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Could Use Advice From The Experienced...

dharvellddharvell Posts: 98
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
First off, hello all! :) It's been awhile since I've been around and I see things have changed. In fact, all of my old posts (and my profile, for that matter) have disappeared, so allow me to give a little history:

Four years ago, I woke up with a neck pain so intense that I could not move my head, at all. I figured I simply slept wrong, that night. When the pain did not correct itself over the course of a week, I had it checked by my PCP. Through tests, we found that I had some degeneration of the C5-C6. Throughout the years, the problem got worse and spread to the C7, as well. Today, I am in constant, extreme pain.

Surgery is currently not being considered, as I am only 34 years old. The doctors are concerned that, as surgery is not a sure fix, the chance that the problem could be made worse by a procedure prevents them from seeking any invasive options.

The above said, I find myself in a situation that kind of worries me and even depresses me to some point:

I find the medications that I have been prescribed for pain (Hydrocodone/APAP 10/325 during the day and Morphine Sulphate 15mg at night) do not touch the pain, at all. I take the meds and find absolutely no relief from the pain... at all. I might as well take sugar pills.

When I contact my doctor's office to let them know that the medications are completely ineffective, the clinical assistant lectures me about how I shouldn't be taking pain medications, anyway, because I am "too young to even have the problems claimed".

The pain has become unbearable and I can find no relief.

Anybody have any ideas, suggestions, or otherwise that might help me reclaim my life?

Thank you in advance.


  • Hey Dharvell, firt of all, it might be ,wll would be a good idea to get a second opinion, I was 36 when I had my first spine op. If you are in that much pain even after the meds you are on, someone in my opinion is feeding you a line . True, surgical intervention does not always help the pain and they explain it can get worse along with a multitude of other side affects. I have had a total of three spine ops now and depending on my next doc visit, may be looking at a fourth. I have already said I will be crawling before I have the next one done. I am no expert by a long shot but you can rest assured I have some experience with pain and spine ops and I would never let anyone touch me if I am not 100% sure The Doc and support team are the best possible. And I am talking spinal reconstructive surgery SPECIALISTS. Too many money makers out there practicing on people sticking big bucks in their pockets. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the pcp's and get to someone who knows what they are talking about.
    True story, The last neurosurgeon I saw said he felt my face numbness was mini strokes, he couldnt read the mri films. I went to the doc who did my lumbar and the RADIOLOGIST could see my problem befor I even went in to see the doc. So please for your own sake before you wind up really more messed up than you are, find some one who specializes in surgery of the spine, not just an average everyday orthopaedist, there is a big difference , that is the voice of my experience. Good luck.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    with Paul & E.J., we are not Dr's but we all have a lot of experience first hand with spinal surgery. You need to seek a good specialist that can give you the answers you need and the pain relief you deserve. You can not go on with
    constant pain and discomfort daily. Stress and depression wears on any individual and you can not function to your best ability with that on your mind. Take care and keep us all posted here to what you find.
  • ...especially about narcotics effects (or lack thereof) on nerve pain. That may explain why even Morphine is completely ineffective.

    As far as doctors go, I have been seeing a spinal surgeon for the past year. He, too, discourages the surgery (because of my age), but has done nothing else to help... he just keeps scheduling follow-ups just to tell me that I am way too young to have these issues.

    The really sad part is - because of my location, the nearest specialist (other than the one I mentioned, above) is 70 miles away. It's to the point to where the 70 mile drive might be worth it!

    Thank you all for your replies!
  • I just wanted to add that sometimes it takes several dose increases before Lyrica or Neurontin will helhp. so if you are prescribed one of these nerve pain meds and don't see results at first, give it time. They start you out at a really low dose and step by step get you up to a dose that may helph take care of some of that nerve pain.

    By the way, welcome back to spine-health. I remember your name from the old site. The developers recently changed to new software which is why all of our old posts are gone.

    I hope you can get some results soon. And I agree with the others, a 2nd opinion from a qualified spine specialist would be a great idea.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I just wanted to add that sometimes it takes several dose increases before Lyrica or Neurontin will helhp. so if you are prescribed one of these nerve pain meds and don't see results at first, give it time. They start you out at a really low dose and step by step get you up to a dose that may helph take care of some of that nerve pain.

    By the way, welcome back to spine-health. I remember your name from the old site. The developers recently changed to new software which is why all of our old posts are gone.

    I hope you can get some results soon. And I agree with the others, a 2nd opinion from a qualified spine specialist would be a great idea.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Good to be recognized! :) I remember spine-health being a rich source of support and information, so regardless the slight inconvenience of having to re-establish my identity, I am very happy to come back here! Best community on the web. 8)

    I have a follow-up with my spinal surgeon on the 28th. Depending on what he has to say, I may make that 70 mile drive to see somebody else. All I know is that the pain is affecting my life in ways I cannot afford (literally). I haven't worked for a year, because I am in too much pain to. I'm considering disability, but know that that's a long shot. In the mean time, I've JUST decided to start a photography studio business, as it seems to be the only thing I can do that doesn't kill me. But really, being in constant pain has just been a complete life-changing experience. I need a doctor that realizes that and wants to do something to get me back to my former self. Even if it is just through pain-controlling methods.
  • Sorry to hear you are having such a hard time right now. I agree with the others and personally I think that the 70 mile drive would be worth it. Hey it is nice to be to you are to young, but please get past that and let's move on. I have just changed doctors because of same issue on another health issue. I was paying him tons of money to be told you are to young. Anyway I moved on. Also have you thought of pain management? As they might be able to get your pain under control better, also perhaps some injections?. I wish you luck and keep us posted.
  • Hi,
    My experience began just as yours did. 4 years ago I awoke and could not move my head and was in constant pain for 2 weeks. An MRI was done that showed a ruptured disk c5-6. I had surgery the next day. C6-7 was buldging but NS thought it would "fix itself". 16 days ago I woke up with the exact same pain. Went to ER. Had MRI..c6-7 had ruptured. Next day had surgery. I was 36 when I had my first surgery and dr's have no idea why I have had these problem..and dr's told me also I was way too young. Anyway, I am finally out of pain! I would for sure get a 2nd opinion!
  • I'm 41, and, as discussed with my surgeon, I've got a lot of life to live - and I had dropped all of it, work, play, family, because of the pain. Hence, my newly cleaned up fused metallic neck. I feel for you on the 70 mile drive, but no one deserves to be in that kind of pain. I had trouble getting help at first as I was "too young to have arthritis" - apparently not. Definitely worth talking to a few doctors - it is a hard process, but there are lots of smart people our there with different approaches to care. Hang in there.
  • Do you have any helpful hints on tolerating the Aspen collar? I think that is what my husband will be wearing. He put it on yesterday, and was totally depressed. It poked him in his chest when sitting. He said it's only comfortable while standing.

    We do have straws for him.

    Linda MI (who goes to Chicago every year for a big city fix)
  • it sits in my closet like the ghost of a bad dream. it did help to have the surgery in February, so if I had to go outside, it looked like a big weird turtleneck. but seriously, it is depressing, and I was counting the days til I got out of it. that being said, I bought some T-shirts with wide necks, and some new zip up sweaters and hoodies (not sure how that will translate to menswear, but you do not want to pull anything over your head - ouch!) sleeping on my back was a new thing for me, but with the fatigue after surgery, I caught on pretty fast. I did keep a lot of those facial cleansing cloths around - your neck just gets hot, and your face where the brace comes up, but you want to wash off without bending over the sink. make sure you have a couple sets of the foam inserts that sit against your skin, as he'll want to have one to wear if one is being washed. and soup, soup is really hard, since you can't bend down to meet your spoon. so I went for the mashed potatoes and milkshakes.

    so is there a good part? sure, little kids and folks in the checkout line at the grocery store would ask me about it, and I'd tell them all about, since they seemed interested, and heck, my husband had heard plenty. then there was the lady who came up to me to tell me how well her fusion had gone, and that I was going to do great. I completely bonded with the guy at our video store. so, it can bring people together?? I know, I'm stretching. It's not an easy time.
    but the time will pass.

    good luck, and I hope you all get to enjoy chicago soon!
  • I wish I could say that it is not a big deal, but wearing the aspen really got to me by the end of it. I was so happy when teh doctor said I could take it off. But then again, I kept it close by because after a few minutes I wanted it back on. Go figure!

    A couple of suggestions. First, make sure that he trims the foam to fit him. No sense having more padding there than necessary. 2nd, the plastic is somewhat moldable to the individual person. You can bend those little tabs that poke into his chest. Also, I found that if I wore it as tight as it was supposed to be (shouldn't be able to turn your head when you have it on), it was more comfortable overall than having it loose. It is very tempting to loosen it. I was watching a girl who had an aspen, and she was turning her head side to side, nodding up and down, and didn't seem encumbered by the collar at all. I was thinking to myself, why does she even have it on? I hope she ends up fusing properly, but I for one didn't take any chances.

    If he gets too hot in it, placing a thin ice pack inside may help. Ask the doctor if you can have two. That way you will always have one if you want to throw one in the washing machine, and believe me, it gets dirty, sweaty, and stinky. My surgeon also gave me a separate foam one for use when showering, and I just had to put the aspen back on immediately afterwards.

    Good luck. I'm feeling bad for him having to wear it through the hottest months of the summer. I am soooo glad I am out of mine now.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • hello and welcome back to spin health


    I was in an car accident and that is how the neck injury started for me. Mine is C 4-5 and C 5-6 that the Ortho And Neuro have already said needs to be fused.

    Before the car accident happened I was on worker comp for an arm injury. I had 4 arm surgeries in 3 1/2 years and was finally almost pain free and no longer needing or on any pain meds. In fact Although I never abused them I still had to go through an awful detox.

    Just as the work comp case was closing and 3 weeks after being off all meds for that my car accident happened and I was pushed right back into the viscious cycle again only this time not a work comp deal and a different body part. The accidnet date was 7-10-08.

    Since then my Neuro has already done a Posterioer Cervical Foraminotomy to decompress the nerves comping out of my spinal cord. The surgery made only a few symptoms go away and the rest of them and some new ones continue to only get worse.

    I am currently in Pain management and I also take Morphine Sulphate. I take a total of 90 mgs diveded into 3 doses a day. I have Percocet 10/325 up to 6 a day for BT pain. I live with a constant pain level of 7-10. It is hard to get a 6 level of pain for any lengthy period of time and it is wearing me down.

    My Nerologist had told me way back in Jan when he did the foramiotomy that he felt I would need fusion later but that he did not like to do fusions on people my age. I will be 39 in Dec. Come to find out just recently he thought I was in my 20's...DAH! it is right in my file.
    I too love photography and my Mother is a professional Photographer with a studio. It just hurts me too much to take photographs for long periods of time especially with a real long zoom lenz.

    I feel like you do. The pain has effected every aspect of my life. After the workers comp case I was ready to go back to work and had been going to college to aquire some new skills while I was unable to work during the workers comp case.
    So when the Car accident happened I was severly depressed to be thrown back into another injury full of pain etc.

    I have been living off the workers comp settlement which will be running out very soon. There is no way I could work in this much pain. I am not married and have no kids so just trying to do every day life things is very exhausting to me. I only have health insurance through my college and it covers ther bare minimum and has only a prescription discount card. SO all the Pain Medications and muscle relaxers and my regular day to day meds that have nothing to do with the neck injury are costing me a whoping $500.00 a month. I am already getting one medication through an assitance program through the drug company because I just can't afford it.

    Now mY suggestions are the same as some of the others have already stated. If you are not in pain management then I would ask for a refoerral to a Pain Managment Doc.

    I am planing to get some things figured out with my Pain Doc on the next visit. If you are going to go to PM or are already in pm then here is a suggestion. i know way beack when I asked the PM what he thought a managable level of pain was on the 1-10 score line. I believe he said 5 but I am re-visiting this with him because I am no-where near a 5.
    Then I am hoping we can come up with a plan of action to get my pain better covered.

    Now I have aready been through many procedures such as Cervical ESI's and Trigger points, and Facet Blocks. These were all done by my PM doc. SOme of these procedures smay help you if a PM has not already offered them as a diagnostic/pain relief idea. I am not a Doctor but just kinda thowing some of my experiences out there so you can maybe see there are some options for you out there.

    I recently had an Appt. for anothor opinion with and Ortho Surgeon. I actually had seen him once before earlier in my car accident case after the Jan 2008 surgery. I have already decided to transfer my care to him for any further surgery, but the doc ordered more tests for the rotator cuff to rule that injury out and also a new EMG nerve study since I have not had one since my first neck surgey in Jan.

    Another thing you can consider is going to a Pain Psychologist. This is a psychologist that specialises in people who hav chronic pain. I went to one becaseu the neurosurgeon wanted me to be evaluated to see if I was a good surgical candidate. I actually got a good recomendationas a good candidate. I really liked the guy and he has bee seeing chronic pain patients for 26 years. He did suggest that I start to see him on a regular basis after the ACDF surgery to hep me with recovery with that surgery. Just another option to deal with your situation.

    I will be sending out some prayers for you. I really do know how you feel. Please hang in there and keep us posted on how your doing. If you ever need someone to chat with and some added support please feel free to e-mal or pm me anytime.

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