Hello everyone - My name is Scott and I am new to this forum. I imagine like most newbies, I stumbled upon this community while researching the condition a lot of us are dealing with in one form or another.
I'm a 30-year-old guy, otherwise relatively healthy, who began experiencing neck stiffness around July 14, 2008. I thought it was due to just sleeping funny (which I tend to do from time to time), so I just ignored it and continued with my life as usual. I am an active musician (guitar and vocals in a rock band), an avid tennis playeer and work a fulltime desk job that requires a 60 mile commute each way, M-F.
The pain eventually got worse, and I began physical therapy with a friend who runs his own practice. He thought I had a bulging disc, and began putting me in traction and having me do various exercises. Throughout the treatment, I held off from playing tennis, but continue to play shows with my band. It seemed that each "gig" would almost undo any progress made during PT. I had begun to experience what I now know is cervical radiculopathy, with pain shooting down my left shoulder blade and arm, and occasional numbness in my left hand that would last for 20-30 seconds.
At one point, I felt as if I was on the mend - the PT said I had good flexibility, and the pain in my arm was starting to subside. But then, I played 3 long shows in a row, and I think I made myself worse.
After an X-Ray and a subsequent MRI, it was shown that I have "significant disc herniation present at the C6-C7 Level, with significant canal stenosis to approximately 6 to 7 mm demonstrated. A large left paracentral component is demonstrated, causing significant neural forminal compromise." Additionally, I have "mild posterior disc protrusion at the C5-C6 level."
After this diagnosis, I was told that surgery may be the only option beacause the disc was just too far out of place to go back in via conservative treatments.
The next step is to consult with a neurosurgeon locally. However, I'm already thinking ahead and if I have to have surgery, I'd like to have it at a reputable place wit ha reputable doctor.
Do any of you folks know any well-known docs that deal with surgery in cervical herniations?
Otherwise, does anyone have any advice for me? I've stopped all the music playing/singing and tennis, and have been resting. I'm still working fulltime and driving my 120 daily roundtrip commute (it doesn't seem to bother me).
Overally, my pain isn't very bad - especially when compared to how some of you folks have described your pain. I only experience soreness in my shoulder blade and arm and sometimes my neck at night when trying to sleep.
As for medication, I'm taking tramadol (2-3 50mg tablets per day), Ibuprofen (800mg 3 times a day) and Valium (5-10mg only at night to help me sleep).
I really don't hurt much during the day - I only experience occasional numbness in my left hand and maybe some radicular pain if I move the wrong way.
Sorry for the long post - but I have nowhere else to turn! Any advice, information, support, names of hospitals/doctors...would be so very much appreciated!
Thank you in advance for listening to my story.