At Work, I sit at a Computer all Day

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For about three months, I have experienced a sharp, burning pain almost like an electrical shock in my upper back, left side (near the shoulder blade and neck). The pain is almost paralyzing, but is usually intense for 30 seconds, then just aches for a couple more hours. I iced, and then heated it. Anyone who massages it says it feels “crunchy” and tight. Am I doing long-term damage to it, or will it work its way out?

Dr. Lin: Dear 30-year-old female, without the benefit of seeing you and completing an exam, it is hard to say what is the exact cause of your problem. From the little information I have, this could be a postural problem. Bad posture sometimes leads the type of pain that you have described. Try sitting with your shoulders back, almost to the point of exaggeration. Yes, it will feel awkward the first few weeks, but you’ll soon realize how wonderful correct posture can be. If the problem is indeed postural, this will help. If it doesn’t help correct the problem, write back with more information or see a health care professional. Please see my article addressing proper posture for your reference. Good luck!

One month ago, I crashed on my mountain bike. I was diagnosed with a shoulder separation. I have regained movement, but I am still weak in this area. My orthopedic doctor says to leave it as it is. Are there some stretches that can help increase movement and strength and decrease the continuing pain in this area? Is there anything that can be done to the AC joint to bring it back in alignment?

Dr. Lin: Dear Mountain Biker, there are not very many treatment options available for the Grade I or II AC separation/strain. Usually, I recommend the standard R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Only in a Grade III will I recommend immobilization of the arm, and then for only a short amount of time. For people over 40 there is always the danger of adhesive capsulitis or “frozen shoulder” with any shoulder injury where the arm is immobilized.

To avoid this, pendulum exercises are prescribed. Hold a light weight (not over three pounds), on the affected side, let you arm hang and swing freely.

To allow for more range of motion in the shoulder joint it is beneficial to bend at the waist with the opposite knee and arm supported on a bench. Do this for two to three minutes at a time. Also, range-of-motion exercises such as “wall crawls” can be used. These exercises should be started as soon as you can tolerate the movement. If the problem persists, contact a health care professional.