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Im 40 years old Male  in good health (i believe~!).    But exactly two months ago I developed a pain in my back/shoulder.  The pain is constant and dull.  I am up all night trying to get into a comfortable position (usually with my right arm over my head just to sleep).  The pain shoots down to  my forearm.  Every injury I have had in the past has healed but this just isnt going away.  I dont have health insurance simply because I cant afford it but luckily havent had the need for it in over 20 years.  Anyone have an recommendations or have similar problems?  Im out of ideas.

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You said this pain started exactly two months ago.

Can you provide more information. Such as,

Did this pain start out of the blue? Or did you have an injury of some sort prior to this? 
If so, was this a "new injury" or an "old injury"?  How recent?
What happened that brought this about?
Which arm, right or left?
Do you have this pain every night? 
Or, only on some nights?
And, if so, how often, and on how many nights per week?
Did you change beds or pillows, or anything else prior to this starting?
Did you change jobs or occupations?
What is your occupation?
Do you wear a backpack on your back?
Do you smoke cigarettes?
Do you have any history of high cholesterol?
Is there any history of heart disease in your family?
What makes the pain better or worse?
Have you had any shortness of breath or chest pain associated with the pain?
How severe has the pain been on an AVERAGE night on a scale of 1 to 10, since this started?
On your WORST night, from 1 to 10?
Have you tried any medications or treatments for this other than repositioning your arm while sleeping?
Is there any thing else that you started or that changed right before this?
Anything else you feel my be related or pertinent?

I will do my best to offer you some information if I am able.


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The pain seems to have just started out of the blue. One day I woke up and the pain was there (a little) but I just chocked it up as a strain or something. Day after day it progressively got worse for about a week and has stayed virtually the same as it is today. I've never had an injury in this area or of this type before. The pain (although dull) is constant but increases about 2am and wakes me up. Sometimes I need to just get out of bed and literally do jumping jacks or stand up and stretch just to make the pain go away slightly so I can try and get back to sleep. This has been going on every single night, with no sign of getting better. During the day when Im moving around the pain is just a 3 or 4, but at night and during the night I would say is more like a 7 or 8. At times, such as when Im typing this, I can feel small little shoots of pain down my right arm. Just enough pain to let me know its there, but not enough to cripple me. Im healthly, never smoked, eat extremely healthy and havent changed much of anything in my routine in years. The only medication I've taken has been over the counter pills for pain and they absolutely havent helped at all, not even to help me get to sleep. Pain is just over my right shoulder on my back and I can reach the spot using my left hand to attempt to rub it. Rubbing the area seems to help temporarily but the pain comes right back in just a few minutes. No shortness of breath, no difficulty breathing, etc. But its at the point I just dont feel its getting any better, but not any worse for that matter. Any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
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doinggood wrote:

StewieMD wrote:

You said this pain started exactly two months ago.

Can you provide more information. Such as,

Did this pain start out of the blue? Or did you have an injury of some sort prior to this? 
If so, was this a "new injury" or an "old injury"?  How recent?
What happened that brought this about?
Which arm, right or left?
Do you have this pain every night? 
Or, only on some nights?
And, if so, how often, and on how many nights per week?
Did you change beds or pillows, or anything else prior to this starting?
Did you change jobs or occupations?
What is your occupation?
Do you wear a backpack on your back?
Do you smoke cigarettes?
Do you have any history of high cholesterol?
Is there any history of heart disease in your family?
What makes the pain better or worse?
Have you had any shortness of breath or chest pain associated with the pain?
How severe has the pain been on an AVERAGE night on a scale of 1 to 10, since this started?
On your WORST night, from 1 to 10?
Have you tried any medications or treatments for this other than repositioning your arm while sleeping?
Is there any thing else that you started or that changed right before this?
Anything else you feel my be related or pertinent?

I will do my best to offer you some information if I am able.



The pain seems to have just started out of the blue. One day I woke up and the pain was there (a little) but I just chocked it up as a strain or something. Day after day it progressively got worse for about a week and has stayed virtually the same as it is today. I've never had an injury in this area or of this type before. The pain (although dull) is constant but increases about 2am and wakes me up. Sometimes I need to just get out of bed and literally do jumping jacks or stand up and stretch just to make the pain go away slightly so I can try and get back to sleep. This has been going on every single night, with no sign of getting better. During the day when Im moving around the pain is just a 3 or 4, but at night and during the night I would say is more like a 7 or 8. At times, such as when Im typing this, I can feel small little shoots of pain down my right arm. Just enough pain to let me know its there, but not enough to cripple me. Im healthly, never smoked, eat extremely healthy and havent changed much of anything in my routine in years. The only medication I've taken has been over the counter pills for pain and they absolutely havent helped at all, not even to help me get to sleep. Pain is just over my right shoulder on my back and I can reach the spot using my left hand to attempt to rub it. Rubbing the area seems to help temporarily but the pain comes right back in just a few minutes. No shortness of breath, no difficulty breathing, etc. But its at the point I just dont feel its getting any better, but not any worse for that matter. Any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


The symptoms and scenario you describe sound typical to me of cervical disc herniation.

Sometimes with cervical disc herniation, surgery is the only thing that is curative and will relieve the pain.

However, before jumping to this, most doctors will start with a course of physical therapy, perhaps six weeks or so, to see if this helps.

Other things that may be helpful and/or tried before moving surgery (and may afford you some time to get some health insurance perhaps) for Cervical Disc Herniation include:

1) Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS), such as Ibuprofen (Motrin), taken every 6-8 hours around the clock, at the prescription strength. 1,200 mg of Ibuprofen is considered the maximum daily dose for OTC (Over The Counter) use, though, under medical direction, the maximum amount of ibuprofen for adults is 800 milligrams per dose or 3200 mg per day.

Note: Sometimes the NSAIDs can irritate the lining of the stomach however, and are often best to be taken with food or milk; additionally, some doctors often prescribe a "GI protectant" such as Prilosec OTC to help protect the stomach lining and prevent an ulcer from forming while the patient is on this intensive course of NSAIDs. But again, talk all of this over with your doctor.

Also, because of the small risk of stomach ulcer on strong NSAIDs, I always tell my patients to avoid smoking/nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine, which all stimulate stomach acid, while on NSAIDs.

Note: Tylenol (Acetaminophen) products are NOT NSAIDs and will NOT reduce inflammation. They are generally less preferred to the NSAIDs.

2) Oral Prescription Steroids (i.e., Prednisone or Medrol Dose Pak) - usually a short course to try to "tame the tiger" of inflammation and get the inflamed nerve calmed down and relieve pain. However, this is rarely effective alone, and the pain often returns.

3) Epidural Steroid Injections - may be effective, depending on the location of pain.

4) Acupuncture

5) A soft Cervical Neck Collar Can often provide dramatic relief in some cases. It is very important that it be properly fitted however. These are generally very inexpensive. They can be purchased online at Amazon, or one can go to a physical therapy supply or home care supply place to buy them. One can also buy them at a chiropractor's office usually. One can ask them to help him be properly fitted to it.

6) There are numerous over-the-door traction units available at physical therapy supply houses and chiropractor offices, and at amazon, that are very cheap and inexpensive, that can provide relief in many cases of cervical disc herniation. (But you should seek supervision of your health care provider first for guidance and to be sure you have the correct diagnosis).

7) There are a number of credible videos available on youtube about "neck pain" and about "cervical disc herniation" that can provide more information. The Mckenzie Method or approach to neck pain treatment is considered good by many.

8) Neck exercises are very important in helping one recover and improve from cervical disc herniation. If you are diagnosed with this, this will be important, these are also available on youtube and other places. But again, consult your doctor first.

9) Elasto-gel cervical collar (at amazon) is good to provide heat to your neck muscles, the collar can be stuck in the microwave oven and heated.

10) Ice packs- good to relieve inflammation in neck.

11) Capsaicin Cream - can be effective if muscles become sore.

In summary, there are a number of things that can be done to buy some time before surgery is inevitable for someone with disc herniation. Typically, NSAIDs + Prilosec + Neck Exercises or Physical Therapy + Soft Cervical Collar for 6-8 weeks might be a reasonable approach, under physician guidance.

Nevertheless, it is important to consult your doctor to let him do a physical exam and be sure that this is indeed what you have before starting any regimen.

Please keep me updated and let me know how this all turns out for you.

Take care and God Bless.

P.S. There is a government website available now, for lower cost health insurance plans, go to healthcare.gov ( www dot healthcare dot gov)
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