PLEASE READ THOROUGHLY. I believe I have anecdotal information that can help all of you to one degree or another.
PLEASE respond!!! We NEED to discuss, exchange treatment experiences, successes and failures. There are others who suffer from this that I have found, but they are spread out.
SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO EVALUATE AND ADVOCATE FOR THEMSELVES. LET'S WORK TOGETHER TO FIND SOME RELIEF AND COMFORT FOR OURSELVES AND OTHERS.
I'm not a Doctor, just a patient, but I have spent a lot of time over 5+ years attempting to understand this condition.
There are many pain specialists, but VERY FEW MUSCLE PAIN SPECIALISTS. It is important to understand this factor in your treatment. MUSCLE PAIN, it's origins, how to treat, etc... is just NOT well understood by the medical community beyond the basic bruise, spasm or cramp. As i will strongly suggest below, you should also visit at least one neurologist or neurosurgeon - the YOUNGest, freshest, best educated you can find.
For me its been debilitating, but I have found ways to manage and get -some- relief I used to run regularly, but strenuous activity of any kind only exacerbates the issues.
Doctors are stumped to make any diagnosis - and I've seen some of the BEST Doctors in the country.
I too have the same EXACT condition: muscle tightness down entire right side with centers of pain in neck, shoulder, arm, wrist, hand, mid rib cage, hip, glutes, ankle and foot. Moderate to severe pain at virtually all times. Greatest relief I have is AFTER I sleep flat on my back. Pain re-emerges within minutes after waking beginning my day.
I have some meds, but I also stretch and apply heat and cold constantly just to get slight to moderate temp relief.
Medications: I'm on Tinazidine & take Aleve, Advil or Tylenol which makes somewhat of a dent. I have been on Flexiril & other old styles of muscle relaxers w/ varying degrees of relief. SOMA is definitely effective, but it metabolizes as a barbiturate and my understanding is that Doctors now try to avoid prescribing that in anyone under 60. Cannabis definitely helps alleviate stress and some pain, but not legal here and as such I avoid it. However if u r in one of the Medical Marijuana States I suggest you at least investigate it. I also have Klonopin, which I use sparingly because it makes me sleepy and groggy, but it is very effective at bed time at both alleviating some pain and getting me to sleep.
All that having been said I IMPLORE ALL OF YOU and anyone else that reads this to AVOID AND RESIST OPIATES & OPIOIDS AT ALL COSTS - especially if you are still young. Opiates will give temp relief BUT ultimately greatly exacerbates the condition because Opiates & Opioids cause extreme tightening of muscles. You will need to keep increasing dosages to maintain relief - it's a no win battle. Opiates and Opioids cause muscle tension in everybody, it is not an anecdotal side effect.
Also, I AVOID ALCOHOL. It causes inflammation and exacerbates the issue as well.
Generally, I AVOID ANYTHING THAT CONTRIBUTES TO INFLAMMATION. This includes anything made with processed WHITE SUGAR & 'enriched' BLEACHED FLOUR.
Personally, I became a vegetarian and eat raw & par-cooked foods. For me it has seemed to help to lesson the severity of the pain. When I say this I mean that I used to get regular migraines (at least once a month) from the extreme tightness and the stress it can cause.
Some further details. For me I have recently been inclined to conclude that this condition has been caused by extreme stress and trauma to my right side over a lengthy period of time. However, I have a further related mitigating factor - the removal of a non-cancerous thoracic schwannoma from the sympathetic nerve (yes this also caused pain and trauma, but my right side condition may also be the direct result of sympathetic nerve damage (parasympathetic nerve chain plays key role in your stress levels and governs fight or flight response).
Despite the additional injuries I will list below, I have felt pain and discomfort in my right shoulder and neck since I was in my early teens.
THUS as a precaution, I *suggest* that you seek out a neurologist, preferably a neurosurgeon, explain your symptoms and request an MRI be taken of your neck & chest.
It was a COMPLETE ACCIDENT that led us to discover the thoracic schwannoma!
Previously I had had a stress test which I passed with flying colors. Three different GP's though it was all in my head and never made a referral. The tumor had been missed on a chest X-Ray (for suspected lyme disease) from 8 years previous AND on a second X-Ray (where it was far more prominently displayed) from about 2 1/2 years earlier.
Once my MRI came back, my neurosurgeon pulled the XRays and bingo ... there it was. [Incidentally, the explanation given for missing it was that the XRay was for specific suspected illness/injury and because they weren't looking for or suspecting a tumor, it was missed. Seems like an inefficiency in the health care system to me]. I had also saw a physiatrist who was clueless about my complaint.
I am right handed. I have had two major incidents with injury/illness to my right side. I was athletic and played baseball. In fact, my pain was repeatedly dismissed as likely general wear and tear from having played baseball.
I have experienced various neurological phenomena
Right side injuries:
- severe Septic Knee (MRSA) that required two procedures to clean out, nearly led to amputation. This was 20 years ago and thank goodness I had found a Frank Jobe trained orthopedist.
- Broken Rib
- Thoracic Sympathetic Schwannoma - to remove this, my surgeons went in through my chest and needed to break my clavicle (which healed slightly off-center from the way nature had set it) and cut through my sternum to open my ribcage like a door on a hinge to get at my Thoracic region. If they had gone in through my back (which is the first option typically) they would have had to cut all my shoulder muscle away from my spine and I would have risked permanent damage.
(As a semi-related aside - any trauma to the sympathetic nerve chain can result in the relatively benign, though odd-looking Horner's Syndrome. It is an expected outcome of nerve damage or trauma - but in no way causes pain itself. I only mention it because if on the chance you do follow my advice and seek an MRI via neurologist and do in fact have a thoracic sympathetic schwannoma, then the likelihood of Horner's syndrome eventually developing either by inaction or surgical removal is there).
- I had a very severe case of Ehrlichia (tick borne disease at least as bad as and associated with Lyme Disease).
- car accident in which impact caused me to lunge forward striking my chin on rear view mirror. Yes I was wearing a seatbelt, but it an old car and apparently the seatbelts sucked. Other than a laceration however there wasn't any other significant injury.
I sincerely hope all of the folks I addressed at the top of this post read this and respond with your experiences and as many details as possible. I have long thought about starting a Message Board in hopes to chronicle the battle that myself and others have had with this somewhat mysterious condition.
My current belief is that the rightside chronic pain condition can and is caused by several injuries and quite possibly by certain diseases & illnesses.
I have studied and been enlightened by the Google Body Browser (I encourage you to pinpoint your pain, go to the GBB and attempt to pinpoint which muscles and or joints may be a trigger or focal point of the pain. Write these down and take to your doctor and ask for their feedback. It may help take you in a new direction of treatment.) PubMed, NIH and various other LEGITIMATE medical resources have been indispensable.
Having educated myself enormously over the last 5+ years last year I began to formulate my own 'theory' which I have since discussed with my pain specialist. He believes my 'theory' is as good as any ....
BASICALLY MY THEORY IS THIS: 'Right Side Pain Syndrome' (for lack of a better term) is caused by one or more initially unrelated (to chronic pain and muscle tightness) illness(es), disease(s) and injury(ies) which trigger an imbalance via even a slight to moderate atrophy of structurally vital muscles and/or injury related scar tissue that can, under the right conditions, alter the original configuration of your muscular-skeletal system, perhaps significantly. That triggered imbalance causes a chain reaction of stresses via overcompensation or under-compensation of other muscles (from head to toe) against your relatively static skeletal structure. These stresses in turn cause stronger muscles to pull against weaker muscles, which in turn pulls bones, joints and other muscles out of their natural positions; which in turn causes stress and inflammation of joints, cartilage and connective tissues which in turn impinges on nerves and various blood vessels. Which, I believe explains the head-to-toe nature of the chronic pain.
Furthermore, if all of that is true, then all of which can reasonably be suspected as significant contributors to and quite possibly directly cause elevated stress levels; which, in turn, can and does cause elevated blood pressure. Elevated stress levels ALSO can contribute to chronically insufficient oxygen in the blood - which not only exacerbates inflammation and the pain response, but left unchecked can cause additional stress and quite possibly heart damage.
And yes, I am positing that moderate to severe muscular-skeletal injuries can ultimately be an anecdotal if not chief contributor to heart disease.
I believe my theory on the nature of 'Right Side Pain Syndrome' means it is treatable with varying degrees of relief and comfort depending on the underlying triggers that are the genesis of your RSPS. In my case, likely permanent nerve damage may mean I'll never be completely pain free. But at least I can make some sense of what is happening inside me.
And YES - if not a patient who has been suffering and desperately seeking answers and solutions to my chronic pain - I would be otherwise completely unqualified to be making these assessments. However, I have studied and evaluated my condition to a degree that my Doctors have recommended that I consider entering the medical field. And if I weren't already middle aged and suffering from debilitating chronic pain, I'd probably do just that. I do understand scientific principle and have ALWAYS put great weight in Occum's Razor which posits given all the explanations for an explained problem or phenomena, almost always its the simplest explanation that is the correct explanation. I feel my 'theory' passes that litmus test in that it is quite reasonable to assume that a severe injury or illness may ultimately contribute to and/or directly cause imbalances and deficiencies that trigger other ailments, disorders and injuries.
There remains a great deal of things we do not yet understand in terms of how the human body works. Don't give up hope. Let's work together to try and understand this condition much better and let's try and FIND A TREATMENT THAT WORKS!!!!
Finally, I'll leave you with this warning disclaimer ....
DO NOT SIMPLY SELF-DIAGNOSE AND/OR SELF-MEDICATE.
By all means research, read and evaluate to better understand your symptoms and how to communicate them with your Doctor but LET YOUR DOCTOR MAKE THE DIAGNOSIS. Then together you can discuss a course of evaluation and treatment to follow. If treatment is not working sufficiently, don't get discouraged. Discuss it again with your Doctor and try something else. DON'T BE AFRAID TO REQUEST OTHER APPROPRIATE SPECIALISTS.
All my best and hopes of a pin free day. I sincerely hope to hear from ALL of you (especially the Medical professional who posted here).