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Terrible pain in left shoulder radiating to right shoulder and bottom of ribcage.

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I am having terrible pain in my left shoulder the pain goes over to my right shoulder blade, down to the bottom of my ribcage, the pain is sharp that runs down my left arm to the elbow and then ie seems to be numb to the tips of my fingers. Do I need to go to er


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Category: Family Physician-GP
Dr. John Monheit is online now

Expert:  Dr. John Monheit replied 4 Days.

Hello, Thank you for asking your query at DoctorSpring.

From your symptoms of pain over left shoulder blade radiating diffusely to rt shoulder blade , sharply to left arm and numbness in tips of finger is pointing out to one diagnosis, Thoracic outlet Syndrome.

Thoracic outlet syndrome is where the nerves or blood vessels that pass through the space between the collarbone and the first rib are compressed.

A number of diagnostic tests are performed to confirm the diagnosis, 3 minute elevation test, adisons test , costoclavicuar test, hyperabduction test etc. These tests has to be performed by an Orthopaedician.

For rite now you can go for Conservative treatment like :

  1. Pain control: you can take Ibuprofen.
  2. Its very important you maintain a proper posture, in such a way that your body weight should be taken by both your legs and your back should maintain normal posture. Bring your shoulders backwards and your head would glide back automatically when shoulders are in rite position.
  3. See to that your feet are always touching the floor, especially when you are sitting and there is proper rest for your back.
  4. You can do some exercise like, neck exercise: side bends, backforth bending and rotation of neck; shoulder exrcises: rotation , shrugs and side swings.

If none of these help, then I suggest you visit a orthopedician, who will suggest surgeries such as, cervical rib resection or first rib resection or clavicle resection etc. these surgeries will help release the compressed nerve.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to ask follow-up questions


Dr. John Monheit
Category: Family Physician-GP
Experience: 
Residecny: North Colorado Family Medicine
Medical School: The Chicago Medical Center
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