Pain, spasms in mid back, shoulder blade and right arm

by Jamie

Hoping you can give me some insight as no one else has. The whole thing started when I was doing some vigorous exercises with my arms only. I had some aches and pains but nothing I couldn't stand.

I went to the doctor complaining of chest, mid back and arm pain. Since having a stent put in 2 yrs ago the cardiologist wanted a stress test which was normal. I'm a 61 yr old woman, overweight and rarely exercise.

I got thru 7 minutes on the mill holding on the bar as tight as I could and was walking more at an angle rather than upright as they kept telling me to move up. Since then, 45 days ago, I have had severe pain which also feel like spasms at times in mid back, shoulder blade, upper arm and underneath which extends into my breast area.

Then I had xrays front and back, CAT of upper abdomen, put on Nexium, muscle relaxers, pain pills but nothing helped.

I babied the arm for a week and it felt pretty good so I started to vacuum and the pain came back worse then ever. I do get relief when I am lying down. My wrist muscles are also tender but I think that was from holding the bar for dear life.

I've seen the chiropractor about 3 times and was actually more sore the next day. Pain will stop for a short period then wham, it's like someone is sticking an ice pick into my shoulder.

This is just crazy, does it sound like just a nerve problem? It's been going on for so long?

Also, the only finger pain has been on right hand, webbed area between thumb and pointer. The last thing I remembered was that on 3 occasions my right hand has cramped up and closed and I have had to pry my fingers open; very painful to boot.

Hello Jamie,
This is complex, and there are pointers in differing directions.
Would you do a few little tests for me; off all painkilling medication for 24 hours.
1. Turn your head to the right and left, simultaneously looking up. What happens?

2. In the site search engine which you'll find near the top of the navigation bar at chiropractic help, type in "upper limb tension test." With the help of a friend do it and report what happens.

3. Hopefully some of the doctors and your chiropractor tested the reflexes and looked for sensory change in your arm. Did they find anything? Ask if anyone found "paresis" of any muscles; the most commonly affected are the triceps and in the fingers. How is opening a bottle?

4. If you raise your arm, in front and to the side, is it immediately painful in the shoulder? Putting on your bra, does it hurt? Does it feel as though it's in the shoulder joint, or in your neck and mid back?

I take it the xrays of your neck and back were normal.

Give me some answers keeping to this thread and we'll take it further.

I take it the lesson has been learned; those who exercise rarely shouldn't do vigorous exercises initially. You'll probably be reluctant to start again, but you should, but don't rush like a bull at a gate. You're not going to make the Olympics in Rio; nor are you attempting to do so.

I suspect a C5 lesion in the lower neck affecting the dorsal scapular nerve but that's not certain. A problem in the inter scalene triangle is another possibility. If you raise your arm above your head does it increase or decrease the pain in the web or your hand, or does it make no difference?

Dr B

Deep upper back pain » Pain, spasms in mid back, shoulder blade and right arm

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Dec 03, 2016
Pain on my right arm and back of neck
by: Anonymous

I had an RTA 21 months ago with a diagnosis of rotator cuff injury which was managed with both medication and physiotherapy.

In March this year I started experiencing the pain around my right shoulder, side of the neck and back of the neck; also my elbow and fingers ached; the wrist and fingers tensed like air is being pumped.

I saw a doctor who gave me pain killers, it subsided and then then came back more seriously as I feel a stabbing pain around my right chest with spasms occasionally from the arm down to my fingers.

There is also weakness of the arm; I am getting so depressed with a feeling that my right hand is gradually shrinking.

Do movements of your neck provoke the pain? Using the search function at Chiropractic Help, find and have someone help you do the "upper limb tension test."

Let me know.

Have you had x-rays of your neck taken?

What was your doctor's diagnosis?

Dr B

May 23, 2016
by: jamie (ny)

no neck xrays taken just front and back and said all was fine

May 23, 2016
re: your questions
by: jamie (ny)

Hope I've clicked the right area to answer you.

Raising left (which is my good side) arm causes hand to tingle a lot. Arm to front and side shoulder blade pain in back of shoulder and back of right arm.

Head up to left rotation, little pain in neck where it meets shoulder, to the right much more pain on left side at side of neck and shoulder on left? I know you didn't ask but when I put chin to chest there is quite a bit of pain in the upper spine but none in neck.

The pain in my mid back seems to be constant since day one although bearable now. Pain, although tolerable at this pt., in the back of arm/shoulder which extends under arm and rib tenderness seems to sometimes cause to whole right arm to wrist. It's strange that all the tingling that started about a week ago is in my left.

I use right hand for mouse and on computer all day. Fingers at base of right hand hurt as well as tendon or muscle that runs along bottoms side of same arm. Like I said mild pain from exercising went to excruciating pain after hospital stress test.

Mid back pain right across from front sternum does not go away and if I baby right arm it is almost tolerable. Thanks so much for your reply.

Hello Jamie,
Frankly I'm not sure. There seem to be three foci of pain.

1. Midback radiating along the rib to the sternum; that certainly can be very disabling.

2. Neck pain radiating to the midback and to the arm.

3. Shoulder pain.

They are all intertwined, and may just be summarised by "mouse arm". Start by placing a small table at the right of your computer for your right elbow; on the same level or slightly lower than your desk. That will take the stress off your shoulder.

My gut feeling is that the problem is somewhere in the upper back or lower neck. A careful examination will reveal just where, and what's to be done.

Good luck.

Dr B

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