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New to forum, could use some advice

I started having shoulder pain last month. I went to see my doc and she had me use muscle relaxers and gabapentin, that didn't help, the pain got worse. It was no longer an ache, it was not a burning sensation and it was moving from my back shoulder blade to my armpit. She sent me for Ct of the chest to check for a embolism, the CT came back fine. She then did an EKG, it was fine. At this point, the pain was no longer just in my shoulder and in my armpit, it was also in my arm and the leg on that side of my started feeling weaker than the other leg. She sent me for three MRIs, neck, back and brain and referred me to a Neurologist. I had the MRI's and saw the Neurologist, who is referring me to spine surgeon. The findings of the neck MRI were most likely the cause of my pain.

Here are the findings =
C5-6 right paracentral disc protusion and osteophyte formation with moderate right canal stenosis and mild anterior cord flattening. There is right greater than left foraminal narrowing.
C3-4 mild spondylosis with mild right foraminal narrowing.
C6-7 mild central disc bulge with mild canal stenosis.

Ok, so I've done some research on the web,but I'm not sure how bad these findings are. My Neurologist could use some work on his delivery, he led with I'm referring you to a spine surgeon. This of course freaked me out, to which he replied maybe I won't need surgery "yet". I then told him neck surgery would be high on my list of things I would never want to do.

I see the ortho surgeon next week, but I would some of your thoughts on my condition.

Also, I'm now on day 6 of Lyrica and I don't feel it having any impact. I'm also not getting as much relief from my pain meds, I don't now if my tolerance is higher or if my pain is higher now. The pain in my leg has been getting worse everyday. My knee hurts and I get random pains in my leg. My brain MRI did show white matter that my Neurologist matter a fact told me if there were 9 or 10 of them he would think I have MS. I go to see him a month.

I'm stunned how quickly this has happened, I wasn't in an accident, nothing caused this and here I am a month later, miserable. Thoughts?



  • KarenDKKarenD Posts: 742
    edited 03/15/2013 - 3:35 PM
    I suggest you do as much prep as you can before you go to the surgeon. Make sure you bring all the films as well as test results. My surgeon pays most attention to the films. Write down the progress of the issues - how long you've had each symptom, what makes them better or worse. If possible, bring somebody else with you who can support you and make sure you ask all your questions and document the answers.

    Gabapentin and Lyrica are supposed to do similar things, so don't take them together. I did once when I didn't know and boy did I feel loopy.

    I have gotten a second opinion a few times with major issues. It doesn't hurt and then you can go with the surgeon you feel best with. Also, same goes with your Neurologist.

    Good luck.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 03/16/2013 - 6:47 AM
    Hi there, Wagsreed:

    I am pretty sure most people don't want surgery and like you, it's probably the last thing on their list.
    I know for me, when I was referred to my orthopedic surgeon, there were a number of things he did before surgery was put on the table.

    Each case is different and what you will learn what the orthopedic surgeon thinks. I first had an epidural and a few other things, but ultimately, surgery became necessary. In other words, it was never going to get better and the tingingly in my fingers, the weakness in my left leg and occasional numbness in my left big toe could become permanent.

    I saw three surgeons - orthopedic and neuro - and because of my schedule and various things, it took me three years to get to the point of surgery. I wasn't avoiding it as much as I was busy. BUT, the big difference is that my symptoms never progressed like yours appear they have.

    And, make sure you like how your surgeon works with you. From the beginning, the surgeon I ultimately chose included me as part of the process. He immediately saw that I wanted to understand, that I didn't panic and that I was able to process, assimilate and understand what he was telling me - without freaking out. So, he included me.

    If you see a surgeon who is dismissive and rude and doesn't connect with you (and you with him), go see someone else. Don't settle for rude behavior just because they are a doctor.

    I was not into masking my discomfort (I wouldn't call mine "pain") with drugs.

    So, while they are called "surgeons", at least my experience was that they wanted to do other things first to rule out the possibility of needing surgery.

    Mine was a successful surgery. I have documented it on here - pre and post op. I had never had surgery before and I wanted to offer insights I was having during my process.

    The clincher for me in having surgery was that when I was searching the internet for alternatives to surgery, one surgeon here in California offered for me to send him my MRIs on disk and he would review them and let me know if what he was selling would solve the problem.

    He called me after reviewing them and said, "I could take you down the path of selling you what I have, but the truth is, you do need surgery. Your neck is unstable and it will continue to get worse and I wouldn't mess around with anything else."

    He didn't say it to alarm me, and the fact that he could have sold me his solution but didn't really drove home the point that it was time to get serious about it.

    Mine was successful. I think a lot of it is attitude and of course a great surgeon. I found one who thankfully did a great job!

    So, while no one wants surgery, keep an open mind and explore your options. You can see an orthopedic surgeon and also a neurosurgeon. The goal is to solve the issues you are having.

    One step at a time. :)

    Please let us know what you learn!
    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
  • Thank you. I had a hard time getting my spine surgeon appt. Most I called were booked out for two months. I have had a reaction to Cortisone shots in the past and this time I had a reaction to Prednisone. I had flushing, hot spots that would move around my body and the right side of my face swelled up. My doc told me to stop taking it then. Does this mean an epidural wouldn't work for me? I live near Indy, if anyone recommends a doc here, I'd love to get their name.
  • I don't really know about the epidural situation in your case.
    I would be sure to add that to a written list of questions you bring with you to your doctor's visit. All of these questions you have - make sure to write them down and bring them with you.

    Also, if you feel overwhelmed, bring someone with you to the appointment. Many do that because it is often better to have an outside/objective person with you to hear things that the overwhelm might cause you to miss.

    Sorry, I am in Northern CA and cannot help with the Indy recommendations.

    Remember to breathe! Stress is not going to be your friend with all of this. Take some time to just take some deep breaths and exhale the stress you are feeling. Sounds hokey, perhaps, but stress is not going to be helpful to you.

    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
  • Wow, what an eye opener.
    I had my appt. today and it was horrible. I waited 40 minutes to get past the waiting area. Then some X-rays were taken, then more waiting. Then we moved to a room and waited, met the physicians asst. answered her questions. Came prepared with a typed statement of the chronological order of my symptoms and medications tried so far. She thanks me for that. She reviewed the sheet I had filled out for them and at the end she noted "I see steroids wont be an option for you." I have been having an adverse reaction to them and noted it on my statement and their form. We then waited another 25 minutes in the room to see the surgeon. When he came in the room, my mom pressed the record button on my phone. I wanted to record the visit. He immediately said its an insult to record someone without their permission. I told him I planned to ask him if it was ok to record. We weren't hiding it, it was on the chair in plain sight. He said ok to recording and he then proceeded to ask me about my neck pain. This told me he hadn't looked at any of my information. I specifically stated I don't have any neck pain. I explained my information all over again and he did some reflex tests and had me walk on my toes to the door. He then looked at the MRI and X-rays they took. He asked if my MRI was an open one and I said yes, does it matter? He said yes, they're not as good. He then proceeded to tell me I don't need neck surgery, that he didn't know what was wrong with me. I asked him to guess, he guessed that I had vasculitis. He then said he could give me an injection. I asked of what ? Guess what, steroids.. I explained that wouldn't be an option for me and he suggested I go back to my neurologist. What a waste of time. I understand if he doesn't know what's wrong with me..but to suggest vasculitis then offer a steroid injection, wow..

    I'm now looking for another doctor to get a second opinion. Am I overreacting or does this doctor take the cake? Thanks
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 03/19/2013 - 2:36 PM
    Lordy! No, you are not over-reacting! I would have commented on them making me wait that long. Was this a doctor at a big university hospital or something?

    What kind of doctor was he? What specialty?

    I have never waited more than 5 minutes at my surgeon's office after filling out paperwork. They are really about staying on time - even when they call to remind about the appointment, they remind people to be on time so they can stay on schedule. And, they do! And, they take their time. I never feel rushed. Heck - two different appointments, I was there for over 2 hours each time to discuss the impending surgery - I was amazed and pleased by that. But, they planned for that in their schedule by making me his last appointment of the day for those appointments.

    One surgeon I did see at a university hospital did keep me waiting for an hour once - and I asked him if this was customary with his practice. I was even the first appointment of the morning to avoid delays! This was one of many reasons I chose not to go with that practice.

    Clearly, this was not the right doctor for you. Do you know of a friend or family member or co-worker who could recommend a doctor to see?

    Thanks for filling us in!
    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
  • Yesterday during my appt, the doctor did some moves with my neck, asking if they hurt. Only one had some pain in the middle of my neck. Last night, my neck started hurting! It hasn't hurt yet, until last night, after seeing him. The pain moved down my back and I had to take some muscle relaxers. I plan to complain about him on every forum I can and call the practice and put in a formal complaint. I don't blame him for the pain in my neck now, I don't think it was intentional on his part, just part of the exam. I just feel it's very ironic.
    Now I have left and right back pain, wonderful..
  • ..Is that there is a lot going on with your neck. For movement to cause more pain, it sounds like your neck is very fragile and there is a lot of 'activity' going on.

    I hope you get in to see someone else soon and let us know what they find!
    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
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