Neck to upper back/ shoulder pain

I am a healthy 29 yo women, I work out 5 times a week, sometimes weekends but I’ve been having this nagging cervical spine pain that started like a bee sting and progressively worsened, now is more like a dull achy pain that travels from he cervical spine/neck to my posterior shoulders and is there 24/7, relived by nothing and I have done pretty much everything, muscle relaxants, nsaids, voltaren gel, lidocaine patches, TENS machine, physical therapy, I got a steroid injection on C6-C7, no relief. It has been going on for a little less than a year and I am really running out of options, driving makes it worse and I am currently on physical therapy. Is there anything else left for me to try? I’ve only seen the chiropractor, primary care and an anesthesiologist who was the one that did the steroid shot. Now I get this ear fullness if I am driving or looking down while doing chores. Any recommendation is greatly appreciated! 



  • Did they do an MRI? I’m assuming that’s how/why the anesthesiologist targeted C6-C7.

  • Yes, MRI, Xray. MD said there may be a little bulge in C6-C7 but the steroid injection should have taken care of it. I’m about to ask for a second opinion since this doctor makes me feel like I’m a crazy person for complaining about the pain. I am only 29 y/o and never had an issue like this before. 

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  • L4_L5LL4_L5 Posts: 1,275
    edited 05/02/2020 - 11:55 PM

    Is it just a small bulge or herniated too? I have a small herniated disc and some physicians think it’s my problem while others don’t. It’s always nice to be able to identify 100% what’s causing the problem but I’ve learned that’s not always the case. 

    I had four ESI’s (injections) and they didn’t do much of anything. Two injections in one 12 month period (two weeks apart) and another two 12 months after that.

    Been on light duty at work for over four years.I experience markedly increased pain driving as well.

    I hope you have better luck than me. I’ve seen four spine surgeons (three neuro and one ortho) and they don’t know how to help.

    So I’ve been going to pain management every month for what seems like ages. It’s all like a broken record and every day is Groundhog Day.

    I think a second (or third) opinion is a great idea. It’s what I’d be doing as well.

  • I’m sorry that you have not been able to find relief for your pain! In my case, the doctor just said it may be a muscle strain and if physical therapy doesn’t help then he may consider another injection. I don’t know much about muscle strain but you would think a muscle relaxant may be able to helo right? I’ve tried 3 different ones and nothing.

  • Welcome neckpainsos we’re glad you’re here!

    If it were me, I would make an appointment with a spine specialist, orthopedic or neurosurgeon, they will be able to go over your scans and may see something that the other doctors didn't, that is their speciality.

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    Have you visited the Neck Pain Health Center on Spine-health? It has a comprehensive list of neck pain articles you might find helpful, including Common Causes of Neck PainHome Remedies for Neck Pain and Dizziness, and How to Treat a Stiff Neck.  

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.


    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

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  • @neckpainsos

    Personally I’m a bit suspicious of any doctor telling me my problem is a muscle strain when the pain has continued, in your case, for nearly a year. 

    IMO sounds like a cop out BS attempt to basically give up troubleshooting on the patient’s behalf. 

    In my case they found a herniated disc and stenosis on my MRI. So while that’s definitely more to work with than say a strain or mild disc bulge it still has me going in circles all these years.

    As for muscle relaxers I was told they might be good for someone who has a lot of spasms on a regular basis.

    I met a chiropractor who swore by upright MRI. This is an MRI where you are seated instead of laying on your back. It shows images of your discs a bit differently because you’re vertical (which captures pictures of how your discs appear under a load state) instead of horizontal.

    Most insurance companies refuse to cover upright MRI’s. It can be difficult to find a place to get one (usually only mom and pop imaging facilities do these). 

    So maybe that’s an option? The one closest to me was offering them for $399 (cash price) but it went out of business just before I sought to get one. The next closest one (for me) is a 6 hours drive away and charges $3,500. 

  • That makes total sense because my pain is not bad when I am laying down, but again, I don’t understand imaging very well. I think it is time for my to seek a specialist that is not trying to take the pain away but to find the culprit. I am not in a lot of pain, it is just annoying to feel like I an carrying a 10lbs bag on my neck every day, it’s this dull, achy annoying think I want to get rid of. I am still going to go forward with PT because that’s what day suggested but I’m ready to see another specialist. Maybe get another mri

  • I generally seek a specialist, if anything that has been going on that long, that is their field and all they deal with, they are better equipped to handle the situation.


  • I was diagnosed with a muscle strain several times by our general practitioner. Until I suffered an acute hernia. Needed surgery within days. Had I gotten the correct diagnosis I could have avoided that surgery. I would suggest getting a second and if needed a third opinion. You need to know exactly what is causing this. And once you know, make sure to try all non surgical options first.

  • RosiecontRRosiecont Posts: 3
    edited 06/04/2020 - 9:35 PM

    According to the situation you described, consider the pain that may be caused by cervical spondylosis.

    In general, cervical spine examination requires MRI. It is recommended to go to the hospital for an MRI of the cervical spine.

  • Hi I have contributed on a regular basis to this forum, do you get headaches and dizziness and facial pain? 

  • I get headaches on the back of both ears jaw tingling and ear fullness if sitting/looking down mostly. 

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