had an issue with my back before.

    After that, the pain in my arms became excruciating and I was finally sent for an MRI, then to see a Spine Doc. Because Work Comp sent me to a shoddy facility, my MR was poor quality and incomplete (my top 3 discs were not on the scan) In his report, he said I had DD and that my herniated disc (C-6) was pushing on the spinal cord, causing alignment issues. Makes sense to me, I guess.

    Early on, I had done wall push ups and other scapular exercises for winging. Now I've found that those exercises exasperate my pain , so I leave them alone. I'm hoping to do some PT in the near future, but since this is W/C, I know it won't happen anytime soon.
  • Our symptoms are almost identical. In late November, I awoke with an excruciating pain that traveled from my neck, through my shoulder and down my left arm. I also had tingling in the thumb and index finger and pain in a pec muscle (Pec minor).

    I was told by my chiro, who is also a medical doctor, that I have an irritation in the nerves traveling through the cervical vertabrae (C-5 and C-6). The exact disc issue isn't important yet, as treatment would be the same, so I was not sent for an MRI.

    He said since Advil hasn't worked, the next step is steroids to reduce the muscle inflammation (started them today). If still in pain, we go to epidurals, and after that surgery. He added cervical nerves are slow to heal...usually two to three months.

    For me, the pain is less than the first weeks, but still pretty high up there at times, especially night, and worrisome. Also, I started to have weakness in my tricep or perhaps I'm only noticing it now that the pain is less. According to the chiro, if that doesn't strengthen in a month I need an MRI immediately, as it may indicate permanent nerve damage and that would require surgery to prevent further damage.

    I was told this was mostly caused by bad posture. So, my exercises are to contract my shoulder blades (rhomboids) to prevent my shoulders from hunching over. I also pull back my head against a towel to strengthen neck muscles, but please check out a demonstration on YouTube before trying yourself. Also, ice and self-massage where I feel muscle spasms have helped.

    Good luck...i know it's bad...let's hope we pull through soon!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • RunningpostieRRunningpostie Posts: 10
    edited 01/06/2016 - 6:33 AM
    Hi there, I live in the U.k and I'm experiencing almost the same symptoms as you. I was very lucky, as I have a top notch sports physiotherapist looking after me (I'm a bit sports nuts and have been her client for over 3 years).
    Like you I was in agony and went to see my G.P, who was very understanding, with having a report from my PT, he immediately requested an MRI (which I had within the week). He also wanted to refer me to the neurologist., but we have put that on hold for now.
    Go back to your G.P and directly request a MRI, explain that you have had two different diagnosis from the physiotherapist and you now need to know what is wrong, so you can get the right treatment. (The wrong treatment could be detrimental to your health). Your health is important to you, make it important to your G.P.
    Good luck, the NHS can be good!
  • I would think you'd an MRI to determine the issue. I had something similar. Last year I had surgery on y L5/S1 and ithe sciatica went away but i still had numbness tingling, pins and needles down arm into hand, on buttocks, legs upper back. It wasn't constant but came and went all day long. They kept thinking it was related to my lower lumbar. But finally hey did an MRI OF CERCIVAL and thoracic spine. I had a severe herniated disc squishing my spinal cord. I had to have surgery 5 days later. Most all that is gone now just some lingering symptoms. Don't let someone manipulate your neck without an MRI. The physicians assistant in the surgeons office of my friends neurosurgeon told her that you would be surprised how many people end up in a wheelchair because they didn't know they had a compress ion from their neck into their spinal cord. Push for more testing.
  • Sue 1965SSue 1965 United KingdomPosts: 115
    I have had similar problems on and off since 2007-pain flare ups that last for a few weeks but but by the time I got to see a consultant via the NHS-my pain had settled so i was reluctant to go ahead with surgery. I got to the point however where I couldn't take it any more-work was being affected and I know I had to try the surgery so had C5/6 acdf on 211215-This has been done through a private health insurance as i found out work paid for it for us-how lucky for me.. The recovery is a slow process-but I was at the stage that my herniation hadn't settled down as they had hoped it might-I had tried everything and this is my last hope..I have only been given a 65% chance of my arm pain being cured and my back and neck pain will not be cured-I have been told that-but one less pain is great in my book! Good luck and ask me anything.. Sue
  • lwattsllwatts Posts: 12
    edited 01/11/2016 - 6:40 AM
    Just so you all learn something! FACT!
    Concerning spinal Nerves and Pain... they can only Run down !!! never up!
    So pain in your Lumber Can not effect your upper body or neck! FACT...
    Your Neck or Cervical area can Run Down and effect anywhere from Below it! Example your shoulders, your arms your legs...
    your nerves run down your body never up your body!
    so if you have a bad area in your Lumbar area it can only effect that area and down wards to the foot! if you have a Bad disc in your thoracic level of your spine it can only effect that level and or down to the foot!
    and the Last if you have a Bad disc or something pressing on a never in your Cervical it will cause pain from that area and down the the foot!

    It can not be pain coming from your Lumbar area and be affecting up to your neck! (FACT) our bodies are not wired this way!!! our nerves and pain only runs down hill ..
    I have been dealing with spine issues since may of 1988.. and I have learned so much along the way..I just wanted to let you know this.

    Forum Rule:
    5.06 You agree not to post information that is considered to be formal medical advice.

    Your post contains wording that may be considered as giving medical advice. It is very important that everyone understand that
    there are no medical professionals on this site, so therefore any comments are solely opinions based on personal experiences.
    They should never been taken as medical fact.

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator
    Linda Watts
  • I have bulging disc in neck and suffer horrific neck left shoulder and back pain and stiffness it leaves me bed ridden at times,tried acupuncture chiropractic treatment deep tissue massage on painkillers muscle relaxant anti inflammatory drugs its just getting worse been like this 15 yrs now struggling to do simplest of things. I've begged to have this disc taken out but they tell me no it's too risky yet other people seem to have surgery and are much better.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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