Awoke with terrible right shoulder pain

by Ann
(Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Is it scapula or arm pain? Does it affect the breastbone area?

Is it scapula or arm pain? Does it affect the breastbone area?

Awoke with terrible right shoulder pain suggests prompt examination is necessary.

I had biopsy proven myositis years back and lupus, but this seems very different, as it is only right-sided.

After waking very early with no pain, I needed more sleep. Having over-done the sleep, I woke around noon with right shoulder pain. I thought I'd pulled something in my sleep, and it would work its way out during the day. However, it has only got much much worse.

It hurts to breathe, to move my right arm (and to type this). If I breathe deeply, it hurts much worse! The pain seems to be immobilizing the entire shoulder area, and feels like broken bones with inflammation (bad).

I once had a similar problem with my back around my lower ribs. I thought ribs were broken. When it finally subsided my lung volume had decreased (lungs do not feel pain), so I'm concerned the pain around the upper right lung could signal inflammation and decreased lung volume there too. I would be relieved if it was something simple like "bursitis." Every time something like this has happened, x-rays were not conclusive.

Hello Ann,
Any time you have 'terrible' pain, it warrants further investigation. Simply because x-rays were inconclusive in the past, don't assume it will still be so.

There are many possible causes of this shoulder pain and it's not for me to suggest a diagnosis; what I would suggest is that the pain on deep inhalation may the instigator of your troubles. If you have a fever, which you don't mention, then we'd think of pleurisy, but much more common is a displaced rib head. Lying on your tum, if your partner pressures quite firmly just to the side of the spine, can he find a seriously painful point?

Then I'd be looking at ranges of motion of your neck and shoulder; do any of them provoke the pain? Is it in your arm, or really in your midback but affecting the scapula and limb?

Bursitis is not simple by the way. What you don't want is for this to turn into a frozen shoulder. It's time for a thorough examination.

Dr B

» Awoke with terrible right shoulder pain

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