To give a quick background, back in the beginning of October I had a fairly bad stiff neck/upper back and I ended up going to an urgent care center. They prescribed some muscle relaxants and a couple of days later I was better but had this localized pain around my tricep/biceps on the left arm.
A week went by dealing with pain and self medicating with ibuprofen. I just thought this was a muscle issue and figured it would go away. On the second week, the pain continued and I was starting to wonder if this was something else going on. A couple of weeks went by and no relief of the pain. It was only when I started to get tingling in my thumb and index finger that I went to my doctor who ordered an MRI.
The results of the MRI showed a mild central herniated disk on C4/5 that is just touching the sac around the spinal cord, a moderate bilateral herniated disk C5/6 and a mild bulging disk on C6/7. Also, on the C5/6, I have severe narrowing of the left foramen and moderate narrowing of the right foramen due to bone spurs. Given my symptoms and MRI results, I do have a pinched nerve at C5/6 on the left side. These are just the main highlights of what is going on in my neck.
I went to an ortho doctor who recommended PT for now. I'm now heading into my 5th week of PT with what feels like no real relief. The pain is mostly under control with Neurotin 300mg, but after this weekend and the fact that the 300mg dose wasn't lasting the 8hrs, the dr advised me to start do 600mg at bedtime and eventually work up to 600mg 3x day. I saw a different doctor (actual spine surgeon) at the practice the other week (ironically the first dr left the practice) to discuss how my symptoms are different than what i felt at the original visit and that they were more pronounced and more frequent. Unlike the first dr, this dr started explaining what surgery would be and then discussed the less invasive options.
Maybe I'm overthinking this, but is there a reason why he started to discuss the surgery first? Is there a guideline on the severity of herniation where one would just skip PT and go right to surgery other than an obvious leaking disk or the disk is pinching the spinal cord?
Even though the pain is mostly under control, I still get the tingling in my thumb/index finger as well as other not so comfortable sensations in my arm, mostly the tricep/bicep area. These symptoms don't seem to directly coincide with neck movement as I can move my head around in any direction with no pain/tingling sensations. Only when I look up, I get the pain/tingling sensation. Lately just moving around in general I get on and off pain/tingling sensations and it is frequent through out the day.
Talking with the PT gal, there's a thinking that my pain is a mix of the pinched nerve at the spine and maybe a pinched/compressed nerve due to muscles in my shoulder. I know this thinking makes sense, but does it make sense if you know what I mean?