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Help: Chronic Neck & Shoulder Pain With No Explanation

A

Aerolift

New Member
Apr 1, 2024
3
1
Hey everyone, first post and really desperate for some help.

I'll try to be as succinct as possible since so much has happened and I want to respect everyone's time. I know being a newb and coming in expecting a lot is a tall order, but you'd really be helping me out if you can.

I've been living a nightmare for pretty much the past three years. I used to lift heavy for well over a decade; at my best, I've barbell rowed 405 for reps, 600 on the dead for a single, incline dumbbell press 130s for 6, etc. I've undoubtedly trained hard, but never reckless. At my biggest I was 280 at 6'3. I'm not young, but not quite old, either.

One day back in 2021 I was doing some very light warm-ups on the Hoist machine bench and felt the ever-slightest pinch on the posterior side of my left delt. I ignored it, as you do, but in time it became too much so I went to the doctor, a decision that might just end up being the biggest mistake of my life.

Long story short, I've had two shoulder surgeries---the first was a rotator cuff repair of the supraspinatus and the subscapularis, along with a biceps tenodesis. This yielded zero results in the pain relief department and left me with nothing but a weird looking bicep. The second doctor performed a SLAP repair and it also did nothing to fix the pain; it hurt in the same place it always had and in the same way. But immediately after this second operation my neck started absolutely killing me. I thought it was the sling, and it would get better once I was out of it, but I was very much mistaken.

I ended up going to the shoulder surgeon with the best reputation in my state and he says the problem is coming from my neck, and he wouldn't have operated on me in the first place. So I start going to neck specialists who tell me that my neck is normal for a man my age and for as much as I've lifted it actually looks really good. I'm completely lost because I'm now in pain management and worse than ever with neck pain that might drive me to the end---it gets so bad I can't see straight sometimes and my career, which is a pretty serious profession, is over unless I can get help. I've had basically every image: MRIs, X-rays of my entire spine and left shoulder.

In my travels I've learned there are basically two (well three) types of surgeons: orthopedic shoulder surgeons who focus on the rotator cuff, and neurosurgeons (orthopedics can specialize here as well) who work the spine. The problem is I think I might have torn something obscure: a rhomboid, trapezius, levator scapulae, etc. This is pretty much a medical black hole, and I can find nothing about doctors or really anyone who does repairs or even how to get some imaging to get a diagnosis. All I know is something is undoubtedly very wrong. I'm not a hypochondriac or the victim of a Munchausen's by proxy mother, so it isn't in my head. In the last couple months, I've started slowly losing sensation in the left side of my body; it's terrifying and getting anyone to give a damn is getting very difficult. I have no symptoms consistent with a brain tumor, so that's likely not it.

My question: Have any of you ever torn a back or neck muscle and been able to find someone to do something about it? If so, do you have the name for a doctor? What about specialized imaging? Were they able to see your problem and get you a diagnosis? What kind of doctor do you think can help, and where? Nobody here really knows about weightlifters and how we push ourselves, somebody who understands that we can get injured in atypical ways is going to be a must. I'll travel just about anywhere.

Thank you.
 
Swiper

Swiper

VIP Member
Jan 8, 2011
1,591
1,544
Is it nerve pain?

I would assume the neck spine specialist would have saw that, but I had a pinched nerve in my spine. I got x-rays , MRI and they couldn’t find anything but yet I lost more than half my muscle on my left delt.

The pain is completely gone now, but that’s because I think the nerve is dead from being pinched so much for so long.

It’s crippling pain. It’s no joke.
 
A

Aerolift

New Member
Apr 1, 2024
3
1
Is it nerve pain?

I would assume the neck spine specialist would have saw that, but I had a pinched nerve in my spine. I got x-rays , MRI and they couldn’t find anything but yet I lost more than half my muscle on my left delt.

The pain is completely gone now, but that’s because I think the nerve is dead from being pinched so much for so long.

It’s crippling pain. It’s no joke.
Thanks for the reply, Swiper.

I've had what's called an EMG or nerve conduction study done where they test different nerves out to see where you're weak. They came back negative, but there's no question what's been going on with my left side going numb with paresthesia and different odd pain patterns is nerve related.

I think it's being cause by deep muscle spasms from a tear in my back/neck that's putting pressure on my spine. The primary problem seems "mechanical" and not "electrical" if that makes sense, but I can't seem to find anyone locally who knows what to do with me, or, at this point, really wants to put in the work to try to get to the bottom of things.
 
genetic freak

genetic freak

VIP Member
Dec 28, 2015
2,628
3,352
I am with Swiper on this and instantly went to nerve damage or something related to nerves. There definitely could be some scar tissue or inflammation from a tear that places pressure on a nerve causing the issue. I couldn't even tell you how to diagnose it. The only thing I know, orthopedics or doctors in general, go by a wire diagram when figuring out what imaging to order. You may have not hit everything yet. Keep asking the questions. Be loud and be a PITA if you are not getting the care you deserve.
 
parttimer

parttimer

VIP Member
Oct 11, 2011
879
185
I had neck/arm pain several years ago, went from doing 5 sets of 10 with 150lb dumbbells to barely getting 60lb on my left side. I had major muscle loss, turns out I had 2 disc's out in my neck. You get a neck mri?

Sent from my SM-S908U using Tapatalk
 
A

Aerolift

New Member
Apr 1, 2024
3
1
I had neck/arm pain several years ago, went from doing 5 sets of 10 with 150lb dumbbells to barely getting 60lb on my left side. I had major muscle loss, turns out I had 2 disc's out in my neck. You get a neck mri?

Sent from my SM-S908U using Tapatalk
Hey, parttimer,

I have had a cervical and thoracic spine MRI, and there's a slight pinch at T1-T2 vertebraes, but everyone has said that while it might be a cause for some pain, it doesn't explain why I'm hurting the way I am and at this level. I have some more scans scheduled that will be coming up soon, but I'm not optimistic about them finding anything.

I am curious how you went about getting treated for your disks? Were you able to get out of your situation without surgery? After two unsuccessful surgeries and spending a cumulative 13 weeks in slings, I'm not exactly thrilled by the idea of getting cut on again---ever.
 
parttimer

parttimer

VIP Member
Oct 11, 2011
879
185
I ended up with a phenomenal neurosurgeon, I have a cage and screws in my neck securing c4-6 and have zero pain. I've never gotten back to 150's but I've aged 6 or so years so of course getting back to that may not be possible. I know people that had the same surgery with her, with the same results. I've seen some people with the same issue go to other surgeons and end up in a halo. I'm thankful for her, she's done both my neck and back.
 
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