Hi, I am 28 years old and have been experiencing pain in my upper back and neck for about 8 years. It has gotten to the point where it is always present to varying degrees. The most concerning to me is referral pain from my neck going into my left arm. It is a sort of numb aching. I have also experienced fairly substantial and long-lasting weakness in the same arm.
I have been to a chiropractor (which seemed to have made the pain permanently worse) and massage therapy (which has mildly alleviated the pain). I have also had x-rays and a CT scan on the problem area. Both the xrays and CT didn't show any abnormalities.
It is clear just from feeling the alignment of my spine that the T1 and T2 vertebrae are very out of line from the rest of the spine. My theory is that alignment was disrupted from years of compulsively cracking my neck - I have since stopped doing this. This is exactly where I experience the pain as well. I am wondering how the x-rays and CT could have come back normal if the vertebrae are so misaligned?
I am becoming concerned that I could be dealing with something serious. Any advice on how to further pursue this problem would be greatly appreciated.
8 years is a long time, has the pain gotten progressively worse? Sounds like you have some type of progressive nerve compression that’s referring in to your upper back and arm. All the lower cervical levels refer pain into the scapular area. If it’s going into your arm it could be a C6 or C7 radiculopathy, it would account for the weakness.
Your theory could be right about the vertebra, however let me point something out. Your vertebrae can be perfectly aligned and you can still have problems with your spine. Let me give you an example, this is from my MRI: The cervical vertebral bodies show normal alignment. However, there is advanced spondylosis with prominent posterior broad-based disc protrusions and extrusions at C3-4, 4-5, 5-6, and 6-7. I think I’d rather have a misaligned spine.
The other thing is CT’s are good at detailed bone information but are not that good in showing soft tissues like nerves, tumors and herniated discs. Why did you have a CT instead of an MRI?
What you said about your chiropractor is probably right. If you’re going for an adjustment or their doing something to your low back, that’s fine. But when you have a diagnosed or undiagnosed problem with your neck, particularly nerve related, never let a Chiropractor touch it. People don’t take this warning seriously, but they’ve been know to cause very serious seizures and other injuries in patients with neck problems. There’s a lot of research out there on this.
I don’t know how serious your pain is, but it could probably be treated more effectively if had an accurate diagnosis. Physical Therapy or injections might help you a lot.
Thank you for your advice, Kalvin. I think you may be correct about my pain relating to some sort of progressive condition, this is what my doctor suggested my last visit. As for why I had a CT instead of an MRI, I was just going with what my GP suggested at the time. I recently had an appointment and explained how constant the pain has become. I am now up for nerve conduction studies as well as consulting a neurosurgeon. Hopefully, everything will be explained in due time. Thanks again for your response.
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