Deep upper back pain

by Henrik

Ask someone to pull your thumb and pinkie apart, comparing right and left.

Ask someone to pull your thumb and pinkie apart, comparing right and left.

Did pullups a few months ago, as I usually do outdoors after a run. As I got tired I did not have the strength to lower my self but dropped still hanging on to the bar. Felt immediate pain in upper back and woke up next morning with very tight/stiff back and neck, impossible to turn my head.

After one week my mobility was almost normal but deep upper pain has remained, coming and going in varying intensity. Tingling and numbness in both hands is felt often and as I am standing with my hands against my hips I feel painful stretch in the nerve in my arm all the way to my fingers.

My Chiro told my to stretch my pecs. 4 months has gone and no improvement.

I am 30 years old, been exercising my whole life and never been injured. My posture is good, I think, and my work place is ergonomically adapted.

Please give me tips and exercises.

Thank you.

Hello Henk,
What's needed is a diagnosis. Did your chiropractor examine you, and what did he say? Have you had just the one treatment?

The concern is that the radiation is down both arms. Have you had an xray of your neck? In fact, after all this time, if any of the following are positive, I'd try and get a scan.

1. Ask your chiropractor to test the reflexes in the arms. Are they equal?

2. Take a pin and prick both your arms following the dermatome patterns in the enclosed picture. Is there a difference right and left?

3. Is there specific weakness in the arm? Especially thumb opposition, elbow extension (triceps) as in press ups, and squeezing the fingers together?

Over and above these, two more tests;
1. Turn to the side and look up. Is there pain? Where?

2. Go to Chiropractic Help and using the search function type in Upper Limb Tension Test. Let me have the result.

3. Is that painful pull in your arm when it's at your side relieved if you place your hand on your head? It's called the Shoulder Abduction Relief sign.

Keep to this thread Henrik. Is there an xray report?

Dr B

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Jan 12, 2016
Head turning causes pain
by: Anonymous

What does it mean if I turn my head to the side and get pain?

Where does it hurt, on the same side or opposite, and does it radiate to the arm?

What happens if you look up and turn to the side?

These things often pass of themselves, but if not, don't leave it, particularly if you are getting headaches, or it's radiating down the arm.

Dr B

Feb 05, 2015
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your concern.

The symtoms is bilateral.
Turning to the side and up does not provoke more pain.

I will try to get a scan, but that may take some time. I will come back as soon as I know more.


Hello Henrik,
If this is going down both arms then you certainly must take this further. A neurologist would be a good start.

Dr B

Feb 02, 2015
by: Henrik

Thank you for taking the time to respond.
I have not visited a medical doctor and have no x-ray or MRI-scan made.

Upper limb tension tests is of course positive, quite painful, but reflexes are fine. Thumb opposition test are ok regarding strength but feels uncomfortable, same feeling when buttoning the jacket.

Nerve stress tests in upper limb causes significant pain radiation in triceps and elbow and after a few seconds the hand goes numb.

Forth time at my Chiro today.

Theory is that the event causing the symptoms stretched the nerves which been sensitive since then, but still very unlikely a bony injury.

Strategy is releasing any tensions in neck and ribjoints when I see him (once a week or maybe less), he sees small progress in joint mobility in neck and upper back. Advised to accelerate my strength training at the gym, use row machine, continue to stretch pecs (releasing pressure at thoratic plexus) without stressing the nerve and try to avoid movements that puts mechanical stress on nerve and prepare for several months of slow progress.

Please share your thoughts.

Hello Henrik,
I'm afraid I feel quite uncomfortable with all this. Four months pain in the arm, positive stretch test, no xray; frankly my opinion is not that you increase your gym work.

And what about movements of your neck, particularly turning to the painful side and looking up?

Using a pin, any sensory changes in your arms?

The possibility of a cervical rib, thoracic outlet syndrome and even perhaps a disc injury needs to be ruled out.

I'm being the Devil's advocate. Obviously I have no idea, but four months of arm pain is not good, so I'm just trouble shooting.

Let me know, some answers to these questions.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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