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Anyone else have this w/ c5?

maccupiccu9mmaccupiccu9 Posts: 9
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi I'm going through physical therapy now (going on 12 weeks). The spine surgeon felt that since originally my pain was hypersensitive to the touch and it was just on top of the spine, then it was purely a muscle/posture issue so no MRI/Xray was done.

However, after 12 weeks of physical therapy, there are some days where not only can't you touch me right on top of the spine of C5 but if you try to mainuplate it on the side, near the joint, forget it. It feels exactly like an epidural needle going inbetween the vertabre.

She's been massaging/Grastoning the muscles on my shoulder blades. Most days the knots are horrible on the right side, now really bad on left. I've had horrible rotator cuff pain that seems to be ok now (it was a grinding pain). Now I have a "ripping" of muscles between the shoulder blades where I can barely pick up groceries bags without that "ripping" feeling. We're not talking heavy bags either. By night, I can't even turn my head to look if someone is passing me while driving; the ripping feeling comes back. By the time I go to bed, I feel so inflammed/burning on the C5, I can't take it. I'm currently trying a Flector patch daily for 14 days because the therapist thinks I"m so inflammed at the joint that an antiflammatory will help.

I never had an injury so I don't know what happened. I was pregnant in 2008 so they're guessing that started all of this.

Anyone else have this? Never had arm, hand, wrist, numbness, etc. Should I get an MRI?


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. I'm glad you found us but sorry you're going through cervical issues. You'll find a lot of information throughout this site, with some great articles and videos and the forums are very helpful in many ways as well.

    After twelve weeks of PT, what is the surgeon saying? It's usually up to the referring surgeon to assess what's happening during the PT, if it's helping, and if an MRI is needed to further assess the ongoing issues.

    I'm interested that you are mentioning your C/5 when you've had no x-ray or MRI - is that coming from your PT? You also say that if they try to manipulate your neck it feels exactly like an epidural needle going in - have you had an ESI?

    Nobody here is qualified to tell you whether you should request an MRI or diagnose what's happening in your particular situation. I have to say that what you've explained is unique and therefore a bit more complicated for us to give suggestions. I understand why they might say that your pain is muscular/posture related since you have no radiculopathic pain in your arms or hands.

    As for the "ripping" sensation in your back, is it possible that those are muscle spasms? Have you tried muscle relaxers?

    Overall, it sounds like you're getting no relief from the PT and it might be time to talk to your surgeon and see where he thinks you need to go from here. There are a lot of conservative measures that can be tried and maybe there's something more out there that they can do to try and relieve the pain.

    As for where this all started, well, so many of us have no idea where these things came from. For me, it's been decided by everyone involved that my issues began almost 30 years ago when I had a bad car accident and only started feeling the effects so many years later as my spine started collapsing from some initial injury I never felt at the time of the accident.

    So, again, welcome to Spine-Health. I'm sorry I can't help you more, but it's probably time to start being your own advocate and finding other avenues to explore to find a solution to your pain.

    Good luck, take care of yourself and keep us posted.
  • They're guessing pregnancy and the hormones relaxing muscles caused this because that's when my posture tanked. I don't know but today I can't even move. Any direction that involves the movement of those muscles between the shoulder blades is a level 8-10 on the pain scale. It's a stiff/ripping pain. I'm even wondering if gallstones are to blame.

    The spine surgeon is the one who said 12 weeks of therapy and no return visit. She felt that the description of pain was all musclular, not herniated, etc. But in PT, when she moves the C5 to the right or left, she its a particular spot and it's a shooting pain.

    I've had no tests beyond Xrays to my lower spine for suspected broken tailbone during birth (it was found out that it was all pelvic floor muscle damage and I'm 100% better after therapy for that).

    I don't know but this is getting frustrating, depressing, and just not getting better. I'm not a fan of temporary pain meds, etc. For muscle relaxors, the opinion of the PT was that since it's systemically and temporary it's going to do no good except make me useless for a day.

    The only thing that was recommended was physical therapy and use a Flector patch for 14 days. Well I'm on day 3 of the Flector patch and for the first 2 days, the inflammation feeling felt better (for 8 hours; by the end of the night I was in a lot of pain). Now on the 3rd day, I can't even move. I don't know what's going on.

    I'm 38, no history of trauma. I don't know how people can deal with this chronic pain.

    Thanks for replying. I understand no one is a doc here and no medical advice can be given. But I just need to hear shared experiences.
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  • I'm thinking it might be time for another opinion. Sounds like your doctors are stuck on this one thing that may or may not be the problem, but even if it is the problem, they're not fixing anything. There's something wrong when you go through 12 weeks of treatment and there's no improvement.

    I'd suggest getting a few more opinions, hopefully at least one from a fellowship-trained spine surgeon, ortho or neuro, but someone who only works on spines. I also don't understand why after all this time someone doesn't suggest an MRI if for nothing else but to rule out some things. In our situtations ruling something out can be as important as ruling something in.

    Of course, this is just my opinion.


    PS As to the muscle relaxer - sounds like you could use a day where you're rendered useless. Wouldn't that be nice to just be able to lay there like a bowl of jello and feel nothing for a while?
  • 100% agreed. Haven't had a break since the day I gave birth to our son back in 08. :)

    Agree on the MRI. I wanted an upper back xray or something originally. Doc said no need. Assumed muscular. At the very least I think it can't hurt to, like you said, rule it out. Then go from there with necessary 2nd opinions. Right now they are feeling that pregnancy + desk sitting + large chest = this pain. I'm not so sure. It is extremely painful all of a sudden so I think something more is going on.

    PT thinks possibly degernative disc, inflammation at joint, a joint issue, or herniation. Your'e right, 12 weeks + is a long time for no improvement and we have been trying everything.

    I'll keep you posted on results of MRI.
  • Great to hear that you're going to start taking some steps to see what the heck is going on.

    Probably a cervical MRI is where you should begin due to the C5 area issue. I know from experience that cervical problems can cause seriously painful muscle spasms in your mid back.

    And yes, please do keep us posted on when you're MRI is scheduled and the results. Normally, you should be able to get results in a couple of days. When you get your MRI, tell them when you're done that you'd like to pick up a copy of it, both the CD/films and the report for your personal file, and ask them when they'll be ready for you. It's always good to keep a copy for yourself. So, if you also need one to take to your doctor, ask for two copies, one for the doc and one for you.

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  • Ok laugh, when I got the MRI disc I looked at it myself (prior to diagnosis because I find it fascinating) and I swear I thought they were going to say I had a tumor or something. I saw this huge lump on my back that was very pronounced.

    Results said degenerative disc disease on c4/5 and c6/7 with bone spurs and an annular tear on 6/7. My PT said it looked like damage/issues were on the more difficult side of things--more interior inbetween the joint than what she usually sees, whcih is on the outside of things.

    Doc called. She said on paper, while scary sounding, none of this is a big deal. Kind of surprising since I'm in an incredible amoutn of localized pain, swelling, and some days can't even turn my neck without scapular "ripping muscle" pain. She said that are muscle spasms. Inflammation is pretty big but nothing is a big deal to warrant surgery (not that I wanted surgery). She put me on medcor/corticosteroid for 6 days.

    Holy cow, not reacting well to the steroids--dry mouth, nausea, urinating ever 2 seconds, but the euphoric/out of it unbalanced feeling is ugh.

    But I will say after 2 days, the pain isn't all day and getting worse. I'm nearly pain free after 2 days until the evening where the usual severe, localized pain is.

    The 2nd opinion surgeon called saying he can see me but not sure what to do. I don't want surgery but curious his opinion. Just don't want to waste our time.
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