I am looking for any advice or just someone to commiserate with!! I had a work injury in Jan '07 that was misdiagnosed as a "trapezius muscle strain". I was sent to a chiropractor prior to any MRIs eventhough I had zinging and n/t in my right hand that was making life very difficult (I kept dropping things and my fine motor skills were decreasing). I had adjustments, ultrasound and massage therapy which I liked because my pain decreased but I continued to tell them I was having n/t in my right hand. Finally in May '07 I had an MRI that showed disc herniation c5-c6 on the right (OOPS!). I had epidural injections which aggrevated my injury to the point of finally putting me out of work for the severe pain in my shoulder, neck and hand as well as HORRIBLE headaches that totally incapacitated me. My NS was great and performed a "posterior lamenotomy?sp" which failed and then immediately performed the ACDF. When I woke up from the ACDF I wanted to kiss my surgeon.....I FELT GREAT!!! I could tell the difference between the post op pain and the chronic pain I had been dealing with for 9 months and I knew I was on the mend.
I went back to work after 6 weeks with a clearance of 100% capability and I felt like I was cured! I work as a Labor and Delivery nurse and had no restrictions. About three months ago (two years post ACDF) I began to notice discomfort in my neck. Since my NS said that could occasionally happen I just took Ibuprofen and ignored it. A month ago after 2 very intense and busy weeks at work I could barely move my neck, had intense right shoulder pain, intense headache with dizziness and my right hand/arm was cramping and freezing up occasionally. Well....guess what the Employee Health doc said it was....yup a muscle strain! I very politely told him that I had heard that one before and I wanted an MRI.....he told me I would have to have "herniated 7 discs to have all the symptoms I SUPPOSEDLY had". When I asked about the headaches and dizziness he also tried to tell me I simply was having anxiety and tension headaches. I basically told him to cork it and order the MRI. So my results showed cord compression again at C5-C6 with spondylosis at C6-C7....I have an appointment with my NS July 28. I have been going to PT and is helping release some of the muscle pain with trigger point therapy and Kinesiotaping but my headaches are still there (more at the end of the day now with just a mild degree of dizziness)with the right shoulder/arm/hand "cramping". The physical therapist is very good about stopping anything if it causes those symptoms to become aggravated as he thinks I am having significant nerve involvement. I am currently on work restrictions (no lifting more than 5 lbs, no reaching or pulling, pushing, etc) until I see my NS.
Some of my questions:
1. Are headaches/dizziness common with these injuries?
2. Has anyone returned to a physically demanding job with this type of injury and/or permanent nerve damage? I am very afraid that my bedside nursing career may be over but I am even more concerned that an office job may not work well for me either since I have issues typing for a long period of time without pain.
3. Can the surgeon do anything else (I will ask him at the appointment)?
Anyone with similar experiences I would love to hear from you!