Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Help! Un-diagnosed Chronic Shoulder Pain

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 5 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • May 7, 2014
  • 01:38 AM

I have had a mysterious problem non-stop for over a year and a half now and could use any help with brainstorming and figuring out what a possible diagnosis might be.

I have been to several orthapaedists, chiropractors, massage therapists, emergency room doctors, neurologists peripheral nerve specialists and the standard primary care doctors. I have had MRIs (with and without contrast) done on my brachial plexus, shoulder and neck, all with nothing to report. I've also had so many x-rays of all my upper extremities I have lost count. I have also had an EMG test (or two actually). I have also tried pretty much every pain control drug imaginable, including: Gabapentin, Diclofenac, nabamutome (forget how to spell this), Vicodin, dilauded, tylonel, advil, various muscle relaxers and topical applications such as "FUS 5* Diclo/Baclo/Cyclo/Gaba/Tetra" along with TENS. I've also had a full blood panel taken twice to check everything out and there were no issues (except slightly elevated cholesterol). I've also tried changing my mattress, wearing a "posture corrector" and making my work completely revamp my work station with completely ergonomic equipment such as a new keyboard, mouse and computer chair. And of course I've also tried physical therapy and meditation. Additionally, on a whim I tried a three day juice cleanse to "detox" whatever is causing the pain.

The bottom line is that I get frequent and brief but strong electric shock-like pain coming from somewhere over the top of my shoulder to near my neck. It DOES NOT radiate down my arm and it is not accompanied by tingling or numbness. Just pain, strong, annoying, sometimes sharp sometimes dull, pain. Depending on if I'm laying down or sitting, it either feels like its shooting into my neck or shooting towards my shoulder. It hurts most when I'm either sitting on the couch (in any position) or laying on either of my sides. I sadly cannot cuddle with my husband :-(.

For some history, the pain started at a frequency of about once a year, at a level 10, just one incident, about once or twice a year, back in like 2007. Since then, it has grown in frequency, to a few more times a year to a couple times a month. Then, at the end of August in 2012, after carrying an excruciatingly heavy load of books in bags around my shoulders and down from my hands by my sides, I felt something stretch and possibly rip in my left shoulder. A few hours later when I went to bed, I was awoken by this same pain but at a level 10 and happening every 20 seconds without stopping. I was in so much pain I started frantically heaving and crying and my husband had to bring me to the emergency room, where really, they could do nothing but feed me pain meds through the IV and try to calm me down. The pain would not stop and I felt like I'd almost have to end my life because it was so bad. After being discharged from the hospital, I saw my first Orthopaedist who recommended an immediate shoulder arthroscopy surgery because he did an MRI and thought he saw a "labral tear" in addition to some "adhesions" "bursitis" and some other stuff on my left shoulder. The surgery happened and it turned out there was no labral tear, just some fraying there, so he just did a "debridement" and stitched me up. The pain never went away. Although the pain has decreased in frequency to where I get it somewhere between 5 and 30 times a day, and not every 20 seconds, it is still unmanageable and makes it really hard to continue getting up in the morning because I go to bed in pain and I wake up in pain. I also cant wear a bra or have anything on my left shoulder because this will trigger the pain non-stop. I've been going to the chiropractor for over a year now, several times a week and I honestly can't tell if its helping or not, the issue is still here just as it was before I started.

The last peripheral nerve specialist, although it says he is a cosmetic surgeon in his office and on his business card, thought I had a "brachial plexus, suprascapular nerve tumor" but the MRI revealed nothing. He said the only other thing he can do is to do an "exploratory surgery" to go in there and see what he can figure out........this is clearly not something I'm willing to do after already having one failed surgery.

I just recently went to another Neurologist who did the second EMG and thought I had subscapular neuropathy. The EMG showed nothing and the doctor thought he noticed some weird tenderness in the actual left shoulder joint, so he told me to focus there with other doctors...@(*!#&(#@*&

I'm not sure if this is useful information or not but I work out for 45 mins 3 times a week and I'm about 5'7 and 169lbs.

I can't live like this, with this pain for much longer.

If you have any suggestions whatsoever, PLEASE let me know.

If I eventually figure this out, I am hugging everyone I see for about a year.

Thank you in advance for your time, consideration and support!


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5 Replies:

  • Have you tried acupuncture? I had severe shoulder pain that was keeping me up all night. Pain killers and muscle relaxants helped alleviate the discomfort to some extent, but didn't fix the issue. After 4 sessions with a good acupuncturist (who also did massage following the treatment) I felt infinitely better. I still get stiffness and pain after exercise or sleeping on it wrong, but nothing that would compare to the pain/discomfort before.
    drmckracken 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi drmckracken,

    Thank you very much for your response! I have not yet tried acupuncture. I am a bit needle-averse so I've been avoiding it but I'm getting to the point where it might be a good idea. I have tried acupressure and it seemed to help a little bit. I will go ahead and try acupuncture. Since I posted this, I found out that I have something called "ligament laxity" in my shoulders, so basically nothing is holding my shoulder joint in place but the AC joint, causing the pain.
    Anonymous 0 Replies Flag this Response
  • I could've written this post myself. 15 months of constant pain in my right shoulder. I lose 80% mobility and I am in constant pain. I've done it all too. Had exploratory surgery in April. They removed a small cyst in my shoulder, bone spurs and freed up some compressed nerves. I'm in pain 24/7. Thought I might have MS because my shoulder droops also towards the end of the night. Had a spinal tap that went horribly wrong and they said no MS. I'm on my third acupuncture, no relief.Good luck!!
    Anonymous 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • Are you on any medication? I get terrible shoulder pain through taking Statins.
    Anonymous 1 Replies
    • September 7, 2014
    • 00:17 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I noticed you did not include that you had tried Baclofen. I have Degenerative Disk Disease and have much the same shoulder pain that you describe. I had epidurals but Baclofen has been the greatest help with the pain I have found, thanks to a neurologist.
    Anonymous 1 Replies
    • January 12, 2015
    • 09:23 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
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