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neck, shoulder, upper arm pain
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neck, shoulder, upper arm pain

Hi,
I am a 50 yr old woman and march 2009 I was having what appeared to be muscle ache in my right upper arm, this went on for a couple of weeks and then I started getting pain in my shoulder joint (right side) this then went onto aches and pain in my neck (right side). My shoulder hurts with certain movement and is painful to carry out simple tasks, getting dressed, lifting and dropping the arm, my upper arm just aches sometimes sharp pains.
Am finding it hard to get comfortable in bed, as these aches and pains wake me up through the night, sometimes with my ring finger and little finger feeling numb and tingly on waking, but after shaking them they go back to there original state. I also have the same thing going on at the same time with my left upper arm (not left joint or neck) but it is just an ache, I have free movement and the left side is not causing pain, just an ache, sometimes I will wake through the night and my ring finger and little finger will feel numb and tingly in my left hand.
I have been to see my GP who prescribed co-codamol, she said it may be arthritis, but surely may be isint good enough, should she not of sent me for blood testing rheumatoid, or even for an x-ray, this condition is very painful, it interferes with everyday living, the painkillers are having no effect.
I would be grateful for any ideas what this may be??
Thanx
chris
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Avatar_dr_f_tn
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with your doctor.

Without the ability to examine you and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of your symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

Your shoulder/arm pain could be due to a neurologic problem or a musculoskeletal problem. Regarding the latter, possibilities include inflammation at a tendon or ligament or the joint capsule lining (tendonitis or bursitis etc) or a rotator cuff problem. If that is the case, anti-inflammatories such as NSAIDs (like ibuprofen etc) are often helpful and the problem improves with time, rest, and gentle stretching and sometimes physical therapy. If the problem is a rotator cuff tear, sometimes surgical repair is necessary.

In older adults, pain in both shoulders and in hips could be due to an inflammatory condition called polymalgia rheumatica.

However, given that you experience numbness in your fingers, and neck pain, another possibility is radiculopathy. The spinal cord is encased by bones called vertebra. Nerves start to form as they come off the spinal cord and exit through holes formed between the vertebra. If a nerve is compressed on as it exits through these holes, particularly in an area called the nerve root, a radiculopathy results. The compression could be due to arthritis of the spine or due to a herniated disc or other lesions. The symptoms include pain at the level of the problem (i.e. neck or back etc) and pain that may radiate down the arm or leg (depending on where the problem is). In more advanced cases, muscle weakness or sensory symptoms such as tingling or numbness may occur. A radiculopathy is often diagnosed based on history, physical examination, and MRI of the spine. Treatment includes anti-inflammatories, pain medications, sometimes physical therapy, and in some cases surgery.

I recommend continued follow-up with your GP, with referral to a neurologist as deemed necessary.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.
2 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm no doc, but did you ask your doc for a Rx for massage therapy (neuromuscular therapy to be precise). Sometimes that seems to help tight muscles and you don't have to take drugs for the pain.  Just a thought. But of course ask your doctor first. Then if it does not work, go back to doc.
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