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does this seem OK to you? Need advise please (dx w/c6-c7 herniation)

claydohcclaydoh Posts: 19
edited 07/25/2014 - 5:19 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
sorry for the super long post -- I was frantic whenever I wrote it and just sort of ended up going on a rant.

suffice to say i've had an MRI and have been diagnosed with a right sided disc herniation at the c6-c6 level. its pressing against my spinal cord and I have something called " foraminal stenosis", so I guess the root nerve is being pinched too. from what I've read this situation is actually a lot worse than just a plain old herniated disc.

I've had the pain since January -- since that time it has sort of come and gone in waves. it's always there, but some weeks much much worse than others. I've had a few days here and there where the pain was almost gone -- and for a few hours I'm in a blissful state of total normality.

I've had a single epidural steroid injection into my cervical spine -- the shot took over two weeks to really kick in and only lasted a couple of weeks after that.

the pain kicked in again last Friday and since that time my life is a living hell -- its so much worse than it ever was before the shot. this concerns me greatly.

my primary question at this point -- when does this situation become an emergency? to be honest, it almost seemed like the pain was slowly getting better up until the point I had the epidural. it never went away after that, but it kept tapering off slowly and steadily. and then suddenly one day BAM, its back and probably 100% worse than ever.

i've had kidney stones and I have to say -- this is on that level of suffering. i can't lay on my back at night, I can't sit in a chair, I can't ride my bike. I'm a 32 year old male and I'm in pretty good shape -- I fear this is going to rob me of some of the best years of my life if I can't get this nipped in the bud.

i have an appointment next week with a spine specialist. i'm hoping he has some ideas to help ease this pain.

i called my old ortho and finally convinced him that he needed to refill my prescription for hyrdocodone -- i don' think i had made it clear to him that there was a two week lapse between the medicine running out and the appointment with the next doctor.



  • Has your doctor prescribed neurotin or a muscle relaxer? I know most doctors are very hesitant to prescribe pain meds (more than 2 prescriptions), but maybe one or both of those meds would give you some relief? Best of luck to you. Sorry you are in so much pain.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • dmoddmo Posts: 145
    edited 07/24/2014 - 10:16 PM
    Your post is indeed long. Seems you have no formal diagnosis. The mri and neuro appointment would help greatly. I have had three opinions on my cervical spine condition. Surgical consults will not prescribe meds until after surgery. I finally found a great pain management dr to help me. As I see it, you have two choices. You can go to primary care and hope for meds to get you through this or go to er. Your primary care should refer you to pain management. Good luck at let me know if I can help
  • That's good that you're seeing a spine specialist. If there is nerve compression, most surgeons would want to operate if they are concerned about possible nerve damage. In addition, if the disc is pushing on the spinal cord, there could be probable risks involved with that too. Are you seeing a different specialist for a second opinion? Was surgery discussed previously? What type of medications are you currently taking and who's care are you under?

    I hope you have a good treatment plan in place after your upcoming appointment.
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • If the herniation is very serious that having surgery would improve the condition then I suggest thinking about having surgery. If only one disc is herniated then they might be able to due an outpatient procedure. If it is really bad then they might take a bone draft and remove the herniated disc and fuse it with a plate and some screws. Sounds frighting but the success rate of a acdf level 1 surgery is 95%-100% fusion rate. I had acdf level three surgery and the % drops dramatically in my case. Your fusion rate would be almost guarenteed I'm in major pain still, but my neck and back are in much more severe shape than what yours sounds like. Do some research ask docs questions. The procedure is called anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (acdf for short) And at most you might have a one inch scar but it will heal and will not even be able to tell you had the scar. I hope that this information was able to help, just do your research online and ask your doctors any and all question. I hope that they able help your pain. The best of luck to you my friend.
    David Ramsey
  • Hi guys,

    Thanks so much for the feedback. So far I have seen one general ortho who made the original diagnosis with an MRI and I've also seen the doctor who performed the steroid epidural injection.

    As far as the extent of the herniation -- I am on the 4th level with a disc "excursion" so it has fully herniated and material is leaking out and pressing against my spinal cord and C6/7 root nerve. My symptoms are pretty common -- horrible pain in neck and between shoulder blades, as well as pain radiating down into my right arm and hand.

    On Friday I am seeing a second doctor who specializes in back/neck injury. I have so many more questions now than when I had the initial diagnosis.

    To answer your question about medication, thus far all I've had are the steroids and now I take 5/365 hydrocodone/Tylenol to manage the pain. I'm also taking advil a couple of times a day to benefit from the anti inflammatory effects. That being said, almost nothing really helps. The hyrdocodine gets the pain down to a level where I can semi-function, but not really.

    I can't sleep on either my side or my back anymore without waking up frequently in horrible, nightmarish pain. I'm not performing my job duties to 100% because its so difficult to think through the agony while I'm at work. I can't go running or swimming and I most definitely cannot ride my bike, as that is the most painful thing of all. This is a huge problem for me, because I live in inner city New Orleans without a car, so biking is my primary means of transportation.

    I'm really starting to grow desperate here - I only wish I could find someone who could help me. I guess that I'll hope for the best, as far as this new spine doctor is concerned.

    I know a lot of people have said surgery is a last resort -- but my primary question is, if the success rate is so high, why are doctors still hesitant to recommend it? i'm so overwhelmed with pain right now that I would do almost anything to get rid of it, surgery included.

    IF anyone has anymore advice, in regards to which questions to ask my doctor or maybe which possible treatments I could inquire about, I would be so grateful.

    I'm glad this forum is here.
  • LC84LLC84 Posts: 599
    edited 07/28/2014 - 11:29 AM
    I think the number one question to ask is what type of risks there are if you wait to have surgery. You don't want to end up with permanent damage. If surgery is recommended there is a good link on the site that has a list of questions to ask before surgery is performed. You may also want to ask if you could benefit from starting a medication specifically for nerve pain.

    I hope your next appointment goes well.
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • claydohcclaydoh Posts: 19
    edited 07/31/2014 - 2:05 PM
    thank you for the feedback guys.

    it's great to know this forum is here to turn to for support and/or questions.

    i'm hopeful the doctor tomorrow will be able to start outlining a game plan for dealing with this.

    i think my biggest fear at this point is similar to everyone else's which is "is this is good as its going to get"?

    i'm an active, healthy person -- and to be honest, I've never had a high threshold for pain anyway. the thought of living this way for the rest of my life is downright terrifying.

  • I have an almost identical situation as you do. I am still waiting for the neuroscience clinic to call me back to set up an appointment. I totally understand your pain and wanting to get relief. I used to be very active also and there is so much I want to do that I can't. I don't have any words of wisdom for you but I sure hope you get some relief soon.
    Tracie C
  • claydohcclaydoh Posts: 19
    edited 08/01/2014 - 6:44 AM
    rtconant1 said:
    I have an almost identical situation as you do. I am still waiting for the neuroscience clinic to call me back to set up an appointment. I totally understand your pain and wanting to get relief. I used to be very active also and there is so much I want to do that I can't. I don't have any words of wisdom for you but I sure hope you get some relief soon.
    thank you so much! it really means a lot to have some sort of support system, online or anywhere else. i really hope that you can find some relief, too. I think we all have a really good idea of how everyone else feels. i know it SUCKS, so I really hope you feel better soon.

    i went to the spine specialist today and I learned mostly positive things, so I'm at a better state mentally than I have been.

    he upped my dosage of hyrdocodine and gave me a prescription for something to help with nerve pain - nuerotin. i'm also going to be getting another epidural injection next week. at this point, it seems like the objective is to keep me functional so that we can see what happens.

    the doctor explained to me that with the state of my herniation that I wouldn't do very well with physical therapy, mostly because I'm already in so much pain and that the therapist would have a difficult time getting me to do the exercises. he did say however that over months or years that my herniation is likely to heal itself. so basically I have the option to manage the pain and "wait it out" -- or if I can't manage it, he told me I am an extremely good candidate for surgery. he assured me that due to my overall physical health, age, vigor etc, that he could "almost guarantee 100%" the surgery would be successful and that I would heal quickly and soon forget about this part of my life.

    so going forward from today, i'm going to try to use the scripts and shots to see if I can just let my body deal with this on its own. if not, I guess I'll keep the fusion surgery option on the table for later this fall.

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