Hello! My name is Annie and I am new here. Sorry I posted in the wrong area the first time. I'm writing my story ( forgive me for the length) but I want to share my journey in hopes of helping others that may be experiencing the same symptoms. My symptoms started in 2008, numbness of left arm upon waking. This never bothered too much as I could "shake it off" as soon as I woke up and started moving. In 2011 I lifted a 50lb feed bag and swore I tore a muscle in my back, right below my left scapula. Trip to GP, who stated that I could still raise/lift my arm so it was not torn, maybe just pulled or stretched. Off to my trusty chiropractor, who did adjustments and I did have some relief. But that darn pesky spot on my back would "flare up" every now and then. Numbness in arm in the morning was now accompanied by neck and back stiffness.
Fast forward to October 2013. I never experienced such pain. The top of my left shoulder burned, my arm seemed to weaken and I compared it to the "burn" of an intense work-out where you push yourself too hard. Only thing is... your not! My scapular pain was unbearable. Tricep pain, elbow pain, wrist pain and chest pain. I continued to work my very physical job with the help of a portable tens unit. I spent a small fortune in 9volt batteries while making an appointment again with my GP. His answer.... Cymbalta. Now I am not against medicine at all, but every morning I was waking up with terrible migraines at the base of my skull that traveled up behind my ears to my temples. Next stop, orthopedic surgeon who ordered x-rays and MRI of shoulder/scapular areas. result of images, nothing there was causing my pain. He did give me to steroid injections that produced what is called a "flare". Worsening pain, massive migraines, light and sound sensitivity, nausea, face flushing. Terrible time and I swore off cortisone shots. Desperate for someone who could help, I asked friends and family if they had any advice on a good neurologist. Very nice man. He did an EMG/CNS and again found nothing wrong.
As he told me the "good" news I started to cry. He ordered an MRI of cervical spine along with a warning that he did not think that it would show anything. While waiting for my MRI appt. I completed 4 weeks of P.T.. Traction, heat, tens, massage. It usually felt good while I was there, but I began to notice a pattern on the days I went to therapy. Later the same evenings I would stiffen up so bad and the following day would be more painful than my no therapy days. Finally, as I laid in the MRI tube and felt my scapula jutting out into the table I prayed. It was the only way to keep myself from freaking out in there. MRI results show c 3-4 and c 4-5 protrusions, and a 7 mm c 5-6 extrusion.
AHA! finally. Again I asked everyone I know about reputable neurosurgeons. Great guy, pulled my films up on the computer and showed me exactly what I was looking at. The way he explained it to me ( I hope I understood correctly) was this: P.T. can help bulging disks, but not usually herniated disks. He said my problem is the gel like material that is suppose to be contained inside the disk is now outside the disk. Apparently that can irritate the nerve roots all around it, and then he said "If your nerve root is irritated it travels the whole length of the nerve, which is causing all your shoulder, scapula, chest and arm pain." I felt emotionally relieved! He said my nerves are "very angry". Before him, I had had a feeling all the doctors who I had seen previously did not believe me. So here I wait and pray that my surgery will produce relief. Surgery is scheduled for March 23rd.
Here's my question, I've scoured the internet and cannot find anything on this. My neurosurgeon has told me that I need acdf for C 5-6 disk extrusion. He also said that the protrusion on my C 3-4 should also be done. He did say this would be done though 2 separate incisions. He stated that if he doesn't do it now I would be back in less than a year to repeat procedure for this area. My C 4-5 is also protruded but not as bad. Has anyone heard of this or had it done? Is this normal to skip a level? I've read about adjacent weakening and I am wondering what will happen to the "not quite as bad" C 4-5. Thanks for any help! And hopefully I can update this next week sometime to tell you all of a successful surgery! And thank you for reading my ramblings!
C 3-4, C 5-6 protrusions
C 5-6 extrusion
Congenitally shortened pedicles