Burning pain in the upper back radiated to the arm

Patient

Q: I have a burning in my shoulder blades and my spine all the time. It at times travels to my right arm. I have to wear flextor patches just to tolerate the pain.

Doctor

A:    The pain in your spine and shoulder as you described it might be due to a cervical nerve compression, but it would be important to rule out also an inflammation of the peripheral nerves at the level of the arm and hand. In the younger patients, cervical radiculopathy may be a result of a disc herniation or an acute injury causing impingement of a nerve. In the older patient, cervical radiculopathy is often a result of spinal canal narrowing from bone (osteophyte) formation, decreased disc height and degenerative changes due to aging process. The treatment strategy usually includes: physical therapy program aimed to reduce pain and inflammation, and the use of anti-inflammatory medication (as “Motrin”, “Aleve”), also a re-education of your habits and posture, you should be independent in a stretching and strengthening program and continue with these exercises under the periodic supervision of a physical therapist initially and then completely on your own. Often, you should show progressive improvement over the first 6-8 weeks with conservative treatment. If there is no significant improvement in this time frame, consider a surgical evaluation.

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