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MoonyMMoony Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I hope someone can give me some advice here. Forgive me if I put this in the wrong area. History: 6+ months recurring burning (once in a great while shooting to shoulder) neck pain, multiple cervical vertebrae out of alignment, have had regular adjustments based on pain recurring but since new symptoms have started I get no relief from adjustment. Starting 11 days ago-left hand had a big episode of total pins and needles that resolved in about 3 hours, but within 2 days both wrists, both elbows, my neck and the area between my neck and shoulders all have pain between 3 and 8 on the pain scale (neck is the worst) and does radiate between each other. Family doc did blood tests for arthritis, including RA, all negative. Neck and shoulder x-rays today showed no misalignment, tumors, etc. I had an NCV and EMG on Monday, which (preliminarily) showed no carpal tunnel. The neuro recommended I have a neck MRI (as has my chiro, after the many months of adjustment with symptoms becoming more frequent even with good adjustment). Today my family doc put me on sulindac 2x/day 150mg and prednisone 2x/day 20mg. He says he thinks it's inflamed and tight tendons and muscles, and he's tossed out the word "fibromyalgia" a few times.

So here I sit. Wrists hurt (top and bottom, changing around), elbows really bothersome (ranging from feeling like my funny bone's being bothered up to pain scale 5 pain), pins and needles/tingling into my fingers, shooting pains into my hands, neck pain, shoulder pain (sometimes my actual shoulder hurts, but most often it's the area in between), and if I put prolonged pressure anywhere on my wrists, the heel of my hand or anywhere on my elbows I get massive pins and needles and more pain. I've taken a leave of absence from work because I work at a computer 8-9 hours a day and after a half hour of typing (three attempts, different days) I had pain and pins and needles from my fingertips to my neck. Work ergonomics are fine. My doc is signing FMLA papers for one week. I go back on Monday, when we should have the official NCV/EMG results and re-evaluate things.

I'm just very frustrated. I keep hoping I'll wake up in the morning pain-free. Sometimes it's less in the morning (reclining in bed with good head support is the only way I have any type of relief overall) but soon after starting to do anything it gears up, and by early afternoon I've got to rest them. I forgot to mention a large lump on the top of my left wrist that my doc, my chiro and another doctor I know have labeled a ganglion cyst (doc did do x-ray). It been causing pain for three years, I was referred to an ortho about removal, but he said it was arthritis and gave me a cortisone shot (never again!). It's gotten bigger since then and is causing it's own pain even more often than ever. My doc isn't talking about doing anything about it right now.

Ibuprofen 800mg, high-dose naproxen and tylenol with codeine give me no relief. The first dose of sulindac did nothing, and if the next dose does nothing I won't be taking any more (it's prescribed "as needed for pain", so I'd prefer not to take it if it's not doing anything). I know it's a process to figure these things out. I'm just not believing the tendon/muscle diagnosis. Sudden tendonitis in my neck, arms, elbow, wrists and hands? It feels like he's setting me up for a fibro diagnosis, but wouldn't the sulindac improve that kind of pain at least somewhat? I have a frontal headache right now and the pain in my neck's going higher and lower than before, so I will be going to the chiro tomorrow to update and get adjusted again. Anyone have any thoughts (please?!?!?!)



    My problem is lumbar, but there's tons of people with neck problems here. I would suggest you get an MRI, and go from there.

    How about you just rest, put ice on your neck - take anti-inflammatories and whatever else the Dr gave you - The nerves around your neck seem to getting all inflamed it seems to me and I don't know what - but - Please rest - give things a chance to heal (or die down a bit).

    Just my opinion.
  • I went to a Physiotherapist who did gentle manual traction on my neck and it gave me some relief and hopefully that's all the Chiropractor is doing with you as I wouldn't let him do anything else until you have approval from the Neurosurgeon or Orthosurgeon you'll be seeing and not until you get results for your MRI and EMG tests. My Chiropractor wouldn't touch me until I had MRI results due to the symptoms I was having except putting me on a TENs. Are you using ice and heat also to help?

    Hopefully you can get something decent for pain but hope the Prednisone starts helping you soon. I hope you get some pain relief soon. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thanks for the input. So this sounds like more than tendon/muscle issues? I'm not currently scheduled for an MRI. That's what's frustrating. My family doc is simply treating it as a widespread tendonitis/muscle issue right now. I'm trying to be patient because I'm hoping that the neuro will recommend the MRI in his results and generally my doc is good at following specialist's recommendations. I know that even if I had an MRI and it showed a nerve issue I might still be treated with prednisone and pain meds, so I'm trying not to stress too much. It's the pain relief that's the issue right now. I feel like he's barking up the wrong tree with the arthritis meds.

    I won't go to the chiro, then. Both ice and heat help my neck pain (ice more than heat) but does little for the other pain. Does this sound like something more than tendon/muscle? Like I said, I just have a hard time believing it. If the arthritis tests had come out positive or borderline I'd be more inclined to believe it.

    I was in SO much pain last night, couldn't sleep, so I took a Darvocet in desperation and it mostly worked! I slept for five hours, where otherwise I was getting close to pounding my head against the wall to knock me out (kidding, but I was *that* desperate). I'm awake now with the pain coming back, debating how long I should wait to take the sulindac. I don't take narcotics unless I absolutely have to (they knock me out for hours) but at least now I know of one thing I can take to at least be able to sleep at night.

  • Moony, at the beginning of your post you wrote that you had had "multiple cervical vertebrae out of alignment". Later you wrote "Neck and shoulder x-rays today showed no misalignment..." Who told you that you had "multiple cervical vertebrae out of alignment" in the first place, and how do you know it was true? You wrote, "...after the many months of adjustment with symptoms becoming more frequent even with good adjustment." I could be wrong, but I suspect the "adjustments" made your problem worse. What do you think caused your symptoms to get worse? Personally, I would not let a chiropractor "adjust" my spine.

    You wrote, "Sometimes it's less in the morning (reclining in bed with good head support is the only way I have any type of relief overall) but soon after starting to do anything it gears up..." That's how my pain was. I had a bad disc. When I moved my head and neck the nerves became irritated because the narrowing of the nerve path (stenosis), which in turn caused pain in my traps/shoulders, arms, hands, fingers. The pain in my traps and shoulder was burning pain due to muscle knots (aka trigger points). The pain in my hand varied. It some spots I had brief, sharp pains. In other spots I had a persistent dull ache. Occasionally I would have numbness. For a long time the pain was mostly on the right side, but then sometimes it was on the left side. Sounds weird, but that's how it was. Going to a massage therapist gave me temporary relief from the burning pain from the muscle knots in my traps. Have you checked the dermatome map to see which nerve(s) correspond to the areas where you have pain? If not, you can find a map here:


    Something that used to help me at night was wearing a Miami J collar (They cost about $60, and come in different sizes.). It prevented me from bending my neck while I was sleeping, so I had less radiculopathy pain. I got used to it pretty quickly. I had tried several different soft collars, but none of them were stiff enough to immobilize my neck while I slept. If your pain is worse when you bend your neck, wearing a collar at night *might* help you. Wearing it while working at a computer can also help reduce pain because it will prevent you from craning your neck forward. It helped me. Ironically, since my fusion a few weeks ago, I have more pain when my neck is straight than when I bend it forward, so wearing the collar doesn't help me anymore :(

    Anyway, I agree that you need an MRI. (Are you in an HMO? I've heard they try to save money by limiting access to specialists and tests like MRIs.) I also think you're right that your doc is "barking up the wrong tree" regarding arthritis, but I am not a medical professional. That my two cents worth. One other thing... You might actually get more pain relief from a muscle relaxer like Soma than from pain medication. Also, my neurologist prescribed Clonazepam (5 mg) for me to take at bedtime. He prescribed it as a muscle relaxer. It helped relieve the tightness and pain in my shoulders so I could fall asleep.
  • Do you know why your Doc is reluctant to schedule an MRI?
    I have been dealing with many of the same symptoms you are having for at least 8 years on and off. I've had 4 MRIs over that time frame, a myelogram and a CT scan with contrast dye in my spinal column. I had a lamenectomy performed at c4/c5 which didn't provide any help.
    I am currently scheduled to undergo another nct/emg on the 23rd as the last mri showed multiple levels of disc degeneration and test done by the surgeon suggest multiple pinched nerves.
    While some of your symptoms may sound like fibromyalgia most Dr won't diagnose that until after ruling out everything else.
    You may be have symptoms from multiple issues and would recommend that you get to a ortho or nuero surgeon to have an expert investigate.
    Unfortunately in my case there is not a lot the surgeon can do, we are talking possible surgery but because I have degenerative disc disease I may have to have to deal with the pain for the rest of my life.
    Best of luck and please seek the help you need.
    Best of
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • Thank you for your input. My chiro is the one who told me they were out of alignment. I was inclined to agree with him because my major symptoms would be neck tightness with varying degrees of pain (scale 2 to 10) and headaches (back of head and forehead, sometimes both). After later treatments he'd tell me I had a lot of muscle tightness and spasm in my lower neck/upper back which he'd recommend that I iced regularly for the next few days, and every time he'd adjust me I'd be mostly fine within 24 hours. Shortly before Christmas he started to become concerned that something else was going on and was going to give me some neck strengthening exercises to do. The intervals were getting so short between visits and the pain/inflammation being worse each time, though, that I was never "fixed" long enough for the inflammation to go down enough to start them, until now when adjusting doesn't "fix" anything.

    The pain keeps evolving and new sensations show up all the time. Yesterday I was out of the house from 11 am until 8 pm (dealing with my terminally ill father-in-law in the middle of all of this). By the end of the day I had sharp needle-like pains in my right pinky and ring finger's nail beds that shot out the ends of the fingers. The pain in my elbows and wrists is sharper than before, and the pins and needles show up when I put any pressure on my shoulders, elbows or wrists. My heavy winter jacket and bra straps bother my shoulders. I've checked the dermatome map and based on pain patterns it appears it'd be C6, C7, C8, possibly some C5, and if you count the headaches and upper neck pain (which could also just be tension), all the way up to C2 could be involved.

    Then...Tuesday I started in with some very low back back pain and bilateral pain behind my knee caps. I usually get very low back pain during my period so I didn't think anything of it, and bilateral knee pain once in a great while (I've injured the ligaments in both knees pretty badly). It was a little better Wednesday morning so I didn't mention it to my doctor, but by late Wednesday night I had pain scale 3-9 pain from my very lower back (just above my tail bone) down the backs of my legs, through the back of my heels and tingling on the bottoms of my feet, plus pain scale 9 pain under my knee caps and 3-6 down the fronts of my thighs and shins. This has never happened before. Again, it was better Thursday morning but late Thursday night it was geared up again. Then I could feel the back pain moving lower and lower through and "out" of my tailbone until it was down to just a dull ache through the whole area. I asked my wife to push on my very lower back because it felt like it was all bound up, but slight pressure hurt like nothing else, easily pain scale 10, and I've had some bad pain in my life. The leg pains and foot tingling persist, though.

    Researching THAT I found that hormones can cause those patterns of pain when it causes the tissues around the SI area to become inflamed, but I kept finding that the achille's pain and foot tingling is uncommon, and almost unheard of when related to hormonal issues. I'm also mystified as to why I'm still having so much leg pain after my cycle's over and the lower back pain is very minimal.

    So...I'm resigning myself to the idea that this is an inflammation issue with my spine. I don't believe hormones are to blame for all of it, but remembering Occam's Razor I also don't believe in coincidences. I just don't think that simple mis-alignment in my neck is causing the upper body pain, and I'm trying to fight the idea that it's a widespread inflammation issue. The prednisone doesn't seem to really be working. I've taken it several times for breathing/lung issues (bad bronchitis, mostly) and it's always significantly improved my symptoms within 48 hours. Here I am at 72 hours with minimal (if any) improvement, but I guess that might be comparing apples to oranges. What I've read about fibromyalgia just doesn't seem to fit what's going on. Unfortunately, the arthritis medicine doesn't help at all. Ibuprofen didn't help yesterday, except to cut down the knee and thigh pain a little. I'm trying Tramadol today (our family doctor is pretty NSAID-happy when we have pain-rarely narcotics, thank goodness) but an hour later there's no relief.

    I think I'll be pushing for the MRI on Monday and asking about a neck brace. I have a high-deductible HRA policy but after the last few weeks I'm pretty sure I've met my deductible. With the other testing all ready having been done I don't think the insurance should have a problem paying for it. A soma...I am extremely sensitive to sedative side effects in medications. One Flexeril will put me out for 8-10 hours and I'll feel drugged for another four so during the day it wouldn't work. I like the idea of a soma instead of a narcotic to get to sleep, though.

    I'm a firm believer in treating the cause, not the symptoms, but what can be done in this case? What could be causing this? Is surgery even an option? I'm sorry this is a novel, but I'm so tired of being in pain and having false hope when it dies down only to flare up again a few minutes/hours later. I just want to get back to work and on with my life.
  • I find it a little odd he's reluctant to do the MRI. I think it might be mostly because the blood tests were fine and he didn't see anything amiss on the x-ray. I've stopped second-guessing it, though. I would LOVE to be referred to someone who might know more, quite frankly. My doc sometimes takes a frustratingly long time to refer us somewhere else, so when he referred me for the NCV/EMG right away I was a little surprised. I wouldn't be surprised if he referred me somewhere else on Monday, though. He's given it a stab and he's probably going to be glad to do it, quite frankly. The NCV/EMG results should be available and I do believe he'd follow the neuro's recommendations.

    I'm afraid of being stamped with a fibro diagnosis before everything else IS ruled out. He said it the first time I saw him with these symptoms, which really surprised me when I knew even then that it's a diagnosis of exclusion. Right now I don't even care what it is anymore, as long as someone can give me some relief. Without getting all "cart before the horse", I don't want to deal with pain for two years before someone finally looks into it further. I've had all I can handle with endless "well, let's try this then" testing and then "wait and see" treatment with cardiac issues. I'm anxious to do whatever needs to be done to figure this out and move on with my life.
  • Moony, I have no knowledge of or experience with fibromyalgia or any other systemic problems, so I can't comment on those types of things. Also, not being a woman, I have no experience with female hormone issues.

    I have a bad lower disc and had sciatica in my right foot for a while, but thank goodness it settled down. I've learned that if I lift something heavy I "pay for it" later in pain. Have you done any heavy lifting lately?

    It does seem odd that the pain down your legs and into your feet is bilateral and started simultaneously. If the problem were disc related, I think it would be more likely to have started on one side first instead of both at exactly the same time, but I suppose that is possible.

    One other thing that gave me some temporary relief from the pain and that I forgot to mention before was neck traction. A doctor recommended it. You might ask your doctor about trying it. Of course, you have to be extremely careful and go easy so you don't hurt yourself. There are a few different types of over the door traction devices you can buy. I like the one I bought very much. (I think mentioning the brand here would be against the forum rules so I'll send you a private message with the details.) I used to use it right before going to bed. After about 10 minutes in traction, the pain simply stopped. Just like that. It was pretty amazing to get such fast results. Getting immediate results like that also confirmed to me that the source of the pain was pressure on the nerve roots. I normally used the traction immediately before going to bed (lying down) because otherwise if I got up and resumed normal activities the pain would start up again very quickly.

    By the way, did your neuro have any comments about the chiropractor's opinion that your cervical vertebrae are "misaligned" or about the "adjustments" your chiropractor performed? The thing that bothers me about "adjustments" is that there is no way of knowing exactly what is happening inside your neck when it is "adjusted." It seems very risky to me.

    You mentioned how sensitive you are to medications. I used to be that way. It used to be that Neurontin and Tramadol were pretty effective at relieving my pain, but not any more. Lyrica was very effective, but I stopped taking it after about two months because it caused me to have a problem controlling my bladder. (In case you don't know, Neurontin and Lyrica are used for nerve pain.)
  • Nope, no heavy lifting. I did hurt my tailbone about 8 weeks ago while sledding (probably badly bruised it), but it seems too coincidental for it to hurt now when the rest is also hurting. Since the pain went "out" of my tailbone I've had times where the leg (not knee) pain was just in my right leg, though still tingling in both feet. It's usually bilateral, though. Yesterday I did carry my 20-pound nephew a few blocks and all of the muscles and joints on my left side (including my legs) were burning and aching really badly when I put him down. Something weird's going on...

    I actually have a PT appointment 3/11 and depending on what happens 3/7 with the recheck I'll ask about the traction then. I know my chiro has used some traction after adjusting my neck and it felt wonderful.

    I didn't have a chance to tell the neuro about what the chiro specifically said. He cut me off after telling him about the neck pain and being adjusted and at the end told me he was only to be doing the test, no follow-up. I'm definitely not going back to the chiro after the pain response of my wife touching my lower back until I know what's going on.

    I've done some more looking and I've stumbled across the idea that spondylosis may be causing the issues, in both upper and lower back. I'm going to look more, but from what I understand spondylosis can contribute to/cause cervical nerve compression, and would explain the lower back pain/sensations and joint tenderness issues also. My medical history actually supports it very well, down to explaining some things that the doctors haven't been able to precisely diagnose after extensive testing. If spondylosis is the cause, my doc's actually on the right track with the "muscle and tendon inflammation and tightness". *sigh*
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