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A bit of a pain in the neck

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in New Member Introductions
When I complain about my neck pain, I'm sure a lot of people just think I'm the pain in the neck!

Reading this forum, I'm doing pretty well really. Oh, I've had the almost passing out with pain stuff, but it's not been that bad since when it first went pear shaped.

In March 07, a bit of a sore neck in the morning had turned into excruciating pain by day's end, had to be driven home from work, and then got even worse overnight. CT then MRI showed bulging discs at C3-4 and more significantly at C5-6. Then started with numbness in thumb, tingling in arm and thumb/forefinger. 60% strength deficit compared to other arm (and it was my dominant arm, so should really have been stronger still). All indicating nerve root compression. But, it gradually got better with physio, and after 8 months was "cured" according to the medical profession. Though of course wasn't as good as it was. So would have days when was sorer than others, always stiffer. But ok. Numbness and tingling gone. No abnormal sensation. Strength ok.

Then in Jan this year, pain came back. Physio and massage, some acupuncture. Pain got lots better, but then tingling came back if my head in certain positions. Then got to stage my thumb sensation is not ever right, though can get considerably worse with position changes. Can't paint my toenails, and the basin at the hairdresser's is out of the question, and leaning into the mirror to do my eye makeup I have to be quick with eyeliner before I lose control of my hand LOL! Ok, somewhat trivial egs, and if it was just this stuff, not the end of the world. But of course, there's problems with doing other stuff, and it's this functional stuff that gets the doctors more worried than the pain. So it was off for another mri. Dr said not significantly different from 2 yrs ago. Said was happy to manage conservatively again. Well, I'm happy enough with that, don't really want surgery, but when prescription is just for more of the same we've been doing all this year and sensory changes are getting worse, not better, I'm not sure it's going to work this time. And I think it's probably been too long and the funny thumb is likely to be permanent now.

Back at work this week after a holiday, and obviously got out of "desk condition", because I am now so sore. Interrupting sleep and all. Got to watch I don't get grumpy with everyone, like I tend to do when in pain and sleep deprived. And really didn't want to have to start taking painkillers again. Also have IBS, and that just stirs it up more.

Tried a different physio in recent weeks. She got a copy of latest mri report faxed over (I had scans, but no report, and dr had just read scans himself). That had a fair bit of stuff that hadn't been mentioned before:

"a diffuse disc osteophyte complex causing narrowing on the spinal canal. This has more prominent left lateral disc osteophyte component that is causing narrowing of the left exit foramina, and given the clinical history, likely causing compression of the exiting c6 nerve root. Again, there is displacement of the cord. Mild cord oedema is not excluded, but does not appear to have progressed since previous scan. There is only mild disc osteophyte complexes at lower levels, not causing exit foraminal narrowing."

Haven't been back to dr to discuss this. Haven't been back to the surgeon, because he'll probably just recommend surgery and I don't really want to go that way unless I have to. I'm only 33. And the surgeon recommended traction, but all physios have said that's "old school" and don't really want to do that! And I admit it, I've been becoming slack about my exercises. When not getting any major indicator they're doing any good, it's hard to maintain motivation.

Relative to what some people have been through, my woes are relatively minor. Though I'm still frustrated, and can't help wallowing occasionally. This forum's great to remind me that I'm not the only one, and in fact have it pretty good.



  • What concerns me, is that you're obviously not happy, obviously suffering, yet
    demented_dancer said:
    Haven't been back to dr to discuss this. Haven't been back to the surgeon, because he'll probably just recommend surgery and I don't really want to go that way unless I have to. I'm only 33.
    If you want to get better or find a difference and find relief, you have to take action. The docs and surgeons aren't going to come to you, you have to get off your laurels and take care of you.

  • nobody has answered your post...so here i am another demented sole trying to help! i've read your story and am trying to come up with some good advice. i can feel the dilemma you are in. what to do to keep on moving. and you have the physical therapist telling you the drs advice is old school. well the physical therapy helped for a while. then you got worse so what to do?
    my gut feeling is to trust the spinal surgeon. he knows the mechanics of whats happening in your neck. he's been inside necks feeling osteophytes...getting to know them...removing them...wouldnt he know best. those things dont just go away. they are solid. if you dont have good feeling about surgeon then get 2nd opinion. i think taking it easy with your neck might be best. one reason i say that is from personal experience. my neck is a mess and when i push exercise i suffer big time. you are going to have to baby your neck or suffer the consequences. down the road i think surgery is inevitable. youll just have to bite the bullet. well, good luck and stay in touch...we do want to help!!!
  • Hi Demented. Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I agree that you need to listen to your surgeon. I have no idea why anyone would say that traction is "old school", but it can be a very good source of pain reduction. I had major problems at three levels and traction was one of the best things I did. It felt wonderful. Of course, things were too bad to get continued relief and surgery became my only option.

    I would think that with your issue, whether it's old school or not, traction would be worth a try.

  • Thanks everyone, you are right. I do need to do more to help myself. Had pinned high hopes that a different physio would do the trick, but, as that hasn't got me to where I want to be, I do need to do more. I'll ring up and make that drs appointment Monday. I think I have been putting it off because in some ways I feel I've been slacking off on the physical therapy side of things (which I have a bit in the 6 weeks since I last saw him, but not that badly, I think I was just so good first time round I feel guilty now, but I was better earlier in the year and it didn't help like first time), and because I know things aren't going to change unless I jump up and down and I'm not very good at jumping up and down for myself. Yes, no-one's going to do that for me, so I'll have to get over that shy thing. How come doctors so often can make me feel like a naughty schoolgirl? My grades were good enough to study medicine myself, so I don't know why I let them make me feel inferior.

    Pete - I think my surgeon's ok. And a couple of different physios say he's good. And a lawyer friend also says he's good (from his legal exposure to that field!) Even if during my last consult he was more interested in talking about fuel for his hobby plane when he found out I'm a fuels chemist. (Maybe I should have charged him? LOL)

    I'm going back to my old physio tomorrow, since second opinions weren't all that different to his. Though I'm not ruling out going to someone different again who's willing to try traction - just that he's more convenient location-wise than the other person I went to. And if they're doing the same thing... Plus, I've an ankle injury that isn't getting better of it's own accord so I want him to help me out with that. Of course he will probably tell me it's not getting better because I keep dancing on it :-) Ah but just need to get it through to the end of August and then I can take a break. Mind you, I still won't want to, dancing keeps me sane. It doesn't aggravate my neck, and keeps me moving. But come September the big annual charity concert will be out of the way. Anyway, I will take along the mri report the other physio got faxed, and a copy of the original traction recommendation and challenge him that if he still doesn't want to try traction, I at least want something different because what we have been doing isn't solving the problem! Not sure whether to mention the second physio's opinion. Because he might take their not doing traction either as support of his reluctance for it!!!

  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. you have been give some good advice, so get busy.. :? i hope you find some pain relief from it.. it is always a good idea to find a doctor you can trust!! :-C good luck and keep us posted! :D Jenny :)
  • I agree with Pete 100%. You need to listen to the surgeon. I am 38 and my symptoms did not seem as bad as yours. No osteophytes on my mri, just cervical herniation. My symptoms were less the week before surgery. I was second guessing myself. But when the surgeon got to the disc, it was ruptured in many pieces. He said eventually the pieces would have calcified and caused me more issues/pain/permanent nerve damage. If you trust your surgeon (as I did mine) and he has a good reputation, I would listen to him. My surgeon just basically said in so many words, "pay me now, pay me later" It was inevitable the outcome, and since my insurance was approving it now, I decided to go ahead. My pre surgery symptoms which included severe low back pain/sciatica which was referred pain from the neck is GONE. It is the best feeling in the world. Hang in there. You will make the best decision.
  • saw specialist dr this week, and strength tests he did showed some improvement, but not enough for the 2 months since I last saw him, and no change in nerve symptoms, so he game me another referral to the surgeon. So next Wednesday for that difficult discussion of whether to go for it or wait... If only I wasn't so young. Scared that if I get it fused, then I'm just creating problems at the adjacent disks, so need to make sure I don't do it too soon! Though I do accept it's somewhat inevitable. Just trying to find the balance.

    Wish I could get a better night's sleep though! Though I know I'm not alone on that one.
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