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Avatar universal

Shoulder, neck and arm has been hurting for almost 4 months and doctors can't find what is wrong.

Hello, my name is Luis and I have been on pain for almost 4 months now.

There is a constant mild pain now in the neck, the shoulder, and arm, but I also get like a high, sharp pain which at times becomes a pulse that goes from the arm to the shoulder and then to the neck.  Some other times it starts like an electric discharge and a sharp pain in between my left thumb and the index finger and then the back of my arm starts pulsing in pain;  and then there are times that I just get a sharp pain in a general area and does not pulsate to another area.  The pain at times varies, sometimes the neck hurts more than the shoulder, and at times it is the shoulder that hurts the most.  It doesn't always start in the same area.    

The pain in the shoulder is in several areas.

I get a lot of sharp pain at the back of the shoulder in between shoulder and arm and down the whole length of the arm to almost my elbow.  Also I get the sharp pain at times on the top of the shoulder between both arm and shoulder, and at the front of the arm in between the shoulder and arm.  Many times the pain is right in the middle of those areas, and at times it pulsates down to almost my elbow.  I do feel a numbness and crawling in my fingers and my index finger and thumb at times they get a pulsating mild pain in the tip of both fingers.  I also feel a crawling sensation in the palm of my left hand.  All these feelings and pains in the whole arm, shoulder, and neck I have never before experienced in my whole life.

When i am standing up and with both my arms hanging down normally my left arm and hand swells up and becomes red, but when I rest my arm in a chair arm rest the swelling goes down as well as the redness, but the pain is always there.

This all started when I got injured as I was working installing some new security equipment on March 14th 2008. Some of the equipment we install is quite heavy.  

At first, that same day when I got injured, I thought it was a simple muscle pull, but as the day was unfolding I realized I was losing strength in my left arm and it was trembling.  We worked most of the day in the attic of the new bank, and my whole left arm just felt wrong and I lost most of my strength in that arm.  

That same day after I went home, I still thought it was only a muscle I pulled, and I guess as the muscles were getting colder I started feeling more, and more pain on the shoulder and arm, that Friday night and the rest of the weekend I was in agony.  I went to ER and was at first diagnosed with a rotary cuff injury.

After the doctor at the clinic I was sent to by worker's comp couldn't find out what was wrong with me, and the doctor could see my arm was still swollen and red, and I was still in a lot of pain after a month and a half, I was sent to a local neurologist.  The first day at the neurologist one of the nurses, who was the assistant to who was to become my doctor, took an x-ray of my arm and neck, and she told me that I appeared to have nerve impingement, and she could see that the curve on my neck was not right, and she thought the muscles in the neck and shoulder were bundled up giving the unusual curvature to the neck.  After that day the diagnostic changed to nerve impingement in the arm and neck.

I never saw that nurse again after that day, I am not sure what happened.  The doctor then, after another month in which he did not see me but only nurses did, realized that my pain and the inflammation were not going away, so he finally decided to take a look at me and requested an MRI of the shoulder, by that time the pain had spread to the neck, mostly the left side, and the neck since then is in constant pain.  At times the pain in the neck and shoulder are worse, and sometimes the pain is not as bad.

According to the neurologist the MRI did not show any ligaments or muscles torn or any sort of injury, but since the arm was still swollen and I was in a lot of pain I was still put on hydrocodone, but the doctor has told me to use only ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory.

I was sent to have the nerves in the arm and shoulder checked in a test in which they use some needles and send a current down my arm.  The doctor that did the test told me that it seemed the problem was only on the shoulder but he didn't want to specify what he meant exactly.  I asked him about it and he just said the results would be sent to my doctor and he would tell me the results.

The neurologist also decided to request an MRI of the neck, and after a month and two weeks, in which part of it he went on vacation and I couldn't see any other doctors, and I saw the neurologist again, he told me the results didn't show any permanent damage in the neck, and the results of the nerve test did not show anything unusual, and the results came back normal.  

I explained to the doctor that I am still in a lot of pain day and night and there are still nights that I wake up in pain very often and I barely get any rest those days.  The pain is constant, but at times it is worse, and some other times the pain is not as bad but still bad enough that I can't do much with my left arm.  The doctor kept insisting all results were normal.

I am going to start therapy next Wednesday again and I will see how it goes.

I just want the pain to stop, and I want to be able to go back to work before I lose my job.

I am tired of the doctor saying there is nothing wrong with me when I am in constant pain and he can see my arm gets swollen and red when I am standing normally and without doing anything to the arm or shoulder.  When I am sitting the swelling and redness goes down but the pain keeps being there.

The neurologist has gone as far as claiming the arm being swollen and red is just because the blood goes down to the arm when I don't use it.  I showed him that I lift both arms at the elbows and put them down and the only arm that gets swollen and red is my left arm, but he still acts as if the inflammation and redness wasn't there, meanwhile everyone else including the nurses can see my arm is red and swollen.

There are days when the pain is bad, and I just pace around the house cradling the left shoulder and just grunting and wanting the pain to go away. Even after taking the hydrocodone, it takes a while for the pain to subside.  I still get pain at night and wake up very frequently what feels like every other hour or so in pain and agony.  Since I have to eat something and I can only take one hydrocodone at a time, and even then I feel a lot of nausea and feel like I am going to vomit, when the pain is really bad the nausea and feeling like wanting to vomit feels better than the pain I feel in the shoulder, arm and neck.

I have never been in this constant pain in my entire life, even my back is sore and in pain although not as bad as the neck and shoulder/arm are.

I am 36 years old, I have never have had to file a worker's comp claim, or had to leave work for this long for being sick, and I just really want to find out what the heck is wrong.  I want to find what is wrong, find a solution so the pain will stop, and want to be able to return to a normal life.  

Apparently the doctor thinks there is nothing wrong even though I show physical symptoms, swollen and rednees in left arm and hand as well as a lot of pain.  At times the pain is more agony than anything else.

What can I do?   More importantly, what is wrong with me?  I am starting to think that the doctor I am seeing is more interested in getting paid by worker's comp than actually finding what is wrong with me and finding a solution.
6 Responses
Avatar universal
I hate to say it but your last comment is correct. W.C. is very hard to deal with. many of us know that. They are not there for you, they are hired to get you to go back to work. You need to get a copy of your EMG(nerve test) and your MRI'S. They love to tell you there is nothing wrong. I am not sure about your state but here in mine I was allowed to change my doctors one time. I had one doctor who told me there was nothing wrong with my neck either even when I felt something pop in it and could not move my head. He sent me back to work like that. I have several discs in my neck that are either bulging or herniated. Ask to have a copy of everytning sent to your family doctor to see. You may have to pay for that visit since it is a work related injury and most insurances will not cover it and W.C. will probably not cover a family doctor visit. At least your family doctor does not work for W.C.
W.C. is there to do the least amount as possible. If he is keeping you out of work apparently he sees something wrong but does not want to tell you what it is. You may have to get a lawyer to get some results. I was always put on light duty even though there is no such thing and I was pretty messed up. I was in alot of pain between my low back and my neck. I can relate to arm pain though. I had it so severe for a few weeks and they did nothing to help me. I had 2 trips to the er. On etime they said it was my shoulder and then another the doc asked if I had hurt my neck. He said it was nerve pain. It took a few weeks to finally ease up. Can you put your arm in a sling? If you do not have one I used a towel and kept my arm supported in that. they finally gave me a sling to help relax my arm because it was useless with the pain. I could not move it.
Good luck. Motrin did help for the inflamation but you have to make sure you take it with food.
Ask for another doctor and get a copy of your reports. You have every right to have a copy of them so do not let them tell you different. If they refuse to give you a copy tell them you will get a lawyer and he will get the copies for you.
Best of luck. Keep us posted as to how you are making out. Did you try a warm heating pad on your neck and shoulder area. Sometimes that works for me. There is also a good webite for workers compensation. It goes by all the states.it is www workerscompensationinsurance *******. they have forums there where you can get info about the guidelines for your state and talk to other people who may be able to help you out. I would check that out aslo.
Please get a copy of all your reports.
454186 tn?1388978568
Hi,sorry to know.
Clinically,It seems that you suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome which symptom as fellow:
Symptoms include neck, shoulder, and arm pain, numbness, or impaired circulation to the extremities (causing discoloration). Often symptoms are reproduced when the arm is positioned above the shoulder or extended. Patients can have a wide spectrum of symptoms from mild and intermittent, to severe and constant. Pains can extend to the fingers and hands, causing weakness.

And perhaps you also suffer soft tissue injury in neck which can lead to a lot of pain as you said.Deep and intensive acupuncture  can help!
Good luck!

Attachment:(from my blog)
Zak acupuncture for thoracic outlet syndrome by Zak on Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:39 pm

L, male, 54 years old, the left neck and shoulder pain for 19 years, with migraine, left thumb numbness, various non-surgical treatment ineffective, In the hospital, diagnosed as: cervical disc herniation, and the implementation of surgery , the symptoms have not changed,

Clinical examination: neck kyphosis, highly sensitive point of tenderness at: scapula , scapular supraspinatus fate acromial edge, infraspinatus, and so on, upper hand normal activities ,in the above-mentioned point of tenderness, and if implemented gravity massage, will reduce the symptoms, the patient had been diagnosed as: thoracic outlet syndrome.

Treatment: zak acupuncture
Results: After a period of time treatment, his condition improved, the final diagnosis: spinal soft tissue damage in the left side of neck pain with thoracic outlet soft tissue damage

Avatar universal
I have been going to therapy and it only relieves some pain, when for example, my arm is numbed with cold rags, even thou there is an area between the neck and shoulder where i still feel a lot of pain even when the whole shoulder is numb from the cold.  My therapist tells me that same area where I still feel a lot of pain when the shoulder is numb there is a nerve right in that area.

There are times the therapy only makes the pain worse, sometimes depends on what they do to my arm, neck, and shoulder, I get some relief from the pain for about 5-10 minutes, then the pain comes back and feels worse.

I was given something called the tens unit (?) which induces an electrical discharge into my shoulder.  When I use this even in a setting as low as 2-2.5 my whole left shoulder, and even my forearm goes into violent spasms, the muscles jump as if they want to come out of my arm, and the pain intensifies.  

I have put this unit on my right shoulder in the same spots where i put it on the left shoulder, and even when increasing the intensity to 3 there are no violent spasms.  I have even tried to move the unit in different parts of my right shoulder, which always brings up the pain and my left shoulder feels weaker when doing this, to see if i would get any spasms, and nothing happens. I feel the current, but there are no violent spasms when I put the unit on the right shoulder, but on the left shoulder there are always violent spasms.

I have also noticed that the numbeness i constantly feels intensifies if I put my elbow resting on a chair arm rest and i raise the arm, about 10-20 seconds later the numbness intensifies, i feel more crawling and prickling sensations in the whole arm and more so in the two small fingers in my left arm.  The pain also intensifies when in this position, and the two small fingers seem to want to close by themselves.

My physical therapist is also telling me that all the symptoms I have seem to be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, perhaps my therapist should teach a thing or two to my doctor.

Anyway, to make things worse my boss has even told me if by the end of July this year I don't go back to work, I will be fired, and my position will be open for someone else.

Apparently my boss doesn't understand the concept that I have no say when I will get better enough to return to work.  I just hope I do get better to return to a normal life, because for the past 4 months I have had no normal life.
Avatar universal
I agree with chadry..get copies of your tests and check out another neurolagist..it will $ well spent
Avatar universal
I have been going to an Upper Cervical Doctor who has helped my neck, shoulder, muscle spasms and headaches.  For years I have suffered and now after a few adjustments in my neck I am pain free.  Highly recommend checking out websites on Upper Cervical Care for a doctor in your area.  There is only one in my state so I have to travel an hour but it has been worth it.
Avatar universal
I have been going to an Upper Cervical Doctor who has helped my neck, shoulder, muscle spasms and headaches.  For years I have suffered and now after a few adjustments in my neck I am pain free.  Highly recommend checking out websites on Upper Cervical Care for a doctor in your area.  There is only one in my state so I have to travel an hour but it has been worth it.  This is a secret that needs to get out to all who have pain.
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