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C3,4,5, and 6 Bulging Discs/Whiplash

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,623
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:29 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello,

I'm at a loss for explanation of what is happening with my neck. I've read a lot of posts of people with similar problems and I'm trying to determine the best method to fix my current pain issues.
I'm a healthy 30 year old former triple sport athlete with no history of neck pain. I was in a minor rear end car accident 8 months ago and suffered a concussion and whiplash. I still suffer from daily pain in my neck- it's even painful to the touch. From my neck, there is radiating pain in my head- causing medium to severe headaches almost daily. I have random stabbing pain throughout my back as well. I've seen a chiropractor (4 months), a PT (3 months) and nothing seems to be working. I had an MRI of my neck and found that I have bulging discs at C3 - C6, as well as one in my lumber region (forgot which one). I've been told by the neurologist that this is nomal and that it probably isn't causing my pain.
Does anyone have any ideas or simiar experiences they would share with me? I'm at a loss and am starting to wonder if this will ever go away!
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Comments

  • Hi!

    The MRI isn't the be all/end all test and a lot of doctors think it is. I had 3 of them before having a myelogram and discogram (this was for my lumbar) that finally showed I had a grade 3 annular tear and a big chunk of disc was missing which allowed my vertebras to rock around and bang into my nerves and spinal cord causing movement pain.

    Since you have tried several conservative approaches and none have worked, maybe you should consider seeing a neuro surgeron or an ortho surgeron. Most of the neurologist that I've seen seem to be on another planet and keep prescribing nerve pain drugs and never really addressed my pain like I thought it should be. Also, just because you see a surgeon doesn't mean that you are automatically going to have surgery, so don't let that scare you...it's just that these guys have seen people, operated on, and done more with the nerves/physical pain aspects...this is my own opinion of course.

    8 months of neck pain should have resolved itself by now with all the therapy you've done. Also, bulging discs in the neck area are more symptomatic than lumbar bulges since the cord is closer and is "fatter" at that level.

    See another doctor and get more opinions...seems this isn't going away and you may have nerve issues going on that aren't seen on the MRI. There are radiologists that miss things and they don't get on the report...the neurologist just reads the report and doesn't look at the films himself and you don't get the care that you should have.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. I think that perhaps a second opinion may be in order, maybe a OS that deals with the spine or a NS instead of a neurologist. Hope that you find the answers you need.

    mark
  • A more conservative approach would be to consult with a pain management doc. Most PM docs understand whiplash pain issues when surgeons and neurologists do not.

    Welcome to Spine Health.

    "C"
  • Thank you for your response. I'm sorry to hear that you went through so much. I hope it gets better soon. I'm sorry to say this but it sounds like you're in pretty rough shape. Are the Doctors doing anything for your neck?

    I've gotten so used to the Doc's word being final and I'm tired of being so bent out of shape from a minor accident. It's weird- my family Doc keeps prescribing pills, I basically live on Lyrica and Vicodan. The PT keeps telling me it will just take time (when I don't seem to be getting better at all), the Neurologist seems less concerned with my neck and focuses on the Migraines I've had for over 10 years. He said that significant bulges in these areas are perfectly normal for a 30 year old and they shouldn't be causing any pain. Yet here I am. I can't lift my children, grocery shop alone, and I swear I'm a hazard on the road because I've gotten in the habit of "cheating" when I'm driving and not really turning my neck to look behind me.

    I'm very doom and gloom tonight. Sorry- I think you caught me at a bad time!

    Well thanks again for the response, I will consider talking to a Surgeon. I think this is a really smart aproach. Currently, plan D involves cortizone shots. I think I will give this a try and line the surgeon up as a plan E.

    Take care and best of luck,

    teener782002
  • I appreciate the replies and I'm noticing a theme with the profile pics. Very cute *_*

    I really feel fortunate to have received relatively minor injuries. I've read some of your summaries and I really feel for you all!

    It helps to hear other opinions from people who've been through somewhat similar situations, although I think mine is very minor comparitively! I will keep my head up (as much as I'm able to *_*) and keep you posted.

    Thanks again!

    p.s. Does anyone think the cortizone shots are worth a try?
  • Hello and thank you for the advice. What exactly does a PM do? I don't have any personal experience with that field.

    Thanks,

    Chris
  • I am an official member of the "been there done that" club. I got ran off the road by a semi and into a rock wall. Then my car did a couple of flips and landed on it's side. I ended up with a disc herniation that was basically poking my spine and causing me some serious neurological issues. Like I couldn't feel things that I was holding in my hand and was walking sideways and feeling like I was falling out of chairs. I had ACDF at C5/C6. That means that the doctor removes the disc between the vertebrae fills it with either donor bone or your own bone and then puts a plate and screws in the front of it to hold it all together until it becomes one solid bone. But I've done a LOT of homework on Whiplash since my accident and it can take up to 2 years for the pain to reside completely. Pain Mgmt can mean a few things. Some can recommend treatments like injections to numb any nerves in your neck that they think may be causing you problems. They can prescribe meds to help with the pain or they could have you in a Physical Therapy program to help you work out the kinks in your neck or they can do a combination of any of these depending on your symptoms and how you respond. I feel for you whiplash HURTS! No doubt about it.
  • You think your accident was minor, but yet, you say you can't turn your head or lift your children. That's not minor. Minor is that you're a little sore from an accident, but it goes away after PT. Those steriod shots in the neck are more painful than the lumbar ones. If you do try them, hopefully they will give you something to keep the pain down. My stepfather had them in the neck and was out of it pretty much for the day he had them. They gave him a strong pain killer which got him into the car, but he slept the rest of the day. The shot should take down inflammation and swelling which will help in the short run. If you still have some nerve involvement, the shot will be short-lived and you will go back to hurting after a couple of weeks. Sure, it's worth a try, but don't get settled into having shots every month or 4 times a year to survive. Steriods are not good for your total body in the long run, but do help shortly.

    Only you know how bad this is hurting you and causing changes in your life...like driving and kids. I was seeing a PM for my low back and he was continuing the ESI shots on me, until I said "no more" that I was tired of shots and the hassle and wanted to go see what else could be done. There were people there that had been coming to him for years getting shots every so often to survive. That's not for me! But everyone has to make their own decisions based on what they can stand pain-wise, money-wise, time-wise, etc.

    Good luck and I hope you get some relief. Neck pain to me has been more mentally exhausting than my low-back was. I guess tension, stress, and all that makes it much worse because of where it's at.

    Melisa
  • Hi Teener,

    I can really identify with all the problems your having.I was in an accident( 6 cars on the freeway) on 12/2007 and since then have had neck/right shoulder pain that includes severe headaches on the right side of my head,throbbing/stabbing pain in neck and right shoulder, trouble sleeping,lifting things, turning my neck when driving and just over problems with every day chores.I went to physical therapy for 8 months and it did not improve the pain overall.

    I had a Cervical MRI in 08/2008 and the results were CENTRAL DISC PROTRUSION AT C4-5 FLATTENS THE VENTRAL ASPECT OF THE CORD.DISC BULGE AT C6-7 WITHOUT SPINAL STENOSIS.The specialist decided that it wasn't my disc causing all the pain but my Cervical Facet Joints.So far I have had cervical facet injections,Epidural Injections,Trigger Point injections,and a Cervical facet Rhizotomy which did not improve my pain but left me wwith severe nerve pain and sensitivity in my neck and upper back.I live on Vicodin/Flexeril/Lyrica also.I am so frustrated and don't know what to do next.I have seen 3 different pain specialist and none of these procedures have helped.Right now I am trying to find a doctor to go to that will help.
    Let me know what happens with you Teener, I really feel for you as I'm in the same boat as you.

  • I'm sorry to hear about your situation- it's not a fun one (and I know!). It's just o.k. enough to give the appearance of normal but severe enough to leave you thinking about it all the time. I almost feel like I need to keep reminding my family of my pain so they don't think I'm being lazy.
    Does any of this sound familiar???

    I really hope you find a solution- if you do, please share!!

    Take care,

    Christine
  • I'm sorry to hear about your situation- it's not a fun one (and I know!). It's just o.k. enough to give the appearance of normal but severe enough to leave you thinking about it all the time. I almost feel like I need to keep reminding my family of my pain so they don't think I'm being lazy.
    Does any of this sound familiar???

    I really hope you find a solution- if you do, please share!!

    Take care,

    Christine
  • Hi Christine,

    You nailed it on the head when you said that our appearances seem normal but the pain keeps us thinking about it all the time.It really effects everything I do and I also have to remind my husband and kids that I am not doing ok,and sometimes I need help.I have sent some of my medical records(almost 300 pages) to 2 doctors, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the cervical spine and a neurologist at a spine center.Once they have reviewed them and suggest treatments I'll let you know as it really sounds like we have a lot of the same issues.If you ever need to just chat, please feel free to IM me or send a message.I really am so happy I found this website, it makes me feel a little better to know that I'm not alone in this struggle.

    Take care and lets keep in touch,

    Moe
  • I'm wondering how you're doing Moe. I hope you've had some luck with the new doctors. I've been trying to avoid dealing with my pain issues but it's been basically impossible so here I am!

    I'm considering cortisone injections. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this topic.

    Thank you!!
  • It`s rough what you`ve been through. I would get a 2nd or 3rd opinion from an Orthopedic Surgeon and a NeuroSurgeon. I`ve had cortisone injections and they have helped the pain. Good luck and hope you have less pain. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Hi Christine,

    Thanks for asking how I'm doing.I finally got in to see a neurologist at a Health Restorative Clinic.I saw both the neurologist and a homeopathic doctor.They suggested a combination of homeopathic and medical treatment.They have me taking 300-600 mg of magnesium along with 60-80 oz of water a day.They also gave me a new muscle relaxer,Skelaxin, 3 or 4 times a day as the muscles are so tight in my neck and right shoulder.The also suggested acupuncture for the pain so tomorrow I have my first visit.I am also going in 2 weeks to get an injection in my ocular nerve.The neurologist seems to think this might help with the severe headaches I have.I guess I still have a lot of swelling so they want to work on that and then will begin to treat the cause of the pain.I also stopped taking the Lyrica because it makes me feel so dopey but severe nerve pain came back.

    How are you doing? I know that you said you're trying to ignore the pain but believe me, it doesn't work.Keep trying, demanding if you have to, to get an effective treatment for yourself. I have had Epidural cortizone injections and Cervical Facet cortizone injections.They didn't work for me but I think some people get relief from them.The procedures aren't to bad and are over very quickly.Let me know how you're doing Christine and don't get discouraged.I know I sometimes do but one way or another I'm going to get better!

    Moe
  • The injections the doctor is going to give me are in my occipital nerve not my occular nerve.Hopefully they will help my headaches.I'll let you know.

    Moe
  • I'm glad to hear you're on track with a new plan. Accupuncture has provided temporary relief for me in the past for headaches. I hope that there is something that can be done to relieve the nerve pain. Lyrica is definately a trade off drug. It actually gives me headaches (minor) but the relief it provides is well worth it.
    It's interesting that you mention tight muscles. I saw a new PT today and she also said that the muscles in my neck, shoulders and back were so tight that she couldn't really address any other concerns.
    Did you have any issues with smell/taste? I lost about 75 percent of these senses after the accident. I've been told they may return but so far it hasn't happened.

  • Thank you for the welcome. It's always great to hear from others and know that you're not alone. It sounds like you have been through quite a bit yourself. I think it will be easier to have positive attitude now that spring is here (I'm in Minnesota and it was a really really cold winter!).
    Keep me posted on your progress.

    Take care,

    Chris
  • in a MVA that resulted in severe whiplash. My car was totaled and I am lucky to be alive, although on some days I question that. This was in 04 and I've tried every conservative and alternative treatment under the sun along with many medications with only moderate success at best. And now I have arthritis that has set in and of course there is no cure for that condition. Good luck, I hope you find something/someone who can help you. It's unfortunate that a few seconds in time can change your life forever. For what it's worth, I have found that muscle relaxers have helped the most, but my PM doc will only prescribe a limited amount because of the dependency factor.
  • Hello,

    I'm writing to give an update on my situation. I was admitted to the hospital last week for a severe 5 day headache (this wasn't the first episode). After an MRI and 2 CT scans, I was diagnosed with a fractured cribriform plate and a csf leak. This was a result of the whiplash injury; my brain hit my skull with enough pressure that it cracked (new nickname- Crackhead!). Apparently, this has been the cause for my headaches, neck pain, sinus pain/pressure (sinusitis like symptoms), and possibly even back and shoulder (referred) pain. I'm waiting to hear back from the Neurosurgeon with treatment options.

    I'm writing with the hope that someone out there reading this will recognize the symptoms and get a diagnosis. I guess it's often overlooked in the medical field and presents with symptoms that are often misdiagnosed.


    Best of luck!
  • You sure have been through a lot. I'm happy that you've been given a clear diagnosis finally. Thanks for taking the time to share with us. Keep letting us know how you are doing!
    Thanks,
    Dee
  • Thank god that they found out what the headache was from.Hopefully they can find a good form of treatment to help you.
    I was in a car accident last october just before halloween,six months after my 3level fusion.I ended up with whiplash as well.I started doing massages for it the day after it happened and i get one every ten days ever since,i'm on muscle relaxers and anti inflammatories and pain meds. to help with the tight muscles,pain and inflammation.I also am doing therapy for it three days a week,i've found its helping so i don't want to stop it yet.I also started getting dizzy spells,at first i thought it was related to the spinal cord problems but i was checked out by the surgeon and referred back to my own doctor to have my ears checked.he said he thought it was from the accident.My own doctor checked and said that they looked fine and she felt it was an imbalance in my neck from the fusion and the car accident because the muscles are so tight.Once the muscles calm down and everything is more balanced then they will let up.After the accident i did have bad headaches for quite a while every single day but as therapy continued the headaches got fewer and fewer and now i may have one every couple of weeks if that.At least i'm showing some improvements.
  • Hi,

    I was in an accident on 10/27/2008. Hit from behind and rammed into the car in front of me. This is the 8th time I have been hit in the last 10 years. Lousy commute.

    I am suffering from a bulging cervical disc at c6-c7, degenerative arthritis at c1-5 and whiplash from an accident in October of 08. I also have some spurs that the doctor said are contributing. I have been in debilitating pain that affects my left and right arm all the time. The pain never lets up and I am constantly suffering from upper neck pain and frequent headaches as well. I have tried pain medication but it does not help. If I use my arms at all the pain goes from my shoulder area all the way down to my hand. Even if i stop what I am doing it feels like someone is twisting my muscles and nerves and it will not stop until someone massages really hard in my shoulder area for about 10 minutes and that is temporary at best.. I am so aggravated by being in this much pain and I have sleep apnea on top of all this and I am losing sleep at night because of this.. The neurologist keeps changing my appointment (arrogant doctor ) but the only one where I live. My muscles in my shoulder area feel like banjo strings. Sometimes my hand even gets cold. Physical therapy, cortisone shots and Chiropractics did not help and I am really afraid of surgery. Everyone on this post seems to have the same problems I am experiencing and I was wondering if anyone has had surgery, what kind of surgery and what the % of success did the doctor predict.

    Thanks,

    Gary
  • Please see my PM to you to help you get more responses to your situation and questions.

    Cath
  • teener782002 said:
    Hello,

    I'm at a loss for explanation of what is happening with my neck. I've read a lot of posts of people with similar problems and I'm trying to determine the best method to fix my current pain issues.
    I'm a healthy 30 year old former triple sport athlete with no history of neck pain. I was in a minor rear end car accident 8 months ago and suffered a concussion and whiplash. I still suffer from daily pain in my neck- it's even painful to the touch. From my neck, there is radiating pain in my head- causing medium to severe headaches almost daily. I have random stabbing pain throughout my back as well. I've seen a chiropractor (4 months), a PT (3 months) and nothing seems to be working. I had an MRI of my neck and found that I have bulging discs at C3 - C6, as well as one in my lumber region (forgot which one). I've been told by the neurologist that this is nomal and that it probably isn't causing my pain.
    Does anyone have any ideas or simiar experiences they would share with me? I'm at a loss and am starting to wonder if this will ever go away!
    I underwent a surgery for my neck after I met with a car accident seven months back.Titanium implant has been used to fuse the discs.I have limitation to turn and move fast.I am using a small neck collar while driving
  • ajmaajm Posts: 2
    edited 06/29/2015 - 4:48 AM
    Anonymous said:
    Hello,

    I'm at a loss for explanation of what is happening with my neck. I've read a lot of posts of people with similar problems and I'm trying to determine the best method to fix my current pain issues.
    I'm a healthy 30 year old former triple sport athlete with no history of neck pain. I was in a minor rear end car accident 8 months ago and suffered a concussion and whiplash. I still suffer from daily pain in my neck- it's even painful to the touch. From my neck, there is radiating pain in my head- causing medium to severe headaches almost daily. I have random stabbing pain throughout my back as well. I've seen a chiropractor (4 months), a PT (3 months) and nothing seems to be working. I had an MRI of my neck and found that I have bulging discs at C3 - C6, as well as one in my lumber region (forgot which one). I've been told by the neurologist that this is nomal and that it probably isn't causing my pain.
    Does anyone have any ideas or simiar experiences they would share with me? I'm at a loss and am starting to wonder if this will ever go away!

    I was rear ended also, ended up with a torn meniscus and bulging discsin my neck, same area as you. Had disc replacement surgery, feel way better but not 100 percent. Now the insurance company of the person who hit me is hiring a biomechanical engineer, most like to say is not possible to get bulging discs in a minor rear end accident. I still have issues with my neck, feels like it will always be that way but the surgery definitely helped.

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on Welcome to learn more about SH and how to navigate this site for best benefit to you.
  • Anonymous said:
    Hello,

    I'm at a loss for explanation of what is happening with my neck. I've read a lot of posts of people with similar problems and I'm trying to determine the best method to fix my current pain issues.
    I'm a healthy 30 year old former triple sport athlete with no history of neck pain. I was in a minor rear end car accident 8 months ago and suffered a concussion and whiplash. I still suffer from daily pain in my neck- it's even painful to the touch. From my neck, there is radiating pain in my head- causing medium to severe headaches almost daily. I have random stabbing pain throughout my back as well. I've seen a chiropractor (4 months), a PT (3 months) and nothing seems to be working. I had an MRI of my neck and found that I have bulging discs at C3 - C6, as well as one in my lumber region (forgot which one). I've been told by the neurologist that this is nomal and that it probably isn't causing my pain.
    Does anyone have any ideas or simiar experiences they would share with me? I'm at a loss and am starting to wonder if this will ever go away!
    I also got a concussion, and verigo. So dizziness and memory losses are part of it.
  • BlessedMom74BBlessedMom74 Posts: 322
    edited 06/29/2015 - 4:28 AM
    The MRI doesn't show everything. I was diagnosed with herniated disc at C4/5 and bulged disc at C5/6 after being rear ended at 45 miles an hour. After months of horrible headaches, burning in neck and shoulder blade, hand numbness, I had 3 doctors tell me my MRI was " normal" for a 40 year old. Interestingly though, I never had these pains before my accident. They kept prescribing narcotics and that wasn't acceptable to me. So after 18 months if chronic pain, that never subsided (I too tried PT for a year, acupuncture for 6 months and had an epidural to the neck) nothing worked.
    I finally found a neurosurgeon willing to operate. Turned out I had a torn ligament in my neck, my disc at C 4/5 was obliterated and the disc matter was smeared all over spinal cord. MRI didn't begin to show any of this or the severity of it. Yet I had 3 doctors tell me my MRI was normal fir a 40 year old.
    My point is, if you're still in pain, keep going to different neurosurgeons until you find one willing to investigate what is causing your pain and willing to help you. You have to be stubborn and stay the course. And I would definitely go see a neurosurgeon. 8 months is plenty to know whatever is going on isn't going to heal on its own.
    Good luck!
  • I really don't understand why people are so afraid of surgery. After 19 months of debilitating headaches, chronic sharp pain in my neck and horrible burning in my shoulder blade I was practically begging for the doctor to operate on me if it even gave me a glimmer of a chance that I could be pain free. Who and why would you want to live with pain every day. For me my quality of life was deteriorating so quickly due to chronic pain that I was wanting a permanent fix.
    I was so happy to have found a neurosurgeon who was willing to help me.
    I am now 8 weeks post op of ACDF surgery and my quality of life has already improved. While I am not completely pain free yet as I am still healing, I have more pain free days now than ever before. A bad day now is a pain scale of 5 where as before that was a good day. I would do the surgery again in a heartbeat.
    I have a synthetic PEEK cage whe my disc used to be and a titanium plate was used to hold everything in place while fusion takes place. I didn't have to wear a collar and my range of motion is better now than it was before surgery. I have full 90 degree movement left to right and I can tuck my chin to my chest now. In the hands of a good qualified surgeon, this surgery can have extremely successful outcome.
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