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No reason for this pain.

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello Spineys!

I have been to the boards a lot since my back problems began about 3 years ago. Mostly, they have been about my Lumbar spinal stenosis and the PLIF that I had this past May. These past two months I have been having horrible pain in my neck, mostly in the right side at the base of my skull. It feels as though there is a knot there all the time. I have tried massage and physical therapy and neither have helped with the pain. It radiates down my right arm and makes my fingers numb if I sit for long periods of time. Lately I have been very dizzy and I really don't have much of an attention span anymore. I have been unemployed since my surgery and I really need to find a job again, but this pain, mixed with the chronic insomnia that I have are making it difficult to even go out and fill out applications.
MY surgeon took an MRI of my cervical spine and also an X-ray. Both showed normal, with no stenosis or disk issues. SO why am I in so much pain? My PT suggested to see a rheumatologist, that maybe it is an inflammatory problem. I don't know what to do. I don't want my surgeon to think I am a druggie or that I am looking for attention. I have gone to the ER for some pain relief for my neck when the pain first started. I have a prescription for Norco,but I can't take that with a sleeping pill. It has come down to either being in pain or being able to sleep. I get about 5 hours of sleep every 48 hrs. or so. Which doctor do I even talk to?


  • I can only say how sorry I am that they cannot suggest the cause of your pain. It is so very difficult to find work that is suitable after back pain/surgery yet uneasy as like I suspect it would help greatly to cope with the pain and raise money. I wish you all the success needed to get an understand consultant as well as prospects of work. I am sorry I have no answers.
  • Your symptoms sound similar to the ones I had and on occasion have. I was diagnosed with cervical stenosis C4-5 & 5-6. My syptoms appeared after I had a female surgical procedure. My right arm was numb and severe headaches at the base of my skull where I thought I was going to pass out, extreme dizziness. The pain was so bad in my arm I wanted to rip my arm off. I had an EMG which led to the MRI. Surgery was recommended but since my daughter was getting married I didn't want to take a chance. I have learned to sleep with a cerivcal spine pillow and to make sure I keep my head in certain positions. I have also exercised my neck, I can hear it crackling when I rotate it. I always have a dull ache in my neck and shoulders. I really hope you find the source of your pain - it is miserable and like you said, you can't sleep which leads to so many other problems.
  • Have you gone for another opinion on your neck? What type of surgeon are you seeing. For neck issues, I highly recommend a NS. If you don't have other symptoms suggestive of an inflammatory arthritis, I don't know what a rheumatologist could do for you. Keep us posted.

    Best wishes,

  • I see an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in spinal stenosis and scoliosis. Other than him, I just have a GP for my other needs. She did a full physical and blood workup on me and finds no reason that the insomnia is happening. I had an MRI done on my cervical spine and all they found was localized kyphosis between c5-c6. No disk problems or stenosis. I know c5-c6 is the area that holds the nerves for the lower arm. That might explain the numbness in my arm sometimes, but the neck pain seems to come from higher up near my skull. My surgeon gave me PT for the neck issues, however, I have been without a car for 2 months so I had to quit therapy. The few treatments I did have before then seemed to do nothing to ease the pain. I need to see him again in order to get another scrip for PT. Should I have him refer me to a neurologist?
  • I wouldn't suggest a neurologist, but a neurosurgeon would be a good person to see.

    Best wishes,

  • I would go to an orthopedist, not a surgeon. An orthopedist will look at all of your symptoms. I find surgeons only interested in what they can operate on and nothing else.

    Do not limit the areas you look at either. There are many levels that control the same thing. I have a t1 nerve root compression that causes headaches,sinus pain, ear pain, neck and shoulder pain (enough to indicate rotator cuff surgery), arm, hand and finger, and rib cage pain. If you asked a doctor they will tell you it can't be but it is.

    I would also suggest looking at the MRI again and looking a little lower. If nothing shows try a neurologist - again not a surgeon.

    Good luck and remember that it takes time for any treatment to really work.
  • I find that if I don't sleep well then my neck issues cause me a lot more grief. Had 29+ hour marathons with insomnia until my doc put me on Abilify - which is an anti-psychotic - but it worked. Not enough sleep was causing my brain to short circuit (so doc said) and increased body pain to an unbelievable level.
    Hope that helps.
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