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20 years old and in pain for almost two years... what is happening?

edited 01/10/2016 - 6:11 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
I'm a 20 year old female (5'1", 110 lbs, small chest) who has been experiencing upper back and neck pain since May 2014 (going on 20 months now).
I woke up one day with extreme pain in my neck down my right arm so strong that I could not even lift my arm to brush my teeth. I stayed in bed all day. I had not had any car accidents/trauma/etc that caused it - I just woke up one day with it. By the next day, it was manageable enough that I could get up and walk around, but still extremely painful. Over the past several months, it has moved from being primarily neck-based and focused on the left side to include (and be worst in) my upper back, particularly the area between the shoulder blades.
Pain gets worse when sitting at a desk, even with proper posture. Pain feels its best when walking for long periods of time. The whole area has a sore, achy feeling almost constantly. My vertebrae are extremely tender to the touch. Basically everywhere from where a bra hook would be and above is in pain. There are frequent popping sensations in my upper back outside of the spine area (tendons?)
I've been to sports medicine docs, a physiatrist, a chiropractor, a pain management doctor, and I've done three rounds of PT. MRIs have shown a slight bulge at the C4-C5 location but it is not large enough to be causing such pain all over my upper back. I've bought a new mattress and pillow to no avail. I've gone on Cymbalta (worked my way up to 60 mg) which helped with underlying depression and anxiety but hasn't helped with the pain at all. Muscle relaxers (Flexeril 10 mg) also doesn't make a difference. Trigger point injections (lidocaine) haven't done anything either.
Does anyone have any ideas of what I should do to treat this? I'm considering going to a rheumatologist to see if it's fibromyalgia given the spreading and long term nature of it. I'm pretty discouraged because I am pretty young and healthy to be experiencing pain that makes sitting through an hourlong class difficult. Thanks for your help.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz -Spine-health Moderator

    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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