Unresolved Undiagnosed Random Shoulder AC Joint Pain
I'm hoping someone has experienced or can relate to my symptoms and situation. I'm a 26 year old female and I get these random sharp pains seemingly in the right part of my AC joint in my left shoulder, that come on all of a sudden when I'm not moving, so either when I'm sitting or laying down, doesn't seem to be reproducable but it ranges from 2-8 on the pain scale and only lasts a few seconds in each instance. It started back in college about in 2007 but only would happen once or twice a year. Then within the past few years it started happening more frequenly, each month, then each week, and then starting at the end of August in 2012, after carrying a heavy load of books about 1/4 of a mile to my car from my grad class, woke me up in the middle of the night at a level 10 and was happening every few seconds, the pain was so bad i wanted to throw up and it just wouldn't stop for more than a few seconds, felt super sharp like someone was over and over again stabbing me with a knife through the top of my left shoulder. My husband took me to the ER as I was screaming and crying and they put me on pain meds, which didn't seem to help and they ordered an MRI with contrast a few days later. I couldn't go to work or anything, just stayed at home crying in pain until the MRI with contrast was done which showed a type 1 ac joint separation, a torn labrum, adhesions, an edema and bursitis. The Orthopaedist decided he would do shoulder arthroscopy surgery to fix the torn labrum. I had no restriction to motion, i could move everything just fine and still the pain would come on regardless of motion.
Anyways, the pain seemed to become less frequent over the course of the week or two before the surgery, to just maybe 5 times per day. Also, during the course of the surgery, he found when he went inside that there actually was no torn labrum, just some fraying and bursitis which he said he cleared with the stryker wand. After the surgery, maybe it was reduced to a few times a day and not at a level 10, at a level 6 at most. Proceeded to attend 3 months of physical therapy. I told the Dr that I was still having pain THE pain that I was having before surgery but just not at a level 10, but he didn't care and said there was nothing else he could do for me.
I tried to disregard the pain but it is still interrupting my daily activities and the top of my shoulder feels so raw that ever instance several times a day makes me want to just crawl up in a corner and cry since it seems to never end. I did some research and went to a second orthopaedist who was super nice and caring and sweet and seemed like he really wanted to help, he immediately took x-rays, but they didn't show anything, he then did a cortisone shot into my AC joint, and that seemed to completely take away the pain for about 3-4 days, but I also had a very bad allergic reaction, which was hives (uticaria) all over my body. Also, after a few days, the pain woke me up at night and came back with a vengence, was worse than it had been for a few weeks, back to a level 8. The Dr. wasn't sure what to do, he examined x-rays of both my shoulder and neck but there was nothing he could see that was wrong and referred me to a different orthopaedist who specializes in the shoulder. He did say after doing an evaluation though that he didn't understand why the first Dr. did surgery on my labrum and ignored my AC joint despite the MRI with contrast findings which showed inflammation and a type 1 ac separation. I proceeded to see the next Dr. This next Dr. ordered another MRI which showed absolutely NOTHING in the AC joint, however it did show subscapularis tendinosis, but the Dr. said that that condition was completely unrelated since I was having pain seemingly in my AC joint and the subscapularis is deeper down in the shoulder, so he disregarded that. He basically said he'd like to do another cortisone shot but I dont think that makes sense since it only lasted a few days the first time and I had a terrible allergic reaction. So now he's referring me to neck Doctors in the case that maybe I have an issue in my neck that is referring pain to my shoulder.
I also do get random sharp neck pains on the right-hand-side of my neck, maybe a couple times a week, but I'm not concerned about this, I just want the shoulder/ac joint random pain to stop, it feels like chinese water torture. But who knows, maybe the two are related?
Regardless I've been going to a chiropractor 2-3 times a week and have stopped doing the physical therapy exercises from the first surgery which I had been doing every day to see if that would have any impact or decrease the frequency of pain episodes. At this point, I just don't know what to do and would appreciate hearing from anyone at all who can relate or has any insight/advice.
Some background in case it is relevant is that in middle and high-school I was very active and did gymnastics for about 8 years, basketball for about 7 years along with swimming and figure skating. I kept up with gymnastics infrequently and just whenever i found a spare trampoline or field throughout college and up until the pain became super frequent and bad that day at the end of August in 2012. Since then I have not dared to try any gymnastics again. I also have curly hair and up until now would use my left arm to hold the hair dryer to blow dry my hair straight once or twice a week. I'm not sure if any of this has any connection with my pain but I throw it out there just in case.
How can it be possible that I'm still experiencing random strong unprovoked pain yet the MRI basically showed nothing? Is it because they didn't use contrast this time?
Tendinosis of the shoulder (AC Ligament) sounds like your most likely problem. Subscapularis tendinosis is more then likely secondary and not your problem at all. This pain I had, and it last for many many months. I learned that it was raising my arm higher then the shoulder height would bring on a sting and go up higher the pain would start like a stab feeling. All I done for the next 3 months was keep my arm down below shoulder height, and iced as often as I could 20 minutes on 20 minutes off. And after 3 months the pain just went away.
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