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Radiculopathy - Cervical Herniations

Hello. I am new here and have done my reading and research, I hope what I am asking is not out of line for the forum. I have DDD, 3 herniations in my cervical spine alone (I am 32 yo) - lumbar and thoracic not imaged yet to determine the extent of damage at those levels. The worst herniation is at the C5-6 level- with an extruded left paramedian herniation that effaces the anterior thecal sac and causes mild spinal impingement. The other 2 herniations have not affected my spinal cord yet.

So, here's the issue. I have extreme right arm pain generating from my cervical spine (with swollen, tight sternocleidomastoid muscle and trapezius spasms). The right arm pain is severe, extends from my collar bone and shoulder down with progressive weakness, inflammation and tingling/numbness in my arm. I can't move my arm outward from my body more than a couple inches and it hurts to extend it fully as well. But... the MRI said my spinal cord impingement was on the left side. Should I believe the dr that said my arm pain is entirely from the herniations or should I seek a second opinion regarding brachial plexus or thoracic outlet issues? I don't see the neurosurgeon until Dec 7, if it is a brachial plexus injury, I'm worried it might get worse and not improve.

Again, I apologize. I understand this is a spine forum but I'm curious to hear other's experiences with radiculopathy from a herniated cervical disc. Is the wrong side being affected normal or should I be looking for other answers prior to my neurosurgeon visit? As an example, after typing these three paragraphs, I can no longer move my right hand and its in extreme pain and feels swollen and hot. I haven't seen that much weakness being a symptom of cervical radiculopathy. Has anyone else? Thanks.


  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 11/17/2012 - 3:56 PM
    Sorry to hear of all of the issues you are having.

    While I cannot speak to this specific set of issues, if you have even an inkling of a doubt or unsuredness, please trust your instinct and get a second opinion... and even a third, if necessary. I am not sure where you live, but here in California it is customary to ask the physican you just saw for a referral explaining that you need to do your homework, etc etc. If that doctor gets offended at all, RUN!

    My surgeon offered me the name of another surgeon and when they both came up with different recommendations for my ACDF C3/4 and C4/5, they actually confered with one another discussing their disagreements about approach. And, because they came up with different approaches/recommendations for the same issue, I went to yet a third. I knew I had only one shot at getting this right.

    And, I would call this doctor first thing on Monday and ask if he feels you are at serious risk timewise. Again, if he is offended by you asking such an important question, RUN.

    I wish you well and hope everything you choose to do works out well.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • i had a 2 level fusion a little over a year ago. the main reason i had it done was due to right arm pain. i couldn't be in the car for more than 5 minutes without major pain running through my upper arm. the thing is, my MRI showed herniations at 2 levels, 2 extrusions to the left, impinging nerves on the left side, and one herniation on the right. my original surgeon looked at the MRI and couldn't figure out how i had NO pain on my left side.

    do you have nerve root compression on the right side? i had it on the left and right, but only had the pain on the right side.
    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • Francine, thanks for the advice. I will definitely get a couple opinions.

    Tran92, thanks for sharing. I guess all my neural foramen appear patent bilaterally at each level so I think there is not a lot of nerve impingement so I don't know what is causing my severe radiculopathy. I'm wondering if I also have issues at the thoracic level although I hear that is less common. Last I knew (last Feb), I had two lumbar herniations as well so I wonder if they've healed or gotten worse.
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