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Kind of wondering

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
This afternoon I had a call from my health nurse at Blue Cross/Blue Shield. She calls about once or twice a month to check up on me. Today I told her that I only have 1 more session of physical therapy before I'm maxed out on visits for the year (I'm granted 30 total between PT and chiropractic care). Obviously I've had a lot done and it's yielded very little results and I'm definitely NOWHERE close to where I want to be. Still have pain, burning, tightness in the right shoulder (although not as much as before) and since beginning therapy, the pain and tightness is now on the left side as well. Traction seems to help somewhat but within a couple of hours I'm right back to square one.
Anyway I'm giving the low down to the health nurse and she asked me if anyone has recommended I see a neurosurgeon to me and I told her no. She says I really should make an appointment to see one as the things I've done have not helped. At my last visit with the orthopedic doctor I was told I carry tension all in my shoulders and neck. PT says the exact same thing and that I just need to focus on relaxing the muscles. She, the therapist, also believes (as does the chiropractor I saw 3 times) it's part of the c-7 herniation. I have a hard time with the 'just relax' advice because I've had this for two years already.
I see my orthopedic doc November 3rd and I don't know what's next for me. Should I wait take the wait and see approach for her recommendation or do I take this health nurse's advice and make an appointment? And what will a neurosurgeon do for chronic tight muscles and scar tissue (that's what causes the clavicle burning and catching), if anything? I just don't know what warrants a trip to a neurosurgeon. The orthopedic doc says my herniated discs are mild and to me that says I'm probably overthinking the suggestion from the insurance health nurse. But on the otherhand I feel like this whole year has just been a huge waste with all of the conservative treatments I've been through. Somewhere in this rambling of a thread I'm sure I've answered my own question but I can't see it. lol Thanks for reading if you've made it this far and I appreciate any advice or suggestions. :)


  • If your insurance will cover it, I don't see any reason to not go to the NS. I am not sure that a neurosurgeon can offer any more help than you have already been getting from your other doctors, but its worth a shot.

    I was actually pretty pleased with my NS appt. My PCP insisted on surgery, and didn't want to listen when I told him that the neurologist said it wasn't needed. After going to the NS, he agreed that its not the right time for surgery. I was relieved, and glad to have his opinion to give to my PCP.

    Don't know if any of that made sense, just my thoughts :D

    Good Luck
  • I always think that it's better to explore all your options if possible. In many cases MRI's do not always show everything...and any neurosurgeon or neurologist will tell you that. I agree with Amanda, if your insurance will pay for it, why not give it a go?

    Don't worry about the "rambling", as you put it. It's hard to make decisions about these things and all of us have been helped by just putting it out here to air, No more apologizing, okay?

    Keep us informed!

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  • Is your ortho doctor a spine doctor also are just an ortho doctor? 1 year to the date of my surgery I was seen by a neurosurgeon who told me that PT would take care of my problem. I ended up seeing an ortho spine doctor and my neck was a train wreck. When I read my MRI report it blew my mind, I had almost no C6 left at all and it was in almost the same shape the previous year that I seen the neurosurgeon. Some doctors like to use PT and I am not saying it doesn't help but it is used a lot when it doesn't. Just my thoughts and wish I had the surgery sooner and maybe so much nerve damage would not have occured.

  • Hi Angela. I'm concerned that the PT hasn't helped you and you know you have a herniated disk. This is what happened to me. Last March, I started getting a strange tingling, then coldness and pain in both of my arms. It seemed to happen daily, but I didn't go to the doctor because I didn't quite know how to explain it. So I suffered through. Then, about a month later I started getting some major pain in my mid and left back and they got so bad that I went to my doctor. She scheduled an x-ray of my neck, and she told me the results shows some problems with a few disks in my neck that were causing muscle spasms in my back. The doc recommended PT and said it helps about 85% of patients with my particular problem. I went through four weeks of PT with traction. It helped for a while and the PT said he couldn't help any more so I did exercises and traction at home. It helped for while as long as I continued the regimen every three days without fail. After another month, it wasn't helping at all so my PCP decided it was time for an MRI. Keep in mind, I didn't have so much pain that I couldn't function, just enough to be quite annoying and the beginning of tingling down my entire right arm and into my fingers,

    So I went to get my MRI, and the MRI tech asked me if I'd seen a specialist and I said no (red flag). He sent the MRI to my doc and she called me and told me that she couldn't believe how bad three of my disks were and to call a NS asap. I made an appointment for the next week and he told me that I have three herniated disks C4-7 with mass effect on the nerve roots on all three levels and bone spurs that are impinging on my spinal cord. He said it wasn't a matter of IF I had surgery but WHEN. Needless to say, I scheduled surgery for a month later (which is next Tuesday).

    I find it interesting that for the last month, while waiting for my surgery, things have steadily started to decline, such as more intense muscle spasms, neck pain, weakness in my left arm, and clumsiness. Just yesterday, numbness on the tips of my left hand just started.

    I guess the moral of this story (sorry for rambling), is that it is ALWAYS best to get the entire story about what's going on with your spine. If the NS says, no surgery isn't needed, then you can (hopefully) feel better mentally, but if the NS says you do, then you know what road you need to take. If I had waiting much longer, I might have permanent weakness and numbness. I might still, but it won't be as bad as if I'd waited.

    That's my 2¢, for what it's worth. 8>
  • terrific and I'm really taking the advice to heart . I've never personally seen the report on my cervical MRI, I've just gone by what's been said to me by the orthopedic doctor. I've been told there were 5 problem areas, 3 of which are mild herniated discs. According to her and from the printout of one of the images c-7 is the worst of the 'mild' ones. My PT told me just a couple of weeks ago that many, many times the MRI, while it gives an idea of what's going on with discs, doesn't always show just how bad a herniation can be. she told me she's heard many stories where surgeons get into a persons neck or back and find out the discs were much larger than the MRI showed and said she thinks this may very well be the case with me. Last week she kind of scared me by saying that I'm showing some signs of thorasic outlet syndrome as well.
    Sharon-she is a general orthopedic doctor and maybe that's my mistake after I ditched my first orthopedic doctor. But I never would have thought these problems with my shoulder were related to my neck until I had the MRI.
    Cath-my PT is trying to get approval for me to use a traction device here at home. If you don't mind my asking, how many minutes did you use it each time and how many times per day did you use it? These spasms and cramped muscles are killing me no matter how much relaxed I think I am.
    Again, thanks so much for the advice. I really do appreciate it!! :)))
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  • Angela, you can ask me anything you want! No problems! >:D<

    I did home traction about every other day, but my PT said to use it as often as I wanted to to feel better (twice a day, once a day, once a week, whatever). I used it about 20-30 min at a time. Oddly, it made me feel dizzy when I used it, though, so I didn't use it very often. But, like your PT traction, it helped right after I used it, but the relief didn't last very long. :W

    Are you taking any muscle relaxants?
  • they don't help with the musle tightness or spasms but they make me just really not care about what's going on in there. :))( After my husband comes home from work I'll definitely be taking a couple this afternoon. It's a rough morning on both sides with the shoulder making it's lovely clunking sound everytime it moves.
    I've not had any issues with dizziness from the traction but before we started using that they had me try the stim unit. The first time I ever used it omg! I couldn't even stand up afterward I was sooo dizzy. It took about 10 minutes before it went away.
    I just noticed your signature and it looks as though you've got something important coming up! I certainly wish you the best and hope you find relief with it. >:D<
  • My pcp found my neck problems, I suffered for 2 years with arm pain and the pcp I had during that time told me it was stress, never did an xray or any testing. I changed pcp's and went from there. My left shoulder is having problems now and I do have a tear but some of the symptoms are neck related.....I am fused, or told that I am fused...I don't know what could be going on now. This Wed I find out. I don't want to scare you but problems in the neck tend to go downhill fast.
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