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Left shoulder pain/ dull ache/burning- help

I am hoping someone can provide some insight. Two months ago, while at work (sit at a microscope for 8 hrs. a day for 10 yrs. now), I noticed some twinges in my L breast. I just assumed hormonal, but then I started getting twinges in my L shoulder, which turned into a dull aching and sometimes burning sensation. The area that it started out in was the side of the shoulder in the back, like under the arm. Imagine lifting your arm up, and right beneath your armpit, you rub the vertical area underneath. Now, two months later, the pain has progressed to sometimes on the top of my arm, the muscle. I seem to notice it more when I'm at my desk working.

Dr. visits have not diagnosed the problem. So far I've had a diagnostic mammogram (good) and a chest xray (good). The chest xray showed some slight curvature to the spine, but other than that, good. Of course because I've had some tingles and shooting sensations in my left breast, my mind starts to "connect" the two and worry that it is cancer. Dr. says that is highly unlikely and that it sounds like muscles or nerves, myofascial pain, etc.

Each day I wake up thinking positively, but then the pain rears its head and I start to worry again. Why isn't it going away? I can't figure out what's going on.

I'm 38 years old and have a one year old, that I am picking up constantly. I have a sit down job at a microscope that I am in a fixed position. Could poor posture be to blame? This is so strange. Sometimes, the area itches and the back of my shoulder blade itches, too. Tingles and twinges once in a while. What should I do?
132 Responses
Avatar universal
A chest x-ray wouldn't show nerve impingement & a disc bulge
would have to be large to see on any basic x-ray. Most people
that use computers have their neck curved for hrs. & then get
this shoulder pain. I used a microscope yrs ago & had to take
breaks to neck stretch from similar problem. That was before
computers were around. Only way to really dx is to have a
Cervical mri. I have a slt spur at C4 & a bulge at C5 that has
caused me problems so I limit/corrected posture/hm-traction/
sleep w/ flatter pillow/icepak on neck if hurts. The C5 sends
signal to shoulder & you may be rolling it forward to pinch
another nerve going toward chest. Adjust chair & scope level if
possible (like a ph-bk or?). Most scopes are calibrated though
to remain stable. Even laying flat on a bag of frozen peas can
contour at neck if inflammation. If 2 discs compress, it's like a sandwich & the spine tissue pushes outward. Try to catch early
now so you can correct. Even carrying child will slope shoulder
& pull on nerve so just adjust things & see what works.  

Avatar universal
Thank you for your post. It's interesting you worked with a microscope before, too. However, unlike yours, my work is so specialized, that the homemade desk that the microscope is attached to (not ergomically sound) cannot be manipulated into a better position. The pieces I work on are all different sizes, so the microscope must be adjusted accordingly. It is hanging from a metal rod that is attached to the bottom shelf of the desk.

You make great points about the spine/neck area. I wonder if this is the cause of such dull, aching shoulder pain, along with the weird nerve sensations? It seems so odd at times. Today, ibuprofen helped. But, I just wish that I could get rid of the feeling of being so "aware" of my left shoulder. There hasn't been one day in the past two months that the left shoulder wasn't on my mind.

I did have an Echo and EKG, along with bloodwork back in May, due to heart palpitations. All was fine. They just attributed the ectopic beats (PVC's) to lack of sleep, stress, and caffeine overload. (I love my coffee, and now drink decaf). The diagnostic mammo is clear. All my bloodwork was good.

Some of the things you talked about, I'm unaware of, such as nerve impingement. I will have to do some research on it. Thank you for all your advice and taking the time to  explain these things in detail for me!

I truly hope I get to the root cause of this. Although it's possible that I have tendonitis, I still wonder where the little twinges and itching comes from at times. I was told it cannot be rotator cuff disease since one usually cannot move their arm without extreme pain. My pain doesn't happen when I push on any areas, nor does it get worse when I move my arm and shoulder in any  ways. It's like a deep, dull aching and burning, especially when in use.

If anyone can advise me on what to do next, or have any clues on what it could be, I would be grateful to hear your input. I'm driving my family crazy with being anxious and scared. I know my body and I have never had anything like this , let alone be lasting 2 months now.

Thank you very much,
Kelly
Avatar universal
I have the same thing, but on my right side. I know you don't want to hear this-my pain is going on two yrs now.I have had many, many tests done, some repeated. Nothing of significance has ever been found.I have been to many docs, many specialities.No one I have seen can figure it out.It is frustrating because I am a very healthy mother of two, that has never had any health problems.The pain is REAL though.My theory is I have a Repetitive Stress Injury due to my posture when I am on my computer.I have been told these types of injuries have increased a lot over the last 10yrs because of computer use. They are called RSI's.I was in an auto accident also a few years ago, where I suffered whiplash and it makes sense(to me) that it could be tied to that.However, the docs think my symptoms started too long(2 months) after the accident.Too much of a coincidence I think!Anyhow,I have changed my computer set-up,but the doc said this kind of injury/pain is very hard to get rid of and the best I can hope for is that eventually I will be able to manage the pain with meds, massage therapy and exercise.I have been seeing a trigger point massage therapist and it does help, but I only go once every two weeks.Insurance will not cover it.Make sure your docs check everything out before you assume it is nothing serious.Don't wait because the longer the pain, the harder it is to reverse the injury.I currently see an ortho doc that specializes in chronic pain.He is pretty good and genuinely interested in my problem(I think!) Good luck to you.
Avatar universal
SO interesting to see someone else complaining of the same thing! I have had mine for over 2 years now.  I think it is related to a an injury I sustained in a motorcycle incident. It is better sometimes, really bad at others.  I find it is worst when I am tense or stressed out.  I have had a mammogram and am scehduled for another and ultrasound, but they have been unable to find anything.  Massage seemed to make it worse, and physio helped a little, but too little to keep me paying for the sessions.  I think my next try will be a chiropractor....Right now the worst part is that I am so aware of my left breast.  Every bra I try feels like it is digging in or like a tight band. Going without a bra doesn't feel much better.  The last couple of days I've had a really sharp pain in my chest and back, but I am going through a fairly tense period right now. I hope you post again if you get any answers!
Avatar universal
well i have just started these pains as well special when iam breathing  i sit in front of the oc at least 10 hours a day.
Avatar universal
I had similar problems as you described a few years ago. After months of trying to find the problem and thinking the pain was originating under armpit and radiating in breast doctor finally ordered MRI of my neck and found that I had a herniated disc C4-C5 and C5-C6. After undergoing PT problem resolved itself.
Avatar universal
I have been having the same problem. It started with terrible pains in the breast about 3 months ago, going through my right shoulder and arms. I felt a hardening in my right breast, went to the clinic and they said it was probably just dense tissue. However, the pain is there. The shoulder pain is the worst. I cant seem to sit, lie down or anything. The pain goes through my armpit and arm.
My GP has recommended physiotherapy after an examination saying that I probably damaged some tissues. I hope it resolves the problems. May be Physiotherapy helps.
Avatar universal
Thank you all for your comments.  I have been suffering with the same symptoms off and on for a couple of months. I do have a history of C5, C6 mild degenerative disc disease and spent 2 years going for physio.  I have not gone for about a year now. I have been having breast sensations as well as underarm pinching and a feeling of fullness (more at the upper part of the underarm). Lymph nodes are fine.  I was trying to take the time to let this sort itself out but am now thinking that I may need to try physio again since the burning and discomfort are very annoying.  Does the underam feeling that I describe sound like what you've had?  Has it gone away with physio?
Avatar universal
I've posted this before but will do so again in hopes someone can help!!  This past spring my husband decided to turn our king-size mattress...well he let go of it and it hit me and threw me across the room....I hit my back and head on a night stand....14 stitches in my head.  A couple of months later, I was visiting my sister's new home and didn't see the step that separates the living-room from the dining-room and went flying across the room and finally landed chest high on the leather couch...black and blue marks across left chest wall for a couple of weeks.  That November I caught the flu and spent 2 weeks sleeping in an upright position either on the couch or in bed.  During that period of time developed a burning sensation in my left shoulder area.  When I woke in the morning the burning would start and then felt like it moved down my side and across my rib cage (left side).  This came and went.  The last couple of weeks it has returned and this burning has settled into the lower portion of my left shoulder blade.  Feels like bone on bone when I flex and lots of popping sounds in my shoulder and spine.  If I bring my left elbow up against my side and try to bring it back, it causes this pain in the lower portion of my should blade.  Also if I lift my chin and bring my shoulders back I feel the same pain.  I've been having right shoulder problems and have been using my left arm more than my right (I am right handed, naturally) and I spend at least 5-6 hours a day at the computer.
Avatar universal
I have also had the ache in the breast and burning under the arm and up into my lower shoulder area, It started last may and continued for 2 months, then i started to swim everyday and within 2 weeks the pain was gone but short lived, a month later the pain was back and i am struggling with it now.
I have had back x-rays, unltrasounds, mamograms, all with negative results. This has effected my life, i can no longer play or lift my grandkids, i snap at my family because i am in constant pain.
I am 42 years old and have a lot of living still left to do so I hope I will find the right Doctor soon to help my pain or even get down to the cause and cure me.
I hope everyone here has luck in finding the cause your pain and let us know.
Avatar universal
I have the same pain that started out going through the left side of my chest and radiates down my left arm.  Sometimes my whole arm feel so painful like dull aching pain all the way down to my hand.  I have had this for over 2 years.  I asked a neurologist and he said that he doesn't know what it is but is a common complaint among new mothers and people that have a lot of anxiety.  I wish I could get to the bottom of this because I'm really getting sick of living like this.  Has anyone had any luck healing themselves from this?
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
Yep All symptoms i have as well. dull ache in left shulder and moves in to left breast, have been worrying myself sick about it. I work at a bench all day and it only started when i started this job. Im going to try and adjust my working position and see what happens. But i also suffer from anxiety which is made further worse by me worrying about the pains, so its a vicious circle. But seeing others with the same complaint has made me feel a lot better.
Avatar universal
Everyone should check out information on myofascial trigger points. I just purchased a trigger point therapy workbook and it explains how these trigger points are the sources of so many physical problems.  It has helped me stop some migraines from progressing and has helped relieve the shoulder pain that has been bothering me.  You can find info on them at http://www.mypressureproducts.com/Users.htm and at http://www.mypressureproducts.com/Users.htm.
Hope this helps you...
Avatar universal
Wow, what a great message board.  I have THE EXACT SAME THING as you guys.  It's so frustrating.  It all started w/ rib pain on my right side and the dr. said it was due to my bad posture at work (I work at a desk 8-9 hours daily).  I adjusted my moniter to be more ergonomical and the rib pain went away!  I was so happy- that had lasted for about 4 months STRAIT but w/in the same month I guess it moved up because now I have the same symptoms you all describe.  I feel a CONSTANT "awareness" of my right breast, sometimes it feels cold, it burns sometimes, that's where it started.  

Now it moved up to my right shoulder, right upper back, neck and arm.  It's crazy.  I have been to the chiro over 10 times in the past few months(that's how long I've had this current problem) acupuncture twice, and massage therapist 3 times.  Sometimes I feel like the massage helps but sometimes I feel it irratates the problem...some w/ the chiropractor.  I had a dr. check my lymph nodes under my arm and they were fine.  I have my womanly check up in August(dreading it, lol) but I don't feel it has any connection with anything like that.  Also my muscles in these areas are very tight despite my constant stretching and working out.  I guess I just need to keep at it.  Right now my neck and shoulder are aching/burning.  You guys are right, this is really annoying.  

But I feel that for those of us who haven't found answers, that just means we haven't found the right dr.'s.  That can make all the difference in the world.  Some are really knowledgable and others are a bunch of quacks... you really have to shop around and get referals before you go to another dr.  Or at least I do.  I don't have insurance so this is all pretty expensive.  I'm pretty depserate to find an answer though.
Avatar universal
Oh I forgot I am 21 years old.  I just noticed this quite a range of age on here.  Interesting....
Avatar universal
Me too!  I'm getting the exact same thing; dull pain down my left arm which sometimes seems to come from my chest.  I also have a child, who's 1 and a half, and I carry her mainly on my left side, and she also mainly lays on that arm when I breastfeed her.  When she's playing around she crawls on my chest sometimes and it absolutely kills me.  Also kills me if someone tries to massage my back on that side.  It made me scream when my husband kindly tried to do it!  I have a history of rib problems including dislocations (I have hypermobility syndrome which make my joints prone to dislocation).  I've been worried sick about what this pain down my arm can be and I'm due to have an ECG next week to rule out heart problems, although the GP doesn't think it can be this.  I'm 34 years old.  I'd be so interested to hear any outcomes or updates from the above posts or views on my symptoms.

Good luck to all,

Heather.
Avatar universal
Well, I haven't been at my old desk job for about 2 weeks now.  I will be starting a new restaurant soon which will require me to be on my feet all day, but I think that may be a lot better than sitting for 9 hours a day!  We'll see... but a big part of me tells me that my horrible posture has lead to this injury-- nothing sudden like a car wreck, but more like a "repetitve injury".  Just sitting the same horrible way one day too many I guess!  I'm hoping that being up and moving around will help my body auto-correct itself.  I just get sort of nervous because my "womenly check up" is this month and that makes me a little nervous... even though if I think logically about this I know there shouldn't be any connections.  I just want it to go away!  I'm praying it will and stretching a lot- oh and i have one of those back massager pads that "kneads" your back.  That's helpful so I don't have to pay someone to do it or constantly bother my husband.  
Since I've started my job my ribs pretty much aren't bothering me at all anymore and it seems to be primarily my upper right back, breast, chest, and shoulder.  So much fun I can hardly contain myself!! haha Sorry for the sarcasm... I'm just ready for it to be on it's marry old way!  My husbands mom is a head nurse and is convinced it is a pinched nerve or more in general a skeletal/muscular thing.  Which was what the dr. had originally said about my rib pain-- before it started migrating north!
Anyway, stay in touch, I'd like to hear more everyone's progress!
Love, Nicole
Avatar universal
I found this board when I typed, "pain under arm radiating to breast.....". I was in a car accident years ago, leaving several discs compressed/herniated but I have been going to the chiro for years. I have a lump, supposedly in the "lymph" area and it has come and gone for years but yesterday, during a self breast exam, I found the lump again and gave it a little push. OMG. The pain lanced right to my nipple. I know my back needs adjusting again, my left arm and left leg have been tingling for weeks but how would this be connected? It's the first time there has been pain and now, more than 36 hours. PS...... Yes, I spend LOTS of time at the computer, too!
Avatar universal
Just found this sight, wish I could help. For over 8 years now I have had a burning, stinging pain under my left breast, a bra makes it worse. I have had MRI's and discovered focal inflammation, but no explanation. Mammagrams and ultrasounds over the years have been normal. I had lung xrays, bone scans, mri's on my back, nothing. Some suggest nerve pain, costochronditis, arthritis, no one knows and nothing really helps. It never hurts at night when I am on my back.  Some times I feel it down my arm and sometimes my muscle under my back shoulder is very tight...really is mystery...I do think anxiety plays a role in this.  I do think it is muscular/never pain of some sort. Good luck to all.
Avatar universal
I have been suffering for the past year now a dull ache it is at tehleft side of the my neck just b4 the beginning of my spine, thee is a slight lump wen i bend my neck ova to the right and it can become very stiff wen i bend it ova to my left. I dnt no if u can help or advise me but i have been to the doctors once already and felt like i was being palmed off.. the doctor said it was a muscle which is bigger than the right muscle on the side of my neck and tht there is nothin to worry about. Can u advise me to whether i shud go bk to the doctors and c another doctor. I cnt get on at work cause i worry about it.

thank you very much!

chantelle alden
Avatar universal
Ok, well I feel better to see some folks have the same issue I have been battling for about 4 months now. At this point I cannot even recall a specific incident where this happened. There was no real direct trauma that began the onset. I am 40 years old and very active and after training Jiu Jitsu one night I had a stiff neck and upper back. This has since been downgraded to a dull ache in my shoulder. Like another poster I am AWARE of this 24/7 the dull pain-ache is always there. I have tried massage and rest, also RICE and hot epsom baths. Today I will head to my ortho for a professional opinion.

Some of the commonalities I see are:

Constant dull pain under my shoulder blade
Minor relief with heat and massage
Trouble sleeping
40 and athletic
Working 40-60 hours a week on a computer
Anti-Inflamatories help a little

I will post again if I get any information today.

-Jay Vegas
Avatar universal
I have been going through the same symptoms for about a month. Before I had them I had a mamo done which was normal. Prior to this, I started taking calcium supplements because I have IBS. I asked the Dr. could it be a result of too much calcium. He said that shouldn't be the problem. (Although I have read too much calcium can cause problems with the body :P)  I've had a chest xray and left rib xray. Showed as normal with mild scoliosis. Now he is ordering bloodwork. If that is normal he is sending me to a specialist. Sigh.. Muscle relaxers n naproxen don't help. The only thing that seems to work for me is Darvocet.  I am a sahm that spends a lot of time online also.  What really bothers me is if anyone even lightly brushes up against the area in pain it is like severe sun burn. Drives me nuts. There is no rash,bruising or bumps of any kind on the skins surface. I am hoping there is an answer soon.
Avatar universal
I was in a bad truck accident in april. I went to sleep coming home from work and flipped my truck several times at 60 miles an hour then slammed into a rock cliff. My face was fractured in four different places and my jaw was fractured also. The doctors just did an mri of my head and that was it. I had to be med flighted and wasn't at the hospital for long before being released? Something didnt add up i was really screwed up. Now after about six months under my shoulder blade i am having severe pain and a popping and crunching sound, then  directly straight across into my chest then the pain shoots straight up my neck, of course which makes every day living and movement painful? What do i do and what is the most likely injury i have?
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