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My story, kinda a ramble, read if you want, comment if you want

I don't know how to start or what really to say. Not sure what I am looking for here but I want to share my story and maybe I can find some encouragement.

I am a 32 year old man. I was in amazing physical shape. I used to work out lifting weights 5 times a week and I ran at least 3 times per week as well. I am 5'8 and used to weight almost 200lbs of solid muscle. One day I was lifting two five pound dumbbells to demonstrate an excercise. As I was lifting them up to my shoulder I felt what I immediately thought was what a herniated disc would feel like. ( I always wondered because I am an insurance adjuster and I deal with injury claims a lot). The pain was horrible and I could not move my head side to side or up or down. I could not lift my head off a pillow with out trying to support it with my hands or by rolling off the bed. I never missed a day or work and pushed through with ice and rest. I was able to lift again in a few weeks and chalked this up to a neck strain.

Well fast forward a year later and I reinjured the same area doing lat pulldowns. I began to notice burning in my mid back, tightness in my left upper back and neck ringing in my ears. I went to my PCP and they suggested I take some naproxen. I went home and continued to work out as it seemed to make the pain and tightness go away for a day or two after I worked my back. Well I was maintaining like that, still in discomfort but still working out and getting by. Eventually It became enough of a nuisance that I decided to stop working out and let it heal up for a few weeks or month. Well I never made it back to working out. I began to develop pain in my bicep, forearm, constant muscle spasm in my left upper back/trap area, pain and ache in the back of my left shoulder and pain in my armpit. The ringing went away but sometimes I have it.

Went to PCP and they sent me to PT who had me lift weights to strengthen my back muscles. I could do 30 straight pullups at the time. Didn't really think weak back muscles were the cause. Needless to say it just made me more stiff the more I worked out. I mean I would feel better for a bit once the muscles got warmed up but nothing that felt like it was helping the cause.

So P/t didn't work. I began to fall behind at my job and my job is actually the most painful thing I can do. I started to lose muscle and weight as I iced and heated and hoped it would just go away. Eventually I got fed up and went to an ortho. The ortho noticed I has reduced reflexes in my right arm and they ordered a cervical MRI. Turns out there is a broad-based left paracentral disc herniation with encroachment on the duralsac and left recess. There is borderline central canal stenosis without cord impingement. There is mild to moderate foraminal stenosis.

The ortho recommended surgery. I would like to avoid surgery if at all possible so I have spent the last six months doing PT and icing taking naproxen and muscle relaxers as needed. I hate taking anything for anything. I just don't know what to do. Its increasingly difficult to perform my job even though its just sitting at a desk. Just typing this on my laptop hurts. It really seems like nothing touches the cause of the pain. Just makes feeble attempt to cover it up.

I have lost a relationship, almost my job, my physique and my sense of well being. I am just scared to crap about neck surgery. I can't live the way I am now. I worry every single day about my career and my health. I am down to 160 lbs. lost over 35lbs of muscle. none of my clothes even fit me anymore. I look and feel like dog shit everyday.

I am not scared of surgery because of the pain. I just don't want to be worse than I am now. If there is one thing I know about life its that things can always be worse. I just don't know how bad my problem really is. I know I am not a coward when it comes to pain. Doing squats until you almost pass out and running for mile and miles when you just can bear to take another step are things I used to do for fun.

My current symptoms are intermittent pain in my left bicep and my left upper back is just toast, tight all the time and pain on and under my shoulder blade that just kills me all day every day. If I try to stretch it just tightens up more. You can visibly see the left side of my body is smaller than my right. No doctor has told me I must have surgery. Am I killing myself hoping this will go away? Its been 2.5 years since the original injury and about 18 months since It came back and I haven't had a good day in 18 months. I feel guilty like I should try more or do more. But my life is falling apart more and more by the day.

Any advise or words of encouragement are appreciated. I know no one can tell me what to do, I have to make the decision on my own. I just don't feel like I know enough to make the decision. And I am not feeling like myself mentally either so Its hard to make this type of decision. I don't know what to expect after surgery. I ask the doctors and they wont commit to anything. I know they don't want me hold them to it, like you said blah blah blah. I just want to know if everything goes as planned should I be able to do xyz. will I be able to atv, downhill ski, light weights, run, mountain bike. These are all of the things I love to do. I feel like part of the problem is that I have never had a chance to REST. I am constantly working at a desk and killing that joint. I can feel it. But no DR will take me off of work, not that I want to. In fact, I want to be able to work harder and longer and not be distracted by this pain all day every day. Its just I would hate to have surgery for something that would have gone away if I had just rested it. I got laid off in March and immediately found another job which I am NOT making a good impression at due to my problem. I am worried about losing this new job due to performance and I used to be a top performer my whole life at everything I did. The problem with my new job is that my performance sucks now and I do not qualify for medical leave until March '14. That means 5 more months of pain. I worry about doing perm damage. I am leaning towards the surgery but am not sure.

As I am typing this I believe this is just what I needed. I read what I just wrote and I say wow, what am I waiting for. given all of the problems this is causing me it seems ridiculous to consider not having surgery. I just hope I can make it until March because if I lose my job I lose my insurance and I will be doomed with this injury.

Has anyone had these thoughts? has this situation happened to anyone else? Can someone from the outside just give me some perspective?

I know people who had had back surgeries and some have never looked back, best thing they ever did, and other regret it and wish they never did it. Never get back to work ect ect. I don't want to end up completely screwed.

it is normal to worry about these things?



  • If you look at my profial page you will see my story. I actually am beginning to think its a journey. Some good days but mostly bad days. It's very difficult but I have found much relief on this site because I don't feel so alone. Unless people know how you are really feeling they just can't understand no matter how hard they try.

    Stay strong and keep positive.
    Herniation of l5 S1 l4 , DDD , microdisectomy in June 2013 and re herniation in September
    Cervical herniation at C5-7 Jan 2014 with impingement of spinal cord. 2 level cervical fusion Feb. 2014 and 2 level lumbar fusion in April 2014
  • Hi, I am sorry to hear you are scared. I think you need to search for a surgeon that can help you. I live in the Midwest and have spoken to two surgeons that specialize in this so there is hope. Please do not suffer and take action before your symptoms progress. Remember surgeons that have no confidence will not recommend surgery. Many have had successful surgeries. There are a lot of videos on the Internet that have helped educate me on my options. I have cervical spine stenosis and have severe head pain and odd hand and arm pain and I too am very scared.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 11/14/2013 - 7:12 PM
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and growing.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

    - Spine-Health contains detailed medical libraries of articles and videos that address almost every spinal conditions and treatment

    - The Wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - Under the Resource tab, there is a section Doctor Advice Health Center which can be invaluable.

    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here you can meet thousands of people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a support system. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 international members and growing daily.

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    Here are some links you should take a look at:
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    All of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

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    Ron DiLauro

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • paininazppaininaz Posts: 5
    edited 11/14/2013 - 11:20 PM
    I have experienced everything you mentioned. I had a herniated disk at c5-c6 with moderate stenosis and spinal cord impingement. I had a fusion in 2/2012 and returned to work in 4 weeks. Now the disc above the fusion has herniated and is cutting into the spinal cord again. I have difficulty walking, my neck is kinked to the right, and am facing another fusion of c4-c5 in December 2013. My job is highly stressful and demanding. I am going out on leave for the surgery and they have told me "your position may be eliminated by the time you're ready to return". VERY STRESSFUL! However, I have to look out for my own health first. I can always get a different job. Even if it means less pay or whatever. I cannot live in this AGONY so I have to do what is best me.
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