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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index


I am 29 and Female. I have been under a great deal of stress lately. I have been having some minor health problems that cause my mind to go to that dark place. I am having very irregular periods and GERD/Gallbladder issues. Also, I am planning a wedding and my mother was just diagnosed with Lung cancer about 2 weeks ago.

My upper back across the "meaty" part of my shoulders has been so tight and painful. If my fiance rubs them, he finds all kinds of trigger points that are so painful to the touch I can't breathe. In the middle of my upper back I feel a sharp pain sometimes. My neck muscles are tight as well as the tops of my arms down to my elbows. On occasion my fingers tingle.

As of the past 2 days I feel a pressure on my chest right below my collar bone. If I yawn I can feel my throat muscles get sore. The very top of my sternum is tender to the touch. It almost feels bruised.

I did a little bit of research and it seems that all of these problems are connected. The scalene muscle group can cause all of these problems. I am going to see a massage therapist on thursday. Hopefully I get some relief.

Another bit of info, I have a desk job. I am at a computer for 10 hours a day. I work 60 + hours a week. I had a chest CT scan with contrast in July and it came back clear. ( unrelated incident ) So I believe I can rule out anything major. The scan is only 3 months old.

My question is; has anyone else experienced this? If so, what did you do to ease your symptoms? I have tried muscle rub so far. Doesn't help much...I am going to ice the areas today and see if that helps. Thanks for any suggestions.
Welcome to the board. Lots of people who suffer from back pain are sometimes told "it is all in your head." If people do not have a basic understanding of the central nervous system, they tend to become irate with the doctor. Unfortunately doctors can no longer take the time to explain what they mean by that, so there's on continues on in pain and is now angry with the doctor as well. I feel a bit like that when I tell you it sounds like your issues are most likely coming from stress and poor body mechanics. You have pretty well diagnosed yourself in the post you wrote to introduce yourself.

To address the body mechanics, you will want to change what you can about your work situation. None of us should sit longer than about 45-60 minutes at one time. Get up, walk a little bit, shrug your shoulders, etc. just to let your spine rearrange itself, however briefly.
Also be sure that you follow the same rules at home...and when traveling, as much as you can.

Examine your work area to see if it is as ergonomic ally set up as you can make it. There are people who specialize in this and there are some excellent web sites that explain the principals to help you. Invest in a good chair that fits you, if you haven't done so already.

You might want to go to a physical therapist for a couple sessions to learn exercises that will help with the pain, or again, online if you hunt around you can find exercises from reputable organizations and clinics that will show you what exercises help with shoulder pain from tension, etc. look at several websites and see which movements are shown repeatedly. It is safe to assume these are basics.

You can try heat or ice packs over the upper spine.

Many people who sit at a desk all day develop posture where the shoulders are rounded forward and the head is carried to far forward. I would recommend the following to anyone who needs to help with spinal alignment....lie flat on the floor on your back, knees bent with feet flat on the floor. Place arms by your sides, with palms facing up toward the ceiling. You may put a small rolled up towel under your neck...and be sure your pelvis is in a neutral position. Now breathe deeply and slowly from the belly and relax.

Since you are stressed, use this time to relax and just let your mind wander. All you have to do once you are in the proper position is to lie there and breathe deeply!

This position allows the spine to realign, for the discs to unload and for any muscles that have been "guarding" to relax. This helps to prevent or lessen muscle cramps or spasms.

I do this exercise at least once per day and more often when my spine has been stressed. There are bio chemical changes that occur within the nervous system when the exercise is performed, but it is too complicated for me to explain clearly. Suffice to should help but may take a week or two for you to notice results.
I've had very similar issues for a number of years on and off. Mostly the Drs attribute everything to GERD and stress which together can cause symptoms like you describe. I'm not too sure now that I've seen the extent to which my cervical spine has degenerated and how that can affect the various muscle groups around the chest and back. Massage has also been very effective for me as has PT. A few sessions with a PT can help with posture, workspace setup and also give tools to help stretch tight muscles.

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