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Back/shoulder blade pain
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Nov 15, 2013, 12:34 PM
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Registered: Nov 15, 2013
Posts: 2

Back/shoulder blade pain
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Hey climbers,

I'm coming to you for any advice / experience you might have regarding my back problem. It's been ongoing for more than a year now, and although I have been through a primary practitioner and roughly three months of PT there is no end in sight. Still, at this point, no one even has a clue what the actual injury is. All of the doctors I met were completely stumped by my symptoms, but I'm hoping because my injury was climbing-induced someone here might know something useful.

OK here's how it happened, and the original symptoms. I had been developing a small amount of pain in my left mid-back lat area for a while, but it was nothing major and didn't seem to get worse while climbing, swimming or doing other exercises and didn't improve after nearly an unrelated month-long break from climbing. If it's not getting worse or better, I thought, why change what I'm doing? After a trip to Smith, all of that changed. I woke up in the middle of the night after a day of sending unable to sit up in bed, or even lift my head off of the pillow without incredibly intense pain in the area between my left shoulder blade and spine. I was able to leave the bed in the morning with the help of my partner, and after three or four days was able to do this pain free by myself. Still, at this point, turning my head more than ~10-15 degrees to either side was pretty painful.

I saw my GP as soon as possible (1 week of waiting) and was immediately referred to a PT, and to my surprise, without any imaging. After waiting nearly three months for an availability at the PT office the pain had decreased to the point of it not getting in the way of daily activities, but I was still careful to not to look too far over my shoulder while cycling, and was not sleeping on my left side due to the pain. The PT wasn't sure what to do, it seemed, and after two months settled on a tentative diagnosis of a rotator cuff injury/stability problem, although that didn't make a lot of sense to me given the pain during neck rotation. I was given several rubber band exercises which I was able to progress in somewhat, but always seemed to cause some pain the next day which I would describe as a mild burning sensation in the shoulder blade area. After three months of this semi-ineffectual PT my employment changed and with it went my insurance and PT. Since that point, I've been sticking with the rubber band exercises in the hope that it is actually doing something, but little has changed in the months since then.

I will have insurance again starting early next year, but this is driving my crazy and I'm worried that A) the injury has become chronic after being un or mistreated for so long, and at this point has started causing other problems in the back/shoulder area due to restricted ROM etc, and B) If this continues along the present trajectory, it's unlikely I'll climb again.

Do my symptoms sound like anything you've heard of/experienced? The shortest description of them would be restricted neck movement, both rotation and forward tilting, that manifest as acute pain near the shoulder blade , and an ever-present burning sensation in the shoulder blade area. There are probably multiple things going on here, but I do not have a lot of confidence that the PT's diagnosis of a rotator cuff injury is very accurate.

I've been through multiple other injuries and always bounced back to climbing after absences of up to a year or two of rehab, and I'm willing to put in the time to recover properly, but this one doesn't seem to be going anywhere.


Nov 15, 2013, 2:27 PM
Post #2 of 2 (2070 views)

Registered: Aug 3, 2007
Posts: 2493

Re: [DJS] Back/shoulder blade pain [In reply to]
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Having never taken a look at you, and not really being a betting man, I think it sounds like a herniated cervical disk.

If I was you, I would look for a McKenzie-trained PT.

Best of luck. Please stay in touch with results.

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