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Anyone out there who's symptoms came on very slowly?

jdcattjjdcatt Posts: 18
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
And whose symptoms didn't really help point to a diagnosis?

Hello. I've posted here before about 10 or so months ago. I have a disc protrusion at C4/5 and another at C6/7 along with osteophytes from C4/5 thru C6/7. I think I've been sort of a mystery to my neurologist because my symptoms seem to be really non specific and my symptoms come and go with the severity being bad one time and completely tolerable the next.

It's gotten to the point that I'm looking at everything, from MS to Rheumatoid and/or Psoriatic arthritis to osteoarthritis, as being possible causes. Nothing is clear cut for me at all. I came down with Iritis in June which is strongly tied to some types of arthritis but a rheumatologist I went to for advice told me my symptoms are very vague and she didn't know what to think.

I'll have bad shoulder/arm pain and not be able to lift my arm or bend/straighten my elbow because of the pain along with hypersensitivity on that wrist and after two weeks it's gone. I have residual stiffness in my shoulders most days and then feel so sore like someone has beat me up on my arms other days. Other days I'll have a very deep buzzing in my body from about the chest down. If you put your finger tips on your voice box and hum the vibration you feel on your finger tips is exactly what my body will feel like. Then it too goes away. Frustrating.

I had an MRI done in December last year and my neurologist wanted me to see a neurosurgeon because he thought my neck was in bad shape but the neurosurgeon said my neck shouldn't be causing my symptoms. My hubby and I both got the impression that he didn't actually look at the MRI though. I decided after that appointment that I would let things go and wait and see what happens.

The pain has slowly gotten worse since I last posted here but like I said it comes and goes so I can cope with it. I'm wondering if anyone else with neck problems began with vague symptoms that came on slowly and over time finally revealed themselves as being caused from the neck issues?

Thanks for reading!


  • Pre surgery I had been having bouts of severe neck pain for about 5 years. I could be doing anything even putting a shirt over my head or drying my hair, or taking a bath, even brushing my teeth and I would feel a slight pop in my neck and I would go into a panic knowing I would be in severe pain for a few days. First this would happen a couple times a year and the pain would last a couple days, then 3-4 times a year and it would last 5-6 days. Then it would happen every month and last 6-7 days, and in between I would still have pain from a 5-6 and then the cycle would just start over again. The pain was in both traps but especially the left, as well as left neck and upper left arm. So yes... It came on slowly but I guess it got worse and worse until my herniated disc was really pushing on the nerve.

    First I saw my PCP who thought it was just muscle spasms from stress. After a month I saw him again and he sent me for an xray which showed nothing except reversal of the curve. Things just continued to be bad so my mom got me an appt with a neurosurgeon that other family members have seen. He ordered an mri, then a month later I had ACDF c4-5.
    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
  • Thank you for responding Donnabe. It's funny that you mention the word cycle because that is exactly how I've been thinking of my arm pain. It seems to come and go in cycles. I couldn't figure out what I was doing to bring it on though, it seems to happen radomly. One morning I was just pulling up my pants after showering and that set off my worst flair to date. Another time I was just sitting on the couch watching TV. So it seems to happen whenever it wants to but it usually lasts about 2 weeks.

    And that frustrates me because arthritis can act like that so I don't know if it's my neck or if I'm in the beginning stages of arthritis. The pain in my arm is like a deep ache that stings which sounds like nerve pain but I can't touch my elbow during these episodes because pain shoots up into my shoulder and that sounds like possible inner elbow swelling affecting the ulnar nerve which arthritis can cause.

    Anyway- thanking you again Donnabe!
  • Yes my neck issues have come on slowly for me also and started with whiplash about 22 years ago and at the time had reverse lordosis, a backward curve. Then it got better after 9 months.

    Then the past few years have had issues with tennis elbow and even had steroid injections but ends up the elbow pain which is mostly constant while sitting especially with my arm up on the computer. So I usually rest my elbow on a cushion and it does help the pain. It's caused by my neck which shows in my signature from C5-C7 with moderate foraminal narrowing and impingement on my C7 nerve.

    I've had good relief with inferential and ultrasound treatments on my neck from the Chiropractor but no adjustments from him and sometimes gentle manual traction from a Physiotherapist which helps the neck and elbow pain.

    I take Cymbalta for lower back and sciatica pain and it helps with neck and elbow pain also and a small dose of Lyrica and an anti-inflammatory.

    Sometimes ice/heat help the elbow pain or I wear a tensor.

    Have you been checked for auto-immune disease with blood work done? I guess you must have if you're seeing a Rheumatoid Dr?

    I just started seeing a Physiatrist at a great Spine Center with many locations, and she's doing many tests including an EMG, MRI and blood work and can help diagnose you also. Have you ever seen a Physiatrist(sports Med. Dr.)?

    I hope you can get some more information from a Dr. and treatment. Take care. 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 Charry! Ok so elbow pain can be from the neck, that is useful information for me, thank you. I have been tested for a few autoimmune conditions including MS, Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis. All test came back fine. I've had an EMG with my neurologist which came back fine but that was a year ago and things have progressed since then. Maybe I'll ask him about that on my next visit. I was also in a car accident April 8th and never mentioned that to him, I probably should have! I was really worried about being seen as sue happy.

    I have not seen any other doctors other than my PCP, the neurologist and the rheumatologist. I'm still functioning ok the majority of the time. I can still do my job which requires a lot of heavy lifting. I have temporarily cut my hours down to see if the extra time being away from the physical demands of my job will make a difference though. I'm lucky in that my boss is a family friend and is very accommodating. And he told me I look like poop lol! I'm tired all the time and I have bags under my eyes because my shoulders and sometimes neck act up at night causing me to wake repeatedly. He said he could see something was dragging me down.

    Thank you for responding Charry. I really want to get this figured out and your info has been helpful!
  • I now believe the Specialists do not have all the answers for us spine patients. I also think physically we are different in our response. I have determined that over the course of time as the bone spurs and other degenerative conditions persist , pressure on the nerves and muscle spasms set off a chain reaction . I know that when i am in spasm, without massage therapy to assist the muscle to release I remain and continue to go further into the pain kyle or flare. After a certain point I learned that I didn't have to do anything to set it off ( where usually I could trace the cycle to an activity). Muscles learn to be in a pattern, it is like a know which crinkles in the rope , when untied. Muscles need to be reeducated. I was initially diagnosed with fibro, I now know it was my neck , and after many years when i was finally diagnosed I cried , it was a relief. Because I had at one point been told the pain was in my head. I have become educated and proactive. I also have learned self massage to release trigger point. This is the best we can do for ourselves is to become knowledgeable and learn our own muscles. Good Luck to you.
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