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Bulging disc

JerodsmomJJerodsmom Posts: 4
edited 01/12/2016 - 7:35 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am a 52-year-old female. I am overweight, but not obese. Early November I woke up with very uncomfortable neck/shoulder pain. I also had a dull headache, pressure behind my eyes and a tapping noise in my right ear (it sounded as if someone was doing Morse code in my ear). I went to my primary doctor and he did an extensive amount of blood tests to rule out an array of things. Everything came back fine other than my vitamin D being low, which I live in Michigan, it was fall, so wasn’t surprising. I started taking a vitamin D supplement to help. I then went to see a chiropractor. I had never been to one before, but for some reason, this is what I felt I needed. An x-ray was done and the chiropractor said I had the middle stages of disc degeneration. However, my primary doctor didn’t agree. My primary doctor is a D.O. so he did some mild adjustments on me and was treating me for stress. I didn’t feel I had stress, but went along with it.

I was also going and getting massages every 2 weeks to help with the pain. I felt like I had knots all over my back. Eventually the ringing in my ear went away. But the pain has never left. I have been hurting every day for the past 2 months. The dull headaches still are present, the mild pressure behind my eyes never has gone away.

On December 21st the pain was so bad, that I finally agreed to go to the ER. They ended up admitting me over night and ran a cat scan and an MRI. The cat scan came back negative, however the MRI came back showing that I had a bulging disc, along with several pinched nerves. The hospital discharged me with a prescription of Gabapentin.

I then contacted my primary doctor who referred me to see a neurosurgeon but also put me on a 10-day dosage of steroids. I saw the neurosurgeon last Friday and left there in tears. I was really hoping he was going to have an answer to my pain and how to make it go away and instead he made me feel like my pain wasn’t real. He told me that the gabapentin and steroids were going to kill me, to get off of them and wrote me a script for what ended up being 2 compound drugs that my insurance wouldn’t cover that would have cost me $1300. He said I did not need surgery and for the most part told me that my MRI was fine. This left me confused. Then why am I hurting and why did the hospital read my MRI and see what they saw and why did my doctor confirm this?

Sunday evening, I had what I call a meltdown. This is not me. But my husband ended up staying home from work yesterday with me because I was so worked up over all of this. I have been hurting for 2 months. For 2 months, I rarely get out of my pajamas. I sit on the couch with a heating pad in pain. I get myself worked up that there is more than just what the MRI showed wrong with me and start thinking I am dying.

I was only on the gabapentin for 3 1/2 weeks. Probably not long enough, but the side effects were to great. Sunday at 10pm I took my last dose. I do not know if it was the cause, but my upper stomach was hurting so bad. I kept feeling like my heart was racing and beating on the outside of my chest. About 2-3 hours after a dose, I would feel as if I was in a fog. I couldn’t think straight. Yesterday, I woke up and actually felt some of those feelings gone. Then I took my morning steroid pill and some of those feelings returned. So yesterday morning I also took my last steroid pill. Today, I am in more pain then I have been so obviously the gabapentin and steroid were helping somewhat and I still don’t feel great. My stomach is not hurting as badly but still hurts. My head still has a bit of a fog to it, but also not as bad.

So....after a long winded post here are some questions I have.

Does the heart racing, heart beating outside of my chest sound like something the gabapentin or steroid would cause only after being on it for 3 1/2 weeks and if so, would it still continue after being off the pills for 24 hours?

I hurt. I mean my neck hurts. My shoulders ache. My back hurts. My arms ache. My head hurts. I feel like areas of my body are bruised. When I move my head to the right or left, I feel like someone has stabbed me in my shoulder. Even under my chin feels bruised. Does this sound normal for a bulging disc and pinched nerves?

This has been going on for 2 months and I feel no light at the end of the tunnel. I start physical therapy tomorrow but really don’t even have hope right now with that. I am starting to think I have more serious things wrong (cancer) yet am terrified to even have anything checked to get that answer. I am literally a mess.

Please any insight anyone can give me I would appreciate!!



  • I'm so sorry for what you're going through.
    Pain is awful but not being treated well is worse!!
    Can you get a second opinion because I think you need to speak to a more empathetic neurosurgeon.
    Keep us posted
    Kirsti x
  • I actually have an appointment with another neurosurgeon on the 19th. The thing is, I dont want surgery so that isnt why I was disappointed. I just want to know what is really wrong and how I can fix it or control it. I want my life back!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    edited 01/13/2016 - 8:21 AM
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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    edited 01/13/2016 - 8:42 AM
    You mentioned the neurosurgeon consult where he said you didn't need surgery and MRI basically fine.
    And that confused you as your doctor and hospital read MRI with more interest.

    In my experience, the surgeons are looking for need of surgery.
    If they do not think surgery necessary, their consult is finished. His reading of your MRI may have meant that at this time, not serious enough for surgery...?

    My primary doctor tried to work with my pain about two years before referring me to pain management.
    Best thing for me!

    My PM doctor did a variety of testing, some of which I'd not heard mentioned before.
    He found a variety of issues with my spine.
    The EMG was very revealing in my case.

    He was able to help me with coming up with plans, treatments meds...and I continue to see him monthly for med management and for my other symptoms or issues as they occur.

    I was never a candidate for surgery.
    I'm very glad to have spine specialist overlooking my care and pain levels.

    In my experience, a PM doctor can monitor the spine and pain levels and will send for consults as situation dictates.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • SongJinSSongJin Arizona Posts: 259
    I've been trying to deal with my disc issue for almost the last year, and have had similar experiences--doctors disagreeing, doctors not listening to your problem or discounting your pain, and so forth. It's really frustrating! I'm still dealing with the same process, but I'm finally at the point where I am looking at surgery.

    In my experience, the orthopedic doctors were the least helpful--not that there aren't good ones, but in my case they basically just want to send you to PT or otherwise get you off their caseload. Pain wasn't something they were concerned about for me while I was suffering through unhelpful PT sessions, and they wouldn't even authorize an MRI for many months. I finally got that pushed through, and they discovered issues with my discs, and after more pushing, I got referrals to a pain clinic and a neurosurgeon. Since you already saw a neurosurgeon, it might be nice to get a second opinion, and also try to get referred to a pain clinic so that you have more options. It just takes so darned long!

    As for the gabapentin, I don't know if that was causing your symptoms, but I experienced something similar. They said I was having a paradoxical reaction to it because it felt like I was drinking massive amounts of coffee! I couldn't sleep for more than an hour or two, and it was bad quality sleep at that. Made me feel jittery just like I was on way too much caffeine all the time. Tried playing with the dosage, but after like 6 weeks I couldn't handle it any more. The neurosurgeon later told me that's not an uncommon reaction, and I have a friend that's a neurochemist--he said gabapentin is a "dirty drug," meaning they actually don't know much about how it works, and it's possible that it can react on different receptors than intended.
  • Sue 1965SSue 1965 United KingdomPosts: 115
    Hi-I too had bad side effects from gabapentin-I felt eventually as though I was in a permanent cloud-couldnt think straight or even formulate words properly-it scared me to the point that I asked to be weaned off-the pain was bad but I would rather have the crystal clarity of pain than the fog of drugs..Hope you get an answer soon jerodsmom
  • thanks for the replies.

    I started physical therapy yesterday. The therapist is convinced that my neck is causing all my problems. He said that my neck is so tight and that it causes a chain reaction or some sorts. He spent most of hour just massaging and working on my neck and then the last 15 minutes or so applied heat and TENS. I am going to continue hopeful with the PT for now as its really all I have. Tuesday I meet with the new neurosurgeon and while I do hope he agrees that surgery is not something I need, I just need validation as to why I am hurting so badly so that I can focus on getting better. Right now, I feel like I have been told different things (stress related, bulging disc, neck issues).

    I go back tomorrow for PT and then next week it will be Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. Then next Tuesday I have my appointment with the new neurosurgeon. Going to be a busy week!! I am managing my pain right now with motrin and have needed to take vicodin at least once a day to take the edge off.

    Here is hoping that a week from now I can say I see light at the end of the tunnel!!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    Many times when you go through physical therapy, you will have some up and down periods. Many people have problems with the first couple of sessions, then start to settle in and see some results. But along the way, maybe depending on what was done on a given day, how you started your day, etc. you have a little setback.

    Countless of times I have read about members wanted to quit physical therapy after one of those setbacks. What is important is that you discuss this with your therapist. Try to identify what it was that caused the setback.

    I am a firm believer in physical therapy. I know it is so very important in helping people with physical problems. But I am also very realistic and understand that there are also limits to physical therapy. There really arent any guidelines about that, each person has to understand their own limit.
    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
  • Well.....I saw a new neurosurgeon who I liked.  He referred me to a pain clinic and last Thursday I had 6 injections in my neck.  He also gave me stronger pain medicine and some muscle relaxers.   Unfortunately, I notice nothing different.  I am scheduled for a second round of injections on the 25th.  I try only to take the pain medicine (Percocet) at bedtime.While I am still having pain in my neck and shoulders, the pressure behind my eyes and the excessive sweating every time I try to do anything is driving me insane.  I have an appointment next week with an eye doctor (MD) and hoping she can give me some insight as to why I have this constant pressure behind my eyes.  
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