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Thread: Stabbing Pain Between Right Shoulder Blade and Spine

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Stabbing Pain Between Right Shoulder Blade and Spine

    Hello to everyone (and here’s a special hello to all of my fellow Canadians)!

    I’m 25 years old and had Harrington Rods inserted from T3 to L11 approx. 3 years ago in Calgary, Alberta.

    Since the operation, I’ve had no complications but for an occasional “stabbing/electrical” sensation between my right shoulder blade and right side of my spine. This used to only occur if I moved in a certain way...

    In the last week, this pain has suddenly roared and I now feel like I’m being zapped every time I move my head down and to the right, move my right arm, or twist my pelvis in the slightest. It is particularly pronounced when I sit for a period of time and then move again (ie. standing up, walking, or reaching for something). It's bizarre as I have done nothing strenuous recently.

    I went for X-Rays and spoke w/ Dr. Roger Cho (Neurosurgeon at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary) on Thursday. He advised that there are no visible defects and that he can't see why this would be happening now. He mentioned that it could be caused by irritation (?) and that I should begin taking a plethora of Anti-Inflammatories and Pain-Killers…

    I apologize for the long post but I'm frustrated. I am young, otherwise healthy, and can’t see the value in masking an issue w/ Pain-Killers, thereby causing extraneous side effects that I don’t currently experience…

    Has anyone else had this same issue and been advised that there is nothing wrong? How can this be so? Perhaps I have recently turned into a hypochondriac and am blissfully unaware of this fact…

    Thank you very much for any advice you might provide!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern California
    Hi Tessie...

    Are you certain that the surgeon used Harrington rods? In the US, and much of the industrialized world, surgeons haven't used Harrington rods for many years. But, that's really besides the point.

    I wonder if the stabbing pain is right where a hook or screw attaches one of the rods to your spine. If that's the case, I've been told that a local injection can be an effective diagnostic tool.

    Since you're in Canada, I know it can be difficult to be seen by a scoliosis specialist. If I were in your shoes, I guess that's what I'd be working towards.

    Good luck getting the pain resolved.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Grand Rapids, MI

    Could this be a muscle problem?

    I am only 9 months out from surgery, but this sounds a lot like a problem I have had in about the same place, only on the left. I used ice, which helped the flare-ups, but the most helpful thing has been physical therapy. Even though you are 3 months out, there may still be a muscle imbalance going on. My therapist has used a combination of massage, trigger point, stretches, and strengthening exercises. This has had very good results with relieving the pain and burning feeling.

    The therapy has ended, but I need to continue with the exercises and stretches or it starts to return. Also, if I do too much or bend over a lot, it reoccurs which tells me that it is muscle weakness.

    Therapy is a good, noninvasive treatment to try. Let us know how it goes.

    surgery 7/24/06

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Thank you to Linda and Deb

    Good Morning,

    I just wanted to say thanks to both Linda and Deb for your responses!

    I've confirmed that I have Harrington Rods (I looked through old hospital papers to be sure) and I have now made an appointment to test out a local injection. It will make me feel a million times better to have an actual diagnosis on the problem... I have also made plans to test out massage therapy this coming weekend to see if it helps. Even if it doesn't, I'll still have had a massage!

    I'll be sure to pen an update once I have more news.

    Have a great day to you both!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    UPDATE - Stabbing Pain Between Shoulder and Spine

    Hi Everyone,

    I have now gone in for an MRI for the stabbing pain I was describing earlier between my right shoulder blade and right side of my spine. The diagnosis is that the spine and the instrumentation have shifted their positions. The top of the rod/pedicle screws/hooks have moved away from the right side of the spine entirely. I am on a waiting list for surgery to remove the rod and have it replaced w/ a shorter one...

    A few things I've discovered during this situation that may help other people on this forum are:

    1. I have found that placing a hot water bottle between my shoulder blade and spine has relieved some of the pain from the issue I'm experiencing. I have also found that lying on my side (facing the left as it's my right side that is broken), putting a pillow between my knees and one behind me (to support my lower back) has helped tremendously in order for me to sleep in peace for a few hours.

    2. I have recently developed a cold that has turned into laryngitis. If you, or someone you know, is going through major pain, convince them to take pain medication if their doctor prescribes it. Otherwise, the body wears itself down as it simply cannot rest and extraneous issues arise. I resisted taking pain medication for three weeks as I can't stand being "out of it" in the slightest. I am now in double the pain as I can feel my back tearing with each cough due to the cold/laryngitis...

    3. If you are in Canada (not sure how it works in the US), are in need of a CT Scan or MRI and have insurance that will cover the cost of it (approx. $600 and $850 respectively), go to a Private Clinic. They can do this w/in one day vs. the wait time of approx. 2 months through the public system.

    4. When the radiologists write, "Harrington Rods" on your X-Ray results, don't assume that you actually have Harrington Rods! Debra was very correct as I haven't Harrington Rods at all. The radiologists define Harrington Rods as any instrumentation to correct a spinal curvature. As there are many different techniques now (all based on the same theory), they call them Harrington Rods to keep things simple.

    I hope the above helps someone down the line!

    All my best to each of you,


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Hi Tessie,
    I'm in Western Canada too (BC) - I've had similar pain, but my tip of the rod tears at the soft tissue - I don't have screws, so it's all still attached (My old rods were CD rods, and attached with hooks). Who did your first surgery - have you been able to go back? I found some things that worked for my pain over the years (I'm 31 - had first surgery when I was 13) - massage therapy, cold packs, Physiotherapist that does manual manipulation, yoga (not now, but before). Would love to chat some more if you would like. Take care.
    Nov. 2006 - revision surgery
    Aug. 1992 - revision surgery for hook removal and pseudoarthrosis
    July 1989 - Cortrell Doubosett procedure - two rods and fusion T4-L4 (age 13)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Hi Cena,

    I just sent you a private message.

    Have a great night!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Re: Shoulder Pain

    I totally understand what you are going through. I've been suffering with spine/shoulder pain right off the tip of the rod for over a year now. I've tried pain meds, patches, triggerpoint, cortisone, massage, accupuncture, muscle relaxers, ice, pt - you name it. As I sit here today little has changed by way of relief or any real direction. Pain doc seems to think it is soft tissue damage and chronic cuff tendinitis/impingement. So I live in pain. If any of you want to talk send me a message!


    CD Rods 1988 Dr. Denis Twin Cities

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