Avatar universal

1 year of SEVERE muscle spasm(s) that will NOT relax

SEVERE muscle spasms that will NOT relax! My right shoulder has been in constant spasm for 1 year now. I have seen the Doctors, Spine Center, Chiropractor & Therapeutic Massage Therapist. I have taken muscle relaxers for all my adult life for back and neck problems. I have NEVER experienced anything like this. The muscle is hard as a rock and will not relax, EVER! It is so painful I can't stand it. I am currently trying lidocaine injections in the muscle. So far, the muscle is still knotted up. It will simply NOT RELAX. After all that I have done over the last year, nothing has worked. Thank the Lord, I am a pretty tough person and I do not take pain pills if I can possibly help it. I have only taken 3 during this last year. My question is: what can be done to force a muscle to relax when nothing else has worked? PLEASE HELP ME!!
12 Responses
973741 tn?1342342773
Wow, I feel so bad for you!  So, no explanation at all?  Imagine does not reveal the problem?  Have you been sent to a physical therapist?  
I've had an X-ray, CT scan, Muscle relaxers, Physical Therapy, Chiropractor, Therapeutic massage, injections of lidocaine.....Nothing will relax the muscle.  It remains hard as a rock 24/7 without exception.  I'm so worn down from the pain.
20803600 tn?1546262537
Blue eyes,
Have you had your potassium, zinc, and magnesium levels checked?
Muscle spasms can be caused by many things, including not enough minerals within your body.
Eating a banana a day, and other fruits and veggies that contain those minerals can greatly reduce muscle spasms.
I see you are trying the trigger point injections and massage. I would continue those, warm compresses, stretching and getting your mineral levels/electrolytes checked.
Thank you backhurtz.  That is great advice, unfortunately, we have done all that.  I have had a bad back and neck for about 40 years.  Over that time, I have learned and used the tricks that can work.  This is a whole new experience.  It's the muscle on top of the right shoulder between the right shoulder & neck.  It's so locked up it is pushing my clavicle bone forward.  The doctors and therapists all say they have never felt a muscle this hard.  I'm at my wits end.  I really need it to relax.
20841821 tn?1547942964
As far as diagnostic imaging is concerned, an MRI would be the best way to assess your symptoms and find the cause of your pain. Often when you have a normal XR but are still continuing to have pain, or muscle spasms, your doctor or provider will order an MRI.  Unfortunately CT and XR is mostly limited to bony structures. If you are having issues with ligaments, tendons, nerves, or soft tissue, you would be able to see that on MRI and not the other modalities. I would consult with your medical provider and inquire if this might be the next logical step to better evaluate the etiology of your pain.
Thank you Uomeasmile, I am unable to have an MRI because of an interstem device in my hip.  :-(
Given that you have an implanted device that is not MRI conditional, I would inquire about a CT arthrogram of your shoulder.
Thank you uomeasmile!   I've never heard of that but, I will bring that up to my Dr.

Love your screen name!
20803600 tn?1546262537
A CT with constant could show more than the xray.
Even an ultrasound may reveal something. Have you ever had an EMG done to see if there is nerve involvemen at the root of this ?
I have not had an ultrasound or an EMG.  I will ask my doctor about them.  Thank you backhurtz!
Avatar universal
"The doctors and therapists all say they have never felt a muscle this hard. " But did the physio person say to come back for other treatment? Have you seen anyone who does massage or ART for an opinion?
I am currently doing physical therapy.  So far, no relief.  I have been to a therapeutic massage therapist since the beginning until about 2 months ago when the Dr decided it wasn't helping.  I do not know what ART stands for.
Active release therapy is done by chiropractors. Lots of athletes have this done. They crush the scar tissue (very painful when they gouge at the sore spot with their knuckles or devices and make you move the muscle toward the pain instead of flinching) but it is only 10 minutes per session so it is bearable and well worth it if you can get relief.
649848 tn?1534633700
Has anyone suggested that you might have a frozen shoulder?  This is also known as encapsulation... I've had a frozen shoulder on the right since July 2017.   Mine was helped slightly by physical therapy, but I've read that it can take a couple of yrs or more for a frozen shoulder to go through the 3 phases (freezing, frozen, and thawing) and become normal again.  Mine is still very tender and I'm now getting it in the left shoulder.
Hi Barb135.  No, I have not heard of that.  I will ask my Dr.  Thank you!
Avatar universal
Hello, I don't actually have an answer to contribute but I felt compelled to tell you how relieved I was to stumble upon your post. I know that doesn't seem helpful but I have been going crazy trying to find anything that would tell me I'm not alone with this. I, myself have been suffering from the same symptoms for going on four years now with no known cause or diagnosis. You didn't mention it but mine presses on nerves which have caused a constant headache with migraines when the muscle spasms and becomes even more rigid than seems possible. I have gone through all the same treatments you mentioned which either resulted in no change or made the pain worsen. Everything has progressive worsened with time which caused me to have to leave my job 3 months ago. My doctor has officially stated that she has no other ideas hence me scouring the web for anything potentially helpful because I refuse to take no for an answer. After reading the responses to your post I think I too will see about getting some additional imaging done. Hang in there, there has to be an answer out there somewhere.
Hi Patters91!  I am soooo sorry!!!!  I can't imagine having this pain for 4 years.  I get the same headaches at times & yes it does seem unbearable.  It IS debilitating!!  I wish they could just inject a muscle relaxer directly into the muscle.  I don't do "I don't know" well.  Something is causing it.  I hope you will keep in touch, ESPECIALLY if they find something to help.  You have my sympathy and my prayers.  Thank you for reaching out.  Like you, I thought I was alone in this.  None of the health care people I have been to has seen this before.
Thank you for your support. I actually have an appointment today to go see my doctor about all of this. Hope to have some progress soon.
After seeing my doctor about having imagining done I was finally refered to a sports medicine doctor. Xrays didn't show anything noteworthy, however ultrasound mapping of the nerves in my neck/shoulder showed multiple points of nerve entrapment. At some points the nerves are so buried they couldn't see them.  I was told Mri or CT scans wouldn't have necessarily caught it, that the ultrasound gave a more 3 dimensional look making it easier to pick up on. The treatment is saline injections to release the points. My first appointment to try it is coming up soon so we'll see if they are right. I started tearing up when the doctor said they found something,  it was the first time in years 'I don't know' wasn't the answer.
I  am getting  easy muscle pains  and burning.. my NCV/EMG, Blood work , Head and spine MRI is normal...  keep going to doctors..   I  am gettinng muscle pains easily  since 10 years.. last 5 year I was really getting better suddenly  last  two months it got wrose.. only thing is I started humira  which I have been doing every year 2 months...   Any luck from ur treatement . pls let me know
363281 tn?1590104173
Hello~I would see a good, reliable Naturopath, they can give you a Magnesium IV, this is almost guaranteed to relieve those muscle spasms and knots. I don't know if conventional MD's can do these, but I would sure ask if you don't feel comfortable seeing a naturopath. I use to have horrendous muscle knots in my back and my naturopath was going to do Magnesium IV's on me, but the acupuncture treatments along with my chiro started to work so I did not need it.

I hope you feel better soon.
Avatar universal
To: Blueeyes and Paters...I have the same thing, along with degenerative disc disease and herniated discs.  My Muscle problem is mainly on the Upper Left Side, front and back.  The spasms pull the tiny muscles between the ribs together making it hard to breath sometimes, and my left shoulder is about 2 inches higher that the right.  It is also causing the left shoulder to pull forward. These spasms started spreading pretty quickly.  I need deep, hard pressure into certain areas of the muscles.  I get horrid headaches ALOT  in the back of the head and into the back of the neck.  Tried trigger point injections, Occipital nerve blocks, muscle relaxers, and Nothing works anymore.  So the Neurologist said I have Muscle Spasms, and also thought I might have Dystonia...BUT he also said I have MYOFASCIAL PAIN SYNDROME.  Fascia is the thin thin layer of tissue that covers most all organs, including muscles.  I have tried to find a Muscle Doctor, but there are none?  Anyway, Physical Therapy made is so much worse!!!  I was curled in a ball for days.  Sorry for rambling.  So NOW, I have finally found a MYOFASCIAL RELEASE THERAPIST!!!  Insurance finally will cover it!  My Appt. is in a few days.  I pray to God this will Work.  It is exsauting and totally debilitating.  I can let you know how this Therapy works after I go a few times!  I sure hope you find help.  It is miserable.  Take Care.  P.S.  Be careful of the Steriod Injections...they break down cartilage and the Discs in the spine!    
1081992 tn?1389903637
Hi, blueeyes. Hasn't any doc mentioned "Stiff Person Syndrome" ?


"Stiff person syndrome is rather unique among neurologic diagnoses because of its lack of significant similarity to any other neurologic diseases. Although rare, once observed it is quite unforgettable." It inhibits the biochemical called GABA.

"Clinically, stiff person syndrome is characterized by muscle rigidity that waxes and wanes with concurrent spasms."

The 1st treatment is a benzodiazapine tranquilizer (like Xanax)... which is also a muscle relaxer that works via--> GABA !

Since as stated there is nothing else similar, this seems to be your cause. It apparently involves autoimmunity, and has a genetic predisposition.

Here's more on it:

I hope you see this. It is very rare (1 in 100s of thousands) and your docs might not have ever heard of it.

Avatar universal
Is your arm numb on the affected side? Have you had an MRI of your neck?
Avatar universal
I have similar problem, very tight muscles, knotting up whole body, shoulder scrunching, knots on scalp and neck, muscles feeling like bruised to the touch.... for most my life of 60 years.  Headaches that can last days on end. I have pressure points, like eyebrow ridge, neck and collarbone, that if pressed hard can nearly make me pass out. Same as you, I've tried everything, and I also don't like taking drugs.  Dr., chiro, therapy, specialists. They tried electrical stimulation many times....it really made it worse, doctors have had me try one drug after another
      4 things have helped to some degree: Xanax.  Just 1 pill when things get really bad.  It doesn't alleviate problem, but can help relax enough to get some benefit from hydrotherapy.  Which for me. can mean 4-5 hrs in a jacuzzi. Which also isn't a cure but can lessen pain.  Acupuncture has helped and given relief
but unfortunately, not a permanent fix and nearest is 50 miles away. Only other thing that has helped, is my pain mantra.  It sounds silly, but I have gotten  to the point it can help me past bad points with the pain.  

         My mantra.......  "I am one with the pain". (pause)    "Let the pain flow through my body". (pause),  "WELCOME the Pain".             I clear my thoughts.  I do concentrate on the words I am saying.  I believe the words and imagine the pain flowing through and away.  After so many years, the relaxed mental state is nearly automatic
  If you noticed by now, all of my suggestions are for helping to deal with the pain, as I have found no cure.  I am making 2019 my last ditch attempt to find real help because I am exhausted and my quality of life no longer has much quality.  I am going to try CHB next month. Fingers crossed.
    I understand what you are going through. how disruptive, how frustrating,, how draining.  I wish you the best of luck.  It sounds like you have a good attitude and that goes a long way.   Please keep me in mind if you find something that helps you as I will for you.
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