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Arm pain!

MelWMMelW Posts: 427
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:02 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have been having arm pain for a few months now, its similar to the pain I had prior to ACDF back in 2009, but it doesn't shoot all of the way down my arm, when I lean my head back a little I am getting a shooting pain from my neck/shoulder down to my elbow... I have some tingling, but no numbness. The pain in my shoulder seems to be all of the time. There are times I notice that it doesn't hurt, but for the most part it usually is pretty painful. I was told before that most of my pain is due to stress from my fusion on the levels above and below where I was fused, and DDD.

I have been seeing a chronic pain doc since about a year after I had my ACDF in 2009, but my pain level is still high. I know pain management is not going to take away all of my pain, but I am on some pretty strong stuff and it is freaking me out that I am still in this much pain.

I am waiting to hear back from my doctor to find out when I can get in to see the neuro, so until then I am just dealing with it. I am so ready to see him and find out what the heck is going on, and what my options are!



  • Mel,

    So sorry to hear you are having so much discomfort. I hope that you will find out soon what exactly is going on in your neck.

    I was on the heavy opiates for almost 2 years, I just weaned myself off last winter,and had to go right back on after a bout with pneumonia caused a lung abcess.

    I finally got myself off again in February, but it isn't easy. It was scary for me to be on such strong stuff for so long, but what other options are there when the pain is so bad?

    I have pain everyday and take tramodol now, my Md just gave me a new patch(non narcotic) to help. See post on Lidocaine patch.

    I will keep you in my thoughts,

  • Right now I am on a Fentynal patch, oxicodone, flexeril, celexa, meloxicam, and a few others that are heart related. I am just so over all of the drugs, but at the same time I have a hard time making it through a day without them. I am just at a point where I am tired of masking the pain and just want to "fix" it. And I know that "fixing" the problem is not going to take all of my pain away, but if I can reduce it and prevent further damage, then I am all for it. I have been going to my pain doc trying to "manage" the pain for two years now, plus have had several rounds of injections. I am tired of the meds and tired of getting stabbed in the neck and getting no relief. UGH!

    I have heard of the lidocaine patches, but didn't know of anyone that's used them.

    I left a message for the neuro, so I will hopefully hear from them first thing tomorrow.
  • When I read your post about being tired of trying to fix your neck, I think you're right on point, and true, surgery is definetly not always a total fix, but even respite from the horrible nerve pain is progress.

    I always wonder why sometimes we try so hard to manage pain. That seems to be a misnomer, the pain manages me. I've learned to deal with what I have left after surgery, and don't know how I ever could have lived with the excruiating levels I know some here on the forum deal with daily, and for long periods of time.

    I hope that whatever you decide, that the ultimate result will be blessedly pain free.

  • I have been neck pain for more than six months. I have seen a nuero doctor since after one month. But still pain is high. Now I am trying to go for ayurvedic medicines. It will helpful or not please suggest?

  • Neck pain article and Neck pain video seems to me pretty outstanding and I highly appreciate it. Thanks mate. :)

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  • I tell ya, this arm pain has been something else today. Thank goodness I am in better spirits today or I might go batty!!!! When the arm pain hits, it is for sure worse than my neck pain, at least it seems to be. I have had sharp shooting pain down both arms darn near all day. I was hoping that trying to be a little more active might help, but apparently it's just irritating things. I have even been having pain down into the palm of my hands.

    Whew! I thought it was bad having arm pain in just my right arm a few years ago.... both arms is quite annoying to say the least! -.- grrrrrr

    On a positive note, emotionally today has been great, physically it has sucked.
  • Mel,

    Try holding your arms over your head and see if helps. Many times I need to lie down and hold them there. Now if I could raise my arms over my head when standing I would, as that is where I would prefer for them to be. But I really got that tip long ago, from another member. Also I seen you are studying nursing, so you might want to watch how much time you spend looking down, and or at a monitor. Try to take breaks every so often to lesson the pain before it gets to bad. I keep a timer by my computer so I don't get to involved in something and then send my self in a tail spin. good to hear your in better spirits today, hopefully tomorrow both sides of your body will want to be in sync. But also I would think your holding a lot of stress do to the waiting for the surgeon and that is never healthy for a cervical spine patient. Be sure you let them know that you are not sure which pain is worse the neck or the arms, as they rotate on a given day depending on what you are doing, it is important for the surgeon to know that. Good luck and hopefully the phone rings tomorrow, but remember a watched phone never rings, lol.
  • you are having and not just one arm, but both !

    I had 9 mos. of seering, burning, aching episodes 3 weeks peak and then weaning down to aching and weaker forearm and hand. This was left side neuro-compression the worst. I did not have anything other than oxycodone and hydrocodone and it did nothing. I waited for the weaning off of the severe part of the episode. But then so how much loss I had - - no win-win for sure. I had injections C-8 nerve root for the worst level of compression and it brought all of the 8 mos. of episodes = toxicity reaction to nerve root epidural and have severe all muscles, ulnar, median, radial all damaged and severe atrophy in my left forearm and loss of fine ligaments in hand.

    I swear by lumbar epidurals and rf's, but found out cervical can be very different and high risk for damage, it was for me.

    MVA brought on nerve pain in right neck, shoulder, forearm and got Pain Management Dr. on board, he put me on Neurontin and thank God, with increasing dose and 3X daily I have gotten much relief.

    Not saying this is possibly any help for your situation, but thought I'd share about injections, and one med I see you may not have considered. Know everyone's neuro-pain - nerve roots, facet nerves, cord and understand depending on where compressed, anterior, posterior what's compressing it hardware, bone spurs, etc. is unique and sure hope you can find some resolution to get the pain level down.

    The hardest for me was that seering nerves - polyneuro-toxicity and compression going on for 9 mos. It was so painful I could do nothing but veg out in recliner chair, pray, breathe and hope for the peak of pain to change during the day.

    Tamtam, gave some good tips with really being mindful of head positioning, turning, tasking posture. The arm(s) over head with slow paceful relaxation breathing in nose out of the mouth.

    I got fitted for a hard collar, great support for my complex neck VISTA collar, let my head be fully supported by chin ledge of collar in front and back ledge whole back of head and nape of neck - - it helped and did not have as decompression but full support for the ligaments and muscles to rest.

    Having soothing music t.v. /news only mind soothing environment and living solo having my fur-babies Lhasa and ShihZhu who are little monkeys wanting to play - - managing to distract me from the pain helped too !

    Sure hopin things shift into resolution for you and yes relief !
  • I do finally have an appointment with the neurosurgeon, it's still almost three weeks away, June 15. I am counting down the days!

    I do try to take breaks often. I try to keep my laptop at eye level so I am not constantly looking down. I know my posture doesn't help at all. Usually, my head sits more forward than it should. It is kind of hard to explain. I am constantly trying to hold my head/neck up correctly, but it is usually painful to.

    I will try holding my arms over my head. I might be able to do it laying down as well. I can't hold them over my head while standing either. I can almost get them up there, but I cannot even hold them like that for a minute, which is frustrating.

    I am just really praying for some kind of answers on June 15. I am so over "let's try another injection. How about PT? Raise meds, switch meds, rest, heat, ice, exercise, more injections, etc." I realize that all of that needs to be tried to see if something happens to work, but I am done being a damn guinea pig. I have "jumped through all of the hoops" and am done. I am at a point of either fix what you can and get me off these meds, or just tell me nothing can be done and to suck it up and live with it. I know something is wrong, I have been told this much, but I refuse to mask the problem anymore. If something can be done surgically, I am ready for it, I feel like my flipping neck can't even support my own head, like it'll just roll right off. If it can't, then tell me that and let me live with it. I think that is what has me so emotionally drained too. The fact that I don't know if something can be done. If my surgeon tells me that surgery is not going to do squat, then I can begin to learn to live with what pain I have and move on with life. I am holding on to that chance of being "fixed," so to speak.

    Alright, I have rambled on long enough, lol. :-) Time to go make some food for my niece's party tomorrow!
  • Mel,

    It has always seemed to me that living with with this nerve pain is like being on a rollercoaster, up & down, up & down. Feel good physically or emotionally, but hard to get the 2 together.ugh!!!

    My first neck surgery was over 30 years ago, I had C5-6 fused, injury from a fall skiing. No hardware back then, took grafts from hip, you were definitely in hard collar til healed. I had a non-union and was in collar for over 8 months. But when finally healed, had great result and rarely any residual pain. Went right back to working,skiing,biking etc. as soon as I was cleared. I hope that you have that kind of result.

    This time around more permanent nerve damage. But am still walking, able to do gentle yoga. The waiting to find out what I was going to be left with was hard. Not knowing just doesn't give you something to deal with. It's like trying to hold smoke in your hands.

    Keep in touch, let me know how you're doing. keeping you in my thoughts,

  • Mel,

    One thing I hope never happens to anyone is that a doctor tells them there is nothing they can do, or get over it. Now I know you say you have a great surgeon and your not in that risk. But the other approach could be, we can't do surgery now as we want to wait and see. I know I say see what? But the most important thing they do when doing surgery is to be sure they are operating on the pain generator. Some surgeons are more conservative than others, which is not a bad thing? While we want to get better, we also don't want to risk so much that we can't even do anything, from non movement issues and still deal with chronic pain to boot.

    I have been in the position of sorry there is nothing more we can do. Trust me was some of the hardest words ever said to me. However that was really not the case. But then again I am work comp, and they paid the doctor to say it. Thank goodness after him treating me a few more times, he didn't even believe his own words and retracted them.

    As far as the bobble head effect, you might try using a soft collar, although don't use it to much as they do weaken the neck muscles. But if your trying to study, it might help, till your appointment and help with the pain. When I had lordosis that was the best explanation I could have called my head a bobble head, as if I didn't have enough strength to do it. But in addition it made me physically tired and fatigued. But it did help not to bring on the ridculopathy, as bad. That of course is only a short term fix and you do need something long term, but maybe till you get into your surgeon, to get you by. When your up walking around I wouldn't wear it though is that is the best time to keep up the core body strength. Anyway that is how I got by between surgeries and still some what functioned, was better than being in bad all day long. For myself there is nothing worse than laying around all day long, feels like I am wasting a day, when I have to do it.
  • Thanks for the advice, and positive words.

    I actually have an appt with my pain doc in about an hour, so I am going to bring up some of my concerns with him today. He hasn't seen my newest MRI, so I am giving him that too. The last one he has seen is from over two years ago and have quite a few new "issues" since then.

    I will let ya'll know how my appt goes!
  • Well, I did not get a ton of info, but I feel better after talking to him. He always makes me feel better about my pain issues. He is the only doctor that has told me I am my own best advocate.

    I told him about my fall a while back and that I have an appointment to see my neurosurgeon. He told me to make sure I am cautious when I see the surgeon because there are things that would make me a surgical candidate, but may not help with my actual pain. He said surgeons will do surgery and because it was successful they think you shouldn't have anymore pain, when in reality they didn't "fix" the pain generator to begin with.

    He did all of the normal tests, pull, push, squeeze, tilt head & apply gentle pressure, turn left, turn right, blah, blah, blah. All's I know is that my neck and in between my shoulder blades have been on fire since a bit after I left his office, like someone kicked me in the back and neck 20X and there's a little person in my muscles squeezing and stomping them to death.

  • Hey mel

    What really surprises me is the many faces of pain. I have severe stenosis and every day the pain is different. Some days neck is horrible. Some days neck tollerable but pain in shoulders is bad. Some days burning sensation in neck, shoulders, arms all the way to hands. Then I have days where I lose fine motor control of left hand. And yet everyone is different. My neuro cant wait to cut. I want to wait ten months until I can start drawing my pension. He says to wait more the six to eight weeks is foolish. I do not want surgery and after reading posts here I know it is not always best. More or different pain is possible. I guess I will wait til I cant stand it anymore. My emg test shows nerve damage so I know its not in my mind. I take lortab and relefan for pain and stiffness. Anyway good luck and God bless all on the website for I believe we all need him.

  • Well, I posted this on another post, but not this one yet. My appointment was cancelled due to the surgeon being called in to emergency surgery on Friday. Sometimes I think I am cursed!! I have been counting down the days, hours, and minutes till I saw the surgeon, then low and behold, CANCELLED!

    I am now scheduled for July 6 and am on a cancellation waiting list. I hate that I am hoping someone else cancels because they obviously need to see a surgeon too, but I am also extremely mad that people that got appts after me are going to be seen before me. They rather piss off one full day of patients than three weeks worth of patients, which I understand from their standpoint, but it still sucks.

    It doesn't help that my pain has been at an all time high lately and if it wasn't for my insurance being messed up right now, I would've been to the ER several times by now. My pain meds just aren't cutting it.

    I just want a "pain break," even if it is just for a few hours!
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