Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Work Injury: Neck, Left Shoulder & Arm Burning

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 20 Replies
  • Posted By: rattyrandi
  • June 26, 2008
  • 04:31 AM

Hi, and thanks in advance for any - and I do mean ANY - thoughts you might have. 9 months ago, I was injured at work while lifting an object with another worker. As soon as we set it down I felt a burning in the left side of my neck, my left shoulder joint and around under my shoulder blade. I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon who said I had pulled my trap muscle and took me off work for 2wks. I only got worse; my neck muscles (left side) would spasm and cramp, sometimes I couldn't swallow, my neck and shoulder would burn (no sharp pain except when I turned my head or lifted my arm too high), I got an aching burning down my left arm, an electrical shock type pain from my left pinkie up to my armpit, and sometimes from my shoulder down to my index and middle fingers, my fingers tingle like they are asleep sometimes. I had an xray of the shoulder - nothing. I had PT 3xs a week for tendonitis in the shoulder, also not helping except for massage and ultrasound at the end of the session. None of the pain meds ever helped the burning pain. I had an arthragram and mri of the shoulder, and an mri of the cspine and tspine. I was told I had a bulging disk in my neck and sent to another doctor. He confirmed a bulging C6/C7 and recommended CESIs - I had 2 and neither one helped very much. I was put on cymbalta, also no help. I had pt for my neck, which was excrutiating. Then I was sent to a neurosurgeon who said I needed a new MRI of my neck. He confirmed the C7 herniation and said I'd need a fusion or a disk replacement. The last doctor had said I wasn't a surgical candidate because I am only 27, but this doctor said it was quite obviously impinging the nerve exiting the foramen and since 6 months + of conservative treatment didn't help, this was the answer. He put me on lyrica for the burning and sent me for an emg. After 2 wks, the lyrica was not helping (i was upped to 3xs the dose) and the emg test was normal on my left arm. I went back to the doctor to get some surgery questions answered and he did a total 180 - he said no surgery because the emg was normal and the nerve at the C7 level would not be causing all my symptoms. He said there must be something wrong also in my rotator cuff and sent me to a shoulder surgeon. The shoulder dr didn't look at my earlier mri/arthragram, but did an exam and stated conclusively he did not believe I had a rotator cuff injury. He did say I had impingement, but it was very minor and would not cause my symptoms. He said it was my neck. I also had an episode a week ago where I was brushing my hair with my left hand and felt an acute pinch between my neck and left shoulder, followed by sharp pain if I tried to turn my head left or lift my left arm higher than my waste. Because my doctor is out of town, I went to the er and they diagnosed cervical radiculopathy, gave me stronger drugs and some oral steroids. As I took the steroid dose pack, each day I felt better and now I am back where I was with the burning again. I can turn my head and use my arm again. I have been advised I will just have to live with this, but I can't. I can't live in this kind of pain for one more day, let alone the rest of my life. I was told most disk herniations get better on their own, but since mine hasn't by now, it probably won't. They said there's no more tests they can do and they don't know what is causing my burning. They said it absolutely can not be nerve compression because the emg came back normal. I am barely getting through each day and the only reason I haven't done something foolish is because of my little boy. I lost my job because I can't do the work and ran out of leave. The WCI wants me to see an IME. I am desperate and worried. I can't gone on this way. Any thoughts at all are welcome. Thank you for your time, Randi:(

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