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Chronic, Undiagnosed Neck/Shoulder Muscle Pain, Tension Headaches

maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 320

Hi, I am new here. I am a 38 year old female with chronic tension headache like symptoms. The pain and tightness go from the base of my skull down into my back, across my shoulder blade muscles and into my arms. It is so tight that it hurts to even touch my shoulder area. Growing up I always had headaches but a few years ago it got to the point where over the counter pain medication did nothing to help my headaches and the headaches began to present more as tension headaches. I have also suffered from depression and anxiety on and off for the past 20 years. I went to see my doctor about 4 years ago and he did x-rays but saw nothing. He diagnosed tension headaches and prescribed Vicoprofen-2x per day and Flexiril-2x per day. I was also taking an antidepressant and anxiety meds. This worked for a little while, but the symptoms were still there. About 3 years ago the doctor recommended physical therapy, which I did. They said that some of the muscles in my shoulder blade area were weak and they did massage, heat, traction and exercises. I completed the physical therapy but continued to have symptoms. I had to switch doctors and my current doctor continued to prescribe the Vicoprofen-taken up to 3x per day and Flexiril-2x per day. My symptoms have gotten worse over the past few months so I asked for an MRI. The doctor ordered an MRI of my brain which showed nothing so she referred me to a Neurologist. The Neurologist ordered an MRI of my neck but my insurance company denied it saying that I needed to go to physical therapy first. He also prescribed Gabapentin-3x per day. I also see a

At this point I am so frustrated! I am in constant pain and nothing really seems to help. My doctor is too worried that I am taking a narcotic for so long but does not seem to care about controlling my pain. Right now I am on Vicoprofen-3x per day, Flexiril-2x per day, Xanax-3x per day, Gabapentin-3x per day, and Lexepro for depression. I also put heat on my neck area which eases the pain and tension slightly.

I do have poor posture and work at a computer all day, but I should not be in this much pain all the time!

I don't know what else to do. Has anyone had similar experiences? Any advice? Thanks!!

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13

Comments

  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 320
    Sorry, the last sentence in the first paragraph should say I also see a Psychiatrist for the depression and anxiety. :)
  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 320
    Hi Kimmy72. Thanks! It is very confusing because my Neurologists office said the insurance denied it because they want to try another course of treatment first but then I got a letter today from the insurance company asking for more details on my medical history before they make a decision. So I guess I have to call them tomorrow to try to get this sorted out. I just have a strong feeling that there is something wrong inside my neck that is causing all this pain and the pain meds and muscle relaxer are not really working anymore because I have been on them for a few years. Very frustrating!
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  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 320
    And the doctors make you feel like a drug addict if you ask for a higher dose or another pain med!
  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 320
    Thank you so much! It is nice to have some support from people that understand the experience! I am hoping it will be a simple call to the insurance company too. With the symptoms I presented it only makes sense to me to do more diagnostic testing first to find out what exactly is causing the pain so that we can fix it and hopefully get off the pain meds, so we'll see how it goes.
  • Hi there 
    i have the same problems mostly. I have migraines ... Bad ones with nausea. I also have bursitis in my shoulders and I have trigger points. I get trigger point injections, which help greatly for my tension. I still have tension though. Has anyone ever done an ultrasound of your shoulders and neck?  They will find a lot I bet. A medicine called cariaprodol (soma) helps the tension in your neck. Stay away form too much caffeine also. You can get rebounds. Has anyone tried a medicine like topamax for your migraines? Perhaps you should see a specialist like a Psyiatrist or a spine doc clinic. They do trigger point injections with ultrasound. I bet your insurance would pay for that if your regular doctor approves it. I did have an acdf, but I still have migraines(which are worse), but the trigger point injections, and the Soma RX help. I hope that helps. A simple ultrasound can rule a lot out!! Good luck, A
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  • P. S. I do mean Psyiatrist, not Psychiatrist. Way different docs. They help a lot. Check out Psyiatrist. 
  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 320

    Thanks Anni! I have never had an ultrasound done, but I will look into it. My doctor has only tried the Vicoprofen and Flexiril but after 4 years they really aren't working as well and the pain and tension are getting worse. I am hoping to get the MRI of my neck and then go from there....

  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 320
    I spoke with the company that was reviewing my order for the MRI since the insurance denied it and they are processing an appeal for me. They though that I had only been treated by the Neurologist since July 27th, but I explained to them that I have been being treated for years and have already tried physical therapy. She said that hopefully I will hear back from them today and the neck MRI will be approved, so I am keeping my fingers crossed! I am also going to ask my family doctor about a new muscle relaxer because the Flexiril just doesn't seem to be working anymore. I have constant tightness and spasms in my shoulder blade muscles and nothing seems to give me relief. I will keep you all posted. Thanks!
  • Have you tried deep tissue massage? Do you have knots (aka trigger points) in your shoulders? 
  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 320
    Hi cnote! Yes, I do have knots and spasms in my shoulder blade muscles. When I went to physical therapy a few years ago they said it felt like rocks in my muscles. I have been to a massage but it kind of hurts for some reason.
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