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Posted by PatG on December 18, 2000 at 21:03:43:

In Reply to: Morning pain in mid upper back posted by Carol on December 16, 2000 at 21:52:21:

: Hi All, just happened upon this forum, looking for info about the type of pain I've been having. I have an appointment with my M.D. this Friday but was curious if my problem sounds familiar to anyone out there. Five weeks ago, I had the sudden onset of pain across the back, sort of between the shoulder blades. It especially hurt to tip my head forward. I thought I may have injured it somehow, though I couldn't think of anything I did to it, but the pain has been there every day for five weeks with zero improvement. For the last two weeks or so, I find that the pain is especially excruciating for a while when I first get up in the morning but tends to feel better after I'm up and moving around throughout the day. This makes me suspect that it's some type of arthritis, perhaps, but not sure if it's typical for an arthritis flare-up to last this long without relief. I can carry out just about every activity throughout the day, and if I sit or stand very straight upright, there's practically no pain at all. However, I get the pain with certain movements (such as sitting at a stoplight with my sun visor down, and trying to crain my neck to peak under the visor to watch for the green light--that type of movement). I've tried ibuprofen, with little-or-no improvement; and having my husband use a massager on the sore area only made the pain much worse the next day. The pain now is pretty much in the center of my spine, right about the middle of the upper back. Do any of you suffer with spinal arthritis, and if so, does your pain sound anything like this? For many months (maybe a year or more), I've sometimes noticed a sharp stab of pain in about this same area when I reach up to put the heavy laundry detergent bottle away in a cabinet directly above the washer.....just for a brief second as I reach up. This has made me also wonder if a pinched nerve could be causing this problem. Sorry to ramble on so long, but I thought some of my story might sound familiar to someone else who might be able to offer me some input. I'd love any suggestions of questions to ask my doctor when I see him Friday, if there's anything I SHOULD be asking about. I'm afraid of letting this get to be a chronic situation, and I'd sure like to avoid having years and years ahead of me of back pain if there's anything I can do right now to nip things in the bud. From what I've read on the internet, it sounds like a lot of people don't really get any good answers about what's causing their back pain. After living with this daily pain for only five weeks, I can sure sympathize with you poor folks who have had to endure years of suffering!!! I'm already beginning to feel like I hate to go to bed because I know I'm in for a very painful awakening in the morning. Anyway, any comments from anyone who might have or has had the mid upper back pain would be most welcome. Seems like lots of low back pain sufferers out there. Good luck to all, and thanks for "listening." :-) Carol
Dear Carol: It definately sounds like something is going on with the neck. You may have a disk bulge or herniation or you may have a bone spur on a vertebre in your neck. The clue is that when you move your head in certain positions, it is causing pain. However, I do not hear you mention any numbness or tingling. Do you get that anywhere? How about pain across the shoulders? That is a good sign if you don't have the numbness or tingling. Numbness and tingling mean a pinched nerve. When you go to your doctor, he/she may order a regular bone xray. They can tell by the position of the vertebra if something looks misaligned or if you have some arthritis. They can't tell anything about soft tissue (a disk bulge). But, if two vertebre look, for example, closer together than the rest of them, one of your disks may be flattening out and what the doctors call "degenerating" or "degenerative changes". That is just what happens to ALL of us when we age or overuse the back.
I am a 52 year old woman with spinal arthritis and disk bulges. I have had low back surgery and neck fusion at C5-6, so I DO know the neck pain. Your doctor may just prescribe anti-inflammatories. If he doesn't think it is a muscle, I'd ask about a bone xray of the neck. If he doesn't want to have an xray done, I'd ask why not? (Those kind aren't that expensive, about $100-$200) (MRIs run over $1,000)
Carol, I hope I've helped you a little. Take care, PatG

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