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Undiagnosed - tons of treatment - any hope? Long read

patrick212ppatrick212 Posts: 36
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
No one can seem to tell me whats going on with me. So I will lay out my symptoms and what I’ve tried and see if anyone can relate. I don’t feel my pain is typical and not one specialist has been able to get a bearing on it. Most say it’s the disc or its not the disc, but that’s it. What else can I try? What does this sound like?

Symptoms started with a stiff neck on 03/05/09
I immediately went a chiropractor, and within 2 weeks of manipulation and massage the stiff neck went away and I was left with the symptoms I have today.
(I really have the feeling that a bad chiropractor made this worse, and it probably would have went away in a week or two as just a stiff neck).

Symptoms / Pain:
1. Constant upper back pain 8 out of 10 days (T3ish – T5ish) feels extremely sore, like I just got done doing the most intense workout. Its usually worse in the morning.
2. Constant neck pain 2 out of 10 days (basically when I don’t feel the upper back pain). The neck pain is more of a nag then a pain and its across the back of the neck. Just a deep annoying nagging feeling.


MRI 1:
1. mild C5/C6 disc herniation causing mild spinal stenosis with NO narrowing of the neural foraminal.

MRI 2:
1. mild C5/C6 disc herniation causing mild spinal stenosis with NO narrowing of the neural foraminal.
2. minimal C4/C5 disc herniation mildly compressing the thecal sac
3. minimal C6/C6 disc herniation.

1. Bilateral C5/C6 radiculopathy

Discography C3-C7:
1. C4/C5 very reactive to pain - Cracked disc
2. C5/C6 reactive to pain - Grade 4 + complete disc herniation
3. C6/C7 Nonreactive to pain - Bulging disc, normal disc

1. Chiropractic manipulation, massage, and acupuncture – tried pretty constant for 3 months
i. 1 out of 10 manipulations would help
ii. 1 out of 10 acupuncture sessions would help

2. 2 bouts of physical therapy
- First time – 6 weeks of cervical retractions
No benefit
- Second time – 6 weeks of upper back & shoulder strength
Little to no benefit

3. Cervical Epidural
- Result:
No benefit

4. Cervical bilateral facet injection
- Result:
No benefit

5. Cervical nucleoplasty (needle inserted in disc using radio waves to reduce disc herniation)
i. C4/C5 disc herniation gone
ii. C5/C6 disc hernation still present
iii. No benefit

6. Lexapro ( incase anxiety played a role) – 8 weeks
i. No benefit
ii. I weened off

7. Naproxen & Mobic – 6 weeks (at separate times)
- No benefit



  • I know I am. When did you have the nucleoplasty? ANd what have you done since then? You might need some PT now that the herniation is gone to rehabilitate the muscle.

  • Patrick,

    Are you working with a Pain Manager Doctor or NS/OS? I would try to see a Board Certified NS/OS if you haven't yet. Mine helped find the Retrololistsis that was causing my lumbar problems.

    Did your MD order flexion/extension xrays? The reason I ask is that some times instability only shows in the flex/extension views/ If this is the case with you there could be some movement that forces the disc to crowd the spinal canal causing some or most of the issues.

    How do you know the herniation is gone? Did you have another MRI? Did you have a Thoracic MRI as well?

    BTW/ Welcome to Spine Health :O)

  • Kris -

    I had the nucleoplasty in September, 8 weeks ago today. The post MRI showed that the C4/C5 disc herniation was gone, but the C5/C6 was still there. The post MRI was taken about 3-4 weeks into recovery.


    I'm working with a pain doc, as well as an ortho surgeon. Both have told me I'm pretty much on the ends of my ropes as far as what they can do. I've met with a few neuros but none have recommended surgery.

    My MRI of the thoraic came back as mild DDD notable at T8-T9 but disc heights are good and no herniations.

    Thanks again for all your help.
  • Well thats good that one herniation is gone.

    Be careful of which doctors are giving which advise. I always tell my kids "follow the money". A neurologist is rarely going to suggest surgery because that takes you out of his care. A neurosurgeon may tend more toward surgery solutions because that is all that he does. What I am finding more often these days is that the doctors are afraid of being kicked off an insurance company panel so they are very careful about how often they order tests and what care and surgery they offer.

    Just another thing for us to worry about when we need good care.

    Is this going through workers comp or private health insurance? That can also affect what care you are offered.
  • Thanks Kris.

    Everything is going through insurance. And I havent actually seen a neurologists, just neurosurgeons and they usually don't follow-up with me so I dont think its about the money as much with the ones I've seen. That being said, I am very careful what physical therapists, etc. tell me.

    Thanks again,

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