Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

weakness in shoulder after Levator Scapulae muscle injury

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 2 Replies
  • Posted By: kushalonthenet
  • July 27, 2010
  • 06:34 AM

Hi Guys! I am Kushal, 29 years of age. I have been doing gym workouts regularly for more than six years now. My workouts have always been moderate, not heavy (lift a maximum of 45 Kilograms on bench press and my workout lasts not more than 1 hour). I was working out regularly and stopped eight weeks back, after an injury happened. (I would add here that I had not made any sudden or abrupt change in my workouts just before the problem occurred.)

On June 9 2010, I had a suspected muscle injury in the left shoulder muscle which caused pain in left shoulder and nerve compression that resulted in referred pain in left arm and slight numbness in one finger. The pain didn’t start suddenly during my workout in the gym, rather it started in the middle of night while I was deep asleep.

The orthopaedic physician and physiotherapist to whom I went initially both diagnosed “cervical spondylosis” and prescribed me physiotherapy (a combination of diathermy (heat), cervical traction, IFT for initial few days only, TENS, Ultra Sound and some Isometric exercises at home). Another physiotherapist whom I consulted to get a second opinion said that “prolapsed disc” was causing pain and nerve compression.

After taking 17 continuous days of physiotherapy I realized that the pain and numbness had reduced considerably but was not going away entirely. So I consulted another physio. This guy listened to my case history and pain symptoms and diagnosed muscle injury (of Levator Scapulae muscle or some other shoulder muscle) as the cause of pain which was also resulting in the nerve pinch, which in turn, caused referred pain in left arm.

So as it turned out, the earlier diagnoses were all wrong. It was neither cervical spondylosis nor prolapsed disc, but was a muscle injury.

At present, I am doing the following stretching exercises 3 times a day, as advised by my latest physio (holding the position static for 10 seconds in the terminal positions of each movement and repeating each set ten times):

1. bending the head up and down (so that the chin touches the neck in down position),
2. bending the head sideways (laterally),
3. rolling the head clockwise and anticlockwise,
4. shrugging the shoulders,
5. stretching the chest keeping both arms folded at elbows (to exert pressure towards the spine in the back),
6. rolling the shoulders round and round in circles (both forward and backwards)

I have been doing the above exercises regularly for past 6 days and have experienced a lot of relief. The pain in shoulder (in levator scapulae muscle), referred pain in the left arm and numbness of the index finger have all disappeared completely. But there is something that still bothers me:

I tried doing a simple push-up (dip) yesterday and felt that I have lost strength in my left side- My left arm and shoulder together are not able to support and lift my body weight for long.

Should I be patient and continue with the exercises advised by the Physio at home and hope that complete recovery and restoration of strength would happen by itself? In how much time would that happen (at least an approximate estimate)?

I am worried about how long (how many weeks or months) would it still take me to resume my gym workouts, even if it is from light weights? Please give at least an approximate time period.

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2 Replies:

  • Yes, you should be patient and continue your rehab. I read your other post as well.....from what I can gather, you have been dealing with this for a month or so? There are different Grades to a strained muscle. You can google these to see which one fits (Grades I-III, sprains have to do with ligaments not tendons or muscle). The recovery time depends on the severity. Weakness is common for several reasons-- a) you haven't been using that side normally, so some atrophy is expected, b) you may have some trigger points present that need to be released and c) if the involved muscle has a tear in it, of course it's going to be weak. Pinched nerves also have their own recovery time frame. It usually doesn't even begin until the muscle compressing the nerve is released. In other words, the nerve can't really heal until the muscle heals first. I think you are looking at at least 6 weeks recovery, assuming the diagnosis is correct. You don't mention how they diagnosed-- based soely on history and symptoms or diagnostic imaging? Please note that the only way to fix this is to do the exercised as instructed-- and lots of ice and rest. You don't want to overuse or restrain the effected muscle. It is possible that you could resume some light training in the gym for body areas, but you need to get that okay'd by your physio. These things take time-- if you want it to really heal correctly be patient and do your exercises.
    Harmonium 322 Replies Flag this Response
  • I was misdiagnoised for 5 years. I have acute bicipital tendonitis. Stop using your arm and let it rest! The more you use it, the worse it will get AND the longer it will take to heal. Take care!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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