Dorsal Scapular Nerve Entrapment

by Eddy Lindenstein
(Edmonds, WA)

There's something different waiting for you. I'm not suggesting gliding, per se.

There's something different waiting for you. I'm not suggesting gliding, per se.

Hey Doctor,

Several months ago I was doing scapula-retracted pull ups and began having rhomboid pain. Worse than the pain was a "lack of feeling" to the rhomboids - like I could not contract the muscle and could not adduct my scapula. Upon an EMG test it showed good innervation (though very ropy) to the levator but not good innervation to the rhomboid. My guess is the DSN is trapped, perhaps between the levator and the rhomboid.

There are lots of muscles in spasm in my upper back and neck hurts often. I've had a c-spine MRI so I think the spasm and pain is due to compensation from the rhomboids not working. Have you come across this kind of thing? How was it fixed?

Hello Eddy,
What your describe, deep upper back pain in essence, is one of the most difficult conditions treated at the chiropractic coalface.

Firstly, in my book at least, unless you are training for the Mr Universe title remember than the gym is supposed to bring you better health, not injure and make you miserable.

I would recommend you spend some time considering just what you are trying to achieve by going to the gym. From my side it's looking like it's costing you a lot of money, and causing a lot of pain.

Pull downs often provoke this, and I would guess the pull ups you describe are much the same.

The difficulty lies in the diagnosis; sometimes it's purely a muscular issue, often a rib or upper thoracic subluxation, and not infrequently a lower cervical spine injury, affecting the C5 nerve root; hence the dorsal scapular nerve involvement.

Often in the latter case the pain also radiates down the arm making it more difficult.

It's fixed in the first instance by stopping doing what is causing it; if banging your head on the wall hurts, don't do it!

The difficult part is that it would seem you have what is probably an old injury to your neck; serious enough for your doctor to have ordered an MRI.

Research shows that once you have a pain like this for six months, no matter what the treatment, you have it for the rest of your life.

You obviously need to see musculo skeletal practitioner, and with some urgency.

Refocusing one's sporting activity is never easy. I recall the pain of having to give up squash racquets because of my lower back; I was miserable for six months until I discovered gliding; far more interesting and challenging than squash. There's something different waiting for you.

I hope this helps; probably not what you want to hear!

Dr B



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