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View Full Version : Pain in my upper arm for six months.. Who should I see?


carbz
12-05-2011, 05:08 PM
I know this a strange place to discuss medical issues but what the heck. I've met some great people here in the medical field. Anyway I've had this pain in my upper arm for nearly six months now and apparently its not going away on its own. At first I thought I may have torn a muscle at work or something but I can't imagine a torn muscle would still be lingering for six months. I don't have Insurance so an MRI may be out of the question and I was told an xray probably won't show anything unless it was in the bone. The pain seems like its coming from the part of my arm about 2 inches below my shoulder in the muscle area of the upper arm. It was suggested it could be tendonitis? It's just bizarre to have something like this so long with no relief nor has it gotten worse. Overall its not terrible unless I twist my arm a certain way (ouch) but it can also be annoying while sleeping. My question is this even if It is tendonitis or something like it what can they do for it? I mean I am not getting surgery on my arm but I also don't want to live with this permanently. I am not sure what to think but its pretty clear it isn't going away on its own. Any suggestions what kind of specialist I should see for something like this.

Ed Reed
12-05-2011, 05:15 PM
As far as who to see? An ordinary doctor would be the best place to start.

I messed my arm up about two years ago. It still bothers me but the horror stories I heard from guys who had surgery and the fact it still bothers them after the fact made me decide to just endure. I finally got 90% of full range of motion back but it still bothers me some.

harpinon
12-05-2011, 05:16 PM
Sounds like tendonitis. This can last for a long long time if not treated. Heating pads help. Sometimes a course of prednisone works too. You'll have to see the doctor.

Good luck.

Ken Ho
12-05-2011, 05:18 PM
It will be a shoulder issue, most likely.
The 3 most common issues are supraspinatus tendonitits +/- a tear, subcromial bursitis or frozeon shoulder Clinical examinaion followed by USS can differentiate these.
Regardless of diagnosis, a good place to start treatment is to do basic internal and external rotation exercises with some Theraband. You will wind up doing these eventually, even if you need surgery, so may as well get started. Many shoulder issues will resolve with those exercises alone.

Cobb
12-05-2011, 05:26 PM
Best solution: Ortho followed by PT

If that is too costly at this time, try a few sessions from a GOOD massage therapist

carbz
12-05-2011, 05:29 PM
Thanks guys. I have full motion but if I twist my arm it can get painful. Someday's don't seem as bad as others but either way I'd much rather it be gone. I told my Practitioner about it and she suggested having it x-rayed. Though I was told an x-ray wouldn't be able to confirm tendinitis. I've used heat creams but they really haven't done jack shit. I had seen a hand specialist for another problem I still have in my two index fingers which is rather bizarre as well. If I put any pressure in the area between the middle and the lowest part of both my index fingers I get a shooting pain. Only on both index fingers in the exact same area...:huh He suggested it was tendinitis and just recommend bending my fingers back to stretch them. Other then that not much really anything to do for it. Meanwhile nothing has improved. In general its not to bothersome unless I grab something like a doorknob and put pressure on it. This arm thing is much more annoying.

carbz
12-05-2011, 05:31 PM
It will be a shoulder issue, most likely.
The 3 most common issues are supraspinatus tendonitits +/- a tear, subcromial bursitis or frozeon shoulder Clinical examinaion followed by USS can differentiate these.
Regardless of diagnosis, a good place to start treatment is to do basic internal and external rotation exercises with some Theraband. You will wind up doing these eventually, even if you need surgery, so may as well get started. Many shoulder issues will resolve with those exercises alone. I have no pain what so ever in the shoulder area. It's pretty much in the muscle area of the upper arm.

GuitarToma
12-05-2011, 05:33 PM
Ditto on the GOOD massage therapist. Not a relaxation massage, but someone who is very familiar with deep tissue therapy that knows how to focus on target areas.

carbz
12-05-2011, 05:33 PM
So an Orthopedic doctor is the right kind of specialist to see for this problem?

telejammer
12-05-2011, 05:45 PM
I have similar issue with my left arm,lots of pain about 2-3 inches below the shoulder. I went to a Bone&Joint specialist last week and after they x-rayed the shoulder the Dr. said I have Ostioarthritis in the shoulder joint. He said its like bone on bone rubbing in there. Anyway Dr. prescribed a steriod pack (Predisone) for 1 week. He says only surgery will correct this but I'l hold out as long as I can from surgery. I now take an Arthritis pill once a day and a mucle relaxer called Flexerall. Hope you don't have this,its very painfull at time and limits arm and shoulder movement. At least have a Dr. look at it.

carbz
12-05-2011, 05:55 PM
I have similar issue with my left arm,lots of pain about 2-3 inches below the shoulder. I went to a Bone&Joint specialist last week and after they x-rayed the shoulder the Dr. said I have Ostioarthritis in the shoulder joint. He said its like bone on bone rubbing in there. Anyway Dr. prescribed a steriod pack (Predisone) for 1 week. He says only surgery will correct this but I'l hold out as long as I can from surgery. I now take an Arthritis pill once a day and a mucle relaxer called Flexerall. Hope you don't have this,its very painfull at time and limits arm and shoulder movement. At least have a Dr. look at it. Strange that you wake up one day fine and the next you have that :huh. I guess I need to move forward and hopefully have it diagnosed properly. It feels like a tear of some sort but what do I know? I hope to god I don't need any kind of surgery.

jumpnblues
12-05-2011, 06:00 PM
Heart issues need to be ruled out. You can have angina in your neck, jaw, back, or arm and not have any in the chest area. It's certainly more likely to be orthopedic in origin but it's important for obvious reasons to rule out atypical angina.


Tom

rmj254
12-05-2011, 06:04 PM
So an Orthopedic doctor is the right kind of specialist to see for this problem?

Not necessarily. The best course of action would be to visit your primary care physician first. He or she will do some simple tests (or order radiographic studies) that will determine whether or not the problem is related to joints, nerves, or muscles. If it is, they will set you up with the proper specialist. I'd go there first. I wouldn't bother with going to a massage therapist or any other type of practitioner like that just yet because, as jumpnblues said, it could be something else entirely.

I wish you the best, and if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

carbz
12-05-2011, 06:28 PM
Not necessarily. The best course of action would be to visit your primary care physician first. He or she will do some simple tests (or order radiographic studies) that will determine whether or not the problem is related to joints, nerves, or muscles. If it is, they will set you up with the proper specialist. I'd go there first. I wouldn't bother with going to a massage therapist or any other type of practitioner like that just yet because, as jumpnblues said, it could be something else entirely.

I wish you the best, and if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask. I see a nurse practitioner for my diabetes. I mentioned to her about the pain a few months back and she said I should have it x-ray'd or an MRI.. I don't remember which? Apparently she doesn't do that in her office so where do I go?

rmj254
12-05-2011, 06:30 PM
I see a nurse practitioner for my diabetes. I mentioned to her about the pain a few months back and she said I should have it x-ray'd or an MRI.. I don't remember which? Apparently she doesn't do that in her office so where do I go?

I'd go see either a physician who is board certified in Family Medicine or Internal Medicine. They will be your front-line person to figure out where you should go next and what imaging studies (should you need them) be done.

carbz
12-05-2011, 06:52 PM
I'd go see either a physician who is board certified in Family Medicine or Internal Medicine. They will be your front-line person to figure out where you should go next and what imaging studies (should you need them) be done. Thanks.. I'll get the ball rolling. For its is worth its my right arm. It's really strange as one morning I just woke up with it. I don't remember doing anything specific but I do lift some decent sized boxes at work. Something tells me though It not from an injury because I probably would have noticed something after it happened and I really don't remember doing anything.

davecan
12-05-2011, 07:01 PM
I'm not a doctor, but have you tried a good anti-inflammatory like Motrin??

rmj254
12-05-2011, 07:23 PM
Thanks.. I'll get the ball rolling. For its is worth its my right arm. It's really strange as one morning I just woke up with it. I don't remember doing anything specific but I do lift some decent sized boxes at work. Something tells me though It not from an injury because I probably would have noticed something after it happened and I really don't remember doing anything.

Does the arm hurt in any particular motions? What is the quality of the pain?

toocommercial
12-05-2011, 07:48 PM
I have something similar in both arms, actually. I've had it for a number of years. It's just below the shoulder and deep into the muscle tissue. It also bothers me when I sleep or if I'm in weird positions. I just assumed I fooled up the muscles loading my SF Twin everywhere. Ha. I have regular massages that give great relief.

mslmg
12-06-2011, 03:53 AM
Same problem with my left shoulder. My pain is most prominent when I rotate my arm to hike my pants up or loop a belt through my pants. Wakes me up at night too. MD thinks it is bursitis and not a tear since I have full range of motion. Gave me some anti-inflamatory drugs which were useless. Suggests PT for 5 - 6 weeks and if that doesn't work, a cortisone shot. I living with it.

Scott57
12-06-2011, 05:47 AM
I have something similiar; woke up 4 months ago with upper left arm feeling like it was in a blood pressure pump, left elbow like it had just hit a funny bone and a tingling pointing finger. I just thought I had pulled some muscles doing something and it would go away after a while. Eight weeks later and no relief, I went to the doctor. After x-rays, a MRI and a trip to a spine specialist, it turned out to be several herniated disks in my neck causing the pain in my arm. Right now, starting physical therapy.

bluesjunior
12-06-2011, 06:06 AM
I had a similar problem in the area you mention on my right arm. It started bothering me about a couple of years back. At first I thought it was a symptom of my arthritis but it got worse until I couldn't put my arm over my wife while lying in bed unless it was at a specific angle. As it was most painful while throwing a stick etc for my dog to fetch I got the impression it was a tendon that had somehow got shorter as to all intents and purposes that was what it felt like. I noticed my grand daughters soft spongy type ball one day about 4-6wks ago and decided to throw it at the wall opposite in the room. It hurt like heck the first time but got easier as I continued. I did this starting at ten and working up to twenty times each morning as a part of my daily exercise routine and for the last three weeks I haven't been bothered by it. The reason I used the sponge ball was twofold. firstly when I threw a stone or a stick it really hurt enough to put me off doing it at all. I think the weight has something to do with it as while the sponge ball is so light it allows me to throw it without a recoil type effect if that is the right word. Secondly I can throw the spong ball indoors without damage to ornaments etc. I'm not saying it will cure your problem but it is maybe worth a try. it can't do any harm.

strat6866
12-06-2011, 06:52 AM
I have had a very similar issue with my right shoulder. Thought it could be one of 3 things: tendonitis, rip or tear in the rotator cuff or a pinched nerve. It would bother me when I raised and twisted my arm and also if I slept on that arm at night.

One night I woke up in more pain than usual and "popped" or adjusted my shoulder and it was instant relief. I now do this every few days or when it bothers me and it feels great again. I am inclined to think that it is a pinched nerve and a trip to a chiropractor for an adjustment (if you cant do it yourself) may be exactly what you need.

If this is not the problem the chiropractor may have some good advice for you. And this shouldnt cost you more than about $50 either!

TheRockDoc
12-06-2011, 08:04 AM
I'd be happy to speak with you off the board if you'd like.

pete692
12-06-2011, 08:22 AM
I had a rotator cuff drive me crazy for over a year. I was injuring it in my sleep. Started sleeping on my back and it went away after about another month. This sounds very similar. YOU DO NOT WANT TO HAVE ROTATOR CUFF SURGERY.