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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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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