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Pain on the left body around scapula, elbow and arm. Taking antinflammatories and muscle relaxants. Will cortizone help to mask injury?

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For the past 6 months or so I have been experiencing pain on the left side of my body. The pain is mostly around the scapula on my left side but I also have intense pain in my left elbow and my arm "goes to sleep" about 10 times every hour. The pain in my back is very tender to touch and intensifies if I sit in a hard backed chair. I have been doing massage therapy and have had some improvement in the arm but the back continues to be a problem. It even keeps me awake or wakens me during the night so I haven't had a full nights sleep in a while. I am on antiinflammatories and muscle relaxants but they aren't seeming to help. If I swing a golf club, my warm up swing doesn't seem to bother me but when I go to swing at the ball (muscles on left side tensing) I sometimes have to stop my swing in the downswing because of the pain. Stopping the swing seems to then aggravate my arm causing more problems. I have been checked for nerve continuity and was told everything is good there. My next step is a cortizone shot in the shoulder. Will the cortizone help me or just mask any injury in my back/arm/shoulder? What else can I do besides the shot?
Posted Sat, 23 Jun 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 1 hour later
Thanks for posting your query.

From your symptoms, it can be due to nerve impingement (pinched nerve), which can originate in the neck (cervical spine). This condition called “Brachial Neuritis”, or “Brachial Neuralgia”, is due to the involvement of the group of nerves exiting from the spinal vertebrae, called the “Brachial Plexus”.

This can be confirmed by MRI spine and nerve conduction velocity test done by a neurologist.

The other possibility is of rotator cuff tendonitis or shoulder bursitis. 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. The other possibility is of shoulder bursitis which can cause similar symptoms.

It causes local swelling and tenderness in the front of the shoulder and initially it presents as minor pain from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm 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 .

Here are some general treatment measures which you can follow:

1)     Provide complete rest and avoid overhead 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). If your doctor has suggested steroid injections, then they will provide considerable relief but will treat the cause. You need to get the diagnosis confirmed first.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Please accept my answer in case you have no follow up query.

Wishing you good health.

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