what does all this mean?

I started to have pain in my right shoulder blade about 2.5 years ago. After a visit to the Doc he sent me to the physio, who said that it was a problem with my neck rather than my shoulder as first thought. They started treatment on me which consisted of various exercises, but the pain was still as strong after 4 months of treatment.

i was sent to see a specialist whom sent me for a MRI scan. The scan showed a problem at c5 and c6. One disc was pressing on a nerve, which they said explains the tingling in the hand and fingers. The scan also results also showed straightening of the lordosis, (not sure what that is). Also showed lots of Disc bulging at c5 c6 and c7. I have been having treatment for nearly 3 years.

The doctor has tried numerous tablets to help but there is still a strong background pain that will not go. I go about my daily life but it is starting to become a struggle! I can do all housework, but cannot sustain any of them. I cant carry heavy bags, it is really painful to lift my hands above my head, and just as painful to bend down. Driving is the worst, driving 2 miles to town is about my limit.

After all this time of treatment i still cannot turn my head to the right without pain, still have pins/needles every day at some point in the day, still have sleepless nights, and still have tremendous headaches at the back of the head every day!. I have to time myself if i do anything which i know is going to hurt. 10 mins of gardening was all i could manage last Monday.

I had a strange rush up both arms as if someone had tipped water down my arm.This followed with pumping pins and needles pain and i went very short of breath and light headed. Had to go and sit in a high backed chair with head support for the rest of the evening. Never had that whoosh down both arms before and the lightheadedness it was quite scary.

Forgot to mention that i have tennis elbow in my right elbow which comes and goes. Now i have it also in my left. What do you think about me going for the operation. Would it help? i am getting worried because i think it is getting worse. Please tell me your views thank u Alison

Dear Alison,
Your sad letter is in fact a rebuke of the chiropractic profession. We haven't got the information out to the general public that your story is not unusual at all. Patients with your sort of history step into our clinics every day, and if only you had known two years ago, much of your suffering could have been prevented.

But the past is cast in stone, let's go forwards...

Incidently, our rule of thumb is: if the patient isn't at least 50% better after 3-4 weeks of treatment it's time to start thinking of a referral. To go for four months, I personally think smacks of neglect.

In fact your physio was probably correct. The Rhomboid muscle between the shoulder blades is supplied from a nerve from the lower neck, and with the tingling and tennis elbow this all points to a lower neck problem: bread and butter chiropractic.

Once that nerve has been freed up, exercises are very beneficial, even essential rehab, but before the treatment of the underlying condition, so clearly seen in the scan, probably worthless. It's no wonder they didn't help any more than your doctor's medications. Treat the cause not the symptoms is the basis of all good health care.

So, enough from Hyde Park pedestal. Where do you go from here?

Firstly gather all your X-rays and scans together.

Secondly, write up a simple history. Your letter here is quite adequate, but you might want to clarify some points.

Now the difficult part. Start talking to friends and family and hunt down an experienced, conscientious and thorough chiropractor. No point asking your doctor, because s/he should have considered this about two years ago, and obviously considers us quacks.

Don't expect miracles, it's going to take hard work on the part of your chiropractor to get you out of this quagmire. Don't start thinking negatively of litigation, that won't improve your pain and negative thinking only increases your frustration. Be positive, there is almost certainly much that can be done. I'd love the challenge of a case like yours but you don't live down my Dordrecht street, do you!

Oh, and that tennis elbow is typical.

Good luck, I hope this has contributed. Let me know how you get on.

Dr B

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Oct 27, 2011
Update to my treatment
by: Alison


After many appointments with a very thorough chiropractor i am starting to feel a little relief. After i have been to see my chiropractor i am very sore for approx 2 days and then very comfortable for at least a week.

after a week or so the stiffness starts to set back in and i usually last approx 2.5 weeks before i have to go back and see her.

She thinks i wait too long but at a charge of £28.00, that is all i can afford.

Recently i have been to see a surgeon who seems to think i have carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand. He did many tests with which he came to that conclusion. I was always under the impression that my neck was causing the tingling and numbing sensations in my fingers could this still be the case (a bit 0f both) or is it ALL down to carpal tunnel?

I am forever dropping things even more than ever. Should i go to my doctor and ask them to investigate Capal tunnel?

thanks Alison

Hello Alison,
Such good news, and you can be pleased that your chiropractor is one of the cheaper about. Many charges in England are around 50 pounds. Send her a card, thanking her for how much she's helped you.

It's time to ask your chiropractor for some exercises to help you strengthen your neck muscles and keep it supple. Things you can do for yourself, because yes, even at 28 pounds it does add up. You could try typing "neck exercises" into the Search this Site at C-H, but I'd discuss them with your chiro first.

People with a problem neck like yours are vulnerable to all the arm conditions like frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel... usually the primary problem lies in the neck. Without fixing that, the treatment of the limb has only limited benefit.

CTS causes the tingling in the first three, sometimes four fingers on the thumb side of the hand. It never goes to the pinkie. Ask your chiropractor to check the Pronator teres muscle.

Unfortunately there is research showing that if you've had neck pain for more than six months it'll probably never go completely away, no matter what the treatment. Do lots of exercises, except what you can't do and go for an occasional regular chiropractic treatment.

Send her that card! And a Bernard Preston book! My alter ego.

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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