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Severe Pain in Neck (Worse when Sneezing) Please help......

Hello, I've been having really bad pain lately in both my upper and lower back. The pain I have in my upper back gets a lot worse when I sneeze (the pain shoots down both arms into my fingers). I get terrible pain at times in my right shoulder with numbness and tingling. I just recently had an MRI. The results were:

Neck MRI Impression:

1.) Mild Reversal of normal cervical lordotic curvature.

2.) Multilevel disc bulges in the cervical spine from c2-c3 through c6-c7 levels

3.) New small central disc tear with tiny focal disc herniation with mild indentation of the thecal sac. Stable mild left neural foraminal narrowing at c5-c6 level.

4.) C6-c7 Stable mild left neural foraminal narrowing.

I was wondering what I should do next? The Doctors (Orthopedic/Spine) keep telling me there is nothing wrong with my cervical spine, despite the test results and the excruciating pain I'm in. Please help give me some ideas of where I might be able to get some help. Thank You in advance, I greatly appreciate it!


  • Peter BPPeter B Posts: 511
    edited 03/05/2013 - 2:20 PM
    Sounds a lot like me! I dread sneezing as it always gives me a neck ache.
    I also have chronic spine pain problems at nearly 68 years of age, so not unusual.

    Unless you know how your spine was some time ago, there is nothing to compare it to.That is the difficulty of an MRI. How should it be interpreted?

    Everyone's spine will have all sorts of things that don't look right, but that doesn't mean that they are a problem.
    Yet, they may have severe problems that an MRI won't detect. It is just one tool to be used, but it has its limitations. Personally, I'd put more faith in a physiotherapist. Hands on beats a scanner.

    The poor old neck cops a hammering as we go about our lives, and neck pain is so common. Rare to find someone who doesn't have it at some time.
    Look at what you do with your neck, what strain you put it under, what rest you give it, and what stretches you do to let it relax.

    The head is very heavy and the neck has a huge task to support it at all angles and so on.
    You probably just have neck strain. Try an ice pack, lots of rest, no PC, and see how that goes for several days.

    The killer for my neck is using the PC!

    Check that your pillow is not too high or too soft.
    You might want to consider a visit to a physiotherapist and/ or a masseuse. I have my neck, back and shoulders done now on a regular basis. Amazing what muscle and joint stiffness problems they always find. And I feel so much better afterwards. I look at it as essential maintenance now. Tried to get by without it to save money, but I found I can't manage without them.
  • last couple days I have been sneezing a lot and have felt a lot more pain from the base of my skull to the middle of my back.
    Lots of neck movements make my neck hurt more, but the sneezing makes me want to cry even with all prescribed meds onboard.
  • http://www.spine-health.com/forum/pain/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-treatment-step-step

    If you are concerned that you aren't getting answers, you can always make another appointment with another surgeon to see what they think might be the cause and treatment for your pain levels. A good surgeon is going to base his findings on the images he looks at, not just the report, and his exam of you, as well as your symptoms and treat you accordingly.
  • since allergy season is upon us.
    Have 2 Dr appoints this week and 2 next week.
    Been through all the steps and tests, pretty much given up on a good outcome.
    More pills =more sleep = decreased quality of life
  • Did you have a previous cervical spine MRI? How long ago was it? It seems like they were comparing the results with a previous MRI. There is obviously not "nothing wrong". Even if your report read "looks perfect" you are in pain, and that needs to be taken seriously. Please get another opinion with a different doctor. Search for a neurosurgeon that specializes in spine surgery. They should look at the images, not just the report. One time I had an MRI and the radiology report said something along the lines of, "mild disc herniation and mild left foraminal stenosis". The word MILD made me feel horrible. If this is mild.... what would moderate or severe feel like!? BY FAR there was nothing mild about my pain! I saw two surgeons, one just looked at the report and said do some more PT and I should be fine. The other one said it was moderate and I should have a c4-5 fusion. I had the surgery. After the surgery he said it looked as if the disc exploded and there was disc madder everywhere. I can't remember exactly where he said he found a big piece, but he said it was in a place that won't really show on a MRI... Long story short the MRI does not show everything. You probably need more tests like a discogram- not fun at all and very painful, but it will help to pinpoint where the pain is coming from. Also maybe some steroid injections. If you get relief from the injection that will show that most likely it is that level(s) causing the pain. If you don't get relief from an injection it does not necessarily mean it was not that level, sometimes it takes more than one to help, sometimes it won't help. Anyway.... Get another opinion. Try to get an appt with a pain management doctor or see if your primary care doctor can help with meds or PT or whatever they think.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • I fell After my anterior fusion c6 c7 a year ago. Aparently it knocked something out of place which we didn't know at the time. When I would sneeze, it was horrible I would actually sneeze, be all tensed up and not be able to move for about 20-30 seconds. This went on for a year. Long story short, after many tests (that didn't show nerve compression) I had posterior c6 c7 fusion in August. The nerves were compressed. I had bone spurs that were making everything worse. And I also had bilateral stenosis. I'm still in some normal post surgery pain, etc but it absolutely does not hurt at all when I sneeze! I would check with a neurosurgeion, since they deal so much with the nerves. Good luck.
    C6 C7 ACDF May 10, 2012
    Nasty fall May 22, 2012 (causing shoulder probs)
    Shoulder arthritis - both - due to surg and fall
    C6 C7 fusion FAILURE, bone spur, scar tissue June 2013....waiting on 2nd surgery!
    And I'm only 45!!!!!!!!
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