Upper back, triceps elbow, forearm pain and tingling in hand

by Simon
(Bristol, UK)

Around the second of March 2017 I felt I had pulled a muscle in the upper back so that when I looked down the stretch on the back of my neck caused pain. Not too unusual really, but it didn't get any better, and 2 weeks later I was in agonising pain in the shoulder blade and upper back. Ibuprofen helped a bit, as did heat packs, but the pain, especially in the morning was agonising.

A friend did some Bowen therapy on it (2 sessions)which has helped. Now, 1 month later, the pain is more constant and low level in the tricep, elbow and forearm, accompanied by pins and needles in the hand.

It's interesting that you ask which movements cause dizziness, as when I try to stretch the back of my neck deliberately, I do feel dizzy, but understand this is a good thing to do for ulnar nerve adhesions, as per videos on 'neural flossing'.

I would really appreciate some ideas on what might be causing my symptoms, and obviously what might improve them. I have a very office based role, with a lot of keyboard and mouse work and the pain can prevent me from working as quickly as I would otherwise. I have switched the mouse to my left hand but typing still affects things.

Hello Simon,

This fits in general under the category of deep upper back pain; in your case it's not likely to be a local problem in the mid back, since there is radiation to the arm.

The dorsal scapular nerve emerges from the lower neck, supplying the rhomboid and levator scapular muscles in the midback, hence the stretch when you look down, but also supplies the arm, predominantly the upper arm.

Since it goes to the hand it may also involve a lower nerve root in your neck. Which fingers precisely are affected?

Having your mouse elbow supported at the elbow is very important; or put it far back on the desk.

This is almost certainly a problem in your cervical spine; I'd start with getting an x-ray taken, including oblique views.

The triceps muscle is the most commonly affected by a pinched nerve in the neck; watch out for weakness developing as in extending the elbow, and have the reflex tested.

Let me know what comes of it. It's certainly a very painful condition and, having had it for seven weeks, you mustn't ignore it; a careful and thorough evaluation is needed.

Dr B

» Upper back, triceps elbow, forearm pain and tingling in hand

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