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Neck and shoulder pain; no trauma, weakness, tingling, motion loss leading to lack of answers.

Hi, all. 
TLDR - 22 yo female with severe pain in my right shoulder and neck (and recently cervical spine) for close to ten months. Nothing touches the pain and all doctors eventually become dismissive. Can't get referred for an MRI; depressed; next up is a DO. Wondering if anyone has personal experience with any of this.

Longer, more detailed version:

I have really intense pain in my neck and upper right shoulder that feels a bit like the muscles are in a vice, or rubbing together in a way they shouldn't. At it's very worst, I feel it right under my right collarbone, as well. It's quite confusing to everybody because I have no tingling, apparent weakness (though I find I can't hold objects up as long as I can with my left arm) or range of motion issues (except my most recent doctor thinks I minimally do, some form of shoulder impingement, but nobody else can see it.) It first occurred close to ten months ago. I ignored it for a bit, thinking it would just go away. While I have a few ideas of what may have caused it, there was no major identifiable trauma. It gets worse as each day goes on, and during/after driving (I have tried adjusting my car seat, although perhaps there is a different way I need to do so.) I'm often unable to sleep.

One evening in early August, I noticed that at its worst, I could visibly see the right shoulder lower than the other one. I went to the urgent care. I was diagnosed with Torticolis, and prescribed 500mg NSAID as needed and baclofen at night for a week. Nothing changed whatsoever (though the baclofen helped me sleep) so two weeks later, I went to a GP (a new one, as I had none of my own.) He said "no way is this Torticolis," prescribed Tramadol for pain and Cyclobenzaprime as a muscle relaxant at night, and wrote me a referral for Physical Therapy. I went to Physical Therapy for about six weeks, focusing on scapular stability and trapezius strengthening. It sometimes seemed like it was helping, but then would go right back to the intense pain.

After six weeks, my physical therapist said "Yeah, I really can't help you. Stop looking down and see an orthopedist." I bought a laptop and book stand, quit my job as a waitress, and saw an Orthopedist. He took x-rays at my insistence, and saw nothing wrong, prescribed Meloxicam as a new pain med, and recommended I get cortisol shots. I did. I asked the internist who gave them to me how long they would work before I felt pain again, he said, "oh, if you still feel pain with these, you have a serious problem." Lolol. They provided relief for no more than three days, and even then, not entirely. (They *may* have helped the shoulder pain, marginally. These days where I feel pain most is right at the side-base of my neck, if that makes sense, and in the right side of the neck.)

My psychiatrist, who I began seeing due to the severe depression I'm experiencing (due to this and other reasons) thought it might be referred pain for my liver, and called for blood tests for me, which came back normal. He prescribed me a low dose of amytriptiline at night as a muscle relaxant. 

I saw one more GP. With each of these doctors, I absolutely begged for an MRI. The answers were always the same: "what do you think that will do? You have no weakness or motion loss. Even if we see something, we're just going to tell you to take antiinflammatories, do PT, and rest." The new one was rather rude -- she, as I believe many have, clearly believed I was just trying to get pain meds, but wrote me a referral for an MRI. A rather bad one, I assume, as the insurance rejected it. Around this time, I started having pain that feels like it's in or around the bones of my lower cervical spine. I intermittently have pain on the left side, but I believe that is from overcompensating with those muscles.

She referred me to a DO, who I will see on Friday. I was hopeful because his waiting list was rather long, which made me think he must be popular for some reason, but friends and family are now discouraging me, saying that DOs are rather hippy-dippy and ineffective.

(May or may not be related - I'm having jaw pain this week, though it only started after I started sleeping on a memory foam pillow.) 
I don't know what to do or try next. My commute to school is somewhat long, and I cannot focus in classes the way I used to. I used to be highly active, I can not do the activities I used to. Even sitting at my desk is painful. Most of all, I feel it's negatively affecting my relationship to a high degree. My partner does not agree, but it's certainly affected our sex life in ways I am very unhappy with, and made me less able to help around the house. We are due to be married this summer and I am absolutely terrified he will resent me for having to take care of somebody so young. 

I'm hoping somebody can offer words of wisdom about any part of this at all. Thanks.



  •  Does the pain radiate down your arm and do you have numbness, tingling, or burning sensation? Continue to push for an MRI, especially if you have those issues. I understand how chronic pain changes the dynamic in a relationship. Perhaps your fiancee can accompany you to a doctor's appointment so he can gain a better understanding. Unforeseen circumstances befall us all and you can't help having a health issue. I hope things work out for the both of you and that you also find the answers you seek. Take care
    Ol' Spiney..Micro-D L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central HNP L4-S1,stenosis, retrolisthesis, EF, facet arthropathy, lumbar& cervical DDD. FBSS- Medtronic pain pump & SCS
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,250
    edited 01/09/2017 - 2:49 PM
    hello nightunderstars !

    please click on link for helpful information!
    welcome to spine-health
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,250
    You may find it helpful to read...Chronic Pain Step by Step...can find by using search, upper right on page.
    Also, search is useful for any of your concerns....ex...relationships....
    You may be led to current or older discussions.

    You are not alone in your frustration.
    It can be quite the trial and try again re discovering source of pain and then managing the pain.

    My primary doctor tried working with my pain for two years before referring me to pain management.
    That was best thing for me!

    PM doctor did variety of tests that I was not even aware of at that time...and was then able to keep the edge off of my pain.

    It is not easy, esp. while in pain and other symptoms, but so necessary to advocate for yourself.
    I had to think of myself as I would caring for a loved one. I would never accept the inability to get relief for my child.
    I repeatedly explained my pain and other symptoms until someone finally listened.

    Not sure, but may be helpful to read, under FAQs, click on link right side of page, under Medicla Information.... questions and ideas of talking with doctor and preparing for appointments.

    Please keep us posted with how things are progressing!

    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Hi! 
    Did you solved your pain problem yet? I am having similar pain problems like yours. 
    I am a male, 26, and have been having this pain in my neck/shoulder for more than a week. I woke up 12/31 with this pain and stiffness in the right side of my neck, feeling it a lot more under and behind my collarbone. Nothing seems to help, any painkillers or massages/stretches. I lift weights and I am accustomed to muscular pain and tension, but this is a lot more intense, and is like a dull pain all around the neck and shoulder with more incidence around the collarbone.
    I am anxious and depressive, and had some hard weeks at the end of November and beginning of December, may be that repercuted and accumulated on this muscular tension. My anxiety doesn't help at the time when I googled my symptoms, and appears things like tumors and cancer. I know that I shouldn't be googling and self diagnosing me, but I don't find any evident answers for this strange pain.
    I didn't went to the doctor yet, because I am from Latin America, so the health system here is so awful, and that explains some mistakes with my English too. 
    Hope that someone could help out reply. 
     If I found out what is this, I would inform you. 
    Have a nice day.

  •  Hi Marionuila, are the specialists too far away or do they want payment up front? I lived in Latin America too but fortunately we had medical insurance. Are you near a major hospital? I'm always curious about health care in other countries and know that getting pain management can be difficult when politics come into play. In some countries you can walk into a pharmacy and buy whatever you want. In Spain you can get Tramadol without a prescription. Feel free to message me if you have any questions. 
    Ol' Spiney..Micro-D L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central HNP L4-S1,stenosis, retrolisthesis, EF, facet arthropathy, lumbar& cervical DDD. FBSS- Medtronic pain pump & SCS
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  • Hi Meydey!
    OK, the main problem with the health system of my country is that public health is of the lowest quality, non specialized, and the hospitals are nearly falling apart. So if you want a higher quality attention, you have to pay private attention, and tends to be expensive, especially if you are going with specialist of one medical area.
    And I live in the city (Guatemala city) if you live in the country side, is nearly impossible to get a decent health attention.
    Have a nice day.
  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 953
    nightunderstars - Your comment about DOs being hippy-dippy and ineffective, I used to have the same attitude.  Over the last 20 years, the DOs I've used have been some of my best doctors and all of my bad ones have been MDs.  Just my experience.
  • MarioNulla, sorry to hear how troublesome it is in Guatemala. If you have the money, you have access to better care. It's a shame because so many people, especially in rural areas are under served. 
    Ol' Spiney..Micro-D L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central HNP L4-S1,stenosis, retrolisthesis, EF, facet arthropathy, lumbar& cervical DDD. FBSS- Medtronic pain pump & SCS
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