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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    , , Canada.

    Upper Back Muscle Stiffness - Severe

    I have had muscle stiffness in my upper back between my shoulders and down along the spine on each side.
    Each time I go to the Chiro and Massage therapist they tell me I am so tight and can't seem to break thru.
    I have went to the family doctor who tells me to live with it. I have seen a physiotherapt who has checked me and my range of motion is good and he can't figure it out.
    I don't panic as much as I once used to and don't have a stress load.
    It however is affecting everything I do. I can't garden, shovel, do pushups or any strain on my upper body or I pain. The pain seems to go into my chest as well.
    Is there anything that I should be having checked or x-rayed.
    I hate living with the pain, but not as much as the limitations.

    Thank you,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    , , USA.

    Re: Upper Back Muscle Stiffness - Severe

    Well, I won't comment here about physicians who feel patients should "live with it," particularly in light of the fact that some of these same persons ring my door bell with no hesitancy to relieve their own dilemma.

    Nevertheless, to the issue at hand, what you are describing with regard to pain between the scapulae and muscles that are para-spinal is very similar to stress-related musculo-skeletal discomfort. There are several conditions that can also cause this type of pain, but simple things first.

    Since the most common presentation is due to stress, the use of anti-inflammatories and exercise to relieve symptoms is always primary to determine if improvement is observed. It's quite difficult to stretch these muscles the way one might with a leg or arm and consequently, chronic discomfort is typical under stress conditions. Also, unless the pain is referred from a cervical abnormality, anti-inflammatories in my opinion do little for pure muscle spasm and discomfort.

    It's important to know how long this has been taking place, whether your neck and occiput (base of the skull), shoulder(s) is painful as well, and whether discomfort is increased when moving any of these junctures. If you've had an MRI to rule out cervical problems, then it's likely a stress-related origin. While some conditions having to do with the pancreas, gall bladder and liver can cause pain between or under the scapulae region, this sort of pain is usually acute and periodic, with other symptoms being present as well.

    The suggestion here since symptomatic treatment has not been productive is to have an MRI of the neck and spine. If things look good on MRI, a simple general chem panel to make certain that lab values are good would be wise to ensure that the pain is not referred pain.

    Still, my first impression is musculo-skeletal pain.
    Best regards and Good Health

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