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Recovery time for bulging disc C5-C6?

raquerraque Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi there,

I have a bulging disc C5-C6, with nerve impingement. My question to anyone with similar injuries is what has been your recovery time? Appreciate it differs from person to person, however, I injured my neck one year ago and whilst I have come a long way since the initial injury, I am in some level of pain 24/7 and trying to limit medication(Codeine).

I was initially given the run around from various doctors for 3 months when I injured myself. Then moved to a Chiro but finally settled on an Osteopath, who I've been seeing for the last 8 months.

I'm concerned it's been one year and I'm still struggling. Can anyone shed any light, how long has it taken you to recover?



  • Like you said... it is completely different for each individual. Some people do fully recover from a bulging/herniated disc, and some don't and require surgery. I was one of those that required surgery. I had flare ups of pain for 4-5 years, and throughout that time the flare ups became more and more frequent and lasted longer and longer until finally in early January of this year a flare up came and never went away.

    There are other things you can do like physical therapy and injections. Hopefully you are able to do those, and hopefully they give you relief. If not I hope you find a surgeon you can trust and get the courage to have surgery.

    Also, MRI's don't always show everything. I know quite a few people (myself included) that had surgery and they were a lot worse off than the mri showed.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • Do not continue in pain,if you have pain 24-7 the disc is probably ruptured and will begin pressing on nerve root.Degenerative disc don't get better see a neurosurgeon I just had acdf surgery after dealing with pain and pills for years.
  • Welcome to Spine Health :)

    A year is plenty of time for a disc to heal. I think most doctors say if it hasn't gotten better in 3-4 months it probably isn't going to.

    When was the last time you had an MRI? Have you had a surgical consult?

    I encourage you to do both if you can.

    Also keep your eyes open for any nerve compression etc. Pain or numbness/tingling in your arms/hands/fingers- the feeling of tennis elbow. Scapular pain, shoulder pain etc.

    Feel Better,

  • hi everybody I also have a bulging disc which is a complication of a disc degenerative disease c5 c6. i already had an MRI and it clearly sees thatmy disc has bulged and it touches my nerves and it hurts and scares the hell out of me. am I going to die with this?
  • You might want to start your own thread for best responses...but... "Are you going to die" due to disk issues? Most likely NOT....

    Some disk issues shrink back, some can be resolved with a "microdisectomy" (nibbling out the bad section of disk - eg, pressing on a nerve). Others with conservative treatment (PT, chiro, shots etc) My first two fusions I didn't know about sites like this, and too I thought the world was ending for me. Totally normal!! :)

    You have come to the right place for understanding and support!! My first fusion was my C5/6 (on the cord)....

    Sniff around here a bit, and use the search box at the top of the web page for some of your questions. You have found yourself in a great place!!! Welcome aboard!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I'm a classic example for this question. My accident was back in 1990. Hit from behind so hard by a monster truck with big wheels way off the ground - hit me so hard his front bumper was pushing in my backseat and my trunk was on the ground. That was over 20 years ago. I did the chiro for a few years and meds until I got my neck to the point I could deal with it. Forward to 2011, and I suddenly wake up feeling like I have a knife in my back and completely numb arm. Lots of docs, meds, therapy, epidurals. But in the ends complete herniation on 3 levels, complete nerve compression on 3 levels from huge bone spurs growing silently over all these years. Crazy!

    But if I didnt' have that horrible pain in my back just recently, I would never have known how much damage was still there. I'm almost 5 weeks post op - 3 level fusion ACDF. Super thankful I had it done. Still have muscle spasms some, and some arm pins and needles - but heck, it took 20 years to do all this damage, I can't expect it to be all better in 5 weeks. But for all the pain I was in, I'm easily 75% better even now.

    Yes everyone is different - make sure you see several docs - I had 4 different opinions. Ask lots of questions and do research. Only you know your body and how you feel.. I hope soon you will be feeling better.

  • edited 08/23/2014 - 12:04 PM
    wondering the same thing....following.
  • RobiulRRobiul Posts: 1
    edited 06/24/2015 - 12:26 AM
    On January i felt pain in my neck & i had taken pain killer for 7 days. Then i felt good.
    After that my neck, shoulder and right hand ( arm to elbow ) pain seriously started on 21/03/2015. And the pain was changing their place and i could not sleep whole night. i took pain killer from medicine Dr for 1 month. If u took, then i felt little bit good.
    So i did MRI on 15/04/2015.
    Since 14 days my physiotherapist suggested me to take----
    1. Microwave diathermy ( MWD ) for 15 minutes 2. Cervical Traction for 10 minutes 3. one type cervical exercise
    So, i regularly followed his instruction for 14 days.
    From first day i started feeling better than yesterday gradually.
    I m feeling so good now. Yet May month to still now i am feeling pain, when i pressure those area using my right hand---
    1. Tennis elbow inner muscle 2. Behind the arm inner muscle. And also Right hand strength little bit less than left hand because of that pain. i can feel it.
    I took weight for measuring my hands strength doing bicep exercise. In right and left hand i can up-down max 5 times & 9 times gradually.
    So please suggest what can i do in this situation to relief my pain and return back my right hand strength.
    Thank you.

    Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
    Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.
    As such, no member is permitted to provide
    - Analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie MRI, CTscan, Xray, etc)
    - Medical advice of any kind
    - Recommendations in terms of Medications, Treatments, Exercises, etc

    Liz ...Spine-health moderator
  • I am in the same boat , this has been going on for seven months and I feel worse the more time that goes by.You can read
    my poast " seven months and still in pain " I have lost most of my strength in my right arm . I am waiting on a surgery consult
    now and pain mng. This has truly changed my life .
  • maheshmmahesh Posts: 1
    edited 09/01/2015 - 12:22 PM
    I am 28 year old male.
    I am suffering from c5-c6 slip disk from last three months. I have consulted from neurologist and a neurosurgeon and am under continuous medication since. I also take regular physiotherapy but there is no significant reduction in pain. Kindly suggest alternative treatment. Is surgery required?

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    ~ spine-health moderator, savage
  • BlessedMom74BBlessedMom74 Posts: 322
    edited 08/30/2015 - 5:07 PM
    But I had a herniated disc at C4/5 after a rear ending collision and tried conservative treatment of PT and chiropractic for over a year as well as epidural injections. After 19 months I ended up having a single level fusion surgery. I was always in pain and my quality of life was slowly deteriorating. If you're not getting any better it's time to talk to a neurosurgeon and get another professional opinion. Your next step may be surgery. If the disc hasn't healed by now, it probably won't heal.
  • I have had nine years of the pain, many years in pain management. Some days it isn't as bad as other days, after such a long period it is surprising what you can/have to live with. Having said that the symptoms only seem to worsen over time and an operation is what you keep thinking about when the pain is really bad. Sorry to say I don't think they will get better after a long period of time. In the UK they want you to live with the horror unless you can no longer use your arm or have severe cord compression. There are days I feel they would see you die before they would help you...it isn't an easy condition to live with.
  • serenetansserenetan Posts: 2
    edited 09/20/2015 - 2:18 AM
    Hi all, I am 31 year old female from Singapore. Discovered my c5 c6 slipped disc 3 years ago. Discovered I had spondylolythesis 2 years ago and had a surgery to fix that. Symptoms for my cervical slipped disc have been returning at least once a year. I have been going for physiotherapy once a week for almost a year. Things were looking up until I had a fall a month ago. MRI shows not much changes but my pain, numbness has moved from my left side to the both sides. Sometimes, the pain in my wrist are so intense I can't write properly.

    I am back on lyrica and doc mentioned last week that I may need surgery since it's been flaring up every year. I am mixed about going for surgery. On one hand, I hope that surgery can wake me up from this nightmare that I've been having, yet on the other many has been telling me to hold back surgery unless it is absolutely necessary. Well, the question is how do we know when it will be necessary? I used to do sports and dance but now I am feel so restricted. sigh...

    Glad to have found this forum, at least I know you guys understand what I'm going through. Sometimes, I just feel so alone in this.
    I know everyone's condition differs and there's one solution to what we face, guess I just needed an outlet to rant.

    Wishing the rest of us in this forum good health.

    Please click on link for helpful information
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Liz -Spine-health Moderator
  • Ask yourself this question. Is my quality of life progressively deteriorating? For me the answer was yes, so I knew surgery was my next option. I had tried every conservative option, yet my quality of life continued to deteriorate due to severe pain. So for for me the decision to have surgery was a no brainer.
  • serenetansserenetan Posts: 2
    edited 09/21/2015 - 12:24 AM
    BlessedMom74 said:
    Ask yourself this question. Is my quality of life progressively deteriorating? For me the answer was yes, so I knew surgery was my next option. I had tried every conservative option, yet my quality of life continued to deteriorate due to severe pain. So for for me the decision to have surgery was a no brainer.
    Thanks BlessedMom74 for your advice. I guess I have been trying very hard to come to terms with the adjustments I had to make to my life with my current condition. Whats frustrating is, it always seems like its getting better before it plunges into greater pain.

    What surgery did you had and are yous still having pain?
  • When I was coming to terms with the possibility of surgery for some reason I would have a week where pain was minimal, I could do some activities, and I would think " this isn't so bad, I can live like this, I don't need surgery" and then two days later the pain would come back like a tsunami and my thoughts were "I wish I could have surgery tomorrow, I can't live like this anymore!"
    Something about the spine that is so unpredictable. There is no consistency before surgery and from what I have read and experienced myself, there is no consistency after surgery either. It's a roller coaster. But it does get better.
    To answer your question, I had ACDF at C4/5. I am 20 weeks post op and am almost pain free. Most days are minimal. Like 1-2 pain level. Every now and then if I over do it, my pain will shoot up to a 5. But I can live with this. Before surgery a good day was a 5. I was at 7-8 pain level most days. I am slowly returning to my previous active life. Starting to exercise again. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know how hard it is to come to terms with a decision as big as this. That's why I had you ask yourself that question. Because in the end, that's what it comes down to. Quality of life.
    Good luck!
  • Writing here just so it might be of some help to those with disc herniation, bulging, and other medical terms used when your disc is out. I do Muay Thai and a cold winter day after some grippling I felt something went wrong in my neck. A serious pain continued the night until morning and for made me go for an MRI as per doctor's advice after suffering first 3 days. It showed large left para-central disc protrusion at c5/c6 level which is compressing the cervical cord and nerve root within the left neural foramin. That's it, I was injured for the first time in my life and that was serious. I ignored medicine (I know it's crazy) and I did not go with doctor's suggestion to do immediate surgery. After a period of almost 3 months suffering pain, stress and disappointment (I was out of sports), I started improving, the pain was reducing and I was getting better. I did another MRI after six months from the first test and it did not show any further damage. I continued with light exercises and gradually added weights. I have well maintained my muscles and strength. My recent visit to Bangkok made me happier after the doctor said, you are doing great and continue what you are doing - no need for surgery.

    I highly recommend patience if you have a situation like above or if you ever feel you have injured yourself and it's a disc slip/herniation etc...just play with the pain and let your natural pain killers deal with it, don't take medicine and DO NOT go for surgery if you are under 40. I am completing one year on December 15 and I feel that I have fully recovered, all I need is to be careful with weights and postures.
    All the best guys, excuse my bad English as I'm writing in a hurry to share this message with you. I'll be always in a hurry.

  • Disc bulges do not always heal even when there are periods of no symptoms. I went years off and on with a bulge and eventually it burst "herniated." You may need to dial back your lifestyle to keep from stressing the area. Hoping that your disc heals and never herniates. It is a different thing and in my case was an entirely different level of pain and numbness.

    Good luck,

  • BlessedMom74 said:
    But I had a herniated disc at C4/5 after a rear ending collision and tried conservative treatment of PT and chiropractic for over a year as well as epidural injections. After 19 months I ended up having a single level fusion surgery. I was always in pain and my quality of life was slowly deteriorating. If you're not getting any better it's time to talk to a neurosurgeon and get another professional opinion. Your next step may be surgery. If the disc hasn't healed by now, it probably won't heal.
    Curious to hear about your recovery time? I am dealing with a herniated c4- for over a year. I have been doing injections but they only work for about two months, then the pain comes back and flare ups are getting worse to the point of non-movement. I haven't tried PT (first doctor said it would make things worse, new doctor is suggesting it)... but I can already feel the pain coming back full force again and am seriously considering a surgery consult. The flare ups cause me to lose days at a time to pain and loss of motion. It is awful!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Welcome to Spine-Health
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    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • 12christa112christa Posts: 2
    edited 12/17/2015 - 10:45 PM
    I'm not sure how long my c5-c6 herniation has been going on. In 2000 I turned to grab something from my purse and 'pulled something' in what I thought was my shoulder. Diagnosis was slight tear in supraspinatus, which pain began to reoccur once or twice a year when reaching too far overhead. Finally Nov 2014 I couldn't hold a pencil and was diagnosed with tendinitis in ER. After weeks of PT I felt great....for 6 weeks until muscles of back throbbed and nerve was pinched down to finger tips. and numbness occurred. I did 2 more rounds of PT until the pain came back with a vengeance 4 weeks later. So in one year I've had 10 good weeks. Neurologist recommended surgery but orthopedist recommended epidural first....didn't work. Now I'm scheduled for surgery. Scared to death but I cannot live like this anymore. Anyone one else have disc replacement and could give me a timeline as to recovery time? Can I get back to work in 4 weeks barring any complications?

    Artificial Disc for Cervical Disc Replacement
    For helpful information please click on link
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Liz -Spine-health Moderator
    'Get your head on straight!'
  • The pain and quality of life was so low at times I often contemplated suicide, it is a really difficult thing to over come but I am much better than I was with "conservative treatment" I didn't do exercises or traction for the last few months and feel like I have recovered a bit, it does seem like it has hit a point of no return and I still think about surgery. If I could go back in time and say immediately yes to have surgery and it was something that didn't concern me with the integrity of the disk, I may have just said yes. I did keep thinking I would get better and all I've done is move, occasionally walk, I hate driving especially months 1-5 (I can handle short drives but they deffinitely cause pain or compression. The difference is my ability to just be able to walk at all as in the begining I could barely stand after a period of rest it was so bad. Night with 15 minutes of sleep. Like it's been mentioned before everyone is different and my fear was that it wasn't just my disk that was causing pain. I do have it in both legs now and I somtimes wonder if the other leg is being affected because of my limp. (Shocks and puts pressure on a different plane) is there anyone who had ones simmilar to l5s1 12mm left leg nerve root fully compressed and had surgery and recovered? Anyone have surgery later than the 6 month mark and have success?
  • RobPogiRRobPogi Antioch, Ca.Posts: 1
    Seen this site like some months ago and was able to bookmark it.  And now i am here writing my own experience from my accident last year Sept. 2015, was rear ended an accident I thought was just a nudge (hit at 55mph or more) turn out to be a nightmare for me.  After the xrays, PT, chiros, ct scans but declined MRI, I was finally able to get one during my 6th month after the accident.  Got a bulging C5-6.  Transferred to a new doctor (in workmans comp) and suggest to have a epidural, after waiting for approval I researched the pros and cons, and decided not to do it.  My gut feeling is telling me so.  So I requested to see a surgeon and soon enough after having another set of xrays, he suggested traction or surgery.  Knowing that traction won't be effective after 10months I right away decided surgery.  He did it - ACDF after a month with all the clearance labs, ekg, ecg done before the procedure.  Symptoms are as like some others experienced, blurry vision due to intense headache, neck pain, shoulder pain to the left arm, and carpal tunneling feeling to both arms as well.  The doctor was very casual or confident with himself and his expectation is high.  After surgery done like 2 1/2 hours he said as he saw me sitting down in the recovery room, you can shower tomorrow and drive the next day  Heck that's what I did, but need my pain meds Hydrocodone 10*325 and anti spasms.  Now recovering on my 9th day, experiencing neck/shoulder area pain due to decompression per my followup check up.  I hope you just consider surgery asap, is not life threatening, the solution and end to our misery.  I live in California and my surgeon is the best ever you can get.  If only I can write my doctor's name and clinic here for your reference.  Kudos to doctor and wonderful staff.

    Rob. :smile:" alt=":smile:" height="20" /> 
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Hello RobPogi

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I am closing it.
    I suggest you create a new discussion using the link below
    Please click on the link for useful information

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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