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Pain Management

Back Pain and Rib Pain

12/27/2007

Question:

I have a history of a bulging disc in my lower back at L4/L5. However, now I am experiencing upper back pain for one month. It started right on my spine - tender areas that throbbed. They were in the middle of my back and then occasionally on a spot of my spine on my neck. Now I am having a lot of pain on my shoulder blades and on the spinal area in between - both sides, not just one. Sometimes I get some pain down my arms but no numbness or tingling. I have no limited range of motion and to touch, my entire back is sore and stiff as well as my arm muscles. I especially am sore and have throbbing sensations on my ribs that is both in the back at the bottom of the ribs and radiates to the front. I went to a doctor and they said it was muscular in nature. But it seems to just be getting worse and with my history I`m a little worried. Could this be a disc related problem? Does it sound muscular to you as well? I have tried heat/ice/massage/stretching/even weight lifting (made it worse).

Answer:

It may be a herniated thoracic (chest) or low cervical (neck) spine disc given the radiation of the pain to the arm and along the ribs. An MRI of the cervical and thoracic spine would be recommended to evaluate the cause of the pain.

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Response by:

Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University