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  1. #1
    I am become meat Horseradish's Avatar
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    How I beat scapular winging / LTN damage

    When I was really young I had a searing pain between my shoulder blades that was so bad I couldn't sleep, and it caused my scapula to wing. The pain was a burning ache. The doctors thought that the winging was caused by weak muscles, so they had me doing PT to try to strengthen the muscle. This (unsuccessfully) treated the symptoms, not the problem.

    When I was in high school, I was farming during the summer and got the searing pain again. I didn't make the connection between the first incident and this one. The doctor thought it was a strained/torn muscle and I was prescribed ibuprofen. When the pain finally went away after a few months, I had itchy/tingly/numb skin on the right side of my upper back. It was clear that this was nerve damage, but we thought it was a result of the muscle injury.

    Anyway, the nerve damage remained for years. Sometimes it would itch really badly, and sometimes ache. Then one night I woke up with searing pain between my shoulder blades and had the scapular winging again. The pain was so bad this time I couldn't sleep more than a few hours at a time. Just laying in bed was incredibly painful. I had severe neck pain as well. Went to a sports physician and neurologist, and confirmed that it was long thoracic nerve (LTN) damage. At last, we determined that nerve damage was the culprit! They suggested physical therapy, but I declined, as I had been through it before and it did nothing.

    I had a hunch, and wanted to try something different. I went to a chiropractor. Most of the pain disappeared within 5 minutes of the first adjustment. I continued to go to the chiropractor for a few weeks, and started doing exercises to strengthen my neck and upper back and constantly worked on maintaining good posture. I was still suffering when I would lay down to go to sleep, though, because the neck pain was still unbearable whenever I would lay down. So I got a Tempur-Pedic neck pillow, and had the first pain-free (and continuous) night's sleep in a long time. That pillow made such a huge difference.

    It is now about four years later, and my back is great. The nerve damage has healed completely, no strange sensations coming from the skin on the right side, and no neck pain. Best of all, no scapular winging, and I know what to do if it ever happens again.

    As to why I am susceptible to this problem, I'm baffled. I've heard that the nerve is easy to injure - maybe I just have bad luck, or maybe there's a genetic predisposition.

    Cliff's:
    - Had winged scapula several times through my life
    - Different treatments / diagnoses were invalid
    - Chiropractor fixed it
    - Tempur-Pedic neck pillow helps immensely
    - Worked on posture and strengthening the upper back
    - All better now
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  2. #2
    Registered User Used2be300's Avatar
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    I have a pain in my shoulder when benching, only in my right one. The Doctor's told me it was scapular winging and showed me exercises to do to strengthen the muscles...Doesn't seem to be working but this is only my 4th week. We'll see what they say in my follow up appointment next week.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Mikael92's Avatar
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    what exercises did PT give you for the winging?
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  4. #4
    Registered User rmanuelsanchez's Avatar
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    HORSERADISH....Hey, I'm exciting to read something positive about the scapular winging. I don't recall how I got it but the burning pain down my shoulder to my forearm was also incredibly painful. I've had the winging since OCt 21st, 2011. The pain i explain was only there a couple days of the week for the first three weeks. Now its all about the winging. I can't push or lift my arm above my head like shooting a basketball because there is no strenght there . It feels like my shoulder is tight and my tricept is stiff. There is a very tender spot in my rear deltoid which against all professional advice I've gotten so far saying something else...that spot is the source of the problem. I think there must be a spasm there where my nerve is being pinched. My physical therapist did all tests of me and says there is nothing indicating it stems from my spine or neck area which is good. right now I'm doing the prescribed exercises and trying maintain some flexibility is the shoulder. I will try going back to the chiropractor. I was going for a couple weeks but thought it wasn't helping. Though actually all the cracking and bending of my shoulder he was doing it might be doing harm. But we'll see. Need to get my shoulder back.

    Ronnie
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  5. #5
    Registered User rmanuelsanchez's Avatar
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    To whom it may concern:

    I've posted some issues I've had with LTN damage/Scapular winging since late last year. My issues began on October 21st, 2011. My symptoms were not being able to raise my arm over head and sustain it there without it falling to the side. It was due to my serratus anterior not functioning properly due to LTN misfiring. It began with serious pain shooting down my shoulder to my elbow area. That pain last for a couple days and went away. Since the date I mentioned I visted every time of doctor to determined exactly what it was and how long it would take to heal. None indicated surgery was needed. All I needed was time to recover. Also they couldn't determine cause of injury, its uncommon but it happens. Could be an immune system thing, muscle imbalance, injury from repetative lifting. I think the latter was my issue but I can't be sure. Today is March 7, I've started the recorvery process as off 2 weeks ago. Slowly I started to feel progress as my arm strenght came back and my range of motion returned. The progress was so little but I felt a difference enough to motivate me more to continue what I was doing in the gym. I will say to you that are going through this issue is to continue a physical therapy program to sustain the muscles that are working to prevent other injury and minimize the work you need to do when you start to recover. Thats what I did. I went to the chiropractor as others suggested however I don't feel that helped me. What did helped was stretching and pinpoint massage of the trigger point areas using a tennis ball or lacrosse ball (lacrosse ball hurts but it lossens up tight muscles- do it agains a wall). It became and obsessive compulsive thing that develop but it seems thats what it takes to get those knots or muscle spams out of the shoulder so the LTN can breathe and fire properly. I'm almost one hundred percent and I hope this help. When I was going through this I couldn't do anything and looked for answers but nobody was sure what helped. Well now, I've been through it and out almost reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. I continue to have a small know near my clavicle bone around my neck that I know is causing some tightness but I'm working that out with massage. I hope this read helps someone. If you don't experience pain just be patient and workout light. Do exercises, stretches, stretches, massage, and patience, oh, and more stretches. At one point I felt progress and regressed for a couple days because I was overdoing the exercises. Anyways, good luck.


    Ronnie
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