Undiagnosed Wrist/forearm/shoulder/neck pain at 23 years old?

Hello,

I am struggling for answers and guidance with NHS healthcare.

If anyone has any advice or experience they could share, i would be truly grateful.

When i was 20, my middle left hand finger, became numb.

It felt like i had my finger in cold water constantly and my wrist had an aching pain.

The numbness lasted 2 months and then i went to see my doctor, he transferred me through to

an orthopaedic specialist. The specialist mentioned that i could have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, i had 2 injections of cortisone and that did help.

The pain in my wrist came back and i was sent for a EMG nerve test, the results were negative and the specialist advised that he was not sure what was wrong with me.

At that point, 2 years passed, with endless appointments of the doctor telling me nothing was wrong.

2014 my arm pain became worse, I had constant cramp feelings, my elbow would tingle and general dull achey pain that would come and go. I advised the specialist that the pain has moved further up my arm,

At the end of 2014 I had another EMG test, which again came back negative.

The specialist advised what i was experiencing was repetitive strain, which i can assure you is not true. I first thought the pain came from playing guitar, therefore i have stopped all together. I do not drive or do anything repetitively.

The specialist told me the pain would go away in a couple of years, when he told me that, I broke down in his office and told him that i have no belief time would work, the pain has increased in three years and is working it's face closer to my jaw.

He advised me i have to go back to my GP and arrange a blood test for rheumatoid arthritis.

And i am stuck now, i have no hope in a rheumatoid arthritis test.

The problem is i have no finances to afford private treatment and the pain is constant now. I have no choice but to go for blood tests and await the results.

*I no longer play guitar (this was my dream career years ago, playing hurts to much and my hand locks together)

*i've dropped plates and electronic items with no warning

*my aching has traveled from my wrist to my neck

*i have to keep my arm straight whilst i sleep, otherwise i wake up in pain

*i have no confidence to carry anything with my left hand

*the pain is constant, which moments of sharp pain, that seem to lessen if i shake my arm.

I'm stuck for what to do next, really i have no hope in my NHS health care.

14 Replies

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  • I had similar pains 40 years ago after x rays i was diagnosed with 2 prolapsed discs in my upper neck the surgeon said it was operable but very dangerous and did not recommend it and told me to lie down flat in my bed for 6 weeks and prescribed Brufen 800 tablets after this period i returned to work with no pain but with little finger and ring finger R hand numb and is still the same. Now that I am 80 years old. the neck pains have come back and I have suffered them for 2 years now and still getting nowhere the only pain killers that work were prednisolone which the doc doesn't like giving me because they they cause bone deterioration and pregablin 100 they worked fine but he side effects are shocking i.e complete disorientation (not recognizing my own home and finding myself in the garden at 03.00 am) they went in the bin Morphine worked for a time but needed ever increasing doses to which my Doc said no and as I take warfarin for a irregular heart beat other pain killers are not allowed. I had a appoint ment with the pain management clinic last Friday but the specialist didnt turn up due to snow so the nurse said which has left me thoroughly P***** off and the only relief is physiotherapy which helps a bit but is no cure.

    I know my experience is not comforting to now but keep pressing the doc for a neck and spine scan and maybe surgery will have inmproved over 40 years and is applicable at your age

    all the best Ted

  • Can't believe no one has checked your neck! It could be compression caused by a narrow opening for the nerve, a disc prolapse or other inflammation. What about a vascular problem?

    I too have difficulties with nerve pain in my hand but I know why. If does not make it easier to bear but at least I know why!

    Could have been a congenital problem, trauma related maybe? Or just down to poor posture maybe?

    Hope you find an answer soon

  • I have very similar problems but know that mine are due to spine and arthritis problems in neck. I coped with the symptoms of RSI for years before finding out the cause and wouldn't want someone your age to have to endure. At least get some neck xrays and even then they may not be diagnostic, but you can take a copy to an osteopath ...sorry, private meds ....but manipulation may/ will help.

    On a wry note, nobody in the supermarket expected this granny lady to shriek out a very vulgar expletive when I accidently hit the nerve bundle in wrist on trolley ;-) good luck with gp

  • May be the finger numbness is just because of the cold weather, In fact don't take it normal and just consult your physician. orthopedicsurgerysandiego.com/

  • I can imagine that holding the guitar neck with the left hand (?) can result in carpal tunnel syndrome and that a wrist injection can help.

    It's possible that later you have developed "thoracic outlet syndrome" due to compression of the nerves that travel from the neck near the clavicle and first rib and armpit into the arm. The problem can result from a combination of an anatomical anomaly and overuse of an arm. Playing a guitar is considered overuse of an arm...Treatment often involves surgery but first you need to get a diagnosis from a neurologist or orthopedist. Before that problems with the neck spine (bulging disc, arthritis) would need to be excluded (X-ray or MRI).

    What you can do alone is to write down a complete list of symptoms (exact sites with pain or tingling), triggers and relievers and how they changed with time.

  • Your story is somewhat familiar to me. I have just turned 23 and have been dealing with chronic pain for three years. Six years ago I started to experience numbness and tingling in my right hand and lower arm. I shrugged it off as bad posture or temporary injury at first, but it persisted and slowly spread up my arm. I told my parents about it and interestingly, they announced that I had had an x-ray when I was an infant to investigate my arm going blue when I fell asleep. It was found that I had a thoracic band/rib at the top of my spine on the right side that was restricting the nerve and blood supply to my arm. I set out on a path of GPs, specialists, etc, as symptoms developed. Long story short, during the next three years I underwent loads of tests including bloods, ultrasound (armpit, neck and arm), MRI, x-ray, Nerve Conduction Study, and I had two surgical procedures (the second to remove the rib entirely aiming to reduce restriction).

    Neither was successful in the long run and after the second, I was referred to the aptly named 'pain clinic', where I was told that the symptoms should improve and even cease within three years. Nearly exactly three years later, there has certainly not been any improvement, only development.

    Anyway, even though no progress has yet been made, the tests did indicate thoracic outlet syndrome in my case, so they were able to do something at least. I realise this may be of little comfort seeing as my story hasn't yet reached a satisfactory conclusion, but it does help to have at least some idea of what might be or have been going on.

    All the best.

  • Hi I recognize some of the symptoms and I suggest you may have had a problem with your neck that you may not have noticed because I have the same thing and it get's worse and worse and you can't say what symptom is the worst, because if you rest it may ease, my carpal tunnel is worse when I use my fingers typing, playing guitar, please get an MRI , and check it out, don't let them fob you off, believe me because I recognize some of your symptoms, best Alex

  • I also have TOS with reverse curve in neck finding chiropractic & physical therapy most helpful wishing the best...

  • Hi DixieAron, I went to physio and sadly it was not for me but will try again if need be, as pain in the neck (sorry no pun intended) if I tweek a nerve, (same one I think) then I have to go and lye down and it's so hard to find movement that does not set it off but am open to any help.

    danibean...any better advice.... I KNOW it can be so frustrating but give them time,best ALEX

  • I'm similar, although my problems started as a kid. I've had lots of similar tests such as EMG, rheumatoid etc plus MRI. Unfortunately, private companies won't cover pre-existing conditions either. I have had a diagnosis of 'chronic pain' for the last 8 years, which just seems so 'wooly', and it's really hard to explain to people who don't experience it!

    Have you tried a chiropractor? Although expensive, they can be beneficial - mine does acupuncture too, which I find useful for releasing pressure pain. Im on duloxetine, pregabalin and codeine for the pain, but currently withdrawing from pregab after 6 years because it has stopped having any impact.

    I hope you get a diagnosis and find something that works for you.

    Louise xx

  • avoid meds if possible... Please...also lacking sugar helps a lot with severe nerve pain try to keep it under 6grams a day Good Luck!Elavil works best for me but have to take tops max once they do find root problem maybe try magnesium Epsom salt warm water soaks full baths are fine is easier for crampsAhhh all depends what the problem is... Almost sounds like CRPS RSD hope & pray not!nerve pain Yes usually caused by scoli or neck issues simple x/ray can tell if that's the case chiropractic is safer than surgery for alignment then the right kind of physical therapy may help

  • it sounds to me like you have two related problems. I am willing tobet you have stenosis in your neck vertebrae and a rotator cuff probel, possibely a tear or arthritis or tendonitis. I had very siimar symptoms and enedupwith athroscopy and a neck disc replacement. The doctors do not do vey much because of your youth as disc replacements to not last long enough. If you acnfind th money I recommend going to see a Dr Franck in Munich. he sorted me out when nio British doctor could.

  • My suggestion is to check with a vascular specialist. I worked with a vascular surgeon for a while and the symptoms you're describing sound like circulation problems. At least get a consultation. Show them the tests and records form all the stuff you've tried so far and if they can't help, they should be able to point you in the right direction. Even if it feels like it's hopeless, you can still show what's already been tried and tested so that you don't always have to start back at square one every single time you try a new direction.

    I've found that gently compressing a painful area like that helps or at least keeps it from getting worse. My reasons for compressing my hands are different than yours though. They don't need to be tight, just comfy, maybe even snug. If it causes more pain to do that, then don't do it anymore. I've come to learn that what's comfy for the right hand may not be comfy for the left, so be sure to experiment with it before giving up, you may get it too tight or too loose the first few times, but give it a few tries first.

  • sorry to hear all you have been through, certainly feel your pain going on 4 years and 2 years of extreme pain with very little answers. Good Luck

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