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Cervical Osteoarthritis pain activated by Rotator Cuff Surgery PT Exercises?

So many of you have helped me in enormous ways -- by sharing your stories, mentioning facts, reactions and just plain being honest. My story isn't nearly as severe as what many of you endure on a daily basis, but I would be delinquent if I didn't try to 'give back' a tad.

I'm a 70 year old retired elementary teacher. I've been ultra-active all my life (jogging, down on the floor with kids building stegasaurus to a life-sized model, etc.) -- despite several painful situations and surgeries throughout my 7 decades of living. None of my issues have been life-threatening in any way, although when I had my 6 inch rectal abcesses removed I was sternly told I would have been dead within a year had I not had them removed.

My neck area has been a problem since I was in my 20s. Back in those dinosaur days, docs were not terribly interested in females with pain problems..........and so the answer was always the same: take two tylenol and rest. After awhile, I didn't even mention my 3-day pain episodes which were excruciating but not regular. They could be 6 weeks or 6 months apart -- and even tho my loving husband and I tried to determine whether it was menstral or stress-related, we never were able to define clues as to what was causing these episodes.

In January, 2011, these pain episodes changed to be an 8- day event -- primary doc sent me to ER for an immediate x-ray, etc. -- all of which was clear. He then began a series of 'tools', none of which proved any reason for these pain problems: prednisone packet, rheumatoid blood work, etc. During the rheumatoid work-up, the rheumatologist discovered via an MRI that I had a torn ligament in my left arm rotator cuff -- and surgery was highly recommented as the tear was 'complete' and it would not heal well on its own.

Surgery occurred July, 2011, and the looooooong process of recuperation began in earnest. I was assurred with every medical professional giving me hopeful eyes that my back-of-skull/neck pain ?could be? related to this tear. I had a superior PT therapist and together we brought my left arm thru all those difficult protocol measurements. Once she began the strengthening exercises (5 months after surgery), however, everything fell apart. Residual pain in my neck, left shoulder blade, down left arm was waffling between a Level 5 to 8 following every PT session.

In January, 2012, another MRI discovered a pinched nerve at the C-7 area of my neck, bone spurs on C-4,5, 6, 7, stenosis in several discs, minor herniation on several discs, and even a tad of scoliosis -- along with a few other 'minor' factors. I began working with an outstanding Pain Specialists and as of this date he has tried 4 cortisone shots (done in a suberb manner with x-ray during procedure), none of which has proven successful for very long. I've seen 3 surgeons (2 ortho, 1 neuro) and all of them do not wish to touch my neck with surgery. One didn't think it was 'bad enuf' -- another thought the arthritis was so bad he dared not touch it.

I now await a procedure called radio frequency ablation, which ?may? give me some relief from my pain situation. Next week I go for the numbing part -- and if my body reacts positively they will proceed to kill off that portion of the nerve which ?may? be causing the pain.

I can identify with so many of you who wish your LIFE BACK ........... as my pain seems to only enjoy being at total rest. Even typing this on my laptop is providing me with further pain because I'm tensing the muscles that are related to this poor nerve that is entrapped somewhere. I used to exercise regularly, travel, quilt for veterans, knit prayer shawls, etc.. -- as my husband and I have been planning for decades on the neat things we can do while retired. I don't mind getting old -- if it just wouldn't hurt so much or take my life away. I may be 70 -- but I am as active as I was when I was 40.......and I desire it all back.

I cannot justify giving you any further details -- as with each of us, the story is a long one -- the treatments have been extensive (tried acupuncture too.....no help) ----- and I haven't found any long-lasting help as of yet.

If anyone has any ideas of potential treatments I have not mentioned here -- please relate them............ if not, please write anyway if any of my story relates to what you are experiencing. Each of you provide such wonderful support for each other --and I'm thrilled to have found this website.

Purringly Yours,
Maine Coon (I love dogs too)..........smile.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,862
    in which you are subject to Osteoarthritis.
    I didnt show any signs of OA until around 2004. Since then its been rippling through my body at a pretty fast rate.
    That has been the cause for both of my total shoulder replacements and one hip replacement.

    All the doctor's I spoke with really all concurred that it was all my surgeries that lead to my current condition.
    Now, back to shoulder/cervical situation. For the longest time, my therapists worked on my neck and thoracic area because that was were the pain seemed to be centered. Once the problem in my shoulders was identified and then corrected (18-24 month recovery time), most of my cervical and thoracic problems have gone away.

    One thing to keep in mind. All the doctors that I had review my MRI and X-Rays regarding my joint problems, all stated that it is better to operate before the arthritis takes away more of the bone and joint. If that happens, it becomes almost impossible to perform the required surgery.

    Before you explore the various treatments, which there are numerous, I think it is more important to isolate on the source of your problem, have the doctors explore and then provide short term and long term action plans for you.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks Ron -- I appreciate your thoughts. I, too, have heard that surgeries can bring on osteoarthritis -- but, my options after 3 opinions seem to be over regarding neck surgery..........until another year or so, I guess. This radio frequency ablation WILL help pinpoint the problem for me. If it works, then it definitely is the impinged nerve. If it doesn't work, well -- then I'm off to find the tools to help me live a bit better than I am right now. I agree with the isolation of the problem.......and hope to do that thru my excellent Pain Specialist. At this point, he is favoring the pinched nerve because of the bone spurs -- and so he's willing to do this RFB, which will kill off a portion of the nerve. Thanks again for writing.
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