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Anyone have neck and rotator cuff issues at the same time??

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:19 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone!

At my most recent Dcotor appointment to see an Ortho Surgeon for a sceond opinion (I do Have a neuo but my switch to the Ortho for any more surgery)The Ortho asked when my last EMG was and I said it was a few months after my car accident in Oct of last year. I have since had a Posterior Cervical foraminotomy. He asked if anyone ever took an MRI of my shoulder to look and make sure some of the pain is not being generated from the rotator cuff.

There was no question about what needs to be done to my cervical spine. Two level ACDF at C 4-5 and C 5-6.

I tried many times right after the accident to get my primary and PM, and then the Neruo to look at the T-spine and shoulder on an MRI. My PM sent me for an MRI on the T-spine but not the shoulder. So the ortho has sent me to have the MRI on the shoulder.

Has anyone had a neck injury at the same time as having a rotator cuff tear or some sort of shoulder injury. I did take a really hard hit to my arms and upper body during the accident as I saw it coming and I slammed the brakes just befroe impact and my whole upper bady with arms extendid out to the steering wheel to a good slam along with the neck.
I have terribl buring in my neck down to the scapular area. My left arm is very weak and the Ortho was way more concerned about it then the Neuro ever seemed to be. I also have numbness and tingling in the entire left arm but it is not constant like the burning is. It takes me a long time to get rollef over or scoot myself to the edge of the bed because the pain is so bad.

I don't know much about a torn rotator cuff or how both a neck and shoulder inrjuy that over-lap eachother might feel.

Any thoughts or experiences would be greatly appreciated.

I am in pain and now concerned I have been living with a shoulder issue for over a year on top of the neck issues!!!




  • hi chrissy I am going thru the same thing here, i feel like a ping pong ball. i go from NS, to my OS.
    went to ortho for my shoulder. he gave me a shot of cortizone in my shoulder. and steroid pack. went back in a month. still had pain, and told him my upper back and neck were hurting, and bad burning. he decided to do an mri on my shoulder, and my neck. well guess what? he found my left rotary cuff was torn, and a herniated dis at c5/6
    also some spurring at c3/4. i couldn't believe it. so here i am in pain with left shoulder, and neck, and weakness in issues all over my body now. so far nothing is certain, no certain surgery dates. i just keep living the same day over, and over. i know what you mean about overlapping pain. it is hard to tell which is which. i am such a mess. i sympathize with you chrissy, and hope you get some results also. can you keep me up to date on what they are going to do with you? take care
    LEO :?
  • Chrissy, i know exactly what your talking about on the burning of the shoulder. Thats exactly how mine feels. We are still in the dx stage or trying to (work comp). So far we know by xrays that i have cervical degenerative arthritis
    and disc disease c6c7 and narrowing. We are sure there is much more going on but we cant get the company to authorize anything. ugh. Anyway, yes i definetly have that burning pain in my shoulder, i have extreme weakness, mine is in my right shoulder and arm. It makes it so frustrating. Hang in there i hope you are better soon.
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  • That is what I am going through right now.....left shoulder and arm pain....I can't sleep on my left side because of the pain and also taking my clothes off over my head is a big no no. I am hoping it is my rotator cuff and not my neck doing something again.....I don't see my surgeon until October but do see my neurologist this Wed and hope maybe he will have some answers.

  • Hi Chrissy,
    I as you was involved in a MVA. From the beginning I complained of shoulder pain and was so confused why they were looking at my neck. Anyway to make a long story short after three cervical surgeries that helped but never released the pain work comp finally sent me to someone to have my shoulder evaluated. The ortho did a fix a torn rotator cuff and and removed the collar bone. After two years it was also becoming visual. My shoulder had dropped several inches. Once the shoulder was repaired the remaining pain belonged to my neck. Finger crossed now as 6 weeks ago i underwent the forth cervical surgery. I can tell you this once the shoulder was fixed the pain changed and i could clearly give a description of the pain. The shoulder injury was caused from the seatbelt if that helps any. Good luck and keep me posted on what the orth says.
  • Chrissy,

    My problems are very similar to yours except in reverse. I was in a MVA in 1998 were I T-boned someone at 65mph. I fractured my C7 in the accident but it was my shoulders that gave me the most trouble. After years of complaining, I had surgery on my right shoulder for torn rotator cuff where during the surgery they found that I also had torn the bi-cep tendon off the bone completely. I have 2 screws in that shoulder as a result. During and after rehab, my left shoulder kept hurting and getting worse. Went to ortho and had a arthrogram. It showed I had torn rotator cuff and torn labrum. I also have a screw in that shoulder now. After the rehab of this shoulder is when my neck pain became unbearable. It was moving into my shoulders and creating the similar pain I had prior to surgery and I new I had not re-injured it. Went to Neuro and found I had bone spurs C4-7. Had ACDF C5/6 on 20 May and I am finally starting to feel normal again. I don't have any pain in my neck or shoulders. I feel great and can't wait to start running again.

    Well I hope this helps in some way. I feel very fortunate considering what could have happened in my MVA. I will say this though, if you have to have shoulder surgery, it is something you will have to stay very positive with. The recovery can be a lengthy process depending on what you have done. Rehabing from a rotater cuff surgery is not too bad though.

    Well I wish you the best and hope that you are able to get the relief you deserve.

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  • Thanks everyone for the replies.

    So we already know for sure that the Neck need a 2 level ACDF of C 4-5 and C 5-6. I tried for a long time to get the docs to look at the shoulder and everyone shoved it off the table and deemed it unecessary.

    I hope this is a standard thing that gets ruled out before a cervical spine fusion. I hope it shows the shoulder in good shape.

    I justknow I will be in total shock and devastated to find out there is a problem in my shoulder. Oh... and a lot bent out of shape considering I begged that it be looked at to several docs and they all said it was not necessary.

    SO I was my own advocate yesterday and got on the phone first thing to the imaging center to see if the orders were in for the MRI for the shoulder. They had not received them yet and I asked if I could scheduel the appt anyway. They said they would schedule it but that if they did not hav the orders they would have to cancel the test. I once again got on the phone and did some juggling and pestering (in a nice way of course) and I managed to get the OS's office to fax the imaging center the orders.

    So we are all set for the MRI and i will go in today at 1:45 Nevada time.
    I am sure laying flat in the MRI machine will flare up my neck, but nothing I can do about that.

    I still am working on getting the EMG scheduled. Part of the delay wit the scheduleing from Ortho's office was the person who books the tests left early. SO I askde the person who finally ended up helping me to please make the appoinment for whatever location ad Doc for the soonest date available. SO hopfully the booking person will see the message for that today and I can get the EMG either for this week or next week.

    My shoulder pain is mostly underneathe the scapula. It is constantly, like my neck, burning. Some days the arm weakness is so bad I can not even dry my hair or lift a cup of coffee. The good news is I am right handed not left handed and all of this is on my left. ALthough on an occasion I do have right sided burning/pinching neck pain and right arm weakness.

    Please send out the prayers that my MRI will show all is good with that shoulder.

    SO those of you that have both issues of the neck and shoulder???---They did address the shoulder first...is this correct? Did some of the pain go away after the shoulder was fixed? Then did some of the symptoms stay and then get addressed with neck surgery??

    Do you think they will make me go through all the conservative stuff with the shoulder first or just go in and do surgery if there is an issue there??

    I have tried all kinds of steroid and facet injections on my neck and even some on my wrist way back when on workers comp for my wrist injury. None of these things really ever helped me at all. I only felt discouraged, more stressed more in pain and more helpless in knowing it was so out of my control.

  • In my experience with both of my shoulder surgeries, no ortho Dr would do surgery on me unless I had done some level of Physical Therapy. Because of my issues, the PT was of no help. From there I got cortisone shots which helps for maybe a week then I was right back in pain again. Not to scare you but you should be aware of what a Arthrogram is if you have not heard of this. Basically, it is where they inject dye into your shoulder joint then take you to have an MRI on it. To inject the dye in the joint, you are placed on a x-ray table for the Dr to guide the needle into the joint. I will not lie to you, this can be painful.

    My shoulder issues were addressed first because that is where my pain was the most intense even though I fractured my C7. After I rehabed my shoulders I did feel great relief from the pain in my shoulders. It wasn't until after my second shoulder surgery that my neck pain was getting much worse and my left shoulder began hurting like it did before surgery. That's when I went to get a MRI of my neck again and they found the bone spurs. My Dr told me that the bone spurs came as a result of the fracture in my C7. Once I had my ACDF, my pain was gone from my neck, shoulders, back and arm.

    I can't say whether it is the norm to address one or the other first. I think that really depends on the person. In may case they did look at both originally but didn't see my neck fracture until 4 months after my wreck. During that time I kept complaining of the shoulder pain so that is what the Dr's focused on. I did still have neck pain but at the time my shoulders were worse. I do think that you have to be somewhat aggressive with these Dr's in getting the kind of care you need. If I had just listended to them tell me it is just bursitis, Iwould probably still have problems with my shoulders.

    I am not sure if I answered all your questions, but if you need any other info on shoulder surgery and rehab please PM me. I am always glad to share my story especially if it can help someone else. Take care and I wish you the best.

  • I had shoulder pain for at least a year before my ACDF. that is the only pain i had was in the rotator cuff area. could not sleep on it elc. ortho did shots in it which did not help. then after a year pain got much worse in other areas of shoulder too and arm. After the surgery I was surprised i no longer had any pain in the shoulder that bothered me for a year to now shoulder feels completley normal. So really you never know how much of the shoulder pain in neck related till its fixed. probly visa versa too. So all you can do is i guess take care of the problem that the doctor thinks is the worse or most obvous first. They could have continues to treat my shoulder problem with cortozon and it would have never gotton better since it was actually from my neck.
    Sounds like you had both MRI'ed so that good, thats what i should have done but me nor the doctor even thoght could be coming from my neck since i had no other symtoms.
  • Hey Everyone,

    Well this thread has a lot of interesting information in it. The thing that gets me the most is that given the fact that I had decribed to my GP right from the start what I did in the accident. I explained that I had both hands on the steering wheel with the elbows locked and my back and spine pressed into the seat with both feet on the brake pedal. I know it is the worst thing to do to be all tensed up but that is a totally noraml reaction to me.

    So the possibility of having an injury in the C-spine, T-spine and shoulder seemed very possible to me.

    The MRI went well and I was taken out of the machine just in time because I had started out yesterday with the bad burning neck pain on down into the scapula and I could not get it under control until about 15 minutes before the test. I actually went to my 12 step meeting befor the MRI with my $4.00 ice bag from wal-mart to try to get the pain to go down. After the meeting I went to the MRI facility and parked in my car an put the seat back to lay for 15 minutes before going in. At the time the test started I felt a little better but after laying on the hard MRI table for 1/2 hour I felt the burning start to rise again.

    I will pick up the results today as soon as the radiologist has signed off on them. I do have the films but this facility no longer give the fims they give thenm to you on Paper. I could not tell anything from them even though in the past I have been able to see some things on MRI films of other parts of my body.

    As soon as I have the reprt today I will post it. Please pray for me. I know if there is something wrong with the rotator cuff and they need to do any surgery there too I will be very devastated. It will take some time and some work with my 12 step sponsor on the acceptance of it.

    I really do not want to try PT. I was put in PT after my foraminotomy and I am telling you it was to painful and I was told to stop going. No steroid injections or facet blocks in my cervical spine ever did anything so to try them in my shoulder is a waist of time inmy personal opinion. But...I know that surgeons usually make a patient go through any types of conservative treatments before doing any surgery.

    I am so tired of everything. The pain...my life and career on hold, a life full of nothing but doctor appointment after doctor appointment, medical poking proding and testing.

    If there is a rotator cuff injury on top of my neck that we already knows needs a fusion..I will then have to consider a new career path of following my dream to be a nurse. This is very sad for me to think about but it is the truth and I need to prepare myself that this career path may need a change. I will be 39 years old in Dec of this year, and because of my past drug abuse for 20 years I wasted so much time in my life that I have no real skills for a good paying job, and so retirement saving to really speak of. It is so very scary. I am just a woman trying to make a better life and I can't prepare for my retirement because I need to have my health in order now before the rest can happen.

    Okay...sorry all the venting. I guess my poor head is full of a lot today on top of the pain.
    Please pray for a good outcome on this MRI.

  • Hi Chrissy again,
    Hope you get answers for all your pain. I know my neck does feel better, I won't say I don't have pain yet, but not like I did before surgery. And now being on neurontin 300mg 3 x daily seems to helped with the nerve pain going down the arm. But this darn shoulder pain, still continues,
    my WC nurse told me this is double crushing. I thought that was just with carpal tunnel syndrome. But she has the medical background. Waiting to hear your results.
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