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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,
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.
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