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Pain, aching and burning on right side of neck, shoulder, and forearm
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Pain, aching and burning on right side of neck, shoulder, and forearm

Yet another question referenceing pain and aching in the neck shoulder, and arm. I am 42 years old and have been having these symtems for about 4 years. I saw an MD 3 years ago and he ordered an MRI. The finding were: C3-4, minimal annular bulge mildly flattening the thecal sac and minimal unconvertebral osteophyte. No significant central canal or foraminal narrowing. C4-5, minimal annular bulge at this level. Unconvertabral osteophyte, more prominent on the left, only mildly narrowing the left c4-5 neural foramen. No significant central canal or foraminal narrowing. He referred me to PT and they gave me documents for correct posture and a band to use for strengthing the shoulder. No change in condition until about a year ago when things started getting worse. I went to a neurosurgeon in August and again an MRI was ordered along with an ENG to test for Carpal Tunnel. All I have been told of this MRI is things are still the same only with more wear and tear identified. They did however identify that I had carpal tunnel and since have done surgery. Hand feels better but still experiening the same symtems. I was informed the other day by the neurosurgeon that I am borderline surgery for my neck. They have put me on a neuropathy medication for 4 weeks and say if this doesn't work I will require steroid shots and then surgery. My concern is, if the medication or shots work, what is the possibility after all this that the disc won't bulge again. It would seem that after 4 years something has weakened. I wear a 4-pound helmet at work and who's to say that things won't re-occur
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Avatar_n_tn
Its probable that over time, wear and tear on the cervical spine will get worse, maybe somewhat faster if you are wearing a heavy helmet a lot
The disc is probably still bulging, and was probably not a direct cause of your symptoms. A disc bulge that is prominent or serious would cause either nerve root (pain lancing down the arm, or regional weakness and muscle wasting) or spinal cord (lower limb weakness or spasticity and loss of bladder control) symptoms, in these cases where there is neurological compromise is surgery most beneficial at preventing further neurological damage.
Surgery for pain only without neurological symptoms is less likely to benefit and conservative treatment is preferred - if the disc is not the cuase and you operate on the disc, then it wont help, surgery has the potential to destabilise the spine furhter above and below the site of surgery

Good luck
20 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
i have had very similar symptoms to yours. nothing jumps out on my mri either. neck pain, shoulder pain, arm pain and even chest pain-- and it tended to bounce around. 2 days in the back, 3 days in the arm, then the chest, etc....i had neck surgery (minimally invasive foraminotomies) as well as both shoulders scoped (  i had limited range of motion on the left shoulder which is now vastly improved) despite the surgeries, i still had the pain. i was running out of options- i was forced to sell my dental practice........ do not sell short the notion of posture/muscle balance issues. i only started to see improvement 2 weeks ago for the first time when i enrolled with john barnes (see his website) in paoili pennsylvania for a 3 week intensive myofascial release program. firstly, traditional PT is not intensive enough (once twice maybe three times a week) and mostly what they do is manually work on you for 20 minutes or so and then tell you to go exercise. right??? and did you feel better after they worked on you even if it was just for a short while????  I did. that should tell you something. I made a big mistake going the surgical route-- especially on the neck. I did not have distinctive, telling MRI findings, nor did my symptoms present like someone who needed neck surgery. i let them do it anyway becasue i was out of options--i thought. the neck surgery did squat, if anything i'm worse due to the fact that the technique involves a posterior approach through a small (1cm) incision but through many layers of muscle-- which i believe threw thing off even more.

anyway, the amount of hands on therapy you get with conventional PT is way too little to have any kind of lasting effect on fascial tissues. Here I am being treated hands on 4-5 HOURS PER DAY.. I noticed a difference after 2 days. Do some research. Surgeons operate-- that's what they do. the see something on a film and attempt to fix it. Be careful. Read up on the indications for surgery in the neck.
operating on pain is a tricky thing--- be cautious and good luck. having been through what you've been through it seems to me your issues are myofascial. they may need intense, repeated attention that you can't do alone. that's my opinion.
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Avatar_m_tn
i just re-read your post.... the 4 lb helmit to me is telling,, and by the way your MRI sounds much healthier than mine did. your neck muscles must be full of trigger points. please please check out john barnes. i believe his program is giving me my life back,   one more week to go.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have experienced symptoms similar to yours for a number of years and I got a lot of relief from going to the chiropractor. Also my MRI and Myelogram results showed similar problems and the Neurosurgeon I saw said that surgery would do more harm than good.
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Avatar_n_tn
Got the results from my latest MRI: C 3-4, broad-based **** bulge resulting in mild canal stenosis and mild neuroforaminal narowing, left greater than right. C 4-5, mild broad-based disk bulge resulting in mild canal and bilateral neural foraminal narrowing. What's it mean?
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Avatar_m_tn
to me, and i've been through this, your MRI is not very impressive. don't jump to conclusions that your discs or your spine is the culprit just because you see terms like "broad based" and "disc bulge". quite frankly, the way your MRI reads, it sounds fairly normal for a 42 year old guy. alot of people have osteophytes (bone spurs) disc herniations and stenosis (narrowing of either the nerve root foramen or the spinal canal itself). Thesee things do not usually need to be treated. do not jump into surgery. I did, and it did nothing but give me false hope and more pain-- fortunately I had a minimally invasive surgery with no disc removal and no fusion. It sounds to me like your propblem is muscular. I've had pain like your for 2 1/2 years and am only now seeing some progress with aggressive, frequent stretching and muscle fascia release. Your body may be locked into a dysfunctional position in a muscular sense, from years and years of poor posture/awkward positioning and that 4 1/2 lb load on your head. check out John Barnes myofascial release on the internet. do not let anyone operate on pain,. especially with no obvious MRI findings. it is unlikely to help you. there's my 3 cents (2 cents plus an extra penny for experience and personal research... i am a dentist)  good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
Mike,
When you say not impressive, do you mean not good or basically normal. Being 42 I realize I am going to experience some aches and pains but not what I feel. I am and have been a very physical person and trust me, I know the difference in muscle soreness and what I am feeling. I constantly ache from the neck down to my wrist. The carpal tunnel release surgery I had has taken care of the numbness in my fingers but all the other symtoms (symptoms) I experienced before that are still present. Since I've been on the medication that they prescribed it seems the aching is more pronounced. Along with the aching I am having more frequent burning in the tricep. I really don't have any major pain unless I get real active it's more of an annoying, aggrevating, constant ache along with the burning sensation that I have. Within the last 3 weeks I have begun feeling some pretty ugly lower back and hip pain with aching into my left leg.
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Avatar_m_tn
sorry for the medical terminology. i am a dentist and speak to my doctors with the medical jargon......."not impressive" means that nothing obvious or AHA!!! jumps out from the report. "not impressive" means kind of "ok, so what?" there's some stenosis, narrowing,  disc herniations etc. it's kind of equivalent to finding worn down molars on a 50 year old man-- ok, they are worn down, but that does not mean that is why the guy has jaw pain. I'm not saying you have normal aches and pains. I actually believe you do not because I've been through 2 years of people telling me the same thing and telling me to take an advil an live with it. it's easy to assume that the MRI findings are what is causing your pain, because to a layman the terms "herniation, stenosis, narrowing, thecal sac" etc sound causative. your MRI sounds better than mine. I actually had respected surgeeon doc examine me, look at my MRI and say "I've seen a lot of disc disease cases, and yours is one of the better ones" .he advised me to stretch and work on my core. He did not think surgery would help and he was right. if you keep looking, like i did (and I was of your mindset) you'll find a surgeon who will think some sort of surgery can improve things--- surgeons do surgery. be careful. surgery causes scarf tissue to form and tightens things up even more. try myofascial release and consistent professionally guided stretching. did you check out the John Barnes website??? you can have arm and neck pain from muscle inbalances, tightening and myofascial restriction. I actually get relief from my neck pain when I release my pelvis muscles!!!!!
    if you think about it, nerves run through muscle tissue. if muscle tissue is constantly tight and in spasm, what do you think happens.?? If the nerve that innervates your neck and arm is pinched by the muscle it runs through, what happens??? it's not rocket science. pinched nerves can happen in muscle as well as bone (the spine). I would certianly try ALL conservative measures before surgery. Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
It is now the end of January, 2006.  On June 1st of 2005, I woke at 3 in the morning with unbearable pain in my right forearm.  I had never had any type of pain or problem like this before.  I eventually went to a m.d. who diagnosed it as tendonitis, gave me 3 breakthrough mild painpills, and said to return in a week.  Besides the forearm problem, when the dr. raised my right arm, I screamed; but otherwise the pain focused in my forearm.

The only thing I can think of that I had done was some scrambling up a hillside and grabbing onto shrubs, trees, to pull myself the rocky incline 2 weeks prior.

I felt like crying constantly with the intense pain.  It never ceased.  I returned to the m.d.; xray showed a bone spur on the shoulder.  I was sent to p.t. where they treated me as a rotary cuff post-surgery patient, though I had too much movement for that diagnosis.  After a month, I referred myself to an orthopedic surgeon who said I must have bursitis; got a cortisone shot and predisone pills, naprosen, and elavil (not all in one visit.)  When these treatments didn't help permanently and since I couldn't tolerate the Elavil, he suggested a neurologist since I had by then developed tingly fingers (this has gone away.)  The ortho dr. said the neuro guy would do a MRI and give me even more Elavil.

I decided to go to a chiropractor who used an IF machine for relaxation of the muscles and popped the middle of my back and neck (those these areas didn't hurt; he said it was referred pain.  By this time, and still, I had and have severe pain in the wrist, forearm, bicep, and shoulder (all on right side.)  No neck pain.  The chiro was able to give me 3 painfree weeks...I had just now started back after 2 months of the pain gradually returning.

I am not having relief.  Do I go to a ortho or neurologist?  The chiro said I have both a shoulder and neck problem (he thinks.)  He also said that the specialists would only be able to do surgery or give me dopey meds and I'd be right back with the chiro.

This has gone on for 8 months.  I can no longer jog, do aerobics, wt. lift, etc.  My only other problems have been occasional lower back problems (disc wear) that goes away or a chiro can fix.  I am a 58-year-old woman and have always been fit, slender, and active.

Where do I go for help?  I am nearly out of naprosen, my only source of pain reliever.  And what can I possibly expect?  This is limiting my activity and enjoyment of life, of course!  Thanks for any advice!  (I don't even know a good dr., as the local drs. refer local people (rural) that I distrust after the ortho giving me no real help.)
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello everyone.

I was wondering if somebody might be able to help me? I have had an ongoing problem for about 3 years. My right arm is aching all the time and I also get aching up the right side of my neck and sometimes numbness in my arm and hand. I have been to my GP on and off for ages now and they dont seem to be helping me. I have recently been for a general radiology scanon the shoulder and ribs and the scan can back fine with no abnormals. The doctors have suspected before that it may be bursitus but I have had cortisone injections and still no change 3 years later. I hope that somebody can help me as I feel I am getting nowhere with my GP and I wish I knew somebody that could point me in the right direction.

Your comments would be appreciated.

Loz.
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Avatar_n_tn
Do you suffer from an aching arm and pain up the right side of the neck?
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had all of these pains for about 3 years. At times so severe I could not walk. The only thing that has helped me deal with the severe pain and help me move again was chiropractic and massage therapy. Trigger point therapy, a type of massage works best for me. I have had the pain in the hip and down the leg and in the left side of neck, shoulder and arm, and hand. It almost seems like my left side is "frozen up". When you take your arm and put it behind your back does it freeze up on you? If you work hard and then sit is it hard to get up? Also when you sit for long periods and get up and take a step does it feel like your leg is going to collapse from the pain and nerve pinching. Well, if this sounds remotely familiar see a chiropractor. They go to school and take alot of the same classes that MD's take, do not let stereotype's keep you from getting better.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, I'm only 21 years old and I've had serious back pain for at least the past 5 years.  I have delt with a chiropractor now for several years, however, the relief is only short term.  I had an MRI stating there is a bulding disc and slight scoliosis all up in the top right hand side of my back.  I feel great when i sleep-- but once I start moving around and become active throughout the day-- It starts to flare up again.  It's a BURNING PAIN.  I have tried adjustments,ultra sound, stim, decompression, exercise, you name it.  I also use a tens unit on my own time-- which again is only short term.  Furthermore, I tried an oral anti-inflammatory which did nothing.  I saw a specialist and had a EMG done.  There is no sign of nerve damage.  He suggested a Cortisone shot of some kind.  I'm alittle Skeptical about it.   Side effects?  Will it actually work?  I'm also dealing with a neurologist; however, my appointments keep getting pro-longed and nothing seems to be getting solved.  This is getting old for me. Any one have any advice?

Thanks!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, I'm 27 and am a very active person with elite sport being my life. About 2 years ago I started experiencing severe nervy aching in my hip which extended to my calf and up to my neck after a sporting injury. I complained constantly to my physio but to know avail. Finally, in June last year she sent me for an MRI which showed I had torn hip cartilage. I had surgery soon after and then was sent for a CT Scan the day after surgery. I then was diagnosed with a femero-acetabular impingement which required further surgery.  Many stitches and hours of rehabilitation later I thought I was 'cured'(no aching). Nevertheless, in mid January I began experiencing the same 'nervy' aching from my calf to my neck due to over doing it (following directions from physio). My physio was dumbfounded so she sent me back to the specialist. I had a CT scan of my back?? I haven't seen the specialist yet but know that the report says nothing is wrong. What's wrong with me. I want and need to get back to my sport?????
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Avatar_n_tn
I had burning muscle pain in my neck from whiplash.  I went a year and a half in extreme pain not being able to hold up my head without leaning on my hands before trying accupuncture. I was told to try accupuncture and it did solve the burning pain for me.  I will tell you it took approx 15 treatments in series of 3 times a week and then suddenly during a treatment, I felt as though the muscles in my neck melted.  I did do a couple more treatments afterwards so the burning would not return.  I can't explain it but, I haven't had the burning neck muscles since.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have been having problems with pain and burning in my neck. It feel like my head is to heavy for my neck. My doctor perscribed me lexapro for stress and deprerssion. I took 2 of these pills and I started having stomach aches, hot flashes, feeling as if I have butterflies in my stomach, tingling in my hand, etc. Could all these symptoms happen by taking just two lexapro pills?
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Avatar_n_tn
I 33 and have been having aching pain on my right side of my head for about two years.  Now my neck and shoulders are very tense when my right side of my head hurts.  I'm easly stressed and have been depress for awhile.  I thought about fixing my own problem instead of going to the doctor so I've been drinking herb tea, it helps me out a lot and taking advil with it.  Does coffee make it worse because I'm a big Star Bucks fan.  

My question is can this come from depression/stress?  Or should I go to the doctor and let them run test.  If I take a warm bath, drink tea and take an advil then I will feel just fine within half an hour.  My husband seems to think it's stress I just wanted some other advice or answers.

Thank you in advance for your respond.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, New to site. I had a cervical fusion /allograft c5/6, 6/7 level w/bone spurs removed in Feb '05. before surgery I had fall asleep feeling and dropping things in L arm and neck pain. Now, Dec 05 terrible RIGHT side shoulder pain, neck pain and pain in arm when moved a certain way. Sent to pain clinic and injections tried. No help. MRI showed level 3/4 narrowing with bone spurs. pain is worse now with constant pain in neck, arm and shoulders with face (right side) numbness. Small spot in between neck and shoulder that swells. pain is also in middle finger and thumb and elbow. Waking at night crying it hurts so bad and I am pretty tough....also..forgot to mention that since pain got worse and constant, I have lost range. Cannot lift arm up above head,  difficult to wash hair.. I have pain doing simple things. Dr. sending me to PT but will take 2 to 3 weeks for clearance (ins) Dr. also mentioned ortho. A neuro did my surgery. I am scared of having permenant damage. Plan to call Dr. Tomarrow. Family advised me..aslo Dr has me on Vicoden 4x a day.(doesn't help for long) I am 43 and usually very active and positive person but this is knocking me down....anyone that can relate please talk to me....crying alot.....even painful to type..(so I took vicoden) do not want to rely on meds...thanks and sorry so long.
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Avatar_n_tn
I was just diagnosed today, Mar. 27, that I have Femoro Acetabular Impingement in my right hip.  Volleyball is my sport of 16 years and I was told that I won't be able to play anymore.  I'm going to start researching this since I'm not sure if I should have surgery or not.  Any comments or advice on where I can find more information, experiences from athletes with this diagnosis would be great appreciated.  

Thank you, Moonbi.

Chris
***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
Dear Moonbi,

I was just diagnosed today, Mar. 27, that I have Femoro Acetabular Impingement in my right hip.  Volleyball is my sport of 16 years and I was told that I won't be able to play anymore.  I'm going to start researching this since I'm not sure if I should have surgery or not.  Any comments or advice on where I can find more information, experiences from athletes with this diagnosis would be great appreciated.  

Thank you, Moonbi.

Chris
***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
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