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Shoulder Pain


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Greetings everyone!

I am not new here, but have never posted, and do not have lung cancer (that I know of) but have some strange symptoms.

A couple of years ago began having right sided back pain, below the scapula, around to the ribs, and on top of the shoulder. It seems like the pain is connected in those three spots is the best way I can describe it.

I have also had some migrating chest pain, but it seems to be on the "outside" of my chest if that makes any sense.

I am a FORMER smoker, 55 days and counting FOR GOOD this time, and have smoked on and off for 11 years or so. I am 31 years old. About 1 pack per day.

One thing I must mention is, I have poor posture, and sit at my desk at an angle, with my right side "tucked" in so to speak.

I have had an xray this year, and xray last year, and a CT scan 2-3 years ago. Nothing has been found, although they haven't done an updated CT scan.

I have trouble breathing sometimes, like I can't get a full breath to completion.

I don't know what to do, and don't know who to turn to as my GP thinks I am a quack now.

My question is this: Are those symptoms consistent of lung cancer, and if any of you experienced those symptoms could you tell me? Should I go to a pulmonary specialist or an orthopaedic specialist?

I also want to say that you guys are so awesome, and the strength you all have is amazing, I wish I had a fifth of your courage. I hope I never get lung cancer, but if I did, I know where to come.

I hope I am not barging in here, or being rude by posting here. I didn't know what else to do.

Thank you guys so much.


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Welcome, glad you found us. Not to frighten you but a pain in the back can be a symptom of LC. I had that for about 8 months before I was diagnosed. True, it could be an orthopedic problem. I wouldn't care what my PC doctor thinks, you need to get answers to your symptoms and the sooner the better. Please seek a second opinion - see a pulmonary specialist, an updated CT scan and a full blood test would give you answers. Then you could put your mind at ease. Please let us know how you're doing.


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Hi Wendy,

My pain was on my right shoulder blade and was a tight, pulling pain that wouldn't go away even if I exercised. It was a dull ache that was always there, sometimes painful, sometimes not too painful. That was the tumor that was pressing on my nerves in that area. Again, I don't mean to scare you, but I'm very glad to see you made an appointment. Once you get some answers you'll feel better. We're here for you.


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I might as well jump in. I also had pain. I thought it was orthopedic and was shocked it was a tumor. The good thing that you mention is you are young and you quit smoking.

If I were you I would continue to try to find out what is causing your pain. I also had a bulging disc in my back when I was 26 years old. I would not wish that on you but I must say that is the most common cause of back pain.

Donna G

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Thank you guys. There is only one pulmonary phys. in my area, so that is the soonest I could get. I hope and think its nothing, but to ease my mind I need to have it done. I honestly feel its related to my posture and the way I sit at my desk, but its better to know that for sure. I am taking no chances!!!! I want to live to be 100 years old!!!!

If there is any way I can help you all out, or this website, or any advocacy groups I would love to. I don't know how to start...........

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Hi Wendo,

I don't want to scare you because you've already done the right thing by setting up doctors appointments as soon as possible, but I'm another one who had back pain. Lots of people have back pain and its nothing, but with a history of smoking, I wish my doctor had gone further than he did.

Hoping for a good report and that you just need to get a better chair at work.


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Thank all of you for your warm welcomes!!

I will let you know of the outcome. I wish I could get in sooner!!!

I am not a big poster, I am more a lurker, but I will try and broaden my horizons and post more! I am on the computer at work, so I have to sneak in posts! :)

Let me ask you this guys too, were any of you diagnosed with Horner's syndrome at the time of diagnosis or merely shoulder pain?

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Wendy, some info :

Pancoast tumours

Doctors sometimes call lung cancer that is growing right at the top of the lung a 'pancoast tumour'. These tumours can cause very specific symptoms. The most common is severe shoulder pain. They can also cause a collection of symptoms called 'Horner's syndrome'. These are

Drooping or weakness of one eyelid

Small pupil in that eye

Loss of sweating on that same side of the face

These symptoms of Horner's syndrome are caused by the tumour pressing on or damaging a nerve that runs up from the neck to that side of the face.

You noticed several of us had Pancoast tumors, tumors up in the apex of our lungs, where blood vessels and nerves are present. These can cause symtoms. Most all of us have at least the shoulder pain in common. I personally did not ever notice an eye problem, drooping.

Donna G

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I don't know, I do know that the pupil on the side of my body where my shoulder pain and back pain are, is slightly smaller than the other pupil. It seems to dilate normally, however the size of the pupil is different. I sweat normally, and don't have a droopy eyelid. I know, only a doc can diagnose that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey All,

Just a quick update. Went to PCP, and he is going to do a CT this week. He felt that there was nothing wrong with me, and I don't have Horner's syndrome, and felt that my pain was muscoloskeletal? But, he asked me what would allay my fears, and I said a CT scan, so that is what is going to be done. He is also going to do a full CMP workup. So, I will have the CT in the next couple days, and should hear back relatively soon. I am going to request that they do a doctor call back on it, so I can wait while they look at the results. I feel good that I can get it done so quickly, and won't have to worry anymore either way, although I know in the future, this CT scan won't be definitive, but if I can at least get one 1 every two years or one year I feel that I can be on top of this.

Do you all recommend regular screening like that? Also, do MOST Chest xrays show tumors, or do they miss most? I know a CT is better, but why do they always start out with a Xray?

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Hi Wendy.

my turn to jump in!

I think that chest xrays are much cheaper than CT scans so they will often do those first.

Glad you asked for a wet read. You will have your freedom card in your hand and then you must do some celebrating when you recieve your good news.

Physio therapy by P.T. or Exercise Physiologists especially has helped me with my m.skel. problems. Good stretching and strengthening all the right muscles have put me back in place more than once.

Good luck.

Cindi o'h

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My tumor was visible on an x-ray in December of 2002. After it was removed, my oncologist said it had been hanging around and growing for 3-5 years. I had a chest x-ray in March of 2002 and nothing showed on it. The tumor WAS there, just not visible on the x-ray. It depends on the actual tumor if it will or won't show on an x-ray. Debi had a stage I tumor show up on an x-ray, mine was already stage III when it showed up. I wouldn't depend on just an x-ray.

That being said, with no real reason for it, I sure as hell wouldn't get all the scans I get in a year. There is a risk of cancer with radiation exposure and x-rays and CT's expose a person to radiation.

Back pain can truly be the way you are sitting at work. Adjust your chair, adjust your desk and sit properly. There are many websites about ergonomic health, find a reputable one and follow the suggestions for repetitive motion, etc. I work a desk job and have some issues with back pain at times. Adjusting my chair so it doesn't rock seemed to help a lot with that.

Congratulations on stopping smoking. If nothing else comes of this, that's a big and important thing to have happen.

Good luck, may it just be bad posture!


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welcome, wendy. I know your fear. I think you sound like you're really on top of it. just keep following up. I had a CT scan a few months ago, all clear. I had to let it go after that, I was starting to live a really fearful life, you know? it's so hard not to when you've seen the devastating effects of LC so close up.

if your xrays/CTs are clear, try some yoga for that nagging back pain. actually, try it any way - I quit smoking in 1999 but still get urges, and yoga has helped me with that, and just about everything else.

keep us posted!!



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Thank you guys for your replies!

You are right Amie, I live in fear of this, and after this CT scan, I am letting go. (assuming everything is okay). I can't go on living in fear like I do. It consumes me! I live a fine line between being a hypochondriac, but my worries are warranted when it comes to smoking, and I want to put it to rest. I feel so good not smoking, and doing the right thing, and I feel that I shouldn't feel SO GOOD, that something has to be wrong with me, ya know? My CT scan is Friday night, so if you guys could shoot a prayer out there, I would really appreciate it! Thanks for caring, and sharing to me. I feel like I am busting in on this website and shouldn't be.

Thank you thank you thank you.

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Hi Wendo~

Check the top RH corner of the screen...beneath the "sign in" link. There is a link for "my mail". Clicking that will open your mailbox.

And, welcome! Good luck on your upcoming CT. I agree. I don't trust Xrays for lesions smaller than 1 - 1.5 cm. Xray did not see any of mine just 2 weeks prior to CT discovery of them last Feb. Hoping and praying for simple musculo-skeletal issues.

Yours in HOPE!


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Well...they don't "turn into cancer" - they are either of cancerous orgin, or not. (benign) There is a thread under "GENERAL" dealing with nodules. In my case, the jury is still out on what exactly these (mine) are. At this point, they tell me it is:

a) a slow growing form of LC

B) granulomas (from Valley Fever, most likely)

Granulomas usually show calcification, but not always. Mine have no calcification. I've repeatedly tested negative for Valley Fever, and they will no longer test me for it. But, the way I see it, there is no way to tell, for sure, without biopsy, and I've been told they are too small for biopsy. So, we watch. :roll:

I think the mindfreaks are the worst part... :shock::shock: Here's hoping your mind will soon be at ease... :wink:

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