Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Severe shoulder pain, muscle spasms

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 6 Replies
  • Posted By: wittsend2
  • February 11, 2009
  • 05:34 AM

8 months ago I had my thyroid removed as treatment for thyroid cancer. During this surgery my parathyroid glands were damaged and the result is chronic hypocalcemia. 5 days post op, I awoke with a sharp pain in a quarter-sized area on the outside of my upper arm. I finally got back to sleep by laying on this-the pressure seemed to help. 2 hours later, I awoke with severe muscle spasms, feeling as if my arm was dislocating, I was in extreme pain. This let up in about 30 minutes, only to return repeatedly in a cycle of spasm, relief, spasm, relief over the following 2 weeks. I was hospitalized the same day as this occurred with severe hypocalcemia. My endocrinologist believes that the low calcium level in my blood led to the severe muscle spasms-called tetany. I believe that although this may have been the catalist in my pain and spasms, there is also some underlying mechanical cause to this affecting only this shoulder and the fact that it still is not better.

I saw an orthopedic surgeon, had an MRI and was told that it was likely nerve damage that may or may not get better. My concern is that it clicks, seems to still dislocate on occasion, (although it always goes right back into place) and I can feel my tendons are inflamed-they're hard as rocks and it seems to be all of them in and around my shoulder are affected. I am not able to raise it, or put my arm behind my back. I have very little strength in my left arm. I have tried PT, and even the therapist felt there was possibly a rotator cuff tear that has been undiagnosed.

Has anyone ever experienced this and do you have any ideas of what could be causing my problem and any solutions. The thought that I may have to live like this for the rest of my life makes me consider having my arm amputated because this pain is intolerable.

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6 Replies:

  • 8 months ago I had my thyroid removed as treatment for thyroid cancer. During this surgery my parathyroid glands were damaged and the result is chronic hypocalcemia. 5 days post op, I awoke with a sharp pain in a quarter-sized area on the outside of my upper arm. I finally got back to sleep by laying on this-the pressure seemed to help. 2 hours later, I awoke with severe muscle spasms, feeling as if my arm was dislocating, I was in extreme pain. This let up in about 30 minutes, only to return repeatedly in a cycle of spasm, relief, spasm, relief over the following 2 weeks. I was hospitalized the same day as this occurred with severe hypocalcemia. My endocrinologist believes that the low calcium level in my blood led to the severe muscle spasms-called tetany. I believe that although this may have been the catalist in my pain and spasms, there is also some underlying mechanical cause to this affecting only this shoulder and the fact that it still is not better. I saw an orthopedic surgeon, had an MRI and was told that it was likely nerve damage that may or may not get better. My concern is that it clicks, seems to still dislocate on occasion, (although it always goes right back into place) and I can feel my tendons are inflamed-they're hard as rocks and it seems to be all of them in and around my shoulder are affected. I am not able to raise it, or put my arm behind my back. I have very little strength in my left arm. I have tried PT, and even the therapist felt there was possibly a rotator cuff tear that has been undiagnosed. Has anyone ever experienced this and do you have any ideas of what could be causing my problem and any solutions. The thought that I may have to live like this for the rest of my life makes me consider having my arm amputated because this pain is intolerable. I am sorry for all you have gone through. Have you tried acupuncture to help treat this pain?DOM
    acuann 3,080 Replies
    • February 11, 2009
    • 03:11 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Just a thought that may help. When it comes to nerve pain I have found that a physical therapist specializing in the "McKenzie Method" to be a lifesaver. I had sharp shoulder pain and nerve pain down into my arm due to a herniated cervical disc and the McKenzie method has completely healed that. If I ever get a twinge, I faithfully do a set of exercises from my McKenzie Method book by Robin McKenzie and it is gone by the next day. I no longer have to go to a physical therapist. Lower back I have had the same AMAZING results as well. I am so thankful to have found my therapist who taught me this because it saved me from surgery and a lifetime of severe pain and sleeplesness. I had gone to a regular physical therapist, neurologist, etc. and no one could help until this.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 13, 2009
    • 04:25 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I don't live near power lines. My cancer most likely came from my previous career in x-ray-I worked at a time before they invented thyroid shields for the techs. The high incidence of thyroid cancer among radiology techs was the reason for the invention of the thyroid shield, which unfortunately came too late for me. I haven't tried accupuncture, this feels more mechanical than nerve. At this point I'll try anything. I will also look into this McKenzie method for PT. My shoulder is now frozen and I know I'll need something to regain motion. Thanks for posts everyone.
    wittsend2 2 Replies Flag this Response
  • I don't live near power lines. My cancer most likely came from my previous career in x-ray-I worked at a time before they invented thyroid shields for the techs. The high incidence of thyroid cancer among radiology techs was the reason for the invention of the thyroid shield, which unfortunately came too late for me. I haven't tried accupuncture, this feels more mechanical than nerve. At this point I'll try anything. I will also look into this McKenzie method for PT. My shoulder is now frozen and I know I'll need something to regain motion. Thanks for posts everyone. Where do you live?DOM
    acuann 3,080 Replies Flag this Response
  • I also had my thyroid out due to possible cancer (there wasn't any), this was done in mid February of last year. In September I started have sever pain in my right upper arm and shoulder, the pain was sparatic and extremely painfull. The movement in my arm was also limited, can't move it behind my back or raise it past mid point without pain. If I accidently move it too quickly the pain feels like it has just pout out. There is almost constant pain in the muscles around the front of my collor bone. I have been told this is probalbe 'frozen shoulder'. I have a MRI scheduled for next month. Since the pain around my collar bone is only inches away from the incision I wonder if there is a relationship to the surgery. Let me know if you find out anything.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • Have you had an arthrogram MRI of your shoulder? It is the best way to see a rotator cuff tear as well as see the other tendons and muscles in the shoulder joint? If you think that's what it might be go ask an orthopedic surgeon to order one.
    SpineGirl 64 Replies Flag this Response
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