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C3,4,5, and 6 Bulging Discs/Whiplash

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,550
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:29 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical

I'm at a loss for explanation of what is happening with my neck. I've read a lot of posts of people with similar problems and I'm trying to determine the best method to fix my current pain issues.
I'm a healthy 30 year old former triple sport athlete with no history of neck pain. I was in a minor rear end car accident 8 months ago and suffered a concussion and whiplash. I still suffer from daily pain in my neck- it's even painful to the touch. From my neck, there is radiating pain in my head- causing medium to severe headaches almost daily. I have random stabbing pain throughout my back as well. I've seen a chiropractor (4 months), a PT (3 months) and nothing seems to be working. I had an MRI of my neck and found that I have bulging discs at C3 - C6, as well as one in my lumber region (forgot which one). I've been told by the neurologist that this is nomal and that it probably isn't causing my pain.
Does anyone have any ideas or simiar experiences they would share with me? I'm at a loss and am starting to wonder if this will ever go away!


  • Hi!

    The MRI isn't the be all/end all test and a lot of doctors think it is. I had 3 of them before having a myelogram and discogram (this was for my lumbar) that finally showed I had a grade 3 annular tear and a big chunk of disc was missing which allowed my vertebras to rock around and bang into my nerves and spinal cord causing movement pain.

    Since you have tried several conservative approaches and none have worked, maybe you should consider seeing a neuro surgeron or an ortho surgeron. Most of the neurologist that I've seen seem to be on another planet and keep prescribing nerve pain drugs and never really addressed my pain like I thought it should be. Also, just because you see a surgeon doesn't mean that you are automatically going to have surgery, so don't let that scare you...it's just that these guys have seen people, operated on, and done more with the nerves/physical pain aspects...this is my own opinion of course.

    8 months of neck pain should have resolved itself by now with all the therapy you've done. Also, bulging discs in the neck area are more symptomatic than lumbar bulges since the cord is closer and is "fatter" at that level.

    See another doctor and get more opinions...seems this isn't going away and you may have nerve issues going on that aren't seen on the MRI. There are radiologists that miss things and they don't get on the report...the neurologist just reads the report and doesn't look at the films himself and you don't get the care that you should have.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. I think that perhaps a second opinion may be in order, maybe a OS that deals with the spine or a NS instead of a neurologist. Hope that you find the answers you need.

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  • A more conservative approach would be to consult with a pain management doc. Most PM docs understand whiplash pain issues when surgeons and neurologists do not.

    Welcome to Spine Health.

  • Thank you for your response. I'm sorry to hear that you went through so much. I hope it gets better soon. I'm sorry to say this but it sounds like you're in pretty rough shape. Are the Doctors doing anything for your neck?

    I've gotten so used to the Doc's word being final and I'm tired of being so bent out of shape from a minor accident. It's weird- my family Doc keeps prescribing pills, I basically live on Lyrica and Vicodan. The PT keeps telling me it will just take time (when I don't seem to be getting better at all), the Neurologist seems less concerned with my neck and focuses on the Migraines I've had for over 10 years. He said that significant bulges in these areas are perfectly normal for a 30 year old and they shouldn't be causing any pain. Yet here I am. I can't lift my children, grocery shop alone, and I swear I'm a hazard on the road because I've gotten in the habit of "cheating" when I'm driving and not really turning my neck to look behind me.

    I'm very doom and gloom tonight. Sorry- I think you caught me at a bad time!

    Well thanks again for the response, I will consider talking to a Surgeon. I think this is a really smart aproach. Currently, plan D involves cortizone shots. I think I will give this a try and line the surgeon up as a plan E.

    Take care and best of luck,

  • I appreciate the replies and I'm noticing a theme with the profile pics. Very cute *_*

    I really feel fortunate to have received relatively minor injuries. I've read some of your summaries and I really feel for you all!

    It helps to hear other opinions from people who've been through somewhat similar situations, although I think mine is very minor comparitively! I will keep my head up (as much as I'm able to *_*) and keep you posted.

    Thanks again!

    p.s. Does anyone think the cortizone shots are worth a try?
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  • Hello and thank you for the advice. What exactly does a PM do? I don't have any personal experience with that field.


  • I am an official member of the "been there done that" club. I got ran off the road by a semi and into a rock wall. Then my car did a couple of flips and landed on it's side. I ended up with a disc herniation that was basically poking my spine and causing me some serious neurological issues. Like I couldn't feel things that I was holding in my hand and was walking sideways and feeling like I was falling out of chairs. I had ACDF at C5/C6. That means that the doctor removes the disc between the vertebrae fills it with either donor bone or your own bone and then puts a plate and screws in the front of it to hold it all together until it becomes one solid bone. But I've done a LOT of homework on Whiplash since my accident and it can take up to 2 years for the pain to reside completely. Pain Mgmt can mean a few things. Some can recommend treatments like injections to numb any nerves in your neck that they think may be causing you problems. They can prescribe meds to help with the pain or they could have you in a Physical Therapy program to help you work out the kinks in your neck or they can do a combination of any of these depending on your symptoms and how you respond. I feel for you whiplash HURTS! No doubt about it.
  • You think your accident was minor, but yet, you say you can't turn your head or lift your children. That's not minor. Minor is that you're a little sore from an accident, but it goes away after PT. Those steriod shots in the neck are more painful than the lumbar ones. If you do try them, hopefully they will give you something to keep the pain down. My stepfather had them in the neck and was out of it pretty much for the day he had them. They gave him a strong pain killer which got him into the car, but he slept the rest of the day. The shot should take down inflammation and swelling which will help in the short run. If you still have some nerve involvement, the shot will be short-lived and you will go back to hurting after a couple of weeks. Sure, it's worth a try, but don't get settled into having shots every month or 4 times a year to survive. Steriods are not good for your total body in the long run, but do help shortly.

    Only you know how bad this is hurting you and causing changes in your life...like driving and kids. I was seeing a PM for my low back and he was continuing the ESI shots on me, until I said "no more" that I was tired of shots and the hassle and wanted to go see what else could be done. There were people there that had been coming to him for years getting shots every so often to survive. That's not for me! But everyone has to make their own decisions based on what they can stand pain-wise, money-wise, time-wise, etc.

    Good luck and I hope you get some relief. Neck pain to me has been more mentally exhausting than my low-back was. I guess tension, stress, and all that makes it much worse because of where it's at.

  • Hi Teener,

    I can really identify with all the problems your having.I was in an accident( 6 cars on the freeway) on 12/2007 and since then have had neck/right shoulder pain that includes severe headaches on the right side of my head,throbbing/stabbing pain in neck and right shoulder, trouble sleeping,lifting things, turning my neck when driving and just over problems with every day chores.I went to physical therapy for 8 months and it did not improve the pain overall.

    I had a Cervical MRI in 08/2008 and the results were CENTRAL DISC PROTRUSION AT C4-5 FLATTENS THE VENTRAL ASPECT OF THE CORD.DISC BULGE AT C6-7 WITHOUT SPINAL STENOSIS.The specialist decided that it wasn't my disc causing all the pain but my Cervical Facet Joints.So far I have had cervical facet injections,Epidural Injections,Trigger Point injections,and a Cervical facet Rhizotomy which did not improve my pain but left me wwith severe nerve pain and sensitivity in my neck and upper back.I live on Vicodin/Flexeril/Lyrica also.I am so frustrated and don't know what to do next.I have seen 3 different pain specialist and none of these procedures have helped.Right now I am trying to find a doctor to go to that will help.
    Let me know what happens with you Teener, I really feel for you as I'm in the same boat as you.

  • I'm sorry to hear about your situation- it's not a fun one (and I know!). It's just o.k. enough to give the appearance of normal but severe enough to leave you thinking about it all the time. I almost feel like I need to keep reminding my family of my pain so they don't think I'm being lazy.
    Does any of this sound familiar???

    I really hope you find a solution- if you do, please share!!

    Take care,

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