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When does a pinched nerve in neck become permanent?

elleell Posts: 33
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:29 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi there :H I have been living with a pinched nerve in my neck now for close to a year. It causes numbness down to the thumb and through my dominant right arm. I am going for a surgery consult at the end of the month. I really want this nerve issue resolved. So, the big question when does a pinched nerve in the neck become permanent...please share your own experiences I would love to hear. With much thanks ell :S


  • I'm not sure on that. I have been told I have permanent nerve damage at the C-6 level of my cervical spine. I am having surgery on April 8th to relieve the pressure on that nerve. However, my doctors let me know not to expect my pain levels to change after surgery due to the permanent damage.

    My surgery is being done to prevent further damage.

  • It sounds like you have tried all other avenues. ONLY in my opinion, you should have taken a more active approach at the 6 month level. At least that is what my neuro-surgeon told me. With the degeneration going on in your neck, this is not going to resolve without surgery, the sooner the better. And it could take a year or longer for the nerve issues to resolve. I hope you are seeing someone soon. All the above is only my opinion and from experience. NOT a dr, just a pt. Good luck, and please let us know what second opinion says.

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  • I had nerve problems for six years before my surgery.I was on very strong nerve pain meds. that barely covered the pain.When i was told that they would operate it was made very clear that it would help somethings but may not help my pain. BUT it did . When i woke up from the surgery my hip and leg pain was gone and slowly after the first three months all my pain slowly went away.I do have some spinal cord injury and still have some other problems but the pain that i had before the operation is no longer. You never know with nerves!!!!!
  • Hi there!!

    I just joined this site, and saw your post. Sounds like you and I have a lot of the same problems... I have experienced pain/numbness/tingling all throughout my right shoulder and arm, down to my thumb. I have DDD in my C4/5/6 discs, narrowing of the spinal canal, and protruding disc, possible herniation at the C5/C6 level. After 1 1/2 years of undergoing pt, which did help immensely, until a coughing fit at the end of Jan thanks to bronchitis, the symptoms came back with a vengeance. I was able to see a neurosurgeon quite quickly, I had already consulted with an ortho, who also suggested surgery) and after reviewing my MRI taken at the beginning of Dec, figured that the disc actually herniated. He suggested an anterior foraminotomy, developed by Dr Jho, whom he studied under. After much research on all procedures, and not having had any relief from any conservative care (even percocet, naproxen, voltaren or any other NSAID/painkiller has provided any relief), I decided to go ahead with this procedure, and am hoping that I will be able to have it done in the next couple of weeks. I have been off work since the beginning of Feb, as to sit/stand/walk is extremely painful...
    I wish you luck in your endeavours, be well!!!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Thank you for sharing...I know I am not alone here. I appreciate you input, and I know that if the surgeon offers me surgery , I will be, and I am terrified towards it. I want this to get better than it is....and the nerve needs to be released....that is my opinion- let see next week what the Neursurgeon says. :P
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  • I'm on my 4th re-injury of my neck; C6-7 bulging disc and foraminal stenosis (or something like that - basically a narrowing of the little hole that the nerve pokes through) at C5-6. I sympathize with you. It completely sucks. A strange combination of numbness in my fingers and intense pain down my left arm if I try to look up. The pain in my arm and shoulder feels like I would imagine a blot clot feeling (luckily I've never had one). The first time I injured my neck (1999) I did not even go to the doctor for about 6 months. I kept thinking it would just work its way out. I finally went and endured lots of PT (most of which was useless). What finally helped me immensely was massage therapy. Unfortunately, I did not try it until month 10. It took about 13 months in total to heal - but it did heal, my strength returned and I felt fine - except for some residual numbness in two fingers - which has persisted ever since - but I'm not really bothered by it. It may have healed faster, but I kept lifting weights, just not as heavy. Probably not a smart move. I'm a die-hard weightlifter/bodybuilder and and mountain bike rider. It took me about 2- years of heavy shoulder and bench presses to screw it up - again. I've repeated this injury now multiple times since '99, and the heal time has generally been between 6 and 13 months. Fast forward to 3/20/09 and oops, I did it again. Unfortunately, this time it seems worse. I have lost total strength in my left arm/shoulder/peck. Even pushups are a challenge. I'm getting another MRI on Friday. Part of me hopes it is bad enough this time to warrant surgery. I have read about some new minimally invasive procedures (laminotomy - or something like that) for widening the foraminal canals/holes - or whatever they're called. Maybe with surgery I'll get more than 2 years without another injury. Anyway, if you have not tried massage therapy, you should, it worked for me. I hear acupuncture is decent too, but I've never tried it. GOOD LUCK:) .
  • Like others have said, it's really hard to say whether or not a pinched nerve (or rather the pain from it) will be permament. Is the pain/numbness you are experiencing severe, or is it tolerable? My guess (or rather hope) is that if it's only mild pain, the nerve is not being impinged too much. But I don't think that's really an accurate barometer for the severity of the injury.

    If you haven't had an MRI, you need to do so immediately so your doc can assess what's going on.

    Best of luck to you.
  • I lived with the pain of a pinched nerve in my shoulder and a sliped disc for about two years before having my surgery in January,09.The pain was unbearble.Sleepless nights etc.etc.I finally could no longer handle the pain and nothing else seemed to work.My Dr.told me that the pain in my neck would most likely not go away,but it would help the pain in my shoulder.Since that was the worst of my pain,I decied to go ahead with it.Now I can say I'm happy that I did.The pain in my neck is not as bad as before and the pain in my shoulder is much better.For a while there was no pain at all,but now the weather makes it hurt cold weather that is.Over all I'm very pleased.
  • I'm two months out of surgery and one nerve was crushed and the other was pinched. OMG doc said permanent nerve damage and Neurosurgeon is sure it will return. I guess time will tell. I did have a stressful recovery but I'm getting there.

    Good Luck

  • I too have been told I have permanent nerve damage. I was hurt on the job in late 2006 and did not get to have surgery until June 2009. My disc was ruptured and had been ever since 2006. I have been told I will have permanent restrictions and will never be able to return to my previous job or any job of its kind. I am no where near retirement age and really don't want to apply for SSD, but what choice do I have? Totally bummed out. X( ACDF @ C5 and C6 with hardwear (plate and 4 pins)
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