What causes loud popping painful sound while moving or resting on arm?

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Posted on Thu, 18 Jun 2015 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Question: Hi
A few weeks ago I was starting to experience a popping sound when I would go to sleep in my normal position, on my right side with my arm under my pillow (almost like im checking myself for a fever position). It didn't hurt too bad at first but over time I started to experience pain. The popping is loud and painful. A few days ago it was getting so bad that I couldn't sleep. When I woke up I was in so much pain when i tried to lift my arms up. It is excruitaitng pain to reach over my chest as well. It hurts to drive, raise my arms, etc. I went to the doctor and he said I had a nerve impegement. He gave me an anti inflammatory medicine and said to do physical therapy for two or three weeks. So far it seems like it has gotten worse. The medicine doesn't help, I have constant throbbing pain. My right shoulder also droops lower than my left. When I lift my hands or move my arm, I often experience popping and crunching noises. X rays didn't show anything though.
Is it possible that I have torn my rotator cuff or would that have shown on my x ray? I didn't get an MRI.
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Answered by Dr. Karen Steinberg 4 hours later
Brief Answer:
Nerve impingement might require surgery

Detailed Answer:
Hi, thank you for using Healthcare Magic. Assuming your doctor was correct on the nerve impingement diagnosis, you have been given the appropriate treatment. But sometimes the medical treatment doesn't work and more aggressive therapy, even surgery, might be necessary.

You could also have other types of musculoskeletal inflammation going on, including an injured rotator cuff, bursitis, tendinitis, etc. Most of these conditions would not show up on a regular x-ray. An MRI might be necessary to look more closely for these other problems.

First, though, I recommend you see an orthopedic specialist. They may be able to pin the diagnosis down better without you necessarily having to get an MRI. Also, they would be the specialist that would treat the various kinds of problems it could be, with surgery if necessary. It could just need arthroscopy, which is less invasive, but you obviously need to have a definite diagnosis before that happens.

Best then to see an orthopedist, get examined, and confirm the diagnosis. Then the appropriate treatment can be started and you can get relief from this pain.

Hope this answers your query. If you have further questions, I would be happy to answer them.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Karen Steinberg

Internal Medicine Specialist

Practicing since :1981

Answered : 824 Questions

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