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Chronic, Undiagnosed Neck/Shoulder Muscle Pain, Tension Headaches

maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 322

Hi, I am new here. I am a 38 year old female with chronic tension headache like symptoms. The pain and tightness go from the base of my skull down into my back, across my shoulder blade muscles and into my arms. It is so tight that it hurts to even touch my shoulder area. Growing up I always had headaches but a few years ago it got to the point where over the counter pain medication did nothing to help my headaches and the headaches began to present more as tension headaches. I have also suffered from depression and anxiety on and off for the past 20 years. I went to see my doctor about 4 years ago and he did x-rays but saw nothing. He diagnosed tension headaches and prescribed Vicoprofen-2x per day and Flexiril-2x per day. I was also taking an antidepressant and anxiety meds. This worked for a little while, but the symptoms were still there. About 3 years ago the doctor recommended physical therapy, which I did. They said that some of the muscles in my shoulder blade area were weak and they did massage, heat, traction and exercises. I completed the physical therapy but continued to have symptoms. I had to switch doctors and my current doctor continued to prescribe the Vicoprofen-taken up to 3x per day and Flexiril-2x per day. My symptoms have gotten worse over the past few months so I asked for an MRI. The doctor ordered an MRI of my brain which showed nothing so she referred me to a Neurologist. The Neurologist ordered an MRI of my neck but my insurance company denied it saying that I needed to go to physical therapy first. He also prescribed Gabapentin-3x per day. I also see a

At this point I am so frustrated! I am in constant pain and nothing really seems to help. My doctor is too worried that I am taking a narcotic for so long but does not seem to care about controlling my pain. Right now I am on Vicoprofen-3x per day, Flexiril-2x per day, Xanax-3x per day, Gabapentin-3x per day, and Lexepro for depression. I also put heat on my neck area which eases the pain and tension slightly.

I do have poor posture and work at a computer all day, but I should not be in this much pain all the time!

I don't know what else to do. Has anyone had similar experiences? Any advice? Thanks!!

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13

Comments

  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 322
    Sorry, the last sentence in the first paragraph should say I also see a Psychiatrist for the depression and anxiety. :)
  • Hello, Maehaley!

    How frustrating it must be for you to have insurance being an obstacle to the kinds of tests that may help get you on a path to pain relief!  I hate hearing stuff like this!! 

    Why did the insurance deny your MRI, if I may ask?  I'm sorry you are going through this..

    Welcome to the forums!  Please click on the following link for some helpful information to get you started!

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
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  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 322
    Hi Kimmy72. Thanks! It is very confusing because my Neurologists office said the insurance denied it because they want to try another course of treatment first but then I got a letter today from the insurance company asking for more details on my medical history before they make a decision. So I guess I have to call them tomorrow to try to get this sorted out. I just have a strong feeling that there is something wrong inside my neck that is causing all this pain and the pain meds and muscle relaxer are not really working anymore because I have been on them for a few years. Very frustrating!
  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 322
    And the doctors make you feel like a drug addict if you ask for a higher dose or another pain med!
  • Oh my goodness!!  How can they possibly decide on a course of treatment if they have no diagnostic imaging tests with which to assess possible problems! 

    Sometimes, all it takes is a phone call (or two or three or eight..LOL) to get to the bottom of things with your insurance company.  I do hope that this is an easy one to figure out, and that a simple call will open some doors for you to the testing you need. 

    And THEN there's the infamous "drug-seeking behavior" junk that many of us here have had to endure.  There have been many thought provoking posts about this in recent weeks, and no doubt, there will be more to come because the "War on Drugs" will continue to sire unintended consequences for those of us who use--not abuse--the pain medications we need. 

    Glad to have you here, Mae...I hope you find this forum to be as educational, friendly, and enriching as I have!!!
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
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  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 322
    Thank you so much! It is nice to have some support from people that understand the experience! I am hoping it will be a simple call to the insurance company too. With the symptoms I presented it only makes sense to me to do more diagnostic testing first to find out what exactly is causing the pain so that we can fix it and hopefully get off the pain meds, so we'll see how it goes.
  • Please make sure you let us know about your progress.  It is amazing how one person's story has the potential to help so many others!!

    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • Hi there 
    i have the same problems mostly. I have migraines ... Bad ones with nausea. I also have bursitis in my shoulders and I have trigger points. I get trigger point injections, which help greatly for my tension. I still have tension though. Has anyone ever done an ultrasound of your shoulders and neck?  They will find a lot I bet. A medicine called cariaprodol (soma) helps the tension in your neck. Stay away form too much caffeine also. You can get rebounds. Has anyone tried a medicine like topamax for your migraines? Perhaps you should see a specialist like a Psyiatrist or a spine doc clinic. They do trigger point injections with ultrasound. I bet your insurance would pay for that if your regular doctor approves it. I did have an acdf, but I still have migraines(which are worse), but the trigger point injections, and the Soma RX help. I hope that helps. A simple ultrasound can rule a lot out!! Good luck, A
  • P. S. I do mean Psyiatrist, not Psychiatrist. Way different docs. They help a lot. Check out Psyiatrist. 
  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 322

    Thanks Anni! I have never had an ultrasound done, but I will look into it. My doctor has only tried the Vicoprofen and Flexiril but after 4 years they really aren't working as well and the pain and tension are getting worse. I am hoping to get the MRI of my neck and then go from there....

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