Thoracic spine causing nerve issues in shoulder/arm/hands

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HI ! Ive tried searching the posts but cant find the specific issues im having.

Its a saga, but the long and short of it is i have had low/mid back pain my whole adult life ( im 39 ). I have dealt with this with private physio and chiro treatment , not periodically but all the time. I go for sports massage every 2 weeks.

4 year ago i stared having grip problems which progressed to hand and wrist pain in both hands and my right arm/shoulder/chest/neck. About 2 year ago i also started to have bladder issues.

So far ive had every diagnosis going from RA, Carpal Tunnel,cervical compression, TOS ( which is the only one that i truly believe i have ). Tests, ive had all bloods for RF to full thyroid checks. Nerve function for carpal-unbelievably this was normal. MRI of the cervical spine and brachial plexus, pelvic scan. ALL normal or with minimal age related degenerations for someone who has had 3 children.

Head of Physio is the only department who has looked into my issues as a whole problem and has now referred me for a full spinal MRI & Neuro consult. I was given the scary hard talk about going to A&E if my bladder problems get to the point i have no sensation when going to the loo ( i already have slight de-sensation ) because theres only a small window of time to have this looked at and fixed before the problems are permanent ! This is the first of me realising that my back pain is most likely connected to the hand problems as well. Ive never factored in the back issues with any of the more recent problems im having because ive never not had a sore back.

Ive been an active, sports led person my whole life and until last year continued in the gym until i couldnt handle the level of humilliation at how much i now cannot do.

Im just looking for anyone who has any experience with the same issues, im despereate for my life back and to have full use of my hands again. Im hanging onto my job by the skin of my teeth.

My MRI is in 2 weeks. Sorry this is sooo long Zzzzz

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  • Posted

    your hand problem could only relate to your back pain if you are having upper back or neck problems. your bladder issues could only be related to your lower back. that is not to say that you can't have both upper back and neck problems and lower back problems at the same time.

    I recently had a carpal tunnel test done on both of my hands. My right hand which is my dominant hand did have carpal tunnel according to the test but my left hand did not. the hand surgeon I saw said he would do the carpal tunnel surgery on my left hand anyway because I was symptomatic. it may be that the test did not measure your nerve problems correctly. I think that according to at least my surgeon if you're having symptoms why not have it fixed just because you're symptomatic. It is such a simple procedure.

    on the subject of your bladder issues I think you should go see a urologist. Let's not jump to conclusions and assume it's from your lower back pain . You should go see a urologist at least to rule out bladder problem for other reasons.

    the next thing I'm going to say, and I'm going to try to be as nice as possible about this ... Your comment about being humiliated in the gym kind of rubbed me the wrong way. having been a person who had to struggle in the gym just to learn how to use the machines and go from a overweight person to a normal-weight person I am sure that people criticized me quietly while I was boldly pushing through. so I have to ask myself were you one of those kinds of people who found it humerus when someone at the gym didn't quite measure it?

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your input amkoffee, i am waiting for further nerve function tests into the neck as well as my neuro referral. Here in the UK unless we are private we cant choose what doctor we see, my GP who sent me for the pelvic scan said because they couldn't see an issue on that i wouldn't be referred to urology.

      With regards to your comments about the gym you have to realise that is personal to ME as a life long gym member who has thrived and trained hard and competed in lots of different types of races and competitions to be in an environment with people ive known for years to then start going down hill to the point i cant even do body weight exercises or lift anything, that has nothing to do with anyone else and absolutely nothing to do with how anyone treats or regards newcomers in the gym. Quite the opposite actually. Trust me, when you walk out the place you love silently crying because everyone is supporting you but its not helping your mental health you will know how deeply personal that is. And i'm sorry if you've ever been made to feel like you mentioned above but that just doesn't happen in a decent gym with people who train together and support each other.

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    • Posted

      I meant to add that the humiliation i felt ( and still do ) is mine and mine alone, i know for a fact no one is judging me esp people ive always trained with..they feel sorry for me and thats what i cannot handle.

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    • Posted

      I'm glad to hear that you don't think less of people that are struggling in the beginning of going to the gym. I can completely understand how you can lose yourself when you're suffering from chronic back pain. I had not made it a life-long thing to go to the gym everyday but I had in the last 2 years done a complete flip on my health and was enjoying going to the gym everyday and working out with a trainer and it was a big part of my life. When I injured my back while working out and was unable to recover from it I suffered a huge depression. So big I thought about committing suicide. not only that but I had a new career working for my own company that was running very successfully along with my husband. I had to give that up eventually as my pain got worse and worse. I do understand what it's like to lose everything. this is when you have to learn to build another life. and if you're like me you will not go out without screaming and kicking and ranting about it. but it's time for you now to figure out a new identity for yourself. and I'm not suggesting you not workout but you're going to have to modify your workouts.

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  • Posted

    Hi Laura,

    I think they will be looking at spinal stenosis in your case - I am jumping through similar hoops at the moment - I have problems in both my lower back and my neck - currently having physio which is giving awful shoulder and bone pain due to a trapped nerve. My initial issue was dead arms almost every night as well as crampy legs and bladder issues and a dodgy bowel as well as a sore lower back and tail bone! Feel like a creaky door! We have not started working on the lower back yet - and no mention of scans for me either - although I have interestingly found if I sleep on my back now ( which I have to now as my shoulders are too sore) I get 2 dead fingers on each hand waking me up! It's just an elimination game - but you are going in the right direction now. There's a lot they can do if they know what they are dealing with!

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    • Posted

      Yes i cant lie flat on my back i get cold almost numb areas all over my legs and feet ( same when i'm sitting esp if legs tucked under me or legs crossed ) and my right hand all way up through the shoulder goes totally dead.

      I just feel at this age how can a perfectly healthy person ( with back pain ) start having all these different health issues and they're all nothing to do with each other, thats a lot of problems.

      Funny you should mention the tail bone, i fractured mine last year so they initially looked at my neck thinking id hurt that at the same time. Have you ever directly hurt yours?

      And yes this elimination game is exhausting and im scared i'll be left with permanent damage by the time we get to the end of it.

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    • Posted

      Hi Laura,

      I fell down stairs from top to bottom twice a few years ago now - so I don't think that helped me !!! I have flat feet and sometimes 'miss' a stair - end up slipping down the stairs on my back - so not the best! I have a had a hysterectomy too - so it doesn't help! You are young to have these issues - but in all honestly I've had back problems a long time too - unfortunately having children doesn't do much to a womans back ligaments!

      1 question for you. Do you get dizzy spells with your neck problems? I get them about once a week or so - usually after looking down or bending down - makes me feel very light headed - I can feel my heart beating and feel faint - have to stop what I am doing and try to stay as calm as I can as it scares me quite a bit!

      Unfortunately if the nerves in your spine a getting rattled you get all kinds of weird symptoms!

      I hope your MRI gives you some answers!

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    • Posted

      Sounds like you have a lot going on too. youre only having physio right now? have you looked into traction? I have private physio every 2 weeks, have done since my second child and he is 15! Im also under head of nhs physio and she has been brilliant, she thinks all my back issues are typical of someone my height who has had 3 children.

      And yes i have terrible bouts of dizzyness but because im on amitriptyline and naproxen they put it down to that. i came off all medication a yr n half ago because it was so bad and my problems with my hands and shoulder totally snowballed. was really scary.

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    • Posted

      Hi Laura,

      Yes I just have physio at the moment - don't think I could do traction! The damp weather / frost seemed to have made my symptoms much worse. Lower back now more sore than my shoulders - was up half the night with hip pain! I have been doing all I was told to do. I tried amitriptyline - it does numb nerve pain - which is bad in the respect - how do you know it is getting worse?? I had to stop taking that within a couple of weeks though - I couldn't concentrate at work, I had awful stomach cramps and the nightmares were horrible - what's more I would wake up really stiff - but really groggy. For now I am back on a codeine / paracetamol combo for a few weeks (have a special birthday weekend coming up) and I tolerate this much better. Have to say with 2 days it was like the fog had lifted as I could sleep - but I am also aware when I can get away without pain relief and when I can't. I will be trying something new when I get back from my break though as I know GP's can't give you this long term nowadays. I have a physio appointment Monday so I'll see what happens next. Have you had your scan yet? Hope you get some answers!

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    • Posted

      Hey, how did you go with your physio app? are you under NHS ?

      My thoracolumbar scan is this thurs. I had to have a thyroid ultrasound last week because my cervical mri flagged up a lump, so im under all sorts of departments at the moment. its ridiculous.

      im trying to cut back in the Naproxen for a bit esp leading up to my scan so im having major flare ups and been taking double the dose of Amitriptyline but ill have to try go a few days without that too and i'm really dreading it. the pains i get without both is unbearable and thats the scary part when i feel how bad it can be. i cant be on all this medication the rest of my life ?!

      I don't know how you manage to take codeine regularly, it really messes with my stomach.

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    • Posted

      Hi Laura,

      Yes I am under an NHS physio - so everything takes time! I had my thyroid scanned a few months ago - my thyroid was OK - but I think the scanner noted a couple of bone spurs. Sometimes neck nerve pain can upset your thyroid. I had a lot of thyroid type symptoms at the time (and still do) - however I am just seeing how things unfold! I have my physio appointment tomorrow - quite pleased really as my hip has been sore all day - can't stand, can't sit or lie down without discomfort. I know it's back related!

      I feel so sorry that you are having to stop your pain relief before your scan - but you have to jump through the hoops to get where you need! I hope they will find something that can be fixed and you can get rid of your pain killers! Sometimes you have to take meds long term to stay mobile & relatively pain free!

      Funny how codeine make your stomach bad - and amitriptylin makes my stomach bad !! We're all different 😃

      Let me know how things go on Thursday - I will be away a couple of days - but I will try and catch up after that!

      Good luck!

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