A question about shoulder pain.

@mentalward (14695)
United States
July 17, 2010 12:00pm CST
For the past week or so, I've had a pain in my right shoulder, near my shoulder blade. Pain radiates from it up my neck, around to the front of my chest and down my right arm to my elbow. When I cough, it feels like someone is stabbing me with a knife, not in my lungs -- they're fine. Coughing makes the pain in my arm, shoulder, back and chest HURT! I know this may sound like a pulled muscle but it doesn't hurt constantly and the pain level isn't steady. Yesterday morning, I woke up to almost no pain but, today, I was in agony. Also, I haven't done anything strenuous enough to cause a pulled muscle. Do you think this sounds like it may be a pinched nerve? My husband bought new pillows right before this happened. I only slept on mine one night. The following night, I used my old pillow because I thought it might be the new, thicker pillow but I'd think that this pain should be gone by now if it was the pillow, right? I am going to see my doctor next week and will find out exactly what is causing this pain (I hope!). But, today is Saturday and the pain is much worse today so it's been on my mind all morning. Have you ever experienced anything like this and, if so, what was the cause? Can you think of any other causes of a pain like this? I did read that shoulder pain is common with fibromyalgia and I do have fibromyalgia but this is more than just shoulder pain since it's radiating AND hurts more when I cough, although my lungs don't hurt at all; it feels like it's all muscle pain. Weird, huh?
4 people like this
19 responses
@moondancer (7434)
• United States
17 Jul 10
It does sound like you pulled something or or maybe you slept on it wrong. The doctor will be able to tell you something, hopefully that will be helpful for you. I hope it stops hurting soon.
1 person likes this
• United States
17 Jul 10
I just thought of something, some times you will hurt like that there when you are under a lot of stress. Stress related pains really hurt.
1 person likes this
@mentalward (14695)
• United States
17 Jul 10
I know all about stress! This isn't stress, though, unless the stress of losing my veggie garden to this danged heat is doing it. I kinda doubt that. The pillows my husband bought (which is strange enough in itself since he hardly ever does stuff like that) are maybe twice as thick as my old pillow. I said I'd give it a try but, in hindsight, I guess I shouldn't have. I'm a side-sleeper and noticed that my neck was at more of an angle than usual but it didn't feel bad so I used that pillow all night. It was the next morning that the pain started and, even though I haven't used that pillow since then, the pain is still just as bad as it was. At times, it doesn't hurt at all, until I cough. It's the weirdest pain I've ever had because, when I cough, the pain in my arm is as bad as the pain in my shoulder. I can understand the pain in my shoulder when I cough since we use all of our back and chest muscles to cough but why should my arm hurt when I cough? This is definitely a radiating pain. My brain keeps wanting to head towards a pinched nerve but I really don't like that idea. I'll know more after I see the doc next week. At least, I hope so! It's a new doctor and I'm hoping he's not the kind who just pulls out the prescription pad whenever he hears "pain". I like the kind of doctor who wants to find the CAUSE, not just treat the symptoms. I just remembered that I have naproxen (500 mg prescription)! I'll take one and see if that helps.
@dragon54u (31615)
• United States
17 Jul 10
I have had horrible pain in my shoulder, sometimes both. The doc said it was muscle spasms and gave me Vicodin for it but it didn't even touch it--every move was painful and forget trying to turn my head! Then a woman I worked with that rarely takes any medicine that's not herbal or natural told me to try ginger capsules, available at Walmart for a couple dollars. I was doubtful but desperate so I bought some. Next day my pain was a LOT less and the day after that it was gone! You should try it. If it doesn't work, you're only out about $3. If it does, you've saved a doctor bill and prescription!
1 person likes this
@Opal26 (17690)
• United States
17 Jul 10
Hey MW~ It definitely sounds like you might have pulled or strained a muscle in your back because I have had that same type of pain you have described before too! It is sometimes excrutiating just to breathe or move even slightly and I never know if I moved wrong, or coughed to hard or slept funny! But, it always manages to just go away after awhile and then pops up again so I never know what it really is! You might have actually hurt yourself coughing because I have actually done that by going into one of my bronchial coughing spasms! I would say use heat, but who the hell wants to do that in this weather! So, ice maybe? Anyway, just rest it and take Ibuprophen (yeah, right that's what my docs tell me)! Feel better!
1 person likes this
@mentalward (14695)
• United States
17 Jul 10
The oddest thing about this pain is that I can walk around just fine with almost no pain but, if I cough, I'm in agony! Guess I'll just have to be patient and wait to hear what the doctor says. I'm REALLY glad I'm left-handed! LOL I've just taken a 500 mg naproxen that my rheumatologist gave me. It's supposed to be great for inflammation so we'll see. I just took it a little while ago and haven't noticed any difference yet. I've pulled muscles from coughing before. That is VERY painful so I feel for you! I used to get bronchitis every year like clockwork. I pulled a muscle in my chest one time and in my neck another time. Of course, the coughing doesn't stop just because we have this awful pain. One thing I did that helped with the coughing was to inhale steam for a few minutes. It made me cough really bad right afterward but, once everything was loosened up and coughed out, I didn't cough for a long time. It might help you, unless it's a dry cough. Even then, it might help by moistening your bronchial passages. I know that we can pull a muscle by just twisting wrong. I knew a guy who picked up a bag of something kind of heavy, twisted around to put it down somewhere else and that was enough to pull a muscle in his back. He was down for 2 weeks! Maybe we both need some nice, long soaks in a warm bubble bath.
@durgabala (1362)
• India
17 Jul 10
I usually have pain in the left shoulder and left side of the neck, this is there if I write a lot. i have tried shifting places, chair etc but no remedy. If I don't write then the pain vanishes. but can't stop writing? Haven't consulted any doc as yet.
@mentalward (14695)
• United States
17 Jul 10
It sounds like you don't need to see a doctor since you know what is causing your pain. Maybe you could try getting up and moving around every so often when you're writing, like every 15 or 20 minutes, to give those muscles a break.
@gabs8513 (48715)
• United Kingdom
17 Jul 10
You might have slept wrong and slept in a Draft but again the pain would be there all the time I am glad that you are going to the Doctor Marti, as this sounds like it has to be looked at Please let me know how you get on and try to ease the Pain with Pain Killers for now
@mentalward (14695)
• United States
17 Jul 10
Hi gabs. I just took a 500 mg. naproxen that was prescribed by my rheumatologist. I've also been taking Tylenol 3 (Tylenol with codeine) at bedtime. The codeine helps some but I may have to resort to my husband's hydrocodone he got for his back. He has spinal stenosis and has had two injections of cortisone but his pain is still pretty intense. He's headed for surgery, I'm sure. Until then, he gets hydrocodone and keeps asking me if I want one. I keep saying no because I don't like taking strong pain killers unless absolutely necessary. (Of course, I enjoy the heck out of them if I do need them. LOL) I guess it's just old age creeping up on me. I've told my sons that I'm old but not ancient yet. However, I'm slowly edging into that "ancient territory". We should all be born old and get younger as we gain more knowledge. It's just wrong that, by the time we REALLY have all the answers, we're too feeble and forgetful to put them to good use.
@leenie50 (3992)
• United States
17 Jul 10
Marti, Sorry I keep butting in but if hubby has hydrocodone then take one!!There is no reason to suffer and hydrocodone is not that strong. Also, I didn't know your hubby has spinal stenosis. I too have spinal stenosis. I took hydrocodone for a couple of years and now take Morphine Sulfate and Neurontin (Gabapentin is the generic). I really want to know more about his surgery. I don't believe it's an option for me.
@mentalward (14695)
• United States
18 Jul 10
Hi Leenie. Surgery is the last resort but he can have the affected vertebrae fused (have a rod put in to stabilize them to keep them from rubbing together and pinching the nerves). He was just recently diagnosed with spinal stenosis. When he saw an orthopedist years ago, they simply called it bulging disks but, since his pain and numbness down his leg has gotten worse, he finally caved and saw another doctor who said it's spinal stenosis. My husband has been going to physical therapy, which isn't helping, naturally. The cortisone shots haven't helped, either. I think he has an appointment next week to discuss the next step. It should be "interesting" around here if he does need surgery; he's such a big baby! Why wouldn't it be an option for you? We have a neighbor who also had this surgery for the same thing and he says he wished he had done this years earlier because it has greatly reduced his pain level and he can do a lot now that he couldn't before the surgery. As for my pain, I'm so used to having pain that I can ignore it most of the time. Actually, the naproxen I took earlier helped quite a lot! I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently, it is a pulled muscle.
@leenie50 (3992)
• United States
17 Jul 10
Hey Sweetie, Yes, I do have the same problem. The first time I woke up and scream from the pain as soon as I moved.The sharp pain like a knife stab was excrutiating. I called my Doctory and went right in to see him. He then sent me straight to have x-rays. That was to make sure that I didn't have a small hole in my lung, which I didn't. He determined it was an inflamed muscle under my left shoulder blade. He prescribed Tylenol w/Codeine and muscle relaxers. Even with that, I could barely move. You may want to reach your doctor today. It sounds so much like what I experienced and that pain will completely incapacitate you. If you feel heat coming from your shoulder then ice it. If not then use a heating pad. I hope you feel better. Let me know please Marti. Hugs Leenie
@mentalward (14695)
• United States
17 Jul 10
Hi Leenie. This might sound weird but I'm kinda glad you have this pain. Not because you are suffering but because you have experience! I have Tylenol with Codeine (Tylenol 3) and have been using it at night. I don't like using that 24/7 so I just stick with nighttime. It helps some but not much. I've even tried lying on my left side but that hurts even worse. I guess that's because whichever muscle it is is on my right side and is shifting because my neck is tilted in the opposite direction. I can't sleep on my back or my stomach, sadly. I had surgery on my right shoulder many years ago. I had all kinds of stuff wrong with it: a frozen scapula (shoulder blade), torn rotator cuff, disjointed arm bone, arthritis AND bursitis. It was a mess! Maybe this problem I have now is caused partly from that pillow and partly from my previous surgery. That's probably it, at least I hope so. I strongly doubt I have a hole in my lung. I'm breathing fine and my lungs don't hurt at all. Of course I'm coughing more lately because of the extreme heat and humidity! Figures, huh? Hmmph! I've taken a naproxen (500 mg.) which my rheumatologist gave me. I'll have to wait to see if it works because I just took it. I've also rubbed some Capzaisin on my shoulder, which seems to be where the pain is originating. So far, that's not helping, at least not with the radiating pain. I'll keep you posted on how the naproxen does and what the doctor says when I see him next Thursday. That's the earliest appointment I could get and I'm fine with that, since this has already gone on for a week or so. Take care of that muscle, girl! Hugs, Marti
@leenie50 (3992)
• United States
17 Jul 10
Marti, It doesn't sound weird to know someone who knows what you're going through.People like you and me have gone through so many things that it's comforting to be able to talk to one another about some of them. This muscle inflamation is probable caused by whatever happened to your shoulder in the past. When we injure ourselves, once it is healed it still remains weaker than it once was. So if you do something that for some reason puts some sort of strain on it, it's going to be affected.It's fortunate that you have the Tylenol 3 and the Naproxen. It's too bad you don't have a muscle relaxer. The doctor's say that you can alternate between heat and cold but I usually do one or the other Cold usually reduces the inflamation, and heat usually relaxes thr muscle. Try one and if it doesn't help enough, then try the other. I'm afraid that my shoulder actsup every now and then out of the blue. I never see it coming. You take care of that shoulder sweetie and let me know what happens. Love Ya Leenie
@mentalward (14695)
• United States
18 Jul 10
The Naproxen worked better than the codeine! I took a nap on my right side and it didn't hurt! Yippee! Of course, when I woke up I was in pain again so I just took another Naproxen. That tells me that it's inflammation, most likely from straining a muscle. Maybe I won't have to see the doctor after all. If the pain lessens or goes away before Wednesday, I'll cancel the appointment. Isn't it fun growing older? Geez.
@ElicBxn (60884)
• United States
18 Jul 10
once you pinch a nerve, it can take some time to get set right again I pinched a nerve in my hip and I've been having trouble down my leg for months now - at least I know what it is this time...
@mentalward (14695)
• United States
18 Jul 10
Hi Elic. I took a Naproxen that I got from my rheumatologist awhile ago and it almost completely got rid of the pain. Apparently, I have a pulled muscle since the naproxen worked and the codeine didn't. My husband has spinal stenosis. Two of his disks in his lower back are bulging and pinching the nerve that goes down his left leg, plus it's affecting both of his hips. He just had his second cortisone shot and has gone to physical therapy but it's not helping. It looks like surgery for him. That's the next step. I'm glad you haven't had to resort to surgery. Is your pain going away over time? Have you had any kind of treatments for it?
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60884)
• United States
18 Jul 10
no, because it really doesn't HURT, actually most of the time its numb - kind of that "waking up tingling feeling" at the worse and just kind of almost numb at the best of times...
@tinym8 (403)
• United States
18 Jul 10
Have you had any stiffness in the shoulder or trouble moving your arm in any direction? If you put your two hands on a wall can you "climb up" the wall with your fingers higher with the left hand than the right hand. Can you put your arm all the way behind your back? The reason I'm asking these questions is to see if you have a "frozen shoulder" like I have right now. I went to the doctor because I had pain in my shoulder front and back that went down almost to my elbow level in the front and up over onto my back as well as on the side of the shoulder. I couldn't move my right arm behind my back at all but could move it up and to the sides fairly well. My family doctor sent me to an orthopedic doctor who said it was a "frozen shoulder." He gave me a cortisone shot the first day and it was better within a week or so. Then I went back again in four weeks for a second shot. It is better again now and I don't think I'll go for the third shot unless it bothers me again. Now I can put my arm behind my back almost all the way and raise my right arm as high as the left. See if your doctor thinks you might have a "frozen shoulder." It can be helped with exercise and cortisone shots. Good luck finding out what it is. Let us know what you find out.
@mentalward (14695)
• United States
18 Jul 10
Thanks tinym. I've had a frozen scapula (shoulder blade) before and I know how much that hurts! I couldn't raise my arm above shoulder level. At the same time, I also had a torn rotator cuff and the surgeon told me that my arm bone was detached from the socket. I have no idea what I did to cause all this but it was fixed with surgery after the shots and physical therapy didn't help. I can move my right arm up as high as my left. That actually doesn't hurt it. It's only when I cough or lie down on it. I took a Naproxen (500 mg. prescription) earlier and the pain almost totally disappeared! Apparently, I have pulled a muscle and the Naproxen reduced the swelling enough for it to feel better. I'm glad to hear that the cortisone shots worked for you. Even though those shots can hurt BAD, they're so much better than surgery!
@tinym8 (403)
• United States
20 Jul 10
The cortisone shots didn't hurt at all. I guess I was lucky. I don't think I'm willing to press my luck with the third one. My arm is good enough now and as long as it doesn't get worse again I think it will be fine. Good luck with yours! I hope it stays ok now for you.
• United States
19 Jul 10
Thoracic inlet/outlet syndrome is a caused my tight muscles and can be triggered in such a way. It can mimic carpal tunnel or just stop at the elbow as you say. Go get a massage.
@AmbiePam (49557)
• United States
18 Jul 10
I have fibromyalgia, and that doesn't sound like it. Fibro is like everywhere pain. It sounds like a pinched nerve more than anything. Do you have any capsacian? I get the roll on kind. It did somewhat help me when I had a pinched nerve. If you get any, just make sure you don't get it on your fingers. If you did and you rubbed your eye, your eye would burn like crazy. Hope you can get some help.
@lindsiko (358)
• United States
18 Jul 10
I'll get shoulder pain right by my left shoulder after I've sat at a funny angle or slept with my neck arched up too high. It goes away if I sleep with my really flat pillow, but it usually takes a couple of days for the pain to stop completely. I've found that if I stretch the muscle out, it feels a lot better. The only problem is that it isn't pleasant to stretch it out. If you let your head hang forward and put both hands on the back of your head, you can control exactly how much you stretch that muscle. I tend to do it for about 20 seconds and then stop and then do it for 20 more seconds until the pain is less noticeable.
18 Jul 10
maybe your having a muscle pain because of cold night maybe you can put something hot on your shoulder to relieve a bit pain or put a muscle pain oitment so that it will lessen the pain or you just need a little rest for a while whole body massage and including that shoulder light massage only then rest if pains get going you need a doctor already. take a rest.
@pinky31ps (329)
• India
18 Jul 10
well you must regularly have shoulder massage and use spray for that.. if it doesn't show results in one week or so then go to acupuncture specialist... it really works.. he will just work on your nerve n your problem will be solved within a day...m not kidding just try it...god bless you.. take care..
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
18 Jul 10
I seem to recall I had something like this that I thought was Fibro pain, turned out to be pleuritis. Definitely never assume a new pain is because of the Fibro, it could be something else that's treatable...
@udaymohan (437)
• India
18 Jul 10
I had experienced the similar pain in my right shoulder and situation was so bad that my wife had to help me in wearing my shirt. Pain used to be constant. I had thought that it could because of some heart problem. So I had met a Doctor and he took my ECG. It was all clear that I did not have a heart problem. So I went to an Orthopaedic Doctor. He taught me some excercises. I started moving my both shoulders in all directions. Initially, I had lot of problem. Gradually, pain started to subside and now I am okay. You must meet a Doctor. Please don't delay or postpone for future date. I would also advise you not to use pillows at all. While sleeping, keep you head also on the bed and if the bed is hard, it would definitely help you. But please meet the Doctor. Get your ECG done and if it is clear, meet an Orthopaedic and get his counselling. It is not a serious thing so don't get panicky.
@paula27661 (15899)
• Australia
18 Jul 10
Your situation reminds me of the time I woke with agonising pain in my upper back and shoulders so much so it hurt to breathe let alone move! I didn’t know at the time what on earth I had done to myself so I went to the doctor who told me I had muscle spasms but could not tell me how they came about. I had to take pain relief and rest for a few days until the pain slowly disappeared. It is still a mystery how I got it and I wonder if your awful pain is muscular as well. Going to see a G.P. sounds like a good idea and I hope it goes away soon with no returns! Have tried some heat rub cream?
@sid556 (31005)
• United States
18 Jul 10
Hi Mental, Are you sure it is not pnomonia or something? That is actually what it sounds like considering the coughing and chest pains. Body aches and pains will accompany pnomonia. I do know that I keep spelling that wrong. It doesn't sound good whatever it is. I have a pain that starts in my hand and goes up thru my arm. It comes and goes and is sometimes almost unbearable. I have no clue to what it is but I just deal with it. I don't have insurance so I just deal with it. I think if you are able to then you should have it checked out. Good luck, Mental. I hope all is well with you!
@dexter77 (68)
• Philippines
18 Jul 10
It sounds like you have a symptoms of costochondritis. They said it is viral in nature and it can be triggered by too much stress and exposure to too much cold. Antibiotic, pain reliever, and liniment ointment can help to give you some relief with the pain. Either way, I agree with you 100% that you seek first the help of your primary care physician to find out what is the real etiology of that pain that you have been experiencing and of course prayer would be a great help too.
@marguicha (97490)
• Chile
18 Jul 10
I just had shoulder surgery and my sister had one too. I am sure that the culprit is the mouse of the computer. In my case it was my left shoulder andd I´m lefthanded. My sister had her problem in her right shoulder and she was right handed. We should take care of that before it is time for surgery. So besides doing whatever the doctor says, I would recommend less computer for some time and more movements of the shoulder (I´m helping my surgery recovery by doing some odd dances with music by the Bee Gees) Take care!