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Q: For months now I have had pain on my left side, under my shoulder blade and between my ribs. I've had an MRI and X-rays of my ribs -- all negative.

Any pain-relief medications have done no good. My doctor told me to stop my exercising and not to work since I have a physical job. I am at my wits' end, giving up all that I enjoyed and still dealing with the pain. -- L.B., Daytona Beach, Fla.

A: I can understand your frustration having given up so much and not gotten anything back. You may want to rethink what you are doing.

I would need much more medical information to come to any conclusions about your problem. But I do suggest that you and your doctor try to pinpoint more exactly where the pain is coming from.

If it is from a single spot, you may consider the diagnosis of trigger point pain. Trigger points are small areas of muscle and nerves that become very sensitive and painful. And this pain can be felt over much wider areas of the body.

Treatment of trigger point pain has included, with some success, injections of medication into the trigger point, biofeedback and acupuncture.

I am also very concerned that you radically changed your lifestyle and are losing out on important things in your life. Therefore, I also suggest that you evaluate, in consultation with your doctor, how much good it's done for you to stop exercising and working. Maybe then you can partake in some of your activities again.

Dr. Allen Douma welcomes questions from readers. Although he cannot respond to each one individually, he will answer those of general interest in his column. Write to Dr. Douma in care of the Better Health & Medical Network, 585 Grove St., Herndon, Va. 20170.

This column is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of consultation with a doctor or other health-care provider.

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