Hi everyone. I am a 28 year old female, 5'2", 130 pounds. I have felt chronic knots and tightness in my left rhomboid area for as long as I can remember, starting at around 12 years old. Being quite studious as a child, I believe it may have started from carrying a heavy back pack on my left shoulder and spending hours slouched over doing work, but nearly 16 years later I am still feeling a chronic pain and burning sensation in-between my shoulder blades that brothers me on a daily-weekly basis. I do have an office desk job, and the pain only gets worse when I am sedentary, such as at work or before bed.
To to be clear, the pain starts off as what feels like a very tight knot in between my left sounder blade, very close to the spine. While I can feel referred pain points all along the rhomboid muscle, I can usually identify the exact spot where the pain is radiating from (it's the same spot everytime I have a flare up), which is right next to T5. Over the years, the pain has worsened into a knotty back as well as a burning sensation in-between both shoulder blades, which feels like it is radiating directly from the spinal process. If I press on the thoracic spine, it's very comforting and my back feels much better, but once I stop the burning sensation continues. I've been told its everything from a slipped rib to latent/active trigger points, but unfortunately none of the treatments I am currently doing seem to be fixing these issues.
I visited an orthopedic doctor a few months ago and he could feel the huge knot in my back that was currently inflamed. I got an MRI and he was quite surprised to find so many herniated disks for someone my age. According to the results, mild multilevel cervical disc desiccation changers were present. There's a mild bulging at C3-C4, disk herniation at C4-C5, C5-C6, C6-C7. Disc desiccation and decreased disc height are present at the T3-T4 level, as well as disc herniation.
I have spent many hours researching my issues and have tried a variety treatments which I will outline below. I would appreciate any feedback on what else I can do to help gain control of my chronic back pain.
- I have been seeing a chriopractor for 3 years. I was told I have multiple subluxations in my neck, so we have been working on tractioning and back/rib adjustments for my slipped rib. I was also given a tens unit and custom shoe inserts for my feet. It feels great when the chiropractor pushes and manipulates the rhomboid area.
- I have tried multiple sessions of accunpuncture and cupping. The first few sessions seemed to help, but I am no longer getting any relief from this treatment.
- I have had multiple sessions with massage therapists. I always love a good massage, especially tu nai, but that relief is also short-lived. Both my massage therapist and physical therapist have used kinesiology tape to properly position my rhomboids as well.
- I have bought multiple massage devices for at-home therapy such as an accupressure back stretcher, a theracane, and of course the good old tennis ball/golf ball. I also have my fiancé push on this area whenever he is willing.
- For my office job, I have bought a special thoracic pillow that "realigns" and cradles my back. I will also use Kwan Loong oil or a heating pad on my tight muscles while at work, or sit with a spiky ball between my back and the chair. I am extremely conscious of my posture, especially now that these issues have come to light!
- I was prescribed muscle relaxers from ortho which was no help whatsoever.
- I have tried sugar water injections through my primary Doctor, but did not find any relief with that.
- When it comes to sleeping, I make a conscious effort to sleep only my back now, and no longer on my left side. I also got a new mattress about 6 months ago.
- I have been seeing a physical therapist for the past 4 months. I go twice a week and perform exercises to strengthen my thoracic back and neck. We have also tried heat therapy, neck tractioning, the graston technique, kines tape, and manual manipulation during my sessions. These sessions have inspired me to start Pilates to continue strengthening that upper back area, in addition to my usual gym routine.
Needless to say, I am still experiencing a chronically knotty back on a weekly basis and the burning sensation is only getting worse. My back only feels good when someone is consistently pushing and manipulating the muscles, but clearly that is not realistic! Not surprisingly, I also suffer from chronic migraines, which I am sure is all related to these issues. Luckilly I do have an effective prescription that keeps my migraines under control. I am extremely fortunate that my health care allows me to explore all these different avenues for finding wellness, but unfortunately I have not found that exact treatment that gives me consistent relief. I would love to hear any suggestions or thoughts on what else may be causing my chronic back pain, and any suggestions for anything new I can consider trying.