Unexplained Neck and Shoulder Pain

I am new to this community and this is my first post. I have come here looking for advice or information from anyone who may be experiencing the same thing I am, because I have no idea what is wrong with me, and so far I havent gotten a lot of answers.
For about 3 years now I have been suffering from chronic neck and shoulder(blade) pain. But when I say pain... it's less like stabbing pains, and more like slight achey feeling with a major need to pop and crack things or put pressure on certain spots. When this started I cant pinpoint any major event that would have caused an injury. The only thing that happened was I had taken a new job that was a desk job and very sedentary.  When it first started bothering me, it was focused in the middle of my neck, like a knot. And I would lay on an ice bottle for relief or anything that would put pressure on the area, then eventually it migrated and the knot went away, but I was left with "hot spots" in my shoulder blades that felt like they had tension and needed rubbed out, but it all seemed connected to the need to stretch my neck. Whenever I move my neck it makes constant crackling noise and sometimes big pops.

I have gone to the doctor, they took an xray of my neck and said it looked fine. The Dr suggested PT so I went to that for about 3 months and learned to stretch and do exercises to strengthen my back and shoulder blade muscles. This would make me feel better during, but there was no relief afterward. I tried going in for deep tissue massages, and dry needling, both of which would give me maybe a day of relief. The only other things that slightly helps is steroid shots in the spots I feel are the "triggers". I am only 31 yrs old and I have a 2 year old daughter to chase after, but having this constant need to stretch and pop my neck and shoulders makes enjoying life pretty difficult some days.

Can anyone tell me what they think is causing this and what I can do (if anything) to get long term relief?


  • mandykb23mmandykb23 DelawarePosts: 18
    Have you had a MRI done? Your issues sound similar to mine. I have had right neck pain and shoulder blade pain for over 2 years. Recently I've been under a lot of stress and the pain has been worse and worse. After going to a chiropractor,PT,acupuncture,deep tissue massage I decided enough was enough. I got a MRI last month and found out I have a herniated disc in my c5-c6 with nerve impingement . I saw a neurosurgeon a couple weeks ago and he suggests surgery since I've been dealing with it for so long and nothing has helped. I'm getting a nerve block next week and I scheduled surgery for Jan 4th. Hopefully the nerve block helps between now and then because I am in a lot of pain and still trying to work the rest of the year.  He suggests artificial disc replacement because I am young and it's only one level (I'm 32). Hope this helps ! 
  • CherilynnCCherilynn ColoradoPosts: 3
    No I haven't had an MRI yet and I had wondered if that was something I should do. When your pain started do you remember anything significant that made it happen? As I don't recall anything big that I feel would cause an injury to my neck, it just seemed to come on so randomly. Also, do you have the constant crack and popping going on?
    Thanks for your reply I really appreciate the insight and to talk to someone who knows what it's like!
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  • MetalneckMetalneck The Island of Misfit toysPosts: 410
    edited 07/23/2019 - 1:08 PM
    Welcome to Veritas Health Forum!

    X-rays of the neck typically show boney structures only.  MRI will look at your discs and spinal cord. One of my pet peeves are people being referred to physical therapy prior to an aggressively sought and found diagnosis.  Neck pain is not a diagnosis - its a symptom of another problem(s)

    It maybe best to get a solid diagnosis before starting any additional "treatments".  Exercises can only aggravate many conditions that can only be know via MRI.  Lets not have the cart pulling the horse or have the wrong horse trying to pull the wrong cart.

    Snap Crackle Pop - I know its NOT Rice Krispies - There are many differing explanations of this occurrence - I can tell you that once my neck was fused - I no longer make those noises in my neck ..... my back??? I can lean in a direction and cause a cascade of noise usually followed by ouch or other untypable expletives.

    Till you know more about the true status of your neck .... I would avoid the cracking of it own (even know it provides a degree of temp relief). One of the first rules I was taught in medicine was "I you do nothing else - Do no harm".
    You my get a kick out of reading my story on the link below my name.

    Respectfully MN
  • mandykb23mmandykb23 DelawarePosts: 18
    No I don't remember anything significant. I woke up one morning and had really bad back neck and shoulder pain that never healed.I play sports so it could have happened then but there isnt  a time that I can pin point when it happened. The pain would subside and not be as bad as other weeks but it was still always there. I do have cracking and popping. I've had to crack my neck a lot of else it will get stiff. Probably not the best thing to do but I can't move if it I don't. I would start with a MRI and then go from there.
  • CherilynnCCherilynn ColoradoPosts: 3
    edited 12/01/2016 - 8:10 PM
    Thank you both so much for your input! MetalNeck, I do have to agree that I never understood why my Doctor would keep trying to "treat" my pain without actually trying to figure out what was causing it first. Very frustrating!!
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