Pain and tightness on left scapula


Q: I have this tight, stabbing, burning pain on the bottom of my left scapula. It seems to be between the blade and my spine. I woke up today and felt this way and the discomfort seemed to just get progressively worse as the day went on. The symptoms I am experiencing are made worse with general movement of my left arm, coughing, sneezing, and pressing on the tender area. I also hadn't done any strenuous activities recently to cause a strain in the muscle. This has happened to me many times before in the same area. I've tried doing stretches and used a handheld back massager which didn't help. It seemed to alleviate the symptoms but the tightness returned right away. It lasts for usually about 5 days and the pain and discomfort are unbearable. My muscles feel so tight and I had asked a friend to give me a quick massage and he said the muscles felt abnormally tight. He also had cracked my back which didn't help at all either. I have bad back problems as it is and my posture isn't great because of it. I have a torn annulus in my S1-L5 disc and a herniated disc in my T11-T12 disc. I have also had an MRI of my cervical spine which apparently came back normal. I have arm and wrist pain periodically as well. I've also been tested for carpal tunnel which came back negative. Please advise on what I should do. Thank you.


A:   According to your description of the characteristics of the pain, most likely you may have an  Intercostal Neuritis, secondary to a muscle contracture, which is not a serious condition but very annoying indeed and slow healing. By a spasm or a direct trauma the intercostals nerve got injured, and that’s why you are feeling that stabbing pain every time you take a deep breath, sneeze or cough.
The suggested strategy would be: please, try to be patient and do not expect an overnight improvement, take anti inflammatory medication (“Aleve”, “Motrin”), and also Vitamin B12 supplement. Local moist heat helps to ease the pain. Try to avoid activities that worsen the pain. The healing time is up to each patient in particular but generally takes about 4-6 weeks

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