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Shoulder Pain
October 2000

Q. Approximately 3 weeks ago I got a burning/stinging pain around my left shoulder blade. For fifteen years I worked as a check out clerk, could the pain possibly be related to carpal tunnel? Previously, both forearm/elbow areas and wrists would bother me. Then the pain moved to my neck, and now to my shoulder area. I have been taking (2) Ibuprofen 800mg and that seems to help.

A. The pain you describe sounds like a nerve is inflamed or injured, as nerve pain typically causes symptoms like burning, tingling, numbness, or weakness. The exact location of the problem can sometimes be difficult to determine, but your doctor or a neurologist would be a good place to go for evaluation. Like you suspect, problems in the upper back and neck frequently originate in the neck. X-rays and possibly other tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Carpal tunnel problems typically cause problems in the wrist and forearms, but the neck and back can become involved as a compensation for the arm pain. Getting an accurate diagnosis will determine what measures might help, such as physical therapy.

HELPFUL WEBSITES:

http://www.healthcentral.com/Centers/OneCenter.cfm?Center=Computer%5FDisorders

http://neuroscience.about.com/science/neuroscience/gi/ dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.ninds.nih.gov/health %5Fand%5Fmedical/disorders/carpal%5Fdoc.htm

http://www.muhealth.org/~neuromedicine/cervicaldisc.shtml

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