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Is it normal?

I have a disc bulge supposedly at c2/3 c3/4 and c6/7 but a herniation at c5/6 and all but c1/2 are degenerative discs. I have pain throughout my entire left side of my body, had 2 epi's and had 2 facet blocks with no relief. I was wondering if it is normal to not be able to hold my head up with this type of herniation? I can if I want but I get so much pain it is just better to keep my head down and look at the floor. I am going to my doctor on Feb. 12 to talk about surgery, but everybody keeps telling me that I need to keep my posture, it just hurts way too bad to do that. I am on a handful of drugs now for my pain, hydrocodone 10/325 6x day Flerxeril 5mg at bedtime and tegretol xl 200 mg at bedtime to keep my migraines to a minimum and I am supposed to be taking trazadone 50mg to help me sleep but with the flexeril and the tegretol I don't have trouble sleeping anymore so I am not taking that.
That diagnosis was in October with an mri, but I have gotten progressively worse since then. I was also wondering if it was to early for my surgeon to order another mri? I know they are expensive but I don't want to have surgery and him not fix everything that is wrong because it wasn't on my mri. When I had my mri I thought I had some arm pain and some neck pain and migraines and my hands went numb and tingled. Now all my pain has doubled since then if not tripled. I feel worse every single day and I don't know how much longer I can function like this. I feel like I need another mri to see what has changed.
When I had the mri I wasn't on any pain killers, only muscle relaxers and a non narcotic pain pill but it didn't help me out at all so really nothing but a muscle relaxer. Now I am on a much stronger pain pill and I don't think I could function if it wasn't for that.
I know your not supposed to give any medical advise so I will take what ever advise you give as non medical but please tell me exactly what you are thinking and if it isn't acceptable here then inbox me... I am getting more and more desperate every day!

Oh yeah, I have other posts on here but I wanted to start a new one that isn't 8 pages long. I am 36 M and was very active until I woke up one day with this pain that keeps increasing every day!

Thank You in advance you guys are awesome and a great place to get some comfort and advise, makes people realize they aren't crazy!


  • Hello jbnms
    I have been suffering for years with similar condition as yours. The bottom line after seeing two neuro and one ortho surgeon is this. From their own mouths "don't have surgery until you can't stand the pain anymore" When neurological defects are present then all bets are off. Sounds like to me you are ready for surgery.
  • I suppose I am ready for surgery,I feel as though I have tried every other conservative treatment they can give me and I get 0 relief. I just want to know how soon is too soon for another mri and how long should I expect to be off of work for a 2 level fusion? Has anyone had disc replacement? Is the recovery time any different for that procedure? I haven't talked to a surgeon yet but my doctors tell me I need to. I tried to avoid it like the plague but I guess its time to wake up and realize that its inevitable. I am told the pain I am having will be gone instantly and I will only have the pain from the incision and no nerve pain.
    Just curious
  • I have nerve impingement from disc herniations, I don't have my mri readings in front of me but I have degenerative discs in all my cervical discs except c1. I have disc "bulges" in c2/3 c3/4 c6/7 and i have a herniation in c5/6. I was told that at the time of the mri that it did impinge my spinal column but wasn't touching my spinal cord. I think that has changed, if I could only go back to the original pain that I was in I think I would be fine, but this has progressed severly and I can't hardly stand the pain that I am in now. I have mild stenosis from c2 - c5 I believe and it also said something about foraminal narrowing. I am not sure where that is at. It said I should have more pain in my right arm than I do in my left, but I don't have any pain in my right arm. My spine doctor told me that if c3/4 would bulge anymore that I would feel it in my chest, that is now happening, I have shocks in my chest and it feels like my heart is quivering. If he wouldn't have told me that then I would be worried.
    I read somewhere that if cervical herniations impinge your spinal cord then you will also feel it in your legs, I get some severe cramping in my legs and feet, more my left than my right but also my right. Honestly I feel like I got hit by a truck, the longer between my pain meds the bigger the truck. I work everyday but only because I have no choice, someone has to provide for my family. I had 2 facet blocks done because my pm doc told me she thought they would give me relief, the first one gave me about a half a days relief, the second one did absolutely nothing for my pain. I've had 2 esi's and they also did 0 for my pain. PT released me after 2 visits and said I was a mess but they couldn't help me.
    What sucks is this wasn't a gradual thing, I just woke up one day with a stiff neck and then it just hit and progressively got worse.
    I am weighing my options with the adr and acdf I haven't talked with a surgeon yet but that is coming soon, very soon. I have an appt with my pm doc next week, last time I talked to her she said I would probably end up in surgery but then she suggested the facet blocks. I will check out the adr forums like you suggested.
  • I have had two mri's about one year apart. I have bad discs at c4-c6 with moderate to severe neural foraminal stenosis. I also have mild cord compression and osteophyte complexes. Even though I felt worse between mri times there was little change in them. I have mostly left sided pain and nerve impingement. I doubt if your mri would be different if you had another in such a short time frame. I have had two epidural injections that gave little relief. Placement of the shots in the cervical space is critical in determining pain relief.
  • I have had 2 esi's with 0 relief, I have had 2 facet blocks with 0 relief, I have had pt with 0 relief. My pain doctor told me that there wasn't anything else she could do and I was probably looking at surgery. I go back to her next week to figure out my next step which is talking to my surgeon.

    I had that worry of the mri not having anything changing but my pain has changed which makes me think something changed. When I had my mri I had pain down my neck, arm and my fingers tingled. Now I still have that pain but it also goes up and I get migraines, I get facial itching and I get shocks and heaviness in my chest, I am getting leg/feet cramps and I get shocks down my right arm sometimes.

    My pain doctor told me there wasn't anything else she could do for me except the facet block and she didn't have much faith in them helping since I didn't get any relief from the esi's, I told her I wanted to try...she said ok. She was right but I had to give them a try.

    A few years ago my wife had to have surgery on her lower lumbar spine, she had a ruptured disc, I am going to talk to her surgeon since he did such a wonderful job on her. I want to find out what my pm doctor has to say about him since she used to work in the same building as him but since left to be on her own.

    The thing with surgery I worry about is that it is going to change my life, I like to go out and do the rough things, 4 wheeling, roller coaster riding, off roading sports like that, I know they are rough on you and I am scared that I won't ever be able to do those things again. I know its pity stuff but it means alot to me.

    I am in no way saying that my pain is worse than anyone elses on here, honestly I don't know how some people can handle the pain they describe, I know I hurt and some of these people make mine sound simple.

  • yes, I truly believe that 2 or more level acdf will definately change your life. I don't know your age but this is the main reason I have not had surgey yet. I think most of us have the same type symptoms as you. I also get migraines occasionally. I am waiting until I can't stand the pain anymore. I would be lying if I said the neurological symptoms didn't worry me. Nerve damage can be permanant. Sometimes you just roll the dice.
  • I am 36 M, I have always had an active lifestyle, and I guess rough work too. I do alot of things that require 2 men to do by myself. I am sure that is another reason why I have the problems I have but I know as soon as I feel better I will be back at it just the same way but I might be just a little bit more careful and be aware of my neck. I am scared it is going to be life changing but I just can't go any longer with the pain I am in, taking my pain meds every 4 hours is crazy and my body tells me when that 4 hours is getting close. I have decided that the surgery is inevitable and I might as well get it done now when hopefully I will have minimal nerve damage than wait and have permanent nerve damage plus who know what with my liver and my kidneys, I know these meds aren't easy on them.
    The migraines I have ( I am sure with you too and everybody else) are debilitating, I might as well count the rest of the day gone because I need to lay down with a cold wash rag over my eyes and it won't get any better that day. The last one I had I was up all night puking. That is when I decided that I need some meds for those too.

    My pm doctor put me on Tegretol and they have helped me out tremendously, a few days after I started taking that I felt the normal pressure of one coming on, but that is all I felt was the pressure and then it went away after that. I had a headache a couple of days after that but it only lasted about a half hour. I am so thankful that I started taking it...side effects are a mile long but so far I haven't had any of them.

    If you are having the pain I am which by your symptoms that you described I think you should reconsider your approach to surgery, you might need to change a few things in your life for a while but your feeling of worth has got to improve. That is another reason why I have decided to do this is because I can't even take out the trash right now, it hurts to bad to even carry the trash bag to the can outside. I have a hard time lifting my coffee cup in the morning I have to use my other hand. I can't even hold my arm up to drive with my left hand.

    Thanks for the advise and showing me that I am not crazy here, sometimes I feel like it is all in my head but my body tells me otherwise
  • you are quite a bit younger than I am. I am 56. my pain level is low some days and high others. This is the main reason I do not have surgery. I am not to the point where I can't stand it yet. I also worry about the domino effect where adjacent levels above and below c4-c6 may deteriorate. When I first went to neurosurgeon he suggested just one level acdf. Two years later, same dr said I needed two levels fused. What really sets my neck pain off is when my heads leans forward or backwards of centerline. The nerve damage in my left arm feels like a nail in my bicep but it also is not all the time.
    Sounds like to me your pain is worse than mine in that it is consistently there and ruining you quality of life. I am sorry you have to go through this at your young age. After surgery I was also told my career would be over. I would have permanent lift restrictions as this would induce further deterioration of adjacent levels. Lots to think about my friend. Best of luck to you.
  • I also worry about the adjacent levels going bad especially since they are already bad. I am thinking of asking the doctor about artificial disc replacement also. I read that it has been approved in the U.S. now and that looks promising to me. They say you don't lose any range of motion and recovery time is much shorter. Plus the adjacent discs don't have the added stress on them. I heard that they might even approve multi level disc replacement. I am hoping I would be a candidate for that, it sounds like a god send.
    My quality of life has gone way down, I can't do anything after work except sit with my heating pad and watch tv. Its killer to even take a shower because I can't put my head back under the shower without the pain.

    I talk with the doc soon, I will let you guys know how that goes. Thanks
  • You know my story. Look at it this way, things are probably not going to get better only worse. Ultimately it is up to you if you have surgery or not. Find a surgeon you are comfortable with and trust , take your time and plan if you can. I
    Cervical 360 ACDF C6/7-C7T1 Posterior fusion with hardware C3-T1 11/11/13
  • Yes, and I have friends that their neck pain returned due to scar tissue, etc.
    With Gentle Hugs,
  • Tired of the painTTired of the pain Posts: 197
    edited 02/23/2014 - 1:20 PM
    I had a lot of the same history as you only worse 3 years ago. I have always has problems with my neck and back, but I went on a trip to Kansas City and when I got off the plane, I noticed there were no baggage handlers to pay to get my bags. One bag was 50lbs. I took it off the conveyor belt and lifted it into the rental car, then out,that is the exact moment I hurt my neck. I went for massage twice that week and iced and used thermocare wraps all week as well. I was at a conference and spent days in hard back chairs. When I got home I tried Chiropractic, massage,and ESI. Nothing gave me any lasting relief. The ESI worked for about one week. The second one did nothing. Finally went to see a surgeon, had an MRai and was scheduled for a multi level ACDF at C5/6 and C6/7. I also had a hernia tigon at C4/5 but my ns did not want to do that one yet. After the surgery I felt some relief and I remember talking to the surgeon and the Nurse Practitioner about when the pain would stop. I kept hearing that it was normal to have pain through the 6 months after surgery because nerves that were not firing before due to the compression of the disk and was now firing and re growing. After 6 months, the sent me to a Pain Management doctor and my diagnosis became failed neck surgery syndrome.
    That was three years ago. My pain conti use to worsen and I have tried so many things with no success. I am not saying that it doesn't work, just be aware that it is nota sure thing. After all of this, no one was giving me any answers, so I got another MRI which only showed that the fusion was healing.when I did not go away like a good little girl, my surgeon order two test to show muscle and nerve conduction test (EMG). That test showed that I had permanent nerve damage at the root of C6/7. Like you most of my pain is on the left side.I am now searching for some kind of cure but Idon't have much hope. I have a horrible time driving because the seat belt co es over my left shoulder and it is hard to use my left hand for driving. I have pain whenI carry more than5 lbs and cannot exercise or ride a bike. I can't walk my dogs on a leash and cannot do housework. I work full time at least for the next 4 years. I can't wait to retire and never thoughtI would say that because I love my job. Suggest you get those test and also read a three on this forum about pain I. The shoulder after ACDF. Good luck.
  • I understand that there is a chance that this pain will never go away, I have all the confidence in the world that it will and I will get back to 100% within a few weeks/months. If for some reason I don't get back to 100% then hopefully it won't get any worse. I have had the mri, it shows multiple disc bulges and herniations, and DDD throughout my cervical spine. I have had the nerve conduction study done also and it just said I had CTS in both my wrists. I know that was a misdiagnosis and my doctor agrees. I can't hold my left arm up to drive for more than a few seconds, I have a hard time driving because I can't hold my head up, I always have to have it looking at least slightly down because if I hold it up for correct posture my nerve fires even worse and then I get the shooting pains down my leg and I also get migraines from hell. My fingers are constantly numb and tingling, I have the pain from my neck all the way down to my fingers, I can trace the nerves path. My arm feels like it weighs 100 pounds. I am 36 and can't even think of retiring yet, I have a long way to go so this has to get better. Your mind set has tons to do with your recovery, If you tell yourself that you can't then you can't. If you tell yourself that you can and just go slow then you will probably be able to do it. I am not able to do a lot of things at this moment and my quality of life has decreased tremendously but I know that if I absolutely had to do something l would be able to do it.

    I go and talk to my surgeon this afternoon, hopefully I will know more about what is going to happen and what is going on tonight. I will post what I find out tomorrow.
  • If you have done everything in your power, conservative, reasearch , second opinions etc than the rest is in surgeons hands, but there is no guarentee and if you didn't do all you can there will be alot of second guessing if something goes wrong. Life is to short to have no quality of life so good luck.
    Herniated T6-7, multiple herniations in cervical, tears in T5-T8. Stenois at levels and smorls nodes from thoracic thru lumbar
  • jbnms99jjbnms99 Posts: 182
    edited 02/25/2014 - 2:17 AM
    I went yesterday to talk to my surgeon, we talked for quite a while. He looked over my mri and told me what I was feeling. We talked about fusion and disc replacement. I go on March 19th for acdf of c6-7. He said that he could see that I have other discs that are bulging and he seen that I have ddd but this level is the one that is causing me all this pain. He explained that there is stenosis in that level, the disc is herniated, I have foraminal narrowing, spinal cord compression, and facet degeneration. He told me all of that was at that level. Most of you know that with acdf he will return the disc back to the normal height, he will take care of the stenosis while he is in there, the facet degeneration pain will go away since he is returning the space to normal height and all the cord compression will be eliminated. I have heard alot of horror stories about acdf, but I have heard a lot of good stories also. Hopefully I will be one of the success stories. I have my hopes up and the way I look at it is atleast I won't hurt as bad as I do now!
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