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Neck pain and frustration

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello, I am new to this forum and blogging as well. I guess I should start by saying that at age 17 I was in an car accident where I hit the windshield twice afteer hitting another car and then a tree. At the time I did not have a neck injury.

Since then, at age 38 I started to have severe pins and needles in my left hand while training to be a nurse in the operating room. I had some neck pain but mostly shoulder pain. My boss at the time told me that it was my neck and I went for an MRI which did show a herniation at C4-5, was treated conservatively with NSAIDS,traction and PT.

Over the past few years I had some episodes of neck pain that would go away with NSAIDS,rest and heat. However in late April of this year while at work one day I just turned my head to the left quickly and heard and felt a crack. I worked in agony for two weeks until I could not take the pain from my neck into my shoulder and down my arm. My arm was so weak I felt like I had a stroke, I could not hold onto anything and had no reflexes in my upper extremity on the left. I went to the ER, they gave me something for pain. I saw my orthopedic two days later, she sent me for am MRI and PT, gave me Percocet and Naproxsyn, kept me out of work for 1 month, and I use home traction as well.

My MRI showed: C4-5 mild disc bulging and osseous ridging with moderate disc space narrowing.

C5-6 moderate disc space narrowing with moderate disc bulging and osseous ridging from the uncinate processes/uncovertebral joints,fairly focal and consistent with chronic disc osteophyte, which moderately narrow both nueral foramina. Additionaly on the left there is a disc space herniation component to the disc osteophyte complex protrudes beyond the margins impinging on the left C6 nerve root in the left foramina.

C6-7 is pretty much the same except moderate to severe left and moderate right neural foramina stenosis. The disc bulge component to the broad left posterolateral disc bulge and osseous ridging further extends into the foramen impinging the C7 nerve root and considered a herniation as well.

I have been on two oral steriod doses, PT and traction 5 days a week for a month and then 3 days a week for a month, had two steriod injections, and NSAIDS and Percocet. I do have more ROM since this all began but now I have bad nerve pain in my neck and sometimes throughout my whole body. My legs at times are weak and my bladder has some urgency, however this comes and goes. Sometimes when the nerve pain is bad I have trouble talking,headaches and ear aches. I started having pins and needles in my left fingers about a month ago but that comes and goes as well.

I have an appt with a NS in August and an EMG this Friday. There is alot cracking noise coming from my neck and just the other night I was stretching my arms out, heard and felt a loud crack, yesterday morning I went to wake up for work and could not turn my head to the left and had tremendous pain. I called my ortho, who I totally trust and respect, to see if she could get me into the NS quicker. She talks to me as if this is not a life threatening situation and just says I have DDD and arthritis. I had to remind her that I herniated two discs. She still did not seem that this was not a big deal.

I am totally frustrated. My symptoms are all over the place. I am on light duty at work, sitting at at desk doing pre op assessments, which also gives me neck/nerve pain. Although, this week I am out again. I hope that the NS looks at this situation in a different light, than from an ortho perspective. Has this been the case for many other people? I am afraid that the NS will also look at this as though I am a baby. My ortho did order another MRI and said she would call the NS to see if they could see me sooner.


  • I would say after all the conservative treatment you have had that the NS should go with surgery. I had the conservative treatment for a year before we went with the surgery and I must say the surgery was the best thing that ever happened to me!! I felt like a new person and could actually sleep all night after I healed!! Also my neck was a lot worse when they got inside than what the MRI had revealed. Good luck to you and keep us posted.


    PS I have to add I was also in a car wreck when I was 24. My head put a hole in the windshield which in turn scalped me literally. It took almost 400 stitches to sew it back on. Not fun!! I believe over the years that is what my problems are from and my job as an xray tech(24 years) in a very busy trauma hospital. Health care field is also very demanding on the body!!
  • Thanks for your input. I am hoping that the NS finds this to be seriuos enough to warrant the surgery. Not that I want the surgery, I have done a number of ACDF's with surgeons, as my job is an RN in the operating room, and these surgeries look like the recovery is not fun. However, I know that injections etc will just be a temporary fix. The last injection I had the anesthesia doc who did the injection wrote that I had left sided C5-T1 facet arthropathy, and that I should see a NS for surgical options.
  • As long as you keep up with your pain meds and do what is told of you the recovery is not that bad....Or I have forgotten the bad parts. My recovery from the posterior foraminotomy, now that was bad!! I told my husband I will NEVER have another surgery it hurt that bad and I have had a lot of surgeries.
    The worst part of ACDF is boredom!! I gained 15lbs in 12 weeks!! This time recovery from my foaminotomy I am on WW and have lost almost 4 and that is so good with no activity!!
  • I too have gained about 15 pounds since this all started. I guess from inactivity and eating everything in sight when on the steroids. This is something I will have to consider if surgery is the answer.
  • Yeah the weight gain really bites!!! I have had two steriod packs since my most recent surgery and just keep the bad stuff out of the house so all i have to eat is healthy stuff....Yuck!!
  • Andrea have you ever had an EMG before? Be prepared because it is uncomfortable, at least it was to me. I have had others say it was not, but if they do the needles yes it is. Mine showed permanent nerve damage but it seemed to come back after my ACDF. Now I am starting to think I do have permanent damage from neural foramin narrowing... Still numb post op 4 weeks.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    Hi Andrea DiRienzo

    For an introduction, CLick on :

    Welcome To Spine-Health

    If you have any questions, feel free to contact (PM) any one of the Moderators here Priestess , Bruce , Paulgla, DiLauro

    The Spine-Health Web site offers so much more than these Member Forums.
    Check the various tabs at the top of the Spine-Health page and you will find so much that is offered here.

    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message

    Neck pain can be very frustrating. Once you have a situation when a cervical disc starts to impinge on a nerve root, additional symptoms as you describe happen. The more the impingement, the more symptoms and pain you will have.
    Even though you have been through some conservative treatments, there are many more options available to you.

    But the most important is knowing what your doctor has suggested. Some times when there is nerve damage, they tend to opt for surgery sooner. The Neurosurgeon's office may not treat this as an emergency and that can very likely be the case. Cervical disc problems are painful, but in the scope of spinal problems, everything needs to be taken into perspective.
    However, you do need to talk to your NS to see what the course of action will be. Will they be offering additonal treatments or look for surgery?

    You do need those answers
    Good luck
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Your post reminded me of my first physiatrist visit after my cervical MRI. I was really uspset and panicked when I saw the DDD, stenosis, etc. The doc said to me "now hold on, this isn't a life-threatening problem." Easy for him to say. While it hasn't been life threatening, it has surely changed my life. I'm sure you have seen lotsa surgeries in your profession. And,you know there can always be complications to surgery. So, be careful and get more than one opinion. Good luck and keep us posted!---Mazy
  • Yes, I have had an EMG before. 5 years ago when I herniated C4-5. And yes they used needles and yes it hurt like ....
    At that time it did not show any nerve damage, I don't know how that could be considering the pins and needles I was feeling in my fingers was very intense.

    Personally I feel this sis a useless test, but they seem to use it alot. I have not spoken with many people who show nerve damage. My ortho is making me have another one this Friday. I am sooo not looking forward to this. Last time it felt like some one sticking me with electical shock over and over again.
  • I recently had ACDF C6-7 with instrumentation 6-13-08. And have done fairly well postop. My big problem now is muscles spasms between my shoulders but that is a commom thing and will get better. Feel free to PM me I am also a RN, but my background is women's health.

    I found for me this board gave honest answers and gave you infomation on all the options available to you. Then if you choose to you can ask about their stories. All our stories are different, but yet the same at times. Hang in there it is a difficult time not knowing all your options. Your NS will discuss them throughly with you.

    You know the relaxation techniques you learned in school use them....please
  • I am so sorry you are dealing with all of this!! Our stories are somewhat similar, I too was in a bad MVA at 18, was t-boned, no seatbelt, hit windeshield with head, shattering it. Lots of stitches but no neck injury. Now I have been suffering from neck and shoulder pain since August 2007. My herniation is at C4/5 too. I have done all the conservative stuff too, PT, meds, traction, EMG (hurt like heck!). My biggest complaint is the HORRIBLE upper back pain... my back hurts so bad, it feels like a dull knife is permanantely lodged in my back. Bottom line, I feel your pain!!

    As for your situation, it is getting worse, not better. Your first MRI showed 1 herniation, your second showed 2 herniations along with a bunch of other nasty stuff. I agree with Allie in that surgery could be the answer to your problems. Hopefully you can see the NS sooner and get some answers. From what I understand, leg weakness and bladder urgency are not good!! Keep us posted on what the NS says. I haven't had surgery either and have an appt with my PM to discuss referral to a NS.

    Feel free to PM me if you want to talk further. You are not alone!!!
  • Thanks for everyone's support. I am having another MRI tommorow. I also did not mention that on fourth of July I fell down in my back yard, lost my balance like I do alot lately, and smashed my head off the ground pretty good. I iced it down and used my traction over that whole weekend. When I told my ortho about this last night on the phone I think this is what prompted her to do another MRI. That and the amount of pain and stiffness I had going on yesterday morning.
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