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Nerve pain test options? Or ? Still not properly diagnosed

QuiltinouslyQQuiltinously Posts: 152
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:36 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi All,

My pain journey just keeps on going. It's taken over my life as I'm sure it has for many of you.

What is wrong with me or I should say my body? I am very frustrated because after having had two ACDF C5-6 surgeries and no relief, I have been told that I should be better. My surgeon tells me that he cleaned out the nerve root and can see no reason for continued pain - pain that is much the same as before the surgeries if not worse.

I am grasping at straws as to what I should do next. The pain I experience starts near the base of my skull down the back side of my neck where it hangs out on top of my shoulder before zipping on down into my hand & fingers - all on the right side (and I'm right handed of course.)

Should I ask for yet another EMG? Or is there another test or procedure I should try? I feel like the diagnosis of DDD and the previously herniatied C5-6 cannot possibly be all that is wrong with me for the amount of daily pain I am in.

Any thoughts? I do not know if it is relevant, but it hurts to stand for more than ten minutes and that pain seems to come from my entire spine & especially the tail bone area and down the back of my legs.

Thank you,


  • What do your docs say when you tell them about your pain? THe leg pains sound like you have trouble lower. My understanding is that the lumbar disc cause pain in the legs. Have you had tests in this area?

    If your docs are avoiding you it might be that they are afraid they did surgery that wasn't needed. Often one pain can come from many different areas. I had rotator cuff surgery because all the symptoms/tests said to do it. Doc told me outright after the surgery that there wasn't that much to do in there. And guess what - I still have the pain.

    If this is the case it is probably time to go to a new doc.
  • I usually only comment upon lumbar issues as that is where my experience is, but I your post caught my eye. I have a similar situation after having a lumbar fusion and another procedure to open up a couple foramen to make more room for the spinal nerve to pass through. I too have as much nerve pain as prior to my first surgery, and I keep searching for answers.

    Unfortunately, sometimes the nerve itself becomes the issue, and source of pain. Sometimes there is nothing more that can be done surgically but the patient is still in pain. There is nothing more mechanically that can be done. Sometimes it is a matter of scar tissue that has formed around the nerve and is now pressing against it causing compression. Or the nerve itself can become scarred. In this case, the nerve continues to send off pain signals to the brain because it is not making an appropriate connection, and therefore, is malfunctioning.

    You could have another EMG but it will only show the extent to which the nerve is functioning, or not. It is a snapshot in time. It will not really show what is causing the nerve problem...whether it is scarred, etc.

    Usually when you have pain when standing or walking, it is a sign of stenosis. Does it help to lean forward, like when pushing a shopping cart? This can be a lumbar issue, but there are also some cervical discs that can cause leg pain. Oh, I just noticed you have had a lumbar disc herniation...that could certainly be causing the pain in your legs.

    Perhaps having another pair of eyes looking at your case may be beneficial at this point. If your surgeon was a neurosurgeon, you might want to try an orthopedic spinal specialist for another opinion, or vice versa.

    I understand your frustration and hope you have better luck than I at getting to the bottom of it!!

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  • Sorry to hear surgery didn't take away your pain. It very well could happen, that they have fixed the mechanical issues and now it is just a matter of time. Do you still have your hardware in place? Although it is not common in the cervical spine but you could have a hardware issue as well. If you are fused solidly the hardware is serving no purpose and longer. Just a thought. As the other posted suggested seeking a fresh set of eyes at this point and time may be beneficial. Here is a link that may also help as well. Sometimes the muscles still have problems as the nerve serves the muscle groups and they by in large can't keep up, if the nerve is still healing. Another emg would say if there is any other issues going on or may just show that the nerve is damaged. I assume you had a emg prior to surgery, to use as a base line. I guess the question is after surgery did your pain ever change? Like did it get better at first then get worse again? I have seen some who have had a EPI following surgery to get past the hump and it worked quit well. Another test could be a selective nerve root block to see if isolating the nerve gives any relief at all. Keep us posted, I do hope they find the source of the continued discomfort you are experiencing.

  • I saw this abstract on website for radiologist:

    "The L5 nerve sign is shown to be easily and quickly evaluated on conventional MRI that includes axial images through S1. Our findings indicated that there is a strong correlation with L5 nerve root T2 hyperintensity, enlargement, and fascicular distortion to symptomatology. We believe that this sign is the result of chronic, severe, or repetitive L5 impingement. The presence of the L5 nerve root sign implies permanent intrinsic pathology and may predict symptoms that will be resistant to treatment."

    Looks like some of the damage to nerves is permanent but can't seem to find out more about this. The radiologist I talked to did not know anything about this. It may be something new.

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