Left Armpit/Breast Pain, left arm/hand numbness

History: Pain started Nov 2017. I had armpit pain on left side, it would radiate down my arm with numbing, across my chest, back and affect my left breast.
Dec 2017 mammogram and breast ultrasound were normal.
Saw a neurosurgeon and had ACDF (4-5 5-6) in April 2018.
The numbness got better. Surgery was successful according to all images. Did PT.
I have had 3T MRI, CT, Xrays, NC Series and there is no explanation for the pain I am still having.

Most pain is in my armpit and outside and top of left breast (no lumps), on the inner side of my arm. Most arm pain is above my elbow. Arm feels heavy and again experiencing numbness in my hand, fingers.
Pain in my neck at times. Pain will be in my shoulder and can travel around my back.
Everything is on the left side. It is dull and achy and sometimes burning.
Sometimes if I wear a shirt that rubs up against my armpit it will trigger the pain. I am constantly pulling my clothing away from my armpit area.

Some days are good....most are not.
I have recently become aware of sleeping on that side. It is uncomfortable and almost sore.

Neurosurgeon referred me to pain mgt who wants to do nerve ablation injections.
I have trouble with not knowing what it is or what is causing it.
Neuro said sometimes there is no explanation.

Do I see an othopedic? Chiropractor? Can you even see one after ACDF surgery??
Having a diagnostic mammo next week to check that again.

Any help appreciated...TY

Hello TY,
This is complex and because I can't examine you it's obviously even more difficult.

Let's start with some questions:

1. Before surgery, did you have neck pain?

2. What's your gut feel? Do you think this pain and numbness was all coming from your neck?

3. Turn your head to the left, and then look up. What happens?

4. Run your fingers down the joints between the ribs and your breastbone. Are any of them particularly tender. Are there any palpable and visual lumps?

5. Now run your fingers up to the sterno-clavicular joint between the collarbone and the breastbone. Tender? Lump? Use Google to find the joint if unsure.

6. Lie on your tum and ask someone to press quite firmly on the joints between the ribs and your spine just to the side of the bumps, spinous processes. Particularly tender? Where?

7. If either of those rib joints, one to the sternum, the other to your spine, are particularly sore, then palpate with your fingers along the rib, through the armpit area, under the breast. Very tender?

Please be very specific in your answers if you want anything useful to come out of this conversation.

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've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's 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's 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 painfree. 

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's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's 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 walk 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.

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. Xrays 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 year 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's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 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 couldn't 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 shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.



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You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

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