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Forum Name: Spinal problems and back pain

Question: Severe pain in the right arm and neck


 erehman - Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:24 am

My daughter, age 14, is sufferening from pain in her right arm, hand up upto the fingers for the last three weeks. She is feeling neckpain too. The pain in the arm moves its position, sometimes towards shoulder and sometimes near hand and sometimes in the whole arm. Sometimes she feels pulsating pain in fingers too. Consulted child specialist, general physician and neuro surgeon, all say nothing wrong. X-rays of c-spine show no indication of any problem with neck discs/joints. Her neck muscle feel hard, and when she moves her head towards right or left she feels pain in the neck. She used to sleep on a small sofa in a very auckward manner, she watches a lot of TV, and use computer for movie watching. Please suggest what to do so that she is relieved of this pain. All the doctors just gave pain killer liquids, and medicines containg vitamins or which are given to remove weakness. Her blood cp report is also ok. She has been absent from her school for the last one and half week due to this pain. She weeps due to pain in her right arm specially in the evening, she can't sleep upto late night due to this sever pain. She wakes up in the morning disturbed from this pain. Please help how can she get well. I being her father, seeing her in this condition, am very very tense.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Oct 31, 2008 10:00 pm

User avatar Hello -

In some people, especially the young, there can sometimes be muscle spasm in the neck, pressing on nerves which serve the arm and hand on the affected side. This can result from improper posture, a sudden awkward movement of the head, or even from cool air blowing on the neck at times. None of this would show up on x-ray unless there is inability to carry the head in the correct position, nor if there is no bulging disc in the cervical spine. In young patients it often is simply a spasm which "locks up." Sometimes inadequate electrolytes, especially potassium, can lend to this sort of spasticity.

It sounds, in the case of your daughter, as though a nerve serving the arm has been compressed (due to muscle spasm most likely). If the problem doesn't respond to pain medication, icing, or muscle relaxants, then a neurologist my have to be consulted and perhaps even a nerve conduction study done (an annoying but non-invasive test taking about a half-hour, to see if a nerve is impinged).

Hopefully things will resolve on their own before it gets to that point, but in any case I hope this is helpful to you. Please follow up with us as needed.
 erehman - Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:29 pm

Dear Dr. Thanks a lot for your concernt in my case and in my daughter. I just wanted to let you know the happenings which I observed over the past few days. I would request you to suggest what to do as I don't believe here the doctors in Pakistan are paying any attention to this proble.
My daughter use to perform the following excercises about 7 times a day with each session comprizing of 15 minutes.

1.She moved both her arms around her shoulder, clockwise and anti-clockwise, while standing on her foot finger side (She kept her toe above the ground)
2.While letting her both hands in free position (normal hanging arms), she moved her shoulders, both clockwise and anti-clockwise, while standing on her foot finger side (She kept her toe above the ground)
3.She fixed the fingers of both hands behind neck firmly and let her face and head move to extreme right and extreme left, while standing on her foot finger side (She kept her toe above the ground)
4.While sitting on the bed, she moved her head all around her neck, both clock wise and anti-clockwise.

The pain her right arm which used to be very severe, she always began to weep due to it, became bearable. After each excercise session she felt severe pain in the arm which remained for some time. But for the remaining time, mild bearable remained permanent.

Then I bought her a neck collar and told her to wear it all the time except when she performs excercise. Mild pain remained in her arm, and the pain gone a bit severe after each excercise session but it was not that severe that she could weep.

Then for the last couple of days, I told her to quit excercise and put on the collar all the time and see what happens. She still feels mild pain which sometimes boosts a bit but not much. But still she is uncomfortable to use right hand for writing and doing physical phytigue. The pain increases whenever she uses right hand. Otherwise the arm, hands, fingers are all ok, work well, sense well, just the pain.

Please let me know what to do? Should I take her to another neuro surgeon or what you suggest about excercise and neck collar. Would you suggest any other excercise?

I'll be grateful if you spare you precious time. You valuable suggestion means a lot to me and is the basis of my confidence and satisfaction that my daughter will get well soon by the Grace of God.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:24 pm

User avatar Hello again -

It sounds as though the exercises you've taught your daughter have caused some improvement in the muscle spasm of the neck. The cervical collar can sometimes also be a good idea, depending on the underlying cause of the problem, and also can certainly help prevent aggravation of the muscle spasm during daily activities.

You might want to have your daughter be seen by a neurologist or orthopedist if the problem continues, unless it is still improving. She may benefit from one of the more mild muscle relaxants, especially at bedtime, since these can sometimes make the patient drowsy. If the problem seems to become chronic, a neurologist could perform a nerve conduction test to try and pinpoint the area of trouble and this might help with forming a treatment plan, but it sounds as though you've done a good job of helping the muscle spasm loosen up on your own.

If there are further problems or questions, please feel free to follow up with us here further. Best of luck to you both.

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