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8 months since diganosis - next steps?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone -
Back in July, I started experiencing neck/shoulder pain that was eventually diganosed as a herniated disc (C6/C7). I started to get better and hurt myself again in November after trying to lift too much weight.

After months of rest, drugs and cervical traction, I finally started to get better.

Today I am feeling about 75% back to normal. I have some days where I can be fairly active, and others when even bouncing up and down slightly (such as walking down stairs) will cause discomfort in my shoulder and arm (I say 'discomfort' because it's not like the constant pain I was experiencing during the acute phase).

I guess what I'm asking is - what should I do next? I continue to do traction a few times a week just out of habit, in addition to bouncing daily on an exercise ball (a tip I picked up online from some chiropractor trying to sell a 'heal your herniated disc' course). I try to do a lot of walking and stairclimbing, and plan to try to get back to playing tennis soon.

I don't take any more pain meds or even Advil - just some Glucosamine Chondroitin and a multivitamin.

Should I see a PT or Chiro? I'd love to get another MRI, but I can't afford it.

Just wondering if anyone here has dealt with a similar situation. I know that these sorts of injuries are supposed to take "a lot of time" to heal, but I was wondering what else to expect. My main concern is whether or not I'll ever get back to 100%.

Thanks in advance!


  • Well, I guess no one can help me on this one. I even talked to my physical therapist, and he said there isn't much else one can do in this situation.

    I guess I should feel fortunate that I've avoided surgery (thus far), and my goal of course is to continue to avoid it.
  • I'm surprised nobody had posted back to you, but it might have been that you got shoved to the second page before many people were able to see your post.

    Anyway, I really can't answer your question because I had no choice but to have surgery. You sound like you're doing pretty well, but are you having any more symptoms such as muscle spasms, arm/hand issues?

    Let us know how you're doing today, vs. a few weeks ago.

  • Hey There,

    I am in much the same situation. Last June I herniated C4-5 and C5-6 while boating. I saw my PCP and had an MRI, was referred to an ORS, who recommended PT. I did that for 3 months and then saw a NS. He recommended immediate surgery (ACDF) which I scheduled but then cancelled. I have been seeing a Chiro since February and much to my surprise, I am much improved. However, a couple of weeks ago I re-injured and had more pain and numbness. This is starting to subside again. My Chiro uses VERY gentle techniques and I have a deep tissue massage once per week. I am determined to avoid surgery if at all possible so will keep seeing the Chiro and hoping for the best. Good luck to you.
  • Thanks for responding to my post.

    Well, as far as symptoms, I have mild ones sometimes, but not the severe numbness and pain I had months ago. I actually don't feel any pain whatsover.

    If I am doing something active and jerk or move the wrong way, I'll feel a twinge of pain zing from my neck, into my shoulder and forearm (this lets me know to take it easy!). Also, if I jump up and down fairly rigorously, I can get that same pain.

    Other than that, I don't really have any pain. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, I'll get a slight twinge of pain in my hand or shoulder, but it only lasts a few mintues. It happens infrequently. Kind of like having good days and bad days, you know? I guess it's all part of the healing process.

    All I can gather is that I'm healing slowly, but still not 100%. My NS told me the herniation would heal eventually if I didn't reaggravate the injury, so that's what I'm counting on.

    I guess I just didn't know if I should be doing something therapy-wise that I'm not doing now, or if I shouldn't be trying to be physically active. I think being active is a good thing, and I am taking it easy and paying attention to what my body is telling me, so I think as long as I do that I'll be okay. And, I'm definitely not trying to lift anything heavy, or do any load-bearing exercise. Just walking, throwing a frisbee, hoping to play some tennis soon, etc.

    Anyway, thanks for replying! Best of luck to both of you with your injuries.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    Since you already know you have a herniated cervical disc, I would not suggest seeing a chiropractor. Some of the manipulations they do could cause more harm.
    Without further diagnostic testing (MRI, EMG, etc) it would be very difficult to figure out what your next step would be.
    If you have a doctor that is willing to work with you, besides Physical Therapy, perhaps there would be other
    conservative treatments that you could have.
    Without future testing, you just have to be careful in what you are doing. There are situations where herniated discs can heal over time, but alot depends on how large the herniation was.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks for the heads up. I did see a Chiropractor, and he wouldn't touch me after seeing all my medical records.

    Long story short, I had an aching neck that eventually became a herniated disc. I had an X-RAY and an MRI. The MRI results were:

    "A significant disc herniation present at the C6-C7 Level, with significant canal stenosis to approximately 6 to 7 mm demonstrated. A large left paracentral component is demonstrated, causing significant neural forminal compromise." Additionally, I have "mild posterior disc protrusion at the C5-C6 level."

    My physical therapist said I was very close to having to have surgery. But, as I said, my neurosurgeon said it was a "soft" herniation (I don't know what that means, really), and that it would heal over time if I didn't aggravate it.

    And, I have been doing MUCH better, so I feel encouraged that with more time and proper care it will heal.

    I probably shouldn't even be complaining since so many others have had to have surgery and are still in pain, but I'm determined to get as close to 100% as I can.

    Thans again, Ron.

  • Scott, it sounds like you're doing exactly what you should be doing - taking care of yourself and letting your herniation have the chance to heal.

    But always be aware of any new symptoms that appear such as significant pain in the middle of your back (muscle spasms), any tingling, numbness or weakness in your arms, or significant arm muscle pain. If any of these arise, it's time to go back to your surgeon for new testing.

    I hope you never experience any of the above issues and continue to heal. Please keep us updated on how you're doing.

    Take care,
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