Shoulder update

When last we left our intrepid explorer (that’d be me), I was pushing for an X-ray from the chiro to try to figure out why my shoulder is still bugging me two years later. It’s not just motorcycling that triggers it — it’s pretty much chronic pain.

Well, I got the X-ray and went back to the doctor today to learn the results. I wasn’t expecting the X-ray to show anything; in fact, I was assuming it wouldn’t show anything and therefore I’d go in for an MRI to find soft tissue damage.

Turns out, the X-ray DID show something. Two things.

I have “minimal scattered anterior body spurring” and bilateral cervical ribs.

The former isn’t the cause of my pain, but is an interesting note. It’s an indication of a possible degenerative bone disease of the cervical spine. The spurs are also called “anterior cervical osteophytes”, and are apparently fairly common. Hopefully these won’t grow or become worse, since surgery through the front of my neck isn’t on my short list of things to do with my life. The good news is that exercise and weightlifting can stave off future problems. So there ya go.

The more interesting result of the X-ray, shoulder-speaking, was the discovery of bilateral cervical ribs. This means that I have two extra ribs, one on each side, sprouting from the 7th cervical vertebrae (C7). Given my symptoms, the assumption is that the ribs are compressing the nerve bundles that run from my brain to my hands. About 1% of the population has cervical ribs, and only 10% of those peole have compression symptoms. Lucky me!

So, it’s off to the shoulder specialist for me. Next step: more PT or surgery to remove the ribs?

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