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Cervical Issues - Is this typical?

Mom of 3MMom of 3 Posts: 3
edited 08/05/2015 - 10:14 AM in Chronic Pain
Hi All!

I've been reading many, many posts on here about cervical disc issues and have not seen anyone comment about having some of the same symptoms as I'm having and just want to make sure I'm not a) losing my mind or b) missing something that needs to be addressed that is unrelated to my herniated cervical disc.

Brief history (as brief as I can be!) - nagging, tugging feeling began a year ago November (2013) at the base of my left ribcage on my back. Like a minor strain or something - not too painful so I left it alone. Had walked off a curb the day before and really (really) jarred my back - not sure if that triggered this ordeal. Began having more discomfort along my spine up to my neck and the initial pain was more annoying so I went to a chiropractor, had a chest Xray (clear) and was sent to PT. This helped some but initial "pain" came and went but I'd ice or rest and it seemed to be manageable. Never diagnosed with anything specific with regards to that. Around that same November timeframe, was diagnosed with Grave's Disease (autoimmune hyperthyroidism - causes weight loss, hair loss, tremors, GI issues and heart palpitations and I've read can also cause muscle related issues). Began treatment for that. Fast forward to this past March (2015) and I went to the gym to try and strengthen my upper back and overall get back into shape (with Grave's I was told to stop exercising b/c of the heart-related issues). Did the rowing machine 2 days in a row and then began having more and more upper left back issues. Got another chest Xray (clear again), referred to ortho (first back guy, who ordered cervical MRI indicating "narrowing of the canal on left side" of C5/6 - then shoulder guy who did shoulder Xray, which was clear.) Went to chiro, ortho prescribed PT, which I did for 8 weeks, did massage, had dry needling, traction, etc. at PT. When anything manipulated my back it actually seemed to aggravate things, so PT referred me to pain management. Pain management has given me novocaine trigger point injections which have helped minimally and temporarily.

My symptoms at this point come and go throughout the day, and are almost completely unnoticeable at night. Some days I feel pretty good and others are terrible (pain ranges from 2-8, I'd say, depending on the day). The sensations/pains I'm having intermittently are:

- Initial "pulling" at base of ribcage on left side
- Burning sensation along ribcage on L side and in axillary area
- Burning/prickly sensation in L trap and sometimes in what I estimate would be my C5/6 area of neck
- Pain in upper and lower arm, both front AND back, - and sometimes it just feels like my arm falling asleep ever so slightly. Sometimes no sensation at all - and it will go away just like that. This has happened on my RIGHT arm a few times too.
- Trigger points in L axillary area, trap, rhomboid and lats along ribcage
- Lots of popping and uncomfortable feelings in L shoulder blade at times
- Literally not one area around my ribcage that is unaffected
- Exercises given by PT aggravate symptoms after a day or two
- Anti-inflammatory meds and muscle relaxers don't seem to do much

Are these typical for a herniated cervical disc at C5/6? I don't see many people talk about their ribcage area or the base of their ribcage and it seems unusual to have pain on BOTH sides of my arm - as well as in my right arm as well if the herniation is to the L side?

I would love some feedback or encouragement. This will be going on 2 years with this and I am just so worried they are missing something else - OR that I am going to live with this forever, which I know many people seem to so I'm prepared to deal with that :( I feel like I am just going nuts at times - but this pain is very real for me. Doctors have been less than sympathetic - almost condescending at times and I just don't know where to turn at this point (other than the pain management doc, who's been great).

Thanks for any help you can provide!

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  • Teresa in TexasTTeresa in Texas Posts: 14
    edited 07/31/2015 - 9:02 AM
    Hi Mom!

    The placement of your pain tends to indicate a thoracic spine problem. Has anyone ever done an MRI or other imaging in that area? With my C6-7 severe herniation, all the pain, spasms, tingling, etc. stayed in the neck/shoulder/shoulder blade/arm area. Mine also was on the left so my left arm was the one affected with the tingling/twitches/burning. You refer to your rib cage and that would indicate a need for a closer look into your thoracic area. I would ask for an MRI of the thoracic spine. You may need to also enlist the services of a neurologist. They will do nerve conduction studies to pin point involved nerves. Best of luck to you! Keep us informed of your journey. This is a great community full of experience and information.
  • Mom of 3MMom of 3 Posts: 3
    edited 08/01/2015 - 2:28 PM
    Thanks Teresa in Texas! I've asked every doctor I've seen, from my internist to the pain management doc, if I should get additional imaging and they all keep saying no, that all of my symptoms are due to my cervical disc issue, and I'm so frustrated. The pain doc keeps saying that my sub scapular nerve runs over to that area and can cause pain but nobody on the forum ever talks about pain in that area so I really worry they're missing something else.

    I am having an EMG done at the end of August (earliest they could do) - is that what you mean by a nerve study?

    Also, do your symptoms come and go?

    I appreciate your input so much.
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