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From active to pain in a weekend

Like many of the rest of you, I am (was) an active 56 year old woman until 2 weeks ago. I began experiencing alot of pain in my neck and right shoulder with pain all the way down to my hand. I imagined a pinched nerve because the pain in my arm and wrist was almost constant and very, very painful and the source of the pain was in my neck or the base of my scull area. I went to my massage therapist first and was hoping that would help but unfortunately it didn't help at all. Then I saw a chiropractor but that provided no relief either. Finally after a week, I went to my GP and he inferred a week of pain is not enough to warrant a referral. He sent me for an xray which revealed arthritis in my neck and narrowing in the C6 and C7. Since I very rarely even go to a dr I have no idea what this means. He gave me pain meds which, though I hate taking, provide me the only relief from this unbelievable pain. And I am to start physical therapy which I have to participate in for at least a month before I can be referred. Does anyone have any suggestions for homeopathic help or any herbs/vitamins that might help. I have been told ginger and turmeric can sometimes help. Anyone have any success with that? The pain meds knock me out so I can only take them when I can lie down somewhere for a couple of hours but it does give me a few hours of minimal pain. They take me from about an 8 or a 9 to a 3 or a 4 on the pain scale. My activity level has changed dramatically and I looking for anyway possible to get past this pain and start living a normal healthy life again.


  • Peter BPPeter B Posts: 511
    edited 03/02/2013 - 7:47 PM
    The neck wears as we age, so you must expect what you have.
    What I'd be looking into is what activities you have been doing that put strain on the neck.
    You say that you were active, so there may well be something that has gradually strained the neck too much, and the pain is a message to stop!
    Rest it thoroughly, give it time for inflammation to settle. Avoid holding your head up for long periods, rest it every 30 mins or so, do some gentle stretches of neck and shoulders.
    One of the worst, for me at least, is sitting at a PC!
    You may just be at the stage where you have to modify your activities as the body naturally ages. Happens to us all. Good to see you are using chiro and massage.
    I'd suggest physio also, as you may need special attention to neck, shoulders and back.
    Mine is all a mess from overuse, so I now use all 3 treatments on a regular basis, and have had to severely limit what I do, and must rest my neck throughout the day, or I pay for it a day or so later.
    The best supplement treatment I found is magnesium chloride to ease my tight muscles. Well recommended.
    Pain killers are very helpful used as directed. Always minimise use, but it is important to stop the pain so you can rest and recover.
    My similar pain usually subsides over a few days, but I rest a lot. Doing stuff just re-inflames it. Hard to do, but there it is.
  • Thanks Peter B.... Well, I consider myself active but maybe busy is a better word. I don't really do alot of strenuous activites that I would consider stressful on my neck but I do garden and keep house, take care of my 80 year old parents and watch my 2 year old grandbaby. I walk and play and been active in the sense that I am not sedentary. So sitting for long periods is unusual for me. You mentioned I should avoid holding my head up for long periods and that is one of the most painful things. And of course, I do work at a PC (part-time thankfully) and I find that my neck/head is very sore after that. I will try the magnesium choride. You mentioned physio... what is that? Physical therapy? Thank you for your help.
  • If you can take them, NSAIDs (aleve, advil) at high doses can the fastest, but shouldn't be continued daily or at prescription strength. I can't take NSAIDs due to blood pressure and cardiac issues, and I refuse to take anymore corticosteroids, injected or oral. I have been taking a 400mg turmeric complex twice a day and 500mg of high strength omega 3 Krill Oil twice a day for over a year. It took 1 to 2 months, but I do feel like it helps significantly. I also drink diet ginger ale and green tea as my regular beverages. Frequent icing also helps me.

    It's been a very frustrating and depressing 4 years transitioning from a very active and fit 60 yr. old to a 64 yr old mostly recliner potato taking pain medications regularly.
    Severe DDD, Severe neural foraminal stenosis at 2 levels, moderate canal stenosis at 2 levels, significantly impaired left shoulder & arm function. Chronic moderate compression fracture at C6.
  • Daffydolphin, I appreciate your sharing what has worked for you. I am so new at this and willing to try whatever helps, really. I initially tried taking high doses of the advil and tylenol but they didn't provide much relief which is why I am taking this hydrocodone stuff once a day for pain relief when I know I can just lay down. I don't take any other medications and I haven't had any issues with high blood pressure but I, too, don't want to rely on the advil and tylenol for long term inflammation relief. I am going to head to the vitamin or health food store and see if I can find some of the supplements that you and Peter B have mentioned. I truly feel your frustration and hope that I can get back to some activity without pain in the near future.
  • I have not tried it, but I read some good things about Anatabloc. They have been doing a lot of TV advertising this winter. It cost $80 to $100 for a 5-6 week supply. It's only available from manufacturer and GN_. The krill oil and turmeric, while not cheap, can often be found at chain drug stores for buy one, get the second free or 50% off sales.
    Tylenol (acetaminophen) does nothing for inflammation, just fever and mild pain.
    Yep, Peter's Physio means Physical Therapy.
    Severe DDD, Severe neural foraminal stenosis at 2 levels, moderate canal stenosis at 2 levels, significantly impaired left shoulder & arm function. Chronic moderate compression fracture at C6.
  • Yes, physiotherapy. They have a thorough knowledge of the body and how it works. A chiro works only on joints, and a masseuse on soft tissue. A physio does the lot, but in saying that I have found each offers something that the others don't, so you may need all three from time to time.
    Doctors, I've found, are of little help in this area, just relying on drugs mainly. Rare for one to suggest one of the other treatments I've mentioned.
    Stress, or tension, from doing a lot every day, is my downfall and may also be yours. Leads to a lot of muscle tension, which then strains the joints as well as everything else.
    Hard to slow down when there are so many demands.
    But...you have to. Try to have more breaks, just a few minutes here and there, and see what you can cut out from your schedule. Do this while you can, as you may get worse and have to stop everything!
    I'm nearly 68, and have had to stop a lot of activities, and must really pace myself carefully all of the time. I let it go on too long, mainly excessive PC work. Killed my neck and shoulders.
    You can try NSAIDS, which are another form of pain relief. I have tried them all but felt no benefit, and the long term suspected side effects of joint damage have finally put me off.
    Try also ice packs on the neck.
    In my case, my neck, shoulder and head pains come from either stiff joints or tight muscles. The physio gently loosens the joints-get the entire spine done. That alone is likely to be a big help.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    Hopefully you can provide us with some more details

    1 - Did anything happen? An accident, a fall, etc that started this problem?
    2 - What did you do initially and how long was it before you saw the first medical person?
    3 - What made you go to a Massage Therapist
    4 - Then why next to a Chiropractor?
    5 - Since your PCP was not going to a referral, but referral to who, but they set you for X-Rays and the wrote a prescription for pain medications, what was his/her diagnosis, evaluation and an action plan for you?
    6 - What kind of Physical therapy did this PCP prescribe for you?

    I understand that when you are hurting, everything doesnt always make sense. But it is so important to break everything down into small segments so that you will be able to explain this to the next level of medical professionals that you will see.
    I assume your PCP is going to do the referral, but only after his/her 'criteria' is met.

    Under normal situations, going from being fine to having pain needs to be evaluated. Knowing what was the root cause for this situation manytimes can help identify what should be done. I can understand the PCP statement about waiting.
    Unless there was some clinical observation that he/she saw, that waiting it out might be the best plan.

    For many of us that live in chronic pain, we also have had our flare ups. Initially they can be scary. Especially for those coming of their first spinal surgery. Did something go wrong? Did the fusion break apart? All very natural feelings. Those that have been around a while come to the point where they know how flare ups work. When something like you described happend, the seasoned person would probably identify all the things they have done recently to see if any of them could have triggered this new problem. They would also use Hot/Ice treatments for a while. After a week, and they still have the problem, a call to their PCP may be in order.

    The point I am trying to make here, is for you to try to figure out what could have happened to cause this. Then to see if the discomfort is changing or remaining the same. Is it worse in the morning, afternoon or evening? Doest it hurt more sitting, standing, walking, etc.

    Has anything like this happened to you before?
    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
  • Thank you to all of you for sharing your experiences because it really does help. Peter, I will try physical therapy and hope to get some good results as you have had. Ron, I wish I knew what caused this. I woke up fine on a Saturday but felt a twinge in my neck after I sat for a bit with my coffee and computer. It didn't hurt alot and I went about my day doing some yard work but by that evening, it was really painful. I used ice and heat and biofreeze that I had but it seemed to grow more and more intense. By Monday I had alot of constant pain radiating down my right arm. I used the advil but it really provided no relief. I work in a chiropractic office and we had a massage therapist for awhile sharing space so I called her and she was able to fit me in. She did some deep tissue massage for about 30 minutes and I was really hoping it would loosen up the muscles but my arm was still throbbing after that and the pain in my neck was very intense. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I had adjustments and muscle stim done at the chiropractor but I was still feeling no relief so on Monday I went to my primary physician. I have felt myself fortunate to be reasonable healthy at 56. I take no medications and really only see my dr very occasionally for annual blood work and such. I did have an experience with a frozen shoulder about 6 or 7 years ago and went through many of the same steps of treatment I am now (chiro, pt, etc) and the massage therapy seemed to provide the relief so maybe that's why I went there first.

    I guess the action plan that my pcp has planned is for me to see how I respond to the physical therapy. It helped very little with my frozen shoulder but perhaps this will be different and provide some long term help for me. I hope so. He did send me for an xray and told me that it showed mild arthritis in my neck and narrowing in the c6 and c7. I have no idea what kind of pt I will be doing. I start on Tuesday but I assume it will be range of motion and exercises for my arm and neck. I am feeling alot less pain this weekend comparable to last weekend and I am trying to taper off of the pain medication since I really don't like its effects but I have been doing very little (as Peter suggested), resting alot but I would like to be able to get back to a reasonably active routine. I still have alot of aching in my neck area but the pain down my arm is much less. So I do feel some improvement. Thank you for your help and advice.
  • My pain began overnight back in November, when I woke up with a pain in my upper right arm, and then pretty significant pins and needles feeling down my right arm depending on my movement.

    Went initially to a regular doc who presumed pinched nerve. Then went to a spine/pain mgmt specialist who did the usual tests, also said pinched nerve (C6.) He gave me Tramadol and prescribed PT. I took the Tramadol, but don't think it did much (and I didn't like the side effects it had on me.) PT seemed to do nothing, while the pain was getting worse.

    A co-worker said "go to my Chiro" and at least give it a shot. I had never been to one before but thought, "I gotta try something," so I went. After one visit to him (he adjusted pretty much everything), I got off the Tramadol, as the searing pain was finally gone.

    Since then, it's been a roller coaster ride. The pins and needles feeling has been gone for some time now, HOWEVER, several weeks ago, a pain developed in my upper LEFT arm! So far, I've been able to manage the pain with hot showers before and after work, Biofreeze, and some other creams. I also started taking a Glucosamine/Chondoitin mix from local drug store, along with Vit C and Fish Oil, in hopes it'll do something. I wish I could say it's helping, but haven't seem any positive effects yet.

    Just had an ortho surgeon tell me to keep doing what I'm doing, as he doesn't consider me surgical, but if things change, let him know. A Neurosurgeon wants me to have an EMG....really not sure if I'm going to go through with that or not.

    But at the end of the day, much to my surprise, the Chiro got me out of my horrible pain. I hope for the best for you. This is a battle I never thought I'd be fighting at 46. Maybe you should give another chiro a shot and see if they can bring you some relief.
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