I'm really hoping someone here can give some advice on which direction to go next in my battle with bulging discs. I'm 38 and four years ago I was diagnosed with two bulging discs in my cervical spine (4th and 5th vertebrate) and possible bulging discs in my lumbar region (unsure since I only had an MRI of my cervical and mid back). This initial diagnoses was made by a very reputable orthopaedic sports medicine doctor. I went through supervised physical therapy ffor a few months and continued on my own, with mild success. 18 months later I got a second opinion from another orthopaedic doctor at a spine center. He felt that my pain was probably more from joint disc strain rather than bulging discs. So I went through another round of supervised physical therapy with a different physical therapist and have continued on my own with mild success. In all honestly, my physical therapy has not always been consistent and I could do a much better job at it.
Recently, I took a new desk job which has worsened my pain. I am having a very mild, yet persistent tingling/numbness in my right arm which in the past I would only feel on rare occassions for less than a day. I feel like perhaps I should get a 3rd opinion, but I'm confused as to which type of doctor to see. Instead of another orthopaedic doctor, should I try a nuerosurgeon or other?
I've read online that ignored pain in arms or legs can lead to permanent nerve damage. I have no idea if this is true, but I'd rather not take the risk. So my second question is, am I better off getting extremely serious and consistent at the physical therapy for 6 weeks before getting a 3rd opinion, or am I risking nerve damage not seeing a professional first?
Thank you for any guidance on this.