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When does a pinched nerve in neck become permanent?

elleell Posts: 33
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi there :H I have been living with a pinched nerve in my neck now for close to a year. It causes numbness down to the thumb and through my dominant right arm. I am going for a surgery consult at the end of the month. I really want this nerve issue resolved. So, the big question when does a pinched nerve in the neck become permanent...please share your own experiences I would love to hear. With much thanks ell :S
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  • I'm not sure on that. I have been told I have permanent nerve damage at the C-6 level of my cervical spine. I am having surgery on April 8th to relieve the pressure on that nerve. However, my doctors let me know not to expect my pain levels to change after surgery due to the permanent damage.

    My surgery is being done to prevent further damage.

    Ken
    Greyeagle
  • It sounds like you have tried all other avenues. ONLY in my opinion, you should have taken a more active approach at the 6 month level. At least that is what my neuro-surgeon told me. With the degeneration going on in your neck, this is not going to resolve without surgery, the sooner the better. And it could take a year or longer for the nerve issues to resolve. I hope you are seeing someone soon. All the above is only my opinion and from experience. NOT a dr, just a pt. Good luck, and please let us know what second opinion says.

    Maggie
  • I had nerve problems for six years before my surgery.I was on very strong nerve pain meds. that barely covered the pain.When i was told that they would operate it was made very clear that it would help somethings but may not help my pain. BUT it did . When i woke up from the surgery my hip and leg pain was gone and slowly after the first three months all my pain slowly went away.I do have some spinal cord injury and still have some other problems but the pain that i had before the operation is no longer. You never know with nerves!!!!!
  • Hi there!!

    I just joined this site, and saw your post. Sounds like you and I have a lot of the same problems... I have experienced pain/numbness/tingling all throughout my right shoulder and arm, down to my thumb. I have DDD in my C4/5/6 discs, narrowing of the spinal canal, and protruding disc, possible herniation at the C5/C6 level. After 1 1/2 years of undergoing pt, which did help immensely, until a coughing fit at the end of Jan thanks to bronchitis, the symptoms came back with a vengeance. I was able to see a neurosurgeon quite quickly, I had already consulted with an ortho, who also suggested surgery) and after reviewing my MRI taken at the beginning of Dec, figured that the disc actually herniated. He suggested an anterior foraminotomy, developed by Dr Jho, whom he studied under. After much research on all procedures, and not having had any relief from any conservative care (even percocet, naproxen, voltaren or any other NSAID/painkiller has provided any relief), I decided to go ahead with this procedure, and am hoping that I will be able to have it done in the next couple of weeks. I have been off work since the beginning of Feb, as to sit/stand/walk is extremely painful...
    I wish you luck in your endeavours, be well!!!
    Kelly
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Thank you for sharing...I know I am not alone here. I appreciate you input, and I know that if the surgeon offers me surgery , I will be, and I am terrified towards it. I want this to get better than it is....and the nerve needs to be released....that is my opinion- let see next week what the Neursurgeon says. :P
  • I'm on my 4th re-injury of my neck; C6-7 bulging disc and foraminal stenosis (or something like that - basically a narrowing of the little hole that the nerve pokes through) at C5-6. I sympathize with you. It completely sucks. A strange combination of numbness in my fingers and intense pain down my left arm if I try to look up. The pain in my arm and shoulder feels like I would imagine a blot clot feeling (luckily I've never had one). The first time I injured my neck (1999) I did not even go to the doctor for about 6 months. I kept thinking it would just work its way out. I finally went and endured lots of PT (most of which was useless). What finally helped me immensely was massage therapy. Unfortunately, I did not try it until month 10. It took about 13 months in total to heal - but it did heal, my strength returned and I felt fine - except for some residual numbness in two fingers - which has persisted ever since - but I'm not really bothered by it. It may have healed faster, but I kept lifting weights, just not as heavy. Probably not a smart move. I'm a die-hard weightlifter/bodybuilder and and mountain bike rider. It took me about 2- years of heavy shoulder and bench presses to screw it up - again. I've repeated this injury now multiple times since '99, and the heal time has generally been between 6 and 13 months. Fast forward to 3/20/09 and oops, I did it again. Unfortunately, this time it seems worse. I have lost total strength in my left arm/shoulder/peck. Even pushups are a challenge. I'm getting another MRI on Friday. Part of me hopes it is bad enough this time to warrant surgery. I have read about some new minimally invasive procedures (laminotomy - or something like that) for widening the foraminal canals/holes - or whatever they're called. Maybe with surgery I'll get more than 2 years without another injury. Anyway, if you have not tried massage therapy, you should, it worked for me. I hear acupuncture is decent too, but I've never tried it. GOOD LUCK:) .
  • Like others have said, it's really hard to say whether or not a pinched nerve (or rather the pain from it) will be permament. Is the pain/numbness you are experiencing severe, or is it tolerable? My guess (or rather hope) is that if it's only mild pain, the nerve is not being impinged too much. But I don't think that's really an accurate barometer for the severity of the injury.

    If you haven't had an MRI, you need to do so immediately so your doc can assess what's going on.

    Best of luck to you.
  • I lived with the pain of a pinched nerve in my shoulder and a sliped disc for about two years before having my surgery in January,09.The pain was unbearble.Sleepless nights etc.etc.I finally could no longer handle the pain and nothing else seemed to work.My Dr.told me that the pain in my neck would most likely not go away,but it would help the pain in my shoulder.Since that was the worst of my pain,I decied to go ahead with it.Now I can say I'm happy that I did.The pain in my neck is not as bad as before and the pain in my shoulder is much better.For a while there was no pain at all,but now the weather makes it hurt cold weather that is.Over all I'm very pleased.
  • I'm two months out of surgery and one nerve was crushed and the other was pinched. OMG doc said permanent nerve damage and Neurosurgeon is sure it will return. I guess time will tell. I did have a stressful recovery but I'm getting there.

    Good Luck

    Cindy
    Cindy
  • I too have been told I have permanent nerve damage. I was hurt on the job in late 2006 and did not get to have surgery until June 2009. My disc was ruptured and had been ever since 2006. I have been told I will have permanent restrictions and will never be able to return to my previous job or any job of its kind. I am no where near retirement age and really don't want to apply for SSD, but what choice do I have? Totally bummed out. X( ACDF @ C5 and C6 with hardwear (plate and 4 pins)
  • I'm really glad I found this forum :) I've been suffering with a C5-C6 impingment since March 4th 2013. I received my injury DURING an MRI. I had gone in for my left arm. I had severe pain in my left forearm after a fall. I had a xray, ultrasound & a painful nerve conduction test come back negative! I was so upset... So the last resort was an MRI. well when I got there, I was advised because its my arm were looking at... its going to be awkward, postioning me in the machine & might be painful. I didn't quite understand until my arm was in the Cuff, & my arm had to be centered for the MRI. SO, They ended up laying me on my stomach & stretched my left arm (like superman) above my head & my head was kind of resting on the cuff~ my left arm was secured in the cuff. I was in teribble pain during the MRI..I was sweating, panting, my left bicep was killing me..eventually I pushed the alarm & got out! I had 5 more minutes to go. But they got what they needed.it showed I had torn ligaments & tennis elbow. Anyways, SOoooo Now I got home, & I'm resting watching T.V when I noticed out of the corner of my eye, my night shirt jumping. My left arm & chest was contracting out of control, non stop! Very strong contractions... I ended up back in the emergency that night, & thats when they told me its an impingment in my neck. MY left bicep was completely numb. It was unreal. My neck is so stiff now, I have to stretch all the time..my neck gets hot & at times feels like its burning. I had an episode about 2 months ago & I ended up back in the emerg. I had sharp pains in my head, the back of my neck was on fire! Its felt like someone was strangling me from behind. The hospital gave a needle in my arm & 3 tylenols(which did nothing for pain, just hurt my stomach) They had me do a CT scan(angiogram) The doc wanted to make sure there was no blockage to the brain. We ruled that out...it showed, At C5_C6 there is widening of the posterior disc space narrowing anteriorly with posterior spurs. encroaching on the cervical cord in this region. Chronic & degenerative.The doctor said to go ahead with my MRI, it will show more...as there is nothing they can do for me. I've been in so much pain. Some days are worst than others. I have been going to physio, massage therapy etc.. at least 3-4 times a week for my arm & neck for a while.SO I have an MRI coming up this Monday....I'm nervous. I get this feeling, later on I'm going to need decompression surgery. I really wasn't expecting to come out of the MRI with an "extra" injury. I guess I have to wait for the MRI results on my neck...
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    Unfortunately, yes, you will need to get the MRI done and bring both the CT scan and the MRI to the surgeon when you see him for a consult. That way, he will be able to see what both tests showed. Also bring the reports from the CT scan.
    I'm a bit confused though, an angiogram is done to check the blood flow through blood vessels , so did they also do a separate CT scan for your neck? CT scan is done to check bone in the spine and MRI is done to check the soft tissues in the spine, so the MRI will show if there is nerve impingement.
  • Hello. ^_^ Thank You for getting back to me. sorry I'm having a hard time explaining myself...
    Yes, The Ct scan was done on the neck, I guess to look at the blood flow, to insure the blood flow was 'flowing' (because I had bad pains in my head) He had said the word "brain" so I think I'm just trying explaining it, the way I understood the doctor :) ...I can't remember what the doctor called it though... But the CT scan did show the C5-C6 impingement. which was already suspected. The emerg doc advised me to f/u with the MRI (this Monday) as it will show exactly whats going on in my neck. I'm very curious to see what's happening in my neck. I will have my family doctor will make the referal to the specialist. I will definitely bring all my papers. Once I get the results from the MRI I will see what my options are..I just hope its not surgery..the thought makes me nervous. But, I guess I'll cross that path once I see the specialist.
  • It's understandable that the idea of surgery makes you nervous.It sure did me, and I did everything to avoid it ........even when I knew that it was necessary.
    Good luck with your MRI and hopefully , that will show that maybe some injections or physical therapy might help and surgery won't be necessary but you should check out the back and neck surgery forums and get some ideas about what types of surgery might be called for , if it is.
  • Hi Sandi, Thanks for the words of encouragement! ^_^ Well, I went today & had my MRI done on my neck & I was a little anxious but before I knew it it was over... Everyone there was so plesant. I was a little dizzy when it was all over, probably because I was laying still for such a long period of time. Because of my neck discomfort, I find myself constantly moving & stretching. anyways, Its okay, All is good! I'm in positive spirits. When I get my results I will share with u all.. fingers crossed! :)
  • ValVVal Posts: 5
    edited 09/24/2013 - 9:15 PM
    HI everyone, so now I recieved my MRI results & I am more confused than ever! Now my Doctor is sending me back to see the specialist to get a nerve conduction test. I am SO not looking forward to it! :/ So the MRI shows C3-C4 small central disc herniation not compressing neural elements(which is good) I guess...then C5-C6 Moderate generalized osteocartilaginous bar narrows the right neural foramen & moderately narrows the left neural foramen with suspected impingement of the exiting left-sided nerve root. There is affacement of the anterior subarachnoid space with mild stenosis of the spinal canal. then C6-C7 small central osteocartilaginous bar not compressing neural elements. Osteocartilaginous bar at C5-C6 causes mild stenosis & significant narrowing of the left neural foramen with suspected impingement of the left sided nerve root. Now, my understanding is its degenerative.. I'm confused about my pain...& symptoms...the burning, tightness, electrical zaps I randomly get, pins & needles & contractions. comes from all this? I guess the osteo "part" is degenerative & Chronic?...what part is causing the symptoms? I have no idea how to treat this or what my options are...now my doctors has refered me to get a EMG in my neck! I'm so scared cause the one I had in my arm hurt SO bad! Not looking forward to it! I feel like my doctor is upset with me because of my poor posture..I almost feel like its my fault..now I'm just confused. Is this something I have to live with? if there's anyone that can help me understand better whats going on that would be helpful. Thank U :/


    b]http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/mri-reports-why-we-cant-advise
  • I found out that our nerves get pinched or interfered with when the bones they run between or around get pushed out of alignment. Those bones get pushed out of alignment because of muscle imbalances or just being held in an unnatural position for too long (sleeping). When I strengthened some weak muscles and quit holding my body in bad positions all my pinched nerves, joint pain, back pain, headaches, etc. went away. There's a book on Amazon called "Eliminating Pain: Your Guide to a Better LIfestyle" that details all this and how to overcome hip/spine/joint problems.
  • TonyJumperTTonyJumper Posts: 1
    edited 12/18/2013 - 8:05 PM
    Thank you for sharing your experience, its very interesting ... I just want to ask if pinched nerve can happen to younger kids too ?


    Link removed, not permitted.Please read the Forum rules
    Post Edited by Liz The Spine-Health Moderator Team
  • me = pinched nerves at c4 c5. fought it for almost a year before surgery with titanium plate. it did not help the pain - but it arrested the continuation of damage, i feel. it is hard to make the decision for surgery, but i think it is necessary after 6 months of trying everything else with no relief. the issue will be with long term treatment, if the pain stays with you. it is hard for even doctors to understand chronic pain. the key will be to finding a good doctor that can work side by side with you. let me know if i can help - i have run the gamut.
    Surgery c4-5, many epidurals, many different drugs.
  • robotbobrrobotbob Posts: 14
    edited 12/23/2013 - 7:13 AM
    have chronic pain in neck back and left tricep forearm top, and top of hand,,, help
  • Val said:
    HI everyone, so now I recieved my MRI results & I am more confused than ever! Now my Doctor is sending me back to see the specialist to get a nerve conduction test. I am SO not looking forward to it! :/ So the MRI shows C3-C4 small central disc herniation not compressing neural elements(which is good) I guess...then C5-C6 Moderate generalized osteocartilaginous bar narrows the right neural foramen & moderately narrows the left neural foramen with suspected impingement of the exiting left-sided nerve root. There is affacement of the anterior subarachnoid space with mild stenosis of the spinal canal. then C6-C7 small central osteocartilaginous bar not compressing neural elements. Osteocartilaginous bar at C5-C6 causes mild stenosis & significant narrowing of the left neural foramen with suspected impingement of the left sided nerve root. Now, my understanding is its degenerative.. I'm confused about my pain...& symptoms...the burning, tightness, electrical zaps I randomly get, pins & needles & contractions. comes from all this? I guess the osteo "part" is degenerative & Chronic?...what part is causing the symptoms? I have no idea how to treat this or what my options are...now my doctors has refered me to get a EMG in my neck! I'm so scared cause the one I had in my arm hurt SO bad! Not looking forward to it! I feel like my doctor is upset with me because of my poor posture..I almost feel like its my fault..now I'm just confused. Is this something I have to live with? if there's anyone that can help me understand better whats going on that would be helpful. Thank U :/


    b]http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/mri-reports-why-we-cant-advise
    Val, I have very similar MRI results. Osteoarthritis, DDD, severe foraminal narrowing and mild central canal stenosis. I have lots of "buzzing" down my left arm into my hand, especially when I bend over and go to the bathroom(?) Not sure what's up with that. I do not see a neurosurgeon until Feb, so until then I'm just doing some neck stretches I read about and working on my posture. Thankfully, I am in very little pain and ibuprofen helps a lot. The pain does seem to be getting worse. My biggest complaint, and I don't even know if they are related, is dizziness and brain fog. I have also had a MRI of the brain, and it was normal. I'm afraid my next test will be an EMG, and from what I've heard, they aren't any fun!
    ab1988
  • Kathy SchleglKKathy Schlegl Posts: 1
    edited 06/05/2014 - 1:15 PM
    My story is very long but after 2 cervical fusions C4/5 5/6, at different times, after a car accident I was back at work doing well. I tripped on uneven pavement ripping the fusions. I had to have more fusions in my neck as well as my lumbar spine. Everyone ignored my pain in my neck. I would get spots in front of my eyes like a camera flash leaves you with.
    I also have anxiety, depression, headache, dizziness, spasm in my left shoulder, and both trapezius muscles, nausea and this built up to vertigo. It definitely would come on if I sat with my neck unsupported. The doctors seemed to ignore it all thinking I guess I could put up with it. My ortho retired and I went to a new neurosurgeon who ignored it as well until the vertigo and nausea and other symptoms became more unbearable. The neuro ran every test on me, my ears etc. even took me off my meds. I was miserable. Finally he agreed to do surgery with another fusion likely. When I came out of surgery he said sorry, that he saw both exiting nerves at C6/7 were fully pinched and he could tell they had been that way for awhile. He didn't see this on the X-ray. He also said he didn't know how long it would take to heal, he opened up the foramin and another fusion. Damaged nerves usually took as long as it was injured to heal. This meant if it does heal it would take 19 years. Now after 4 years I still have all the symptoms, I just have to use my arms and sit with my head unsupported.
    I hope you do not have this problem. I am so miserable. I keep looking for help but I don't find much. I did find a study several years ago done in California saying that when doing autopsies on whiplash cadavers they found that all had damage of some sort. They had reported symptoms, many had been told there was nothing there but after wards they found reasons for their pain. Don't give up on finding an answer. I don't always recommend surgery tho, stem cells look very impressive. I wish doctors were using them more.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,899
    edited 01/14/2016 - 10:13 PM
    This is an old thread, for best support and information I suggest you make a new thread, you can do this by clicking on 'create forum post' on the left column.



    http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-spine-health-how-get-started

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Is an MRI the only way to see if you have nerve damage in the neck?
    Does a nerve conduction study test show damaged nerves as well.
    I have nerve issues, in my neck and upper back, which affect my breathing properly.
    Im so scared.
  • tinandttinand Posts: 1
    edited 11/12/2014 - 11:42 PM
    It gets numb and very painful in that area after doing most anything I have had this for years, but I would like to bring up another subject.
    I hope this is the right section.
    I have a SC joint separation, I can not lift my left arm only half way toward the ceiling and have a prominent lump where my clavicle is sticking out.My doctor told me that it is something I would just have to live with.
    I did some research and found that there is surgery for this.
    My question is why would she say such a ridicules thing?
    does anyone else have any experience with an issue like this?
    Tina M Daum
  • StubeeSStubee Posts: 1
    edited 08/10/2015 - 8:33 PM
    Reading the other posts makes me feel not alone. I have had back pain from servere to mild with a constant numb thumb on my right hand. I use my hands for focused usuage in my job, delicate and specific .
    My c5c6 is collapsed and PT and steroids did nothing. The dr said it was like a brick in a hose and wouldn't get better and could get worse. Am scheduled for surgery . It concerns me especially the recovery as I am not in severe pain at the moment but do have continual numbness. I just don't want to have regrets. If I can prevent the numbness from getting worse and potentially better I suppose it will be worth it. Time will tell. Good luck to all!

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information! ~moderator, savage
    Stuart may
  • natben18nnatben18 Posts: 1
    edited 08/10/2015 - 8:33 PM
    Hi,

    For years I have suffered with neck pain, headaches, dizziness, head fog, nausea and my arms ache if I use them too much, and in the last year it has severely worsened.
    Over the years I have tried a few things which didn't work; steroid injections, physiotherapy, osteopathy, massages.

    My MRI shows herniated discs in my neck (both near my head and shoulders), and pinched nerve(s). The neck specialist gave me steroid injections which did nothing so referred me to a spine surgeon (neuro surgeon) who told me there's nothing that can be done, no surgery and that I have to live with it. Well, I can't live with it.

    Today I saw a musculoskeletal specialist who wants me to do some exercises and very very slowly increase the duration of them. She said my middle back is stiff and if I loosen it that the neck discs will not push onto the nerve. She also wants me to take fish oil and Dophilus Vegetable Capsules, 120 and to cut sugar out of my diet.

    I guess I'm just hoping for some advice, or someone who suffers similarly..or anything really.

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information! ~moderator, savage
  • I have been dealing with this same problem! I've been to the ER multiple times and have gotten no relief except for when I get a steroid shot. On a scale to 10 the shot helps about a 4 which is better than nothing! I have a sharp stabbing pain behind my shoulder blade that radiates down my left arm and into my elbow and fingers. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I don't sleep. It gets worse at night. The pain is so horrid it wakes me up. I feel like my arm is going numb and if I don't re position the pain gets worse. I have to sit up in bed and try to move a certain way to make it better. The ER said pinched nerve but also said it wouldn't hurt in my hand. I felt like they thought I was nuts. To read other people going through the same thing makes me feel like I'm NOT crazy! Thank you!!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,127
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!

    moderator, ~~savage

  • SongJinSSongJin Arizona Posts: 257
    Boy, I have been going through the same questions! I've had radiculopathy in my right hand since last spring, and it's started happening in my other hand now too. I've got problems at three different vertebrae, but at C5-6 I've got a bad disc and a bone spur that are moving my spinal cord. My pain management doctor and my original referring doctor are saying I should continue with conservative treatment, but the neurosurgeon seemed totally sure that although I can delay surgery with injections, etc, that's all it is--a delay. That bone spur isn't going anywhere, and he said the longer I wait, the more risk there is of permanent nerve or spinal cord damage. He didn't say how long that could take, but he said in his opinion, if it's been going on for over 6 months with no real improvement, it's time to consider surgery. I went ahead and scheduled the surgery for February 29th, but it is disconcerting not to have everyone I've seen saying the same thing. However, I've seen so many people here saying that they delayed surgery and ended up with permanent damage, and I don't want that!
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