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PLEEEASE ..... ANY suggestions? Chronic pain

DiLDDiL Posts: 9
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:59 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello everyone! I will be as brief as possible. The diagnosis thus far is: straightening of cervical spine, disc height loss at C6-7 with osteophytes n spondylosis. I have had arthritis in my hands since my early twenties (as did my mother and G-mother) so I have been dealing with that for years and for the most part it was manageable. I was in a very bad car accident in 1996. Head went into windshield n kind of bounced to side window n center console. I don't remember details as I was unconscious. I have suffered from excruciating head n neck aches for years but again I have managed. There was damage to my neck as well as minor brain injury resembling Arnold Chiari II. In the past ten years I have suffered with severe neck and back pain. I have had acupuncture, acupressure, massage therapy, traction (until they diagnosed the brain injury and realized pulling up on my skull/neck could kill me), occipital nerve blocks, trigger point injections, along with many meds. About a year ago my back pain began to increase n I noticed my fingers were going numb. This progressed rather rapidly IMO, and it is now to the point that I am in constant pain, have crazy spasms in my R arm and down R side of my back, my index finger has been numb for months. My entire right arm goes numb, has a sort of burning/aching pain and tingles. The Dr I was seeing only sent me for c-spine x-ray and the diagnosis listed above were the results. I don't know where to turn next. I can only stand for about an hour before the pain is so bad I must sit and kind of hunch my back forward to try to alleviate some pain. There is so much more but I do not wish to bore everyone to tears. It is becoming too much for me. There. Is no relief. Pain wakes me up at night and I cannot get back to sleep because it is so intense, my arm is burning, tingling , numb most of the day every day, shoulder clicks and grinds n burns. I cannot sit for long because of back pain and I cannot lay down for long due to pain. On days when i am suffering from one of my acute 'accident headaches' or one of my migraines and/or my 'acute sinusitis' and I need to lie down but cant AND my back and neck is killing me AND my arm is numb and tingling it's just too much pain. I had to cook Christmas dinner yesterday and was on my feet for several hours, today I stayed in bed, went to the couch, stood up n walked around the house and repeat........crying the entire time. I was told years ago I have two herniated disks in my lower back also but that hasn't been checked out as of yet. Can ANYONE offer advice as to what to do next? Should I see a neurologist, an orthopedist, pain management dr? I truly can't survive this level of pain from the tip of my head to my lower back EVERY day. Something more is wrong. It has to be, right? I can't believe the above diagnosis can be causing all of this. I still work full time and miss only few days but by the time I get home I am in too much pain to do anything. I'm so sorry to ramble but today has been a VERY bad day. One last thing, I can't take the OTC products such as Tylenol, Motrin, IB, etc anymore as I have taken so many since 1996 that my stomach cannot handle the irritation. I'm on no meds other than vitamins. Cymbalta didn't help. These things may not sound like much compared to others but when they all hit at once its more than I can handle. Help..????


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Have they done a MRI on your neck? If not I would be pushing for one. If the doctor is reluctant to order one I would find a new doc, if you do not want to switch docs maybe you need to be more assertive with your doc. Keep a pain and symptom journal, take it to your doctor and tell him this is your quality of life lately and something has to be done. Tell him you cannot continue this way. It is sad but sometimes you have to almost knock a doctor over his head before they believe the patient that something serious is going on. My doctor did adjustments on my neck for 3 visits before I could get him to order a MRI, I had to almost beg him before he ordered one. Now he listens to me when I tell him something is wrong and orders a MRI right away. Be assertive and tell him if you have to that if he cannot help you then would he refer you to someone who will. Good luck
  • Thank u very much for your reply. My Dr said I needed a referral to have an MRI and she would contact my insurance company, obtain referral and mail it to me. I didn't hear back from her but I did receive a letter from my health insurance company stating they denied the request because my Dr failed to inform them of the reasons for the MRI request. I believe I have good insurance as they pay 100% diagnostic. I am changing Drs. I am 'researching' online now to try to find a great Dr. I am lucky in that I am close to Johns Hopkins so my search is starting there. I will make an appointment with someone today! I'm afraid my mind is beginning to panic as I know I cannot continue like this and I know something more is wrong. Thank you so much again!

  • Hi Diana :wave: & welcome to SH :)

    Please do keep us updated on how things go for you. I am sure you will meet several new friends here to offer you support.

    *Tip - when posting long post please put sentence/paragraph breaks in your posts. When sentences run together it is very hard on the eyes of several of us here ;)

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Hello MsHumptyDumpty!!

    Thank u very much for the support. I do apologize for the run on sentences in my first post. It had been an especially bad day and I was desperate to hear from anyone who could offer advice. Some days are so bad I just don't know what to do with myself. I promise to be more considerate in the future.

    I saw my regular Dr yesterday and was basically told she doesn't know what to do other than to refer me to a specialist at Hopkins. I'm hoping to get an appointment for early next week. I've read online that the 'disc height loss' and/or the osteophytes at C6-7 could possibly be the cause of the numbness in my right arm. Some days my arm is almost useless. It scares me. I am 45 years old and just can't imagine living like this for the rest of my life. I have steadily declined since my accident in 1996.

    Again, thank you and I will update after seeing the Hopkins Dr. I intend to pull all of my reports with the numerous diagnoses to take with me to hopefully give the new Dr a head start.

    I'm so glad I found you all. I believe unless one is actually experiencing these types of things, it is difficult to understand.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I'm also a neckie, having had a 3-lvl ACDF at C4-7 in Oct. 08. I understand all of the arm problems that you're experiencing, as I had them as well. By the time I was getting close to surgery, I had very little use of my left arm (I couldn't even lift a glass of water) and it hurt so bad I thought it was Tennis Elbow. I also had numbness and tingling 24/7 throughout my entire right arm.

    The good news is that if you have to have surgery, most of us wake up with all of those symptoms gone. I guess I was clapping and yelling "yay, my arms work" when being wheeled to my room, according to hubby, but I don't remember.

    I'm very, very happy you're going to see a specialist. osteophytes and disc problems can indeed cause your symptoms.

    One thing I'd like to say is I'd encourage you to see a spine surgeon/specialist, ortho or neuro, but one who ONLY works on spines. It's also imperative that you're 100% confident in your spine doctor. If you have to get more than one opinion, be sure to - go with your gut feeling and you should be fine.

    Take care and please keep us posted as to how your doc visit goes and how you're doing.

  • Hi Cathie!

    Thank u so much for your reply. You are the first person i've met who has (had) the arm numbness/pain that i am experiencing. I laughed out loud when u said u were clapping and yelling 'yay, my arms work'! I'm so happy it worked for you.

    I have been encouraged by the replies I have received. This site and all of you have given me more 'backbone' (please excuse the pun) while speaking to Drs. and encouragement to get through each day. Other than the people on this site and my Drs, NO one in this world knows the issues I have. I only leave the house to work or emergency animal rescue. When someone comments that I'm limping worse than normal I say I'm just stiff from sitting, when someone notices my arm lying limp in my lap I just say it fell asleep...........here, on this site, you all know the truth, have the same experiences and don't view others as being 'weak' . It's so great!

    I saw a new Dr last night (same facility but a different Dr) I am feeling pretty good about her. She spent almost an hour with me and went over my reports and my notebook. She apologized over and over again for 'the poor treatment' I've received to this point. She said the results from the very first set of x-rays is more than enough to get an MRI approval from my insurance company and again apologized that the other Dr did not follow through (I was told it was denied). My new Dr said said she is going to 'push the MRI through' today and she will call me this afternoon. Sounds like a good start, right? Maybe I am naive but it seemed like she really cares about figuring this out.

    Thank you again n again.......
  • Sorry for the pain that you are going through. Great though, that you found a new doctor that is taking time with you and looking for answers.

    Great that you are going to go for an MRI, that is a good place to start. Have you had, or did they mention, an EMG? This may also be a very helpful test.

    All the best to you, look forward to hearing more from you.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • That's fantastic that this other doctor is pushing for the MRI. You really need one with the symptoms you're having. I'm anxious to hear the results, but I'll warn you that the waiting between the MRI and having your doc explain the results is very difficult. Hopefully, she'll get you in pretty quickly after she gets the images to talk with you.

    I'm interested in something: since we both experienced the same arm symptoms, pretty severe in both, did you, before the current symptoms, experience a time where your arms would get painful goosebumps, then get cold, then get muscular pain that lasted a few hours? I ask because those were my very first symptoms and don't know of anyone else that experienced that first. I told my hubby about it, but thought it too strange to go to the doctor for, so didn't find out about the other stuff until the spasms, pain, etc. started.

    Anyway, good to hear about the doc visit - let us know when you get your MRI scheduled. I hope you've found the right doc for you.

  • Hi Cathie!

    The arm issue began with muscular pain n weakness. There was very little numbness at first. I would have no strength at all and the muscles, usually biceps n triceps would ache and burn as though I had been working out with just one arm for hours on end. The crazy spasms started very quickly thereafter. It may sound odd but it's almost as if there are very specific steps it all follows. My shoulder area will begin to ache/burn, the tingling will start along my arm, the right side of my back will begin to spasm like crazy and immediately my arm is numb and almost useless. It varies in degree. During the night the pain is what wakes me and there is NO position I can hold my arm in to relieve it. I get up at 0530 for work so I'm am always exhausted. Wow! I am such a cry baby. I haven't had the goose bumps but when all of these things with my arm happen, I begin to sweat ( hope that's not TMI) but that may be because i get a bit panicky especially when at work because 90% of my job deals with excel worksheets and I have to have use of my arm to work. Given no one knows what is going on I try to find other work to do not involving the computer.

    I do not wish to be intrusive but I would like to ask u a couple of questions: When your arm was numb was there anything at all u could do to minimize it? It never goes away completely but did u do any exercises or meds? OH I forgot to mention, Dr last night put me on Medrol. She said it should help quite a bit but it is only temporary. Leads me to my next question, have you ever taken Medrol and if so, did it help? Last question, how do you feel overall now? What I mean is I can't/won't live another 30-40 years like this. Its just too difficult n pointless. Do YOU feel well enough now to enjoy things again and go places and have friends? PLEASE forgive me if I am being too intrusive and please only answer if you are entirely comfortable.
  • Hi Karen!

    Thank u very much for your reply and support. I appreciate it more than I can express.

    No one has ever mentioned an EMG. I don't know what that is but I will look it up. I think this new Dr feels so badly (and maybe a bit embarrassed because of the other Dr at her practice completely dropping the ball on my case) that she will help me in any way she can. Should I ask my Dr to do an EMG?

    All the best to you as well! I hope you are doing well or at the very least making progress. Thank u again!

  • Your questions aren't too intrusive at all and the sweating isn't TMI - not much on here is. :-)

    Like you, not long after the arm symptoms I described I had severe pain in my upper back that sent me to my PCP. I had an appt. with her one week later, but the pain was so intense that I couldn't wait a whole week to see her. It ended up being spasms from my neck. She sent me for an x-ray, told me that my neck was a mess but to try PT. When PT no longer helped (it helped at first), she sent me for an MRI and when she saw it said I needed to see a surgeon and reiterated how bad my cervical spine was.

    My arm never became totally numb, just fingers in my right hand. When I tried PT at the very beginning, after the x-ray showed problems, there were some things that helped at first - traction, exercises, etc. But that was very short-lived. Once the PT stopped helping (which my doctor knew it wouldn't) there wasn't anything I could do to relieve any of the symptoms. For the pain in my left arm, I tried a tennis-elbow band and moving my arm in different positions that helped minimally and temporarily, but nothing took the pain completely away or for very long. I had mostly tingling and pins and needles in my right arm and it never went away no matter what I did. My surgeon put me on muscle relaxants that helped with the spasms and pain meds that helped somewhat, but never good enough to sleep through the night or get decent relief.

    Unfortunately, I can't say that my neck is better in the sense that I have issues above my fusion at C2/3 and 3/4 that are still giving me problems. (This isn't caused by adjacent disc disease due to my fusion, it's been there all along and is progressing but surgery for it is a last resort as it's a very difficult one.) I can't afford injections or treatment at this time, so until I can, my surgeon is treating it with meds and exercises.

    But the ACDF helped with the other issues I had. It was very worth it. I no longer have arm symptoms - the problems I have now cause other issues such as headaches, neck pain and spasms. If I didn't have the C2-4 issues, I believe I'd be just fine now, cervical-wise.

    I hope they can relieve the symptoms with non-invasive treatments, but you'll find out after your MRI. They usually will begin with PT and injections before they even consider surgery, as it's a last resort. For me, like I said they tried PT, but when my surgeon saw my MRI images, he said that he could try other treatments, but he was sure they wouldn't help and it wasn't a matter of if I had surgery but when. So I trusted him and went forward with the ACDF.

    I have taken the Medrol pack twice before, but it was for my lumbar issues and helped tremendously. It helped the disc bulge symptoms (pain down the back of my legs to my feet), but the other symptoms with my lumbar problems remained. In addition to the disc bulge, I had facet problems, stenosis and spondylolisthesis. They couldn't do anything to relieve the problems I was having with those, thus the L4/5 fusion surgery.

    Well, I think I covered all the bases. Feel free to ask more questions if you need or want to, I'm happy to help in any way I can. But just know that if you have treatment for a certain area and no problems above or below, then you can get back to a normal life.

    Take care and post again here or PM me any time.
  • Sorry I have not been around to offer you the support I said I would :(

    My mil was in a coma for about 10 days and this past Sunday we buried her... so I have not been around.

    Please post an update - I would very much like to know how you are doing?
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Ms Humpty Dumpty,

    I am so very sorry for your loss. It sounds as though u have had a rough few weeks.
    I hope things are getting better for you and your family.

    Update: The last time I had written I was excited because I had seen a new Dr who had given me some hope n assured me she would push my MRI through n call me the next day. That did not happen. I waited a few days, called her office and asked that she PLEEEEEASE call me and let me know the status of my MRI approval. Again, no one called. I have to admit I was sooooo disappointed I kind of fell into a depression. I was giving up. I assume she received my msg as I FINALLY received my referral roughly two weeks ago. I don't know if she forgot about me or if my insurance took that long to approve it. Regardless, I had my cervical spine MRI on 01/24/12. Dr called me the next afternoon to say I need to see a neurosurgeon. I received that referral on Saturday n will schedule the appointment tomorrow for asap.

    MRI results: disc height loss at C5-6 and C6-7. Disc desiccation from C2-3 to C6-7. Marked artifact on the axial T2 and sagittal STIR images. C2-3 left foraminal stenosis in part due to uncovertebral hypertrophy and facet hypertrophy.

    C4-5 disc osteophyte complex with flattening of ventral CSF. Bilateral uncovertebral hypertrophy and facet osteoarthritis which contributes to moderate left and moderate right foraminal stenosis.

    C5-6 disc osteophyte complex which is slightly asymmetric to the left. Flattening of the ventral CSF. Bilateral foraminal stenosis. Bilateral foraminal stenosis.

    C6-7 disc osteophyte complex with a right paracentral/foraminal disc protrusion. Flattening of ventral CSF in the right lateral recess region. There is severe right foraminal stenosis. Left neural foramen is narrowed.

    At C6-7 there is disc osteophyte complex with superimposed right paracentral/foraminal disc protrusion. This encroaches upon the right lateral recess and contributes to severe right foraminal stenosis. Spondylosis elsewhere within cervical spine as discussed above.

    Given that I have little idea what most of this means, I'm not sure how concerned to be. I've been looking things up online but I find it difficult to put it all together enough to give me a clear picture. I've known I have arthritis and bone spurs but now it appears the spurs are each a whole a 'complex'. I'm assuming the 'severe right foraminal stenosis' is the cause of my right arm being numb. All of this along with my brain injury issues from my accident, the herniated discs in my lower back and my 'chronic sinusitis' is giving me almost unbearable pain from the tip of my head to the bottom of my spine. I am hoping and praying the neurosurgeon will know how to fix all of this.

    I apologize for the very long post. I would have condensed it had I known what it all meant.

    Is this familiar to anyone? Any ideas? Suggestions? Or has anyone had any of this fixed and how?

    Thank you so very much for reading.

    All the best to everyone.


  • Hi Di :wave:

    Sure I am more then qualified to tell you how I would read these results.

    You have a messed up mess going on ;) (hope I at least made you grin a little)

    Sorry but that is as far as my knowledge goes for the C spine. I am more of a L, S gal myself.

    Honestly your report does say you have some issues going on that is why you need to see a Nuro. I pray they get you in QUICK!

    How is your pain doing?

    I will keep checking back in to red your updates - I hope someone else can help you with your questions :)

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Hello Ms Humpty!!

    Thank u so much for clarifying my results! I feel better just knowing it's only a messed up mess! I was worried it might be something serious! Haha! :))( Yes, I laughed when I read your comment.

    Good news! I called the neurosurgeon's office today and lucky for me, there had just been a cancellation! I have an appointment on Friday at 1300!! I am sooooo hoping and praying the Dr will say 'no problem, we can fix all of this with non invasive laser surgery'!!

    The pain has become, at times, almost unbearable. There is NO relief. I use my heating pad 24/7. The other Dr had prescribed flexerol (for the severe spasms in my back) and 5 mg perccets for the pain. I know this makes no sense but I swear on the few occasions I've tried the percocets (oxycodone) it gives me an even worse headache. That is the last thing I need. I can't really understand how a pain killer can cause more pain but for me, it does. I tried it on three separate occasions n each time my head ended up hurting worse! I have not had even an hour free of pain in so long I can't remember. If I could just get one full day with no (or little) pain I think maybe I could regroup n get my head into a better place.

    Only a few more days and maybe I will have some answers!

  • that you are able to get in to see the doctor this week.
    I, like Beth, am a lumbar girl, but can certainly understand pain, and wanting to get answers and options for treatment.

    Wishing you the best at your appointment,please let us know how it goes.
    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Hi Karen!

    Thank u very much! They have not yet done tests (recently) on any other area of my back. I know I have herniated discs in the lumbar region (I was X-rayed n told two are herniated a few years back). I am hoping this neurosurgeon will take the time to MRI the rest of my spine and see what the entire 'picture' looks like. One way or another this has to stop.

    Thank u again and again for the support. I truly appreciate it!

    I will update Friday evening when I get home.
    >:D< Di.
  • Di - It actually is a rather common side effect for oxycodone or any med in that family to give some people a nasty headache.:(

    Try drinking at least 8 ozs or more of water with your pill and staying well hydrated. That has been known to help some people with this side effect.

    I will be back to read your update on Friday.

    My thoughts are with you :hug:

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
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