OK....I think I might be on to a new lead here with my shouder pain and I wanted to throw this out there to those of you who have had neck fusions/problems etc for opinions.....
Here is a little backround: I started having pain in my upper left quadrant in my late teens along with TMJ problems. I had Bi-lateral TMJ arthroplasties (damaged discs from mal-occlusion) at age 19, and a C6/7 fusion at age 20. At that time the Neuro-surgeon told me that the disc was torn when he removed it. I had not been in any sort of accident and there was no explanation for why this could have happened. When he did the surgery, he told me that there would be an extra load on the spine above and below the fusion that could cause me problems in the future.
I cannot say that the surgery really helped completely. I have continued to have problems with pain in my shoulder and neck along with headaches. I am a dental assistant and my job makes this worse due to the position that I sit in and the way I hold my arm and shoulder all day at work.
Fast forward. A couple of years ago, I went to a doctor in Denver who did a surgery called a pectoral tenotomy release....I also stopped dental assisting for a couple of years. My shoulder got better. I didn't know if it was the surgery or not assisting.
In the last year, I have started assisting again and my pain is worse than ever. I have also had issues all over, which they have diagnosed as Fibromyalgia. I went to an orthopedic doctor, who did an MRI on my shoulder and she said that there was some scar tissue in my shoulder that she could cut out and possibly reconstruct the whole shoulder, but since I have a 1 year old, I really don't want to go there right now....
FAST FAST forward (sorry so long)....in the last week, I have been feeling some "shocks" going down my shoulder from my neck. It feels like a TENS unit is connected to me. So I started researching this. I started stumbling upon information that all this pain could actually be coming from my spine. Huh...interesting. WHY wouldn't any of my doctors take a look at that...especially with my history of a fusion??? I have burning pain in my shoulder blade, pain in my armpit and in front of my shoulder, pain that radiates down my arm, arm weakness, and sometimes my fingers don't work very well. These things are ALL consistent with nerve issues from the spine, are they not? I hesitate to spend MORE money on an MRI on my spine, and my husband thinks I'm crazy and is quite irritated with me about this. But I think I may be on to something here. Do any of you with similar histories have any imput on this?
My pain originally started as occasional pain in my left deltoid/shoulder. I had seen chiropractors when the pain would flare occasionally and at one point when to an Ortho to find out what was wrong and he told me, based on an x-ray, that there was nothing wrong and that the pain would go away if I quit smoking. A few years later we moved and I over-lifted a lot thinking "What's the worst that could happen?" That's when the chronic pain started and it hasn't gone away since. It turned out that I have DDD, some herniated discs, and bulging discs. I really wish the Ortho I saw before had done some more testing to find out what was causing the occasional pain because I never would have over-done it if I had known.
I think most pain in the arms/shoulders and hip/legs is caused in the spine and having an MRI done would be very helpful for you, especially with you having the fusion and other surgeries. It definetly sounds to me like your pain is cervical spine related.
Have you seen an Ortho or a Neurologist/Neurosurgeon since the more recent pain started back up? I have seen Neurosurgeons and I think they are some of the best at figuring out what's going on with the nerves. They can be egotistical and arrogant sometimes but generally pretty good at figuring stuff out.
I went and saw an ortho for my shoulder recently, and that's why I'm a little baffled that she didn't think to look at the spine and only evaluated my shoulder! I think I am going to bring this up at my next pm appointment and ask for a refferal to a spine specialist. This is all really making sense all of a sudden and frankly I'm a little irritated that I'M the one that has to figure all of these things out on my own after spending a fortune on so many docs this year that haven't even thought of this possibility! Ugh....
Yes, it's entirely possible that your pain and numbness is actually coming from a problem with the nerve coming from your spine. That particular nerve could be impinged anywhere from the nerve root at the spine, to somewhere in your shoulder, or anywhere in between. For example, people with carpal tunnel syndrome have reported the same symptoms. Why? Because it's the same nerve that's involved. The signal runs both ways - from neck to fingers - so you have to consider injury along the entire nerve path. Since you've already had neck problems, one would think the docs would at least consider it. All you can do is ask your doctor about it and see if he'll order some imaging studies. Hope you can get a firm diagnosis and some therapy options very soon!
I was also just thinking that if you haven't had anything diagnosed at this point and you don't have health insurance, you may want to hold off on any further pursuit of diagnosis until you have insurance. It may be somewhat shady but the way the ins companies deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is shady, too. A lot of people end up looking for insurance after they have a diagnosis and by then the ins companies will put in special riders to avoid having to cover anything.
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