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Having pain in shoulder, elbow and neck. Feeling like severe torn muscle. Any ideas?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 1994
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I have dull persistent pain in my left shoulder for the last 10 days. It starts at the "top" & back side of the shoulder...moves down the back of my left arm...and ends about the elbow. Over the last 3 days, the pain is now also in the side of my neck on the left side. When I move, i can make the pain worse or better. If i lean my head back, the pain on the upper arm & shoulder gets worse. Turn my head to the right...the pain gets worse "behind my left shoulder blade & outside of my left arm". If I pull my left arm across my body, it hepls some as it feels like i am "stretching the shoulder out". Letting my arm hang down at my side makes the pain increase somewhat. Putting my arm over my head & resting my forearm on top of my head makes the pain lessen. Grabbing a bar above my head with my left arm & pulling down also seems to help "stretch" the muscles back out and lessens the pain a little. It feels like a severe torn muscle, but it is not getting better with rest...The pain is getting worse each day. Ideas?
Posted Tue, 16 Oct 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 1 hour later
Thanks for posting your query.
From the symptoms that you have described, it seems to be Rotator cuff tendonitis or shoulder impingement syndrome which causes irritation and inflammation of the rotator cuff and the bursa.
There are a group of muscles and tendons which form a covering around the head of your upper arm bone and attach it to your shoulder blade. This group is collectively called the rotator cuff muscles and from your symptoms the possibility of rotator cuff tendonitis is more likely.
This is commonly found in people who do activities like swimming, tennis, baseball, badminton, paper hanging, construction, or painting.
It causes local swelling and tenderness in the front of the shoulder and initially it presents as minor pain but gradually it causes severe pain and loss of motion.

You need to get an MRI scan done which is a more sensitive test for soft tissue and muscular injuries. An Orthopedician is the best person to be consulted.
Here are some general treatment measures which you can follow:
1) Provide complete rest and avoid all painful activities.
2) Apply cold compresses and take some anti inflammatory pain killer after consulting your doctor.

If the symptoms are severe then after confirming the diagnosis by MRI, you may need steroid injections or surgical arthroscopic technique (kept as last resort).

I hope this answers your query.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.
Wishing you good health.
Dr. Praveen Tayal.
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