ZocdocAnswersWhy do I continue to experience shoulder and back pain?

Question

Why do I continue to experience shoulder and back pain?

I've had consistent pain in my left shoulder and my upper back on the same side for months now. My doctor said that my joints and muscles look fine though. What else could be the cause of the pain if everything appears to be normal? I know I am not imagining this pain and it is getting to be very uncomfortable.

Answer

There are many different possible causes of your pain. Pain in this type of distribution can either be from your muscles, from your joints, from the tendons connecting your muscles to your bones, or from the nerves exiting your spinal cord and heading towards your shoulder and back. Muscle aches tend to go away over time, though they can persist in conditions such as myositis or fibromyalgia. Tendons can become inflamed, but they tend to get better over time and with the use of anti-inflammatory medication. Nerve related pain is the more difficult to treat and can hang around for a while without your doctor being able to figure out what is the underlying cause. It sounds like your doctor has not been able to figure out this pain yet from simple in office examinations. I suggest that you return to your doctor (primary care physician) and ask if an MRI can be done of your C- Spine and T-Spine. These are the areas of your spine that contain the nerves that could be impinged and causing your pain. An MRI can either show that this is the problem, or rule it out completely. An MRI of you shoulder joint is another possible imaging study that could be helpful. Depending on what is seen on these studies, you may benefit from either physical therapy, or a consultation with a pain medicine specialist. Good luck.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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