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Old 01-23-2012, 08:59 PM   #1
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Disc Herniation or Pain from Scapular Winging?

My physical therapist and the orthopaedic doctor I saw can't seem to agree... Since I was a teen I've experienced some pain in my upper back/lower neck area. I've experienced pain in between my shoulder blades for about the last 4 years. Up until maybe a year ago, it was a burning pain that I would have often after studying long hours, and it would subside in a couple hours. It has gotten much much worse over the last year. In October I experienced a pain like I had never felt, my muscle burning pain instead was a sharp pain that would come in spasms and almost entirely incapacitated me (I couldn't do anything but lie on the couch and cry, sob story I know). I experienced a strange numb, tingling sensation all down my arms as well to my finger tips. I saw an orthopedic doctor who took an x-ray and found my spine to be perfectly healthy (except for the fact that my neck was completely straight like a board, not curved like it should have been, he said it was due to all the spasms I was having and was similar to a neck he'd see in a serious whiplash incident). He concluded it was a cervical herniated disc, possibly between C5-C6. I was prescribed painkillers and a steroid, and referred to a physical therapist. The intense sharp pain gradually subsided, but that all too familiar burning pain didn't go away.

Fast forward to my first physical therapy session the following week.. (mid-October) My physical therapist basically told me it was horse-**** that I had a herniated disc and instead believed it was due to scapular winging, and that I needed to strengthen my scapular muscles and work on my posture while studying/working (I have really good posture...). I did physical therapy with him twice a week for 2 months and hardly noticed a difference. He told me to keep up with my exercises but I've definitely been slacking... Within the last 2 weeks the pain has been getting terrible and I'm afraid I'm going to have that intense sharp pain I had for 2 days straight before I first saw a doctor. I've been trying to do my exercises to alleviate the pain, but it hasn't helped and the pain is only getting worse by day.

Do I just need to up these back strengthening exercises as recommended by my PT or is this a disc issue and I need to get an MRI?

For background info I'm 21, 5'11", and a small-medium frame. Pain alternates between being burning muscular feeling pain to a sharper pain between my shoulder blades and up to my neck.

Last edited by GatorGirl916; 01-23-2012 at 09:01 PM.

 
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:09 PM   #2
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Re: Disc Herniation or Pain from Scapular Winging?

I'm afraid no one on the board can really advise you what to do. Without an MRI it is difficult to know if you have a disc problem, and if so, whether it is herniated, whether there is nerve compression and whether it impacts the spinal cord.

If I were you, I would want to know if there is a cervical disc issue before I proceeded with exercises for the cervical discs. Due to the tight space in the neck, it is important to know if the spinal cord is being impacted. Otherwise, there is a risk of a serious injury.

If you can arrange it, I would think that further imaging is in order.

Did you see an orthopedic spine surgeon or was it a general ortho doctor?
Do you still have any pain, tingling or numbness in your hands, arms or fingers?

 
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