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I've been experiencing pain under my right shoulder blade, sometimes more central and just below my neck. This only occurs at night, after I've been asleep a couple of hours and wakes me from a sound sleep. When I shift positions, it subsides, only to recur a while later. Lately, it's gotten worse and the pain lingers (though much lessened) for a while after I wake up.

I've been seeing a chiropractor who's been doing some upper back/neck adjustments, but this hasn't helped. I've started exercising again (after a hiatus of a couple of 3 months), which includes upper body strength training. I've had terrible habits in terms of hunching over my laptop while sitting in an armchair (which I'm on for about 6 hours or more a day) and have tried to correct that by raising the laptop to eye-level on a table and using an attached keyboard. I'm going to get a lumbar support too. I'm in between docs and couldn't get a new patient appointment until Dec 15.

My question is--should I worry about it being due to something more sinister like cancer? I'm thinking since so far the pain occurs only at night and I have no other symptoms, that I shouldn't worry about this.

ALSO, how can I correct my sleeping position? I'm wondering if that's contributing. I sleep on my back (usually with my head off to the side) and on my sides. I don't use a special pillow. I've tried not to sleep on my back... but that's tough... especially since my hips sometimes hurt when I sleep on my sides too long. (And I'm only 50 years old!)

Thanks!

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It appears you have most of the answers right in front of you. Except, how old is your bed, and of what quality?

The causes/symptoms you've listed above can easily be the problems, all inter-linked in a pernicious cycle. Posture, sleeping habits etc...

50 isn't old but things like disk compression of nerve ganglia can easily be noted in your spine. Other possibilities can run a spectrum of cervical and nerve issues.

However, consider this: at night one is more relaxed and needs to focus less on the stimuli of the day, therefore you may be able to notice these symptoms more readily due to the lack of movement and mental action. The back breaker, as I call the chiropractors, is helpful regardless, in my opinion. Couple this with maybe a very good bed and perhaps massage, you may be happier for the investments.

But a Upper cervical to thoracic MRI/MRV would not be out of the question at 50 as a pre-screen for a number of issues. Unless you've had CTscans and other tests I may even suggest and entire scan from head to toe with an MRI/MRA/MRV (A=aneurysm, V=venous) it will run the spectrum for aterial, nervous and muscle-skeletal changes or dysfunctions.

Cancers? Are possible along the ganglia of the spine, not common but not so uncommon. If you have good insurance an good physician and are due for a good work-up... Do it.

But try the bed first! You get what you pay for... So buy an expensive one!
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Thank you! I have had x-rays done of my back and neck. I should have results today. Neither 800mg of ibuprofen, nor muscle relaxers helped. I have, however, for the past two nights tried a couple of different memory-foam pillows. While the regular pillow-shaped version helped only a little, the contour-shape version helped a LOT! I had MUCH less pain with the contour-pillow (I bought it on sale at Kohls for about $30). I'm going to try a different contour pillow tonight (Isotonic) and then I'll try the Kohl's contour pillow again and decide which works best.

I will report back on the x-ray results and final pillow results. Thanks again!
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Thank you! I visited my doctor and have had x-rays done of my back and neck. I should have results today. The doc prescribed 800mg of ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer, but neither helped. I have, however, for the past two nights tried a couple of different memory-foam pillows. While the regular pillow-shaped version helped only a little, the contour-shape version helped a LOT! I had MUCH less pain with the contour-pillow (I bought it on sale at Kohls for about $30). I'm going to try a different contour pillow tonight (Isotonic) and then I'll try the Kohl's contour pillow again and decide which works best.

I will report back on the x-ray results and final pillow results. Thanks again!
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My pleasure....

With regard to the xrays, they can show normal compression, deviation, or a rather 'progressed' neuro-cervical/thoracic issue(s) only. The MRI/MRV etc.. Can show much more in more significant detail; also an xray or ctscan cannot tell the difference between a corpse and a live subject-- whereas an MRI can see the difference with regard to neuropathy and other component issues that could be degenerative or cancerous. Not that I think it is the case.

The Ibuprofen 800mg + (say tizanadine) zanaflex may not work so well... Skelaxin often works great but some people have sleeping issues on it... Baclofen works well in concert with zanaflex (tizanadine)...But for the anti-inflammatory aspect try suggesting Ketoprofen 50mg or 100mg (brand name of Orudis or oravale) It is in the same family, lasts 12 hours and in my experience works much better. It will give longer relief, better relief, and has fewer side-effects than Ibuprofen. (long story short on the Kee-to-profen : was over the counter, but they lacked the marketing teams and armies of drug reps so they marketed it to Dentists in the mid 90's)

Just a few of my suggestions since you are being prescribed some meds, these combos may work a lot better (especially over the ibuprofen).

I'm glad the contour adjust pillows help some, improper sleep posture can mess you up 'period' and all day long. Plus giving you a terrible nights sleep... All too important ( we spend 1/3rd of our lives in bed).

Good luck...
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