What's your opinion on my shoulder impingement, neck pain, and bone spur?

by Arlene Y
(Rochester, NY)

I'm curious about your opinion on my shoulder impingement.

New Dr. points out something to me on my mri...calls it a bonespur and says he is convinced that THIS is what is causing me all my pain(I was in severe pain for 2 weeks that radiated to the neck and back).

Now he wants to schedule me for surgery and all...but FIRST, cause of neck pain associated with this now, he is sending me to spine/neck dr.

This gets more and more complicated.

I did attend physical therapy for awhile, but it barely addressed the pain area.

Massage and ultra-sound did more than their exercises.

And I always wondered....if certain movements cause pain and inflammation because of the impingement, weren't we just setting me up for more pain and inflammation in doing exercises?

Help...I certainly DONT want surgery, shots or pills.

I want to stop hurting that's all.


Joshua Answers:

Hi Arlene.

Sounds like you're having an adventure of sorts......

So let's see. I'll ask you some questions in a moment, but let me comment on a couple things.

Bone spur included, whether you have actual Tendonitis or not, it's safe to say that you have a Tendonitis Dynamic, which is a progression of muscles getting tighter, connective tissue shrinkwrapping, and pain mechanism (including inflammation), increasing.

Too much pull/pressure/tension, and bone spurs can develop. Removing the bone spur may or may not reduce pain, because the dynamic is still in place.

1. Pain and such could be due to the bone spur. And, bone spurs don't just show up for no reason. So, something caused the bone spur.

Maybe it's a good idea to remove it. But lots of people have bone spurs and no pain. And even if it does get removed, the original problem/cause of your neck and shoulder pain will still be there.

Also, if the bone spur was -the- problem, then wouldn't you -still- have severe pain like you did those two weeks?

Also, my first thought is that you're having a lot of pain in a big area, and I'd want the doctor to explain to me/you -exactly- how that is causing it.

Doctors tend to look for -the- isolated cause of pain. But that's not how the body works. There's always multiple factors at play.

2. There is a RIGHT tool for every job. It sounds like Physical Therapy isn't the right tool for your particular job.

And granted, I'm biased towards skilled massage therapy, and I see pain and injury partly as a function of tight, overworked muscles. Working them more rarely helps, in my experience, until other factors are resolved.

Ironically enough, sometimes exercising a muscle is -exactly- what it needs to make it feel and work better.
Doesn't sound like that's the situation in your case.

Was the PT setting you up for more pain and inflammation? In this particual case, it looks like the answer is 'yes'.

3. I get what you're saying about just wanting the pain to stop. Pain sucks.

I work under the premise that most anything can be made better, if you figure out the dynamic that is causing the pain and problem, and then reversing that dynamic.

It will take some work and diligence on your part. There is no magic pill.

And maybe we can't get you back to 100%. But I have no doubts that we can get you to 80% plus better and show you how to stay there with minimal effort.

I'm happy to help you out to the extent that you are willing to be motivated to reverse the physical dynamic that got you where you're now at.

4. I'm guessing that you've experienced the usual procedure from the world of doctors, which is rest, pills, maybe corticosteroid shots, prescription for PT, and a push towards surgery.

Good news/bad news, it's all they have in their tool box, and the results you have experienced are unsurprising.

5. Also, as you are looking for an opinion about 'shoulder impingement', I'll have questions about that.

Did you see the Shoulder Impingement page?

So. Questions.

A. Do you have a history of whiplash injury?

B. Why do you think you have a shoulder impingement? Please explain, and describe your symptoms, including, can you lift your arm over your head, is that limited, what other range of motion do you have with your arm?

C. Please describe all your pain and symptoms in detail, including what makes it worse or better, and including how long it's been, did it start out as an ache and progress, or just suddenly appear.

D. Did you do anything in particular that started this?

E. Your age and general activity level, including what are the specific activities you have done regularly with your body over the past decade.

F. What else has the doctor said?

G. What else have you tried, other than PT?

H. Big bone spur, little bone spur?

I. Anything else that may or may not be relevant that would be good information for me.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Comments for What's your opinion on my shoulder impingement, neck pain, and bone spur?

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Sep 28, 2010
What's your opinion on my shoulder impingement, neck pain, and bone spur?
by: Anonymous

In your last statement you asked this person if they had a previous Whiplash injury.
I was rear-ended back in June of 2010. I was told had a process fracture C-7 and a severe case of whiplash. I then found out that the process fracture was old but was still sent to PT.

I started getting pain in my jaw and pain on my rt shoulder. i was told by the PT that that was normal in some cases of whiplash. i was sent to my dentist and was told I had TMJ I then went to an Ortho for my shoulder and was told that I had shoulder impingement tendenitis with 2 bone spurs.

Can all of this happen from whiplash? I am in pain and need to know what to do next. They said more PT...Yes or No? what do you suggest.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymous.

Yes, whiplash can and does ABSOLUTELY cause all that, in both a short term and long term situation.

Should you do PT? Sure. Do a couple sessions and see if it helps. If it doesn't help and/or they don't seem to know what they're doing, then try someone else or some other therapy option.

Granted I'm biased, but I suggest that you get my Reversing Whiplash ebook.

You'll learn about what's happening, and how you can fix yourself. You can't get rid of your bone spurs, but you may or may not find that you can create an ecology where they don't cause you pain, and you'll definitely reverse the environment that is CAUSING the growth of the bone spurs. (Never mind, I just reread and you didn't say you had spurs, but I'll leave this here since somebody that reads this might.)

And, you need a plan, not just a tip/idea or two.

The good news is, it's reversible. The good news is, you can get yourself out of pain and keep yourself out of pain AT HOME without large expense.

The bad news is, it'll take some time and some effort. But it's a lifelong skill you can use.

Oct 06, 2010
Got the same problem as Arlene
by: Anonymous

Josh I have the exact same situation as Arlene. Doctor can only see a bone spur and some arthritis as anything abnormal on an MRI. I'm 41 years old and a little over a year ago i started religiously lifting weights 3x a week which I'm convinced is what caused the bone spur to form on both shoulders (right one worse than the left). With that said I feel I should have the doctor shave it down knowing I can pretty much trace the problem to that activity (which I've since stopped and will not do again!). I've tried PT for a month and its not gotten any better. What are your thoughts? Thanks..


Joshua Comments:

Hi Anonymous.

Well, my only complaint about getting those spurs shaved off is that A. it might not fix anything and B. they might not be the source of the pain.

In other words, those spurs grow because everything in the area has been TOO TIGHT for TOO LONG, and the body responds.

So it very well may work out great to get the doc in there to shave them down. I'm not saying it won't.

Any REALLY good massage therapists around you? If nothing else, if you can soften up your muscles and connective tissue, you may be able to get out of pain without surgery. And if you DO get surgery, your body will respond and recover FAR better if you're soft instead of if you're TIGHT (which it's safe to bet that you are).

1. Ask your doctor how long it would have taken those bone spur's to grow.

2. Not getting any benefit from some PT doesn't necessarily mean anything.....

3. Get your Vitamin D up to between 50-80, and definitely learn about Magnesium for Tendonitis.

Apr 18, 2012
Impingement vs tear plus cyst
by: Anonymous

My MRI report shows labral tear, tendonitis, bursitis and cyst. The Dr. however states he is not certain I have a tear that they over read the MRI and thinks I have an impingement. I do think I have an impingement due to nerves jumping in thumb and forefinger. He gave me a cortisone shot which has now caused muscle spasms on the back of the shoulder and up the back of the neck. I also have jaw pain and my hearing become muffled at times.

I have had two cervical spine surgeries previously with fusion of 4 cervical disc (c4-7) there is no issue noted in the MRI regarding the spine but if they over read the shoulder MRI they may have misread the cervical MRI and my spine Dr. has not yet seen the film on disc.

Most my pain is in the front inner side of the shoulder and into the arm and hurt worse at night. Cortisone shot was given one week ago in the AC joint however with little relief.

The Dr. wants to do athroscopy and scrape the bone to remmove the impingement and see if there is a tear. I do not want any more surgery :-(


Joshua Comments:

Your doctor can't even tell if you have a tear or not?? Hmmmm.

Your doctor wanting to 'remove the impingement' with surgery pisses me off to no end!

Surgery won't remove the impingement. The impingement will remain, but the surgeon will remove YOUR tissue that is getting compressed.

See: Shoulder Impingement

It's like you stepping on a hose, and a hose doctor wanting to cut the hose away so there will be better flow of water. SHOULDN'T YOUR DOCTOR BE WORRIED ABOUT THE FOOT???

Impingement happens for a set of reasons. A very obvious and predictable set of reasons/factors. It's not rocket science. Any why your doctor wants to remove perfectly good tissue from your body is beyond me.

Oh, I take it back, the answer is obvious....he's a surgeon. That's what surgeons do.

What does 'nerves jumping' mean? If you just mean twitches etc, then combine that with jaw pain (clenching) and muffled hearing and I suggest that you would be WELL served by getting a bunch of Magnesium into your system.

Why? Because some of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency are: muscle tightness, muscle spasm, muscle twitch, chronically tight muscle, hearing/inner ear issues, etc, etc, etc.

See: Magnesium for Tendonitis

Apr 18, 2012
Thank you
by: Anonymous

I will try more magnesium. I already take a low dose but not enough.

It is all a guess and gamble and $$$$ which I learned the hard way having spine surgery. I was advised before it the Dr. did not operate I would be paralyzed if I got hit with a car. Well what will it be if I get hit with all this hardware in my neck? Then the surgery failed and I had to have a 2nd one. Not their fault I have DDD but I think the first Dr. I had was about money the second Dr. is not and relieves heavily on PT.


Joshua Comments:

Yeah...not all health professionals (in every category) are created equal....

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