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I am 20 years old. My back pain first started at around the age of 16 or 17. The pain was mostly muscular and I found myself with an inability to relax the muscles in between my shoulder blades and beside the base of my neck. It's sort of like telling your ears to wiggle. They don't do what your brain tells them to do.
Then, at 18, my boyfriend noticed that my upper back was extremely crooked. It curves in a backward "c" shape. One or two vertebra are extremely right-ward when viewing my back from a straightforward perspective. I have researched on the internet and no photos of scoliosis were as high on the upper back as mine appears to be. The pain is very bad. It bothers me almost every day.
I have been to two chiropractors and both identified it as a "subluxation from unidentifiable causes" and their adjustments did next to nothing because my muscles remain hard as a rock. I went to a physical therapist and she asked if I had been in a traumatic car accident. I have never been in an accident. She told me some exercises to do but after months and no results, I gave up. I went to a massage therapist and, although temporarily relieving, my pain just comes right back. I stretch every day and do everything possible to make the pain go away, including take copious amounts of ibuprofen. Four ibuprofen a day for years is only killing my liver and not solving my problem. I need help! I don't know what's wrong with my upper back but I can't relax! Anti-anxiety meds did not work either. I can provide a photo if necessary. Any advice or information would be appreciated.

Answer
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Hello Reianna,

I am sorry to hear of your problem.  If I do not give an answer to your satisfaction, please do not hesitate to recontact me, or another doctor here at AllExperts.com.

I lost my home, all it's contents, and my office was damaged in the sandy hurricane that hit Midland Beach, Staten Island, NY.  I am still a little shellshocked- so please forgive a brief answer.

From the beginning:

You say: "....I am 20 years old. My back pain first started at around the age of 16 or 17. The pain was mostly muscular and I found myself with an inability to relax the muscles in between my shoulder blades and beside the base of my neck. It's sort of like telling your ears to wiggle. They don't do what your brain tells them to do...."- there is wisdom in this statement:
The BRAIN and NERVOUS SYSTEM tell the body what to do.  Your tight muscles are not likely to be due to an intrinsically tight muscle,,, your muscles are a symptom, your muscles are listening to the message or distorted message that your NERVOUS SYSTEM is sending.

You talk about this starting at 16 or 17 years old, so this has a three or four year head start.  Arnold Schwarzenegger did not lift weights for only a month and have that huge body- it took time:  it may take TIME with physical therapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, home exercises to correct this problem.  Do not expect it to be 'fixed' in a couple of months.

Muscular spasm is rarely primary- muscular spasm is SECONDARY to something else- the joints/ nerves causing the muscles to get tight.

It states in your description: "....Then, at 18, my boyfriend noticed that my upper back was extremely crooked. It curves in a backward "c" shape. One or two vertebra are extremely right-ward when viewing my back from a straightforward perspective. I have researched on the internet and no photos of scoliosis were as high on the upper back as mine appears to be. The pain is very bad. It bothers me almost every day....", has a licensed professional diagnosed a 'scoliosis'?  Has your local Doctor of Chiropractic, the local Orthopedic MD or Neurological MD evaluated and diagnosed you?

If you have a scoliotic curve high, you must have a scoliotic curve low as well.  The curves kind of balance each other out.  The eyes are always centered level over the sacrum.  If you would like, yes I would like to see an Xray picture of you- AP and Lateral.  Your Medical Orthopedic or your Chiropractic Doctor should have taken some imaging, some Xrays of you to evaluate the curves.

Some scoliosis starts with a congenital anomaly- a malformed vertebrae perhaps- this would be visible on Xray, CT or MRI scan. You have to have some imaging done. A curve change may also be due to a misalignment, such as vertebral subluxation - which the chiropractic doctor works on, perhaps your curve is due to a muscle spasm; but the cause of the curve has to be determined by proper evaluation.

Many Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) have specialties, many chiropractic doctors work with massage, physiotherapy, exercise to 'soften up' the muscles, and then also perform the chiropractic adjustment to correct spinal misalignment, irritation of nerves.  I would suggest a doctor who has additional credentials, see: http://www.acatoday.org/pdf/ApprovedChiropracticSpecialtyPrograms.pdf
These specialists may have additional treatment modalities, along with the super-important adjustment to hit your complaint from many different angles.  Where-ever you go, you will need to give the doctor TIME to correct your longstanding problem.  Where-ever you go, you need a thorough examination including Xrays and maybe more.

You state, "...I went to a physical therapist and she asked if I had been in a traumatic car accident. I have never been in an accident. She told me some exercises to do but after months and no results, I gave up. I went to a massage therapist and, although temporarily relieving, my pain just comes right back. I stretch every day and do everything possible to make the pain go away..."; you may need to do ALL of this concurrently: i.e.: Chiropractic Adjustment to relieve the subluxation complex, massage to stretch and loosen the muscles, exercise and physiotherapy to stretch and loosen muscles.  The reason I recommend the chiropractic doctor is because the DC often utilizes ALL of these approaches under one roof, often on the same treatment visit.

You are correct when you say, ".....I stretch every day and do everything possible to make the pain go away, including take copious amounts of ibuprofen. Four ibuprofen a day for years is only killing my liver and not solving my problem....."; EVERY medication has intended effects, and unintended side effects and complications.  As much as possible, you want to limit medications due to the problems the may cause.  In my Midland Beach Chiropractic office I utilize a patient handout that may be helpful to you:

PAIN          
Pain  is a  ‘red light on the dashboard’.   
RED  LIGHT  =   Trouble !!

Pain  is  your  body  telling  you  that  something  is  wrong.   
Think  you  should  listen??

That RED LIGHT on the dashboard of your car-
-- do you ignore it until the car breaks down,
or do you get it checked and correct the problem?  

Pain,
pain in your body-
-- do you ignore it until your body breaks down,
or do you get it checked and correct the problem?   

Pain,  
do you cover up the pain by taking a painkiller?  
Take a painkiller, mask the pain, and allow a problem to progress in your body?

Pain  Killing  medication???  =    16,000  deaths   ( probably  under-reported )
         DEATH ! ? ! ?    better   watch  out  on  those  medications!!!  

         NOTICE  ON  PAIN  RELIEVERS:
 
Label changes ORDERED by FDA;  the FDA announced proposed label changes for OTC over-the-counter pain relievers to  include the potential for stomach bleeding and liver damage (FDA news  206- 207;  12-9-06) ;
SIXTEEN THOUSAND DEATHS: "Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective medications for the treatment of many chronically painful medical conditions. However, it is estimated that 25% of all serious adverse drug reactions involve NSAIDs, with more than 100,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths occurring annually due to NSAID-induced gastrointestinal (GI) events."----- http://hhc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/13/6/468   Home Health Care Management & Practice, Vol. 13, No. 6, 468-475 (2001)  Motrin, Advil = NSAIDS

      The  American Heart Association issued a scientific statement  recommending medical doctors change the way they prescribe OTC pain relievers from a first choice  to an alternate of recommending non-pharmacologic treatment (AHA statement  2-26-07).

      NSAID Acceleration of ARTHRITIS; an important side effect of Aspirin and other NSAIDS is that it will inhibit cartilage repair and accelerate cartilage  destruction ( Journal of Rheumatology, 1982; 9: 3- 5 ).   Many times people take NSAIDS  for  the pain of Arthritis,  not realizing these drugs may make the underlying condition worse.   These medications  cover  up  the  pain,  and  cause  the  problem  to   worsen.

http://rinf.com/alt-news/business-news/prescription-drugs-kill-300-percent-more-
= An analysis of 168,900 autopsies conducted in Florida in 2007 found that three times as many people were killed by legal drugs as by cocaine, heroin and all methamphetamines put together.    BE  CAREFUL  WITH  THAT  MEDICATION !!!
It was reported in 2000, that 700,000 U.S. citizens die as a result from medical causes (iatrogenics). Of course, other records and statistics had the number above the one million mark. Whether 700,000 or one million people, that's a lot of innocent people dying from visiting a hospital and trusting a medical doctor.= http://www.dherbs.com/articles/iatrogenics-99.html

Pain  can  often  be  the  result  of  the  Vertebral  Subluxation  Complex.
Vertebral Subluxation  is  actually  a  quite  common  condition.   Doctors of Chiropractic look for pathological conditions which may require referral to other specialties,   and also look for ‘Subluxation’. Other disciplines look for pathology, but overlook the importance of alignment and movement in the spine which affects our nervous system  (the master control system- ALL health disciplines learn this).  VSC- ‘Subluxation’ – can be the cause of many symptoms and conditions.


Only  a  Doctor of Chiropractic  will  evaluate  and  treat  for  VSC,   as  well  as  other  pathology.


The course of VSC is highly variable.   Some patients with VSC literally cannot walk, yet other patients with similar test findings may be able to run marathons or lift heavy weights.    Some patients immediately develop symptoms related to the VSC,  some patients take years to develop symptoms.  Some people suffer for only a few days with pain and symptoms, some people suffer for months.  Some people recover in days, some take months or years, depending upon severity of the condition.

A subluxation interferes with the proper functioning of the nervous system (the master system which controls and coordinates all function within the body) and may cause various other conditions, symptoms and problems.
The Vertebral Subluxation Complex describes what happens when spinal bones lose their normal movement patterns and position.  When subluxated, joints are in a stressed, vulnerable, compromised condition.  Subluxation may cause Arthritis, Disk Herniation, or aggravate such conditions.

       Vertebral  Subluxation   cannot   be corrected through chemicals (medicine), stretching,  yoga,  vitamins  or  physical  therapy  alone.       Subluxation- a neuro/skeletal/muscular-    mechanical-    problem  requires  a    mechanical correction-  -  -    a manipulation,         best  performed  with  the  chiropractic  adjustment.

Dr. Victor E. Dolan,   Doctor of Chiropractic;   Diplomate, American Chiropractic Board of Sport Physicians; Diplomate, American Academy of Pain Management;       Certified Clinical Nutritionist (IAACN); FIRST  Chief of Chiropractic  in  a  Hospital  in  New York State (DHSI);  As  Seen  in  PREVENTION  Magazine; Invited  to  Care for USA Olympic Athletes
Chiropractor to the Championship NYPD Football Team, and the PSAL High School Football Champions (Curtis); Staten Island SPORTS Hall of Fame- Unsung Hero 2011; Selected to the Medical Staff of the  Pan American Games, Guadalajara Mexico

and
specifically on NSAIDS (such as Ibuprofen):
another patient handout---------------------------------------


Please--  be  VERY  CAREFUL
Information  freely  available  to  the  Public:
From  the   medical   research:    http://hhc.sagepub.com/content/13/6/468.abstract

“Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Research to Help Your Patients Use them Safely”

Abstract
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective medications for the treatment of many chronically painful medical conditions. However, it is estimated that 25% of all serious adverse drug reactions involve  NSAIDs,  with  more  than  100,000  hospitalizations  and 16,000  deaths  occurring  annually  due to NSAID-induced gastrointestinal (GI) events. Advanced age; concurrent anticoagulant, aspirin, corticosteroid, or antacid use; and a history of cardiovascular disease, peptic ulcer disease, or GI hemorrhage all increase the risk of NSAID-induced gastropathy. Home care patients often have many of these characteristics. This article will provide evidence-based information about interventions that can reduce patients’ NSAID-induced gastropathy risk, including knowledge gained from a home care–specific study.
+++++++++++++++++++++++
So, PLEASE, please be very careful when you take that aspirin, advil. Motrin……..

Chiropractic  pays  the  LOWEST  malpractice  insurance  of  ANY  primary  healthcare  provider--- why?  Chiropractic is SAFE, natural and effective!
PLEASE  BE  AWARE  OF  THE  RISKS  OF  THAT  MEDICINE  !!!!

Dr. Victor E. Dolan,   Doctor of Chiropractic;   Diplomate, American Chiropractic Board of Sport Physicians;  Diplomate, American Academy of Pain Management;       Certified Clinical Nutritionist (IAACN); FIRST  Chief of Chiropractic  in  a  Hospital  in  New York State (DHSI);  As  Seen  in  PREVENTION  Magazine; Invited to care for USA Olympians @ Olympic Training Center 2010; Chiropractor  to the CHAMPIONSHIP NYPD Football Team, and PSAL Champion Curtis Football  Team ; Inducted to Staten Island SPORTS HALL OF  FAME 2011, Unsung Hero
The  FIRST  Doctor  from  Staten  Island  Selected  to  the   Pan  American  Games   Medical  Staff



Your closing statement: "....I need help! I don't know what's wrong with my upper back but I can't relax! Anti-anxiety meds did not work either. I can provide a photo if necessary. Any advice or information would be appreciated.....", yes you need help, you have a problem, you are making complaint, you are seeking out help.
         As a chiropractic doctor, I am prejudiced towards natural approaches to health- such as Chiropractic, exercise, nutrition, massage, acupuncture--> all things I utilize in my office.  I think these approaches would help you.  Find a DC near you with a neurology, orthopedic, rehab, or sports injury specialty, I think we could be of help to you.

I wish you luck, and Good Health, naturally!

Dr. Vic Dolan DC

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Dr. Victor Dolan, DC, DACBSP

Expertise

Staten Island Chiropractor Dr. Victor Dolan | 718-981-9755 | www.drvictordolan.net | www.statenislandchiropractor.com | Nutrition, Sciatica, Headache, Neck Pain, Back Pain, Herniated Disc, Workers Compensation, Auto Accident Claims, Vertebral Subluxation Complex, Muscle Spasm

Experience

Palmer College Graduate 1983; Thirty years in practice in my hometown of Staten Island, New York. Expert in Neuro-musculo-skeletal complaints. Utilizing techniques such as Chiropractic via Palmer Package, Diversified, Thompson, SOT, Activator, Manipulation Under Anesthesia and Nutritional Guidance. I am also a Certified Nutritionist.

Organizations
Pi Kappa Chi Alumni Association President; PKX Alumni Brother of the Year; Knights of Columbus Masons; Ancient Order of Hibernians

Publications
American Public Health Association (2003) - Oral Presentation

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Science (cum laude) Wagner College 1979; Doctorate of Chiropractic (cum laude) Palmer Chiropractic 1983; Licensed Doctor of Chiropractic, New Jersey (38MC00634000) & New York (X3567); Diplomat, National Board of Chiropractic Examiners; Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician - A.C.A./New York Chiropractic College (1986); Diplomat, American Chiropractic Board of Sport Physicians (1996); Diplomat, American Academy of Pain Management (1998); Certified Personal Fitness Trainer; Certified Emergency Medical Technician - New York State and National Registry; Certified Manipulation Under Anesthesia (1998); Certified Clinical Nutritionist - International & American Assoc. of Clinical Nutrition (1999)

Awards and Honors
Prevention Magazine – Award for Chiropractic Excellence 1998; Chief of Chiropractic - Doctors Hospital - New York 1997; SICTV NOVA (Notable, Outstanding Video Achievement Award) - Award for Most Popular Series (1996/1997/1998); Volunteer Heart Resuscition Unit - Commendation for Meritorious Service (1994); SICTV NOVA (Notable, Outstanding Video Achievement Award) - Best Health Series (1994); Staten Island Richmond Lions - Melvin Jones Fellowship Award (1993); Pi Kappa Chi - Alumni Fraternity Brother of the Year (1987/1988); American Public Health Association (2003); American Chiropractic Board of Sport Physicians Symposium Presentation - Adolescent Athletic Injury (2004)

Past/Present Clients
Doctors Hospital of Staten Island - Chief of Chiropractic (1997-2001); Curtis High School Football (1988 to present)- New York City PSAL Football CHAMPION (2007)

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