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Neck pain

TacodoggirlTTacodoggirl Posts: 8
edited 04/01/2013 - 3:18 PM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am getting increasingly frustrated with my neck pain. I am pretty sure my doctor is under the assumption that it's all in my head. My physio is stumped why I am not progressing any further. And I had an MRI that I have never heard the results for so I am assuming there is nothing that showed up on it. The pain is a burning sensation that travels through my neck and at times into my shoulder and outer aspect of my arm. Somedays it's unbearable and my current 1200 mg dose of gabapentin no longer helps. I will at times have numbness along the outside of my arm and into my fourth and fifth digit as well as the palm of my hand. At it's worst it feels like my spine is being driven through the base of my skull, and someone has a grip on my shoulders and won't let go. My right arm is significantly weaker than it was pre pain. This all started on January 5, 2013 and is progressively getting worse. Yesterday at work I ended up having to do some heavy lifting to free a fallen patient and am in significant pain today and have noticed weakness in my left arm starting. Any suggestions?


  • Of your written MRI report and the disc with the MRI images. Then get an appointment with a spine specialist to review them.
    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.
  • Unfortunately in our medical system specialist are only by referral and since my doctor is under the assumption that nothing is wrong there would be no way of getting a referral. And to get copies of the MRI would be incredibly difficult.
  • I am assuming not the US. If you are in the states just call up the facility that did the MRI and tell them you want a copy of the films and results. They are your records. I defer to others if you aren't in the US.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • No I am in Canada. Much harder to get your labs since they are considered the property of the physician that ordered them.
  • Viper259VViper259 Posts: 2
    edited 04/01/2013 - 10:46 AM
    The symptoms you describe are quite familiar to me. Since 2008 I have been through 2 surgeries on my C-Spine and 1 on my left Ulnar nerve. The symptoms you describe are exactly what I felt in the beginning.I don't know how close you are to your Dr. But it sounds like you really need to get to a Neuro Surgeon. My initial Diagnosis was severe Disc degeneration between C4 and C5, Moderate degeneration between C5 and C6. There were 2 large bone spurs pressing into my Spinal chord along with moderate to severe stenosis in the nerve canals at C4, C5,and C6. First surgery was to remove discs at C4-C5 and C5-C6. Had bone grafts and fusion from C4-C6. Unfortunately pain persisted and 9 months later went for what was an outpatient surgery to clean out the nerve canals further at C4-C5. I awoke to find that I now had rods and pins from C3 to C7 on both sides of my C-Spine. Again most of the symptoms you have described are exactly what I felt. One thing to bear in mind is that the surgeries and fusions can create problems themselves. I am continuing to battle Neuropathy, which was a by product of the large fusion in the back of my neck. I would recommend first that you find a Dr. that will listen. I would also recommend that you try alternatives to surgery first, such as nerve blocks and therapy. It sounds like this came on pretty quick for you. It could be a herniation or bulge in one or more of the discs in your C-Spine. This can be corrected sometimes through therapy such as spinal decompression. It sucks that you can't easily get access to your MRI. In the States it is considered your property and is available on request. Good luck to you! But importantly, remember your DR. works for you and needs to listen to what you say. Don't let them dictate what you feel.
  • Well at first he was great. Very compassionate and on board with finding answers and trying to get me relief with meds. Have tried cyclobenzaprine, gabapentin, naproxen, and prednisone as well as OTC pain relievers. But now when I see him I get this look like he thinks I'm looking to get high and that there is nothing actually wrong with me. The problem is the physician I saw first wrote it off as muscle strain and said there was nothing she could do for me. Which is why I basically stopped taking meds and stopped going to physio. It's so frustrating and for the physician to not contact me with results means my MRI didn't say anything significant. So does that mean its actually all in my head?
  • ..seriously. If you're getting that kind of response from a physician and no results from all of those drugs and physio - it's time for another opinion.

    You can ask for the RESULTS of your MRI and if they are unwilling to give that to you, that should be one more confirmation to see someone else.

    Minus all of the drugs, I have had the burning in the arm and the tingling of the fingers, as so many have had,
    Mine ended up being C3/4 and C4/5 that needed to be fused with hardware - because, well, the nerves were getting crushed.

    If things are getting worse (or not improving) and you are not getting the care one would expect, it's time to move on and find someone who can look at this in a whole new way.

    Clearly, if all of those meds and physio is not working, one would think they would be trying to figure out the next step.

    And, just my opinion, but no - do not assume that just because they did not give you information about the MRI that there was nothing to tell you. Get your doctor to review the MRI report with you and then ask for a copy.

    Good luck 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
  • I wish it were that easy. But I'm from a small town and there are only three doctors here and I have been through two of them already. I don't know. I am starting to think there's no answer. Maybe I am imagining it.
  • I have ended up driving 2.5 hours each way to see my surgeon after giving up on the one local spine practice. Also have to drive 1.5 hours each way for the closest Pain Mgmt practice doing medication management. It took me over two years to get a diagnosis and treatment plan that made any sense. Even in the US, many spine surgical practices and most PM practices required referrals from primary care doctor and/or current surgical practice. I researched who I wanted to see and fortunately had no problem getting locals practices to make the referrals. Good Luck, just keep pushing them.
    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.
  • Well I have an appt with my physio today and he has access to my MRI so I will see what he has to say.
  • So MRI was clear. Physio verified it for me. So apparently it's all in my head after all. Yay...
  • Peter BPPeter B Posts: 511
    edited 04/03/2013 - 2:39 AM
    But did the physio examine you for problems? If not, why not. What did he/ she say was wrong?
    A hands on examination is preferable as they can feel the swellings and tightness immediately. The problem with an MRI is the interpretation of what is presented.

    From my experience, I'd suggest remedial/ sports massage and see if that helps. You will know immediately.
    For my severe muscle pains, I found massage gave the best results. Then I started taking magnesium and that's when I became much better. My old problems with muscles have not returned since.
  • He can always tell my sore areas without me saying anything. He thinks the numbness is irritation in the nerves that can't be seen on an MRI. He also guided my shoulder back in for at least the second time but this time I really felt it shift when he adjusted it. He uses lots of different techniques the problem is for all the gains he's made it's been three and a half months and the symptoms on the whole are getting more severe even if the mobility is there. Like now I get sharp pains in my neck that weren't there when we started. Dunno. Maybe I am imagining the pain but he said he was surprised nothing showed.
  • what could be causing the pain you describe. Eventually after an emg showed some issues and physical exam showed weakness in my left arm and dead elbow reflexes they did a myelogram which showed the nerve impingement and lead to a laminectomy c4/c5. Now I wish for those days of the MRI not showing anything....
    The surgeon told me last week after covering all my cervical and lumbar issues "we haven't perfected the spine replacement procedure yet. Besides it's hard to find donors."
    My reply was, "perfect the procedure, I'll find a donor...."
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • I understand your problem better now, thanks.
    Sure looks like nerve irritation, but what would be the cause?
    Is it a physical one like a trapped nerve, or is it simply pressure applied to a nerve from muscle tension or inflammation?
    A commom one is inflammation-the body's response to injury as it tries to protect the area.
    Have you tried anti inflammatories, and a low inflammation diet?
    Are you able to really rest your neck and give it a chance to relax a bit?
    I tend to hold stress and tension in my neck muscles, and pay a big price.
    I just have to rest it a lot and it usually gets better.
    The neck is extremely complex so it may take a bit of work to find out what to do. I'd still say to start with the simple things if you can-rest, massage, rest.
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