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bluekind91 12-16-2010 04:03 PM

Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
I have been having chronic, severe muscle spasms in my neck, shoulders, back of head, and upper chest. I started having problems about 5 years ago and it has progressively gotten worse. However, I was pregnant in 2009 and had no pain at all during my pregnancy. I had my daughter in March and the pain has increased since then. I had two MRIs done on the cervical vertebrae. The one done in 2008 found bulging discs, osteophytes, spinal stenosis, and reversal of cervical curve. The one in 2010 had found that the bulging disc had somewhat healed but said nothing about osteophytes. Doctors who look at the MRIs say I should not be having the pain I am having based on what they see on the MRI. The reversal of curve was still noticed. Within the last three months, my pain has increased significantly. I remember helping my husband with a crib and since then my pain has been unbearable. The pain has radiated to the back of my head. I am trying to find out why I am experiencing excruciating pain all the time. If I walk, the pain intensifies. It I sit, it also intensifies. I went to the physical therapist yesterday where they gave me a very light massage and very light electrical stimulation. A few hours later, the pain was so extreme in the back of both sides of my head that I could not stand it. The pain is also in my neck, shoulders, upper chest and and under my arms. The physical therapist said it was rare to see increased pain, only about 5% of his patients. I have seen 6 specialists, 4 physical therapists, 3 chiropractors, several massage therapists, osteopathic doctor, acupuncturist, etc. No one has been able to offer me an explanation for my condition or how to improve it. I am feeling very hopeless. I am 37 and female. Any ideas?

Frederick123 12-16-2010 07:12 PM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
I'm really sadden to see someone so young with so much pain . I wish I could tell you exactly what to do to make it all better but, I've been in pain for 8 or 9 years been through the doctors, chiropractors, over the counter remedies, you name it with no relief. Welcome to the wonderful world of chronic pain!

bluekind91 12-18-2010 02:08 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
Thank you, Frederick. Yes, it is terrible. I often ask myself what I could have done to deserve to live like this. I keep going to different therapists trying to get better, and all they end up doing is making me worse! For example, I went to PT and they gave me a massage and now I am in extreme pain again. I make progress and then they push me back 2 or 3 steps. This is just pure misery. I don't think I will go back to PT ever again. Thank you for the concern. I understand what you are going through.

eddysmom1 12-18-2010 06:33 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
I also have chronic pain due to neck, shoulder, back issues. I found physical therapy awful, as well. I am sorry to hear you are having such a hard time. Just thought I'd post and say hello and let you know if you want to get things off your chest about it--I am around for support.


nochange 12-18-2010 10:56 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
hello Bluekind91, didn't the doctors tell you the bulging disks inside your neck are the cause of your head pain? The muscsle spasms that you feel in your neck are also casued by your bulging disks inside your neck.

How did you get those bulging disks? can you sleep at night with it?
Physical theraphy doesn't help chronic neck pain.

Something is pressing on your nerves and that is why you're feeling this nerve pain.

The solution: like most of us. Medication, medication, medication.

bluekind91 12-18-2010 11:11 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
Thank you, Eddysmom1. Although I do not wish this kind of pain on anyone, it is comforting to know that others can understand. It is so frustrating when medical professionals do not have any idea about how to treat someone with this problem. Worse yet, they are doing things to make me worse. There is something really wrong with this picture. I go through very specific detail about my medical history, and yet they continue to do things to make me worse. I think it is their own ignorance and their ego. They have a method and they believe it is right, despite what the patient says. I am so terribly disappointed in the medical establishment. I am now trying to find a doctor in my area who will work with me to get my pain under control. So far, I have had no luck. I am still searching and making appointments. However, it was my previous doctor who kept saying I needed physical therapy. I do not think she has any clue about my condition and just started recommending things without knowledge. I hope that you have ways to deal with your pain. Thank you for sending me a message. I really appreciate it.

bluekind91 12-18-2010 11:16 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
Nochange, of course I would assume it is the bulging discs that are causing the pain. However, all of the specialists say that they are not that bad based on the MRI and that one actually healed somewhat as shown on the last MRI. They also say I should not be in as much pain based on what the MRI shows. However, again, I do not trust these medical professionals. For example, they found osteophyte complexes on the first MRI, yet they make no mention of it on the more recent MRI. Osteophytes do not disappear! Also, why would I have no pain throughout my pregnancy? I had little to no pain throughout my pregnancy. This was last year. How is that explained? There are just a lot of unanswered questions that I have and everyone seems to be avoiding answering these questions. It is very frustrating!

eddysmom1 12-18-2010 11:28 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
I have had a couple of horrible doctors lately, too. I had to have a surgery for my pain (almost 6 months ago)--I had a disc taken out and some hardware put in and bone fusion and osteophytes shaved off. That's when they sent me to physical therapy, after that. It was awful! They hurt me--thought I could do certain things when it was too soon--I know others who have had the same experience.

Then, it turns out I have alot more nerve damage also--my neurologist put me on some non-narcotic medication for that and it is helping alot--not taking everything away, but much better than previously. I have other disc problems, also.

I am still searching for some more help--going to an ortho next week. Have you made any appointments with new neurologists or orthos yet--not the same docotors that weren't helping? This may be exactly what you need,(but, of course you know that one!)

I am so sorry you are feeling so awful! I hope you find the right help, and real soon!
I am around if you need a shoulder.........

Take care :)

nochange 12-18-2010 11:34 PM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
bluekind91, sorry I had to jump right in again and type you some more. I am 39 also.
You need to understand that doctors do not undestand much about neck pain and even the causes of it. I have 2 bulging disks (they are mininal)one doctor told me I should not feel that much pain and narcotic for that? what is going on with you I was told, she refused oxycontin(which I tell you to hold on with that...).
Then I went to this physical theraphist who had no emotions. I told her I cannot sleep at night cause of the pain. cannot rest my neck on the pillow at all. no sleep she thought, not a big deal. she called my situation a limitation. neck pain is considered a limitation. oh well. I really do not understand why they have physical theraphist???they are not made for chronic neck pain. I have never met here in our forum even ONE guy or girl who had any luck with physical therapy with their neck period. So do not feel you are alone with that one. THeh neck area is hard to treat and doctors just do not know HOW to treat it. THey would not admit it, but that is the case. Just the other day I asked my doctor: "can you cure me?" he said no. He thinks the bulging disks are pressing on my nerves and that is why the immmense pain. I am not sure how much you are suffering.
Are you able to sleep? I cannot. I have to take certain vitamins, or clonazepam etc this or this. on its on will not be able to. sleepytime teas etc.

I still do not understand, have you been in a car accident? you do not have to answer this but that could explain some thing.

Back to you, as always, I ONLY, have pain in my neck. not the shoulders area. but SOMETIMES I have the pain in my head. Headacke.

I would like to warn you of Chiropractors. They are not meant to treat neck pain period. Please do not go to them. Especially now that you have bulging disks. Believe me. I have been to 13 sessionss. He made me worse. Even when I type this I have headacke and neck pain and I know how you feel.

Do u have neck pain on one side or all over?. That is also important to know.

The pain clinic: I was told I imagine the pain! and that bulging disks cannot cause such a pain!!!. My pcp(primary care physican)believed me and he thinks it presses on something.
U see, even pcp do not know much or do not want to be involved with neck issues.
So who wants to be involved with it that???. Chiropractors would not mind being involved. But girl, please DO NOT go to them. I'm not sure if you will listen to me, we have a thread here about them concerning that issue. THey can make your bulging disks into herniated and then that's a surgery in sight.

I have been "living" with chronic neck pain(unberable)for 5 years also.

I have just noticed (sorry:() that you have stated your neck is under your arms and chest. I suggest an emg. I have never done that. But, as far as I know, an EMG is a must if you have arm pain. THat is a start. and chest pain - please ask another doctor i do not experienced that. Somebody here must jump right in and explain that.

But as for any surgery, a surgery might take away your arm pain but chances your neck pain will stay. Please do not ask me why they do not have a surgery to take away neck pain. I believe cause they just do not understand much about neck. They are doing neck surgery in order to stop nerve damage and you not to become paralysis. THat is all I know now, almost a doctor here. BEing in this forum for 5 years. You learn a lot.

So if you do not want to tell you if you have been in a car accident it is fine but it will help me understand your situation better. I take it you are able to sleep at night.

How the accupuncture worked? I have read in a magazine(not here)that is suppose to relieve neck pain, but reading in our forum it does nothing.

So to sum it up, nothing helps. AS we all say it here. It is unfortunate but only medications helps.

I suggest you go back to your doctor and perhaps ask him for Topamax. It helps for headacke plus neck pain. I am taking this. 25mg a day. more than that helps more but the prob is that it causes ME a stomach pain. Perhaps not to you?. 25mg won't cause you a stomach pain it is a relatively low dose and it helps. You can start with that.

I have tried tyneol, oh please, tried ibuprofen - it is nothing for neck pain.
Gabapentin I can tell you helps a little bit only. It is not so strong on neck pain. But I still take a low dose of it. It helps some.

There is also clonazepam it helps a lot with neck pain.

Oxycontin helped the most but you will need to increase and increase to no end. I believe when the pain is located in the neck an increase is with no end. But what can we do? Most doctors start with other meds before they go to those type of meds.

I am so sorry I had to tell you about meds. it frustrates me also. I do not know what I have done to deserve to live like that. I want to be pain free without doctors and meds.
I wish you could be cured. But that is impossible, please do not hate me for that.
and yes, as years go by, pain gets worse.

AS for your pregnancy, sometimes hormones makes the pain better or worse. So it could be the hormones affected your pain FOR THE GOOD. You see, doctors do not understand this yet. I can tell you, the pain in the neck is getting so unbearable i want to shout when i am before my period(sorry:() so that is hormones.

I have been trying tons of meds in the market for pain. you name it, lyrica also. lyrica did nothing for the pain in the neck. mine is so severe. elevil did not help only a tiny bit.

Vitamins like Vitamin E + Selenium + vitamin D drops helps a lot for neck pain and headacke.

Also, if you are able to sleep, try to get a deep sleep if that is possible. With deep sleep the pain lessens.

To sum it up, do not go to chiropractors, my advice.
All the best for you and hope to hear from you if you want to.

P.S how many bulging disks do you have in your neck??

nochange 12-19-2010 06:10 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
Also, forgot to mention is that I have tried trileptal. THat did nothing for neck pain. In fact it made it worse. So, you just have to try and try.

It is unfortunate to have chronic neck pain. I am so sorry plus there is no cure.

bluekind91 12-19-2010 09:19 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain

Thank you for your reply. To answer your questions, I did not have a car accident. Back in 2005 I started to get neck pain and then one day in 2006 I woke up and could not turn my neck. I decided to go to a chiropractor one day on my friend's recommendation. I went to him for a year and a half. Then, I started to notice that I was getting worse. I quit going to him and went to a different chiropractor. Since the pain was not going away, I decided to get an MRI and that is when they found the bulging discs, stenosis, and reversal of curve, and osteophytes. At this point, I did physical therapy which did not help. Then went back to a chiropractor and that did not do much. I was also getting massages throughout this period and started to notice that the massage was making it worse. I went to several specialists to seek advice and they said I did not need surgery. I actually do not know what caused me to start having neck pain years ago. I am pretty sure the chiropractor made me worse, but I will never know the answer to that question. I am currently on tramadol, flexirl, and vicodin. The vicodin helps me sleep at night and I take the tramdol during the day. The flexiril helps my muscles loosen, but not as much as I would like. I get up a lot at night because of the pain but sometimes I can sleep better than other nights. I am very sorry to hear that you are also in this much pain. I hope one day they understand the neck pain better so that we can get better. Thank you for your reply.

bluekind91 12-19-2010 11:10 PM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
Eddysmom1, I want to let you know how sad I am to know that you are in so much pain. No one should have to suffer like this. I only know my own pain, but knowing this, I can imagine what you are going through. Yes, I have made appointments with other neurologists and orthos, but they have also been no help. One summed up my visit by saying "well, you have a bad neck." After I told another that I thought I was having increased anxiety due to the pain, he recommended that I get some exercise. Well, I followed his advice (like a fool) and did some walking with my husband and 9 month old baby. I ended up with some of the worse pain I have ever felt. I just can't believe these doctors who claim to be specialists in neck pain. Many of them are simply quacks. They should have their license taking away, in my opinion. I don't want to be so negative against the medical establishment, but this has been my experience for the last 5 years. I am still searching for another doctor and I will continue my search. But I am limited based on my location.

If you do mind me asking, what do you think caused your nerve damage and what is the name of the medicine that you are taking for it?

I really hope you find a doctor who actually takes the time to listen to his or her patient. It really doesn't take that much, but it seems to be rare these days.

All my best to you.

eddysmom1 12-20-2010 04:44 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
I am sorry you are in so much pain, too! I really feel bad you can't find the right help out there. I guess if we keep on trying we may hit it right. I am hoping the new ortho this week will be helpful.

I also am down on the medical field--in the past couple of months I ran across a couple of really poor excuses for doctors--other doctors could not even believe their poor examinations skills, bad diagnosis', etc. One doctor really put me over the edge. She was an arrogant, patronizing you-know-what!!

My nerve damage was caused by the discs compressing the nerves in my neck. I had 3 bad discs --herniated. I let it go for years--finally, I had to have an ACDF surgery (the stuff I mentioned in the last post that was done). My arms were really effected. On the side I had the surgery, my hand was numb--2 fingers almost completely. Bad radiating pain, pins and needles, aches, you name it. I was told I have Cervical Stenosis and Degenerative Disc Disease. I also have Spondylosis (arthritis of the spine). Now my other arm is killing me (along with the neck, shoulders, etc), but I am experiencing a horrible burning pain on that side that I never had before. The neruologist said I have nerve damage on that side of the neck, that's why the pain. I don't know. He gave me Gabapentin, and it does not take any of the neck pain away for me, but it does help with the burning pain in my hand. I just turned 41 and I feel like I am! I still want to find some sort of help for the neck, shoulder pain, but, like you--I am running into brick walls.
I am praying the ortho can help me out and answer some of my questions.

Sorry for the long post! I will say a prayer for you and send good thoughts your way--I hope something can help us!!!!


nochange 12-20-2010 05:51 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
perhaps morphine or the fentanyl patch will help. Lot's of people say morphine is ok for neck pain same goes for the fentanyl patch.
Oxycontin is ok but it bothers sleep. I am off to my doctor tomorrow.

P.S please girls, there are no excercises for neck. My "ex" physical therapist offered me a special exercise made for neck pain. Well, as you can all imagine, it did nothing. I tried it everyday. There is no cure for neck pain. only meds. It is unfortunate but that is the case.

Gabapentin is not enough for neck pain same goes for lyrica. you can try it. It is for burning all over the body and some for neck pain but not to severe neck pain with all this nerve intersection. oh no. THat is why Topamax works pretty good for chronic neck pain. But it has its side effects for women. Life is tough with chronic neck pain/back pain.

jessupl 07-02-2011 12:50 AM

Re: Chronic neck, shoulder, back of head, and chest pain
Sometimes, it's just about breaking the pain cycle. And most often, PT does not do this. Like the above poster just said, sometimes you need some medication to help you. It's an awful cycle. You have doesn't get anxious and depressed (who wouldn't). Then the more anxious and depressed you are the worse the pain symptoms get. I've explained chronic pain to other people like this- when you are in pain and you know the reason why and you will heal up soon and be over can handle it for awhile. When you are in chronic pain and fear this is going to last the rest of your life it causes unbearable stress and anxiety. I tell people to imagine having a terrible migraine. After they think of that I ask them to think about how they would feel is the migraine went on for after day..hour after hour. Changes things, doesn't it??

Anyhow, I think PTs can take care of a lot of pain conditions...but when they are treating a chronic pain patient, I truly believe they need to start with treatment that helps your pain. For some reason, all PTs that I've worked with won't do the pain relieving element (TENS, etc.) without first making you do strength training exercises. It's like breaking your ankle and then having your doctor ask you to run a 10 mile marathon. Stupid. First you need to ice your ankle and treat the pain..then later when you are feeling better you can add in the strength training, etc.

So what you need to do is find some way to cut back on your pain, your anxiety and your depression. It is ok if that means you rest for awhile or need to take meds..or whatever it takes. Then worry about the rest later. One day at a time. What's right for others is not going to be what is right for you.

I hope you feel better soon..


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