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jakatakjjakatak Posts: 7
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
At 61, I finally have developed constant neck pain. My MRI shows spurring at C5/C6 and a moderate bulge of the disc.

If I don't do anything active, the pain is local to the base of my neck and slight numbness in my thumb, index and middle finger.

If I crank my head to far to the left, or look up....I get a sharp pain

I did the 10lb weight restriction for 6 weeks....cheating a couple times, cutting the grass. I have iced regularly and used a Saunders neck traction unit.

Physical therapy is/was a joke. I can do McKenzie neck exercises with my own book. But, if the bulging disc wants to heal by trying to push it back...the arthritis aggravates with the pinching of that movement. Stretch neck to the right to relieve the bone spur pain...and make the bulge worse. Stretch to the left to facilitate the bulge returning to stasis, and the spurring is worse.

What the heck! I hate this. I hear the horror stories of surgery and I just don't see any light at the end of the tunnel.

Is this just the futility of aging? I already have a bad back from running so many years.

Any ideas would be appreciated.



  • Hi jack,
    I'm not a doctor nor do i play one on TV. You sound like a candidate for surgery to have the disk removed. Try not to put it off too long. Get an MRI, get an experienced Neurosurgeon. Get physical therapy after the surgery and then get on with your life.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You can find a lot of articles and videos that partain to your particular situation throughout the site. And the forums have so many knowledgeable, caring and supportive members, I think you'll find a nice place here.

    What has your doctor said about what they want to do with regards to your situation? Have they suggested surgery? What kind of doc are you seeing?

    If you are indeed facing surgery, don't be intimidated by what you read in these forums. So many members with successful surgeries leave the forums once they feel good and get back to their lives. They not longer post because they don't need the support that's offered here any more. Some members stay to help other like yourself though, so you can still get most of the information your seeking on Spine-Health.

    Please let us know what kind of doc you're seeing and what they're suggesting. We might be able to help you more if we have more information.

    Take care,
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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,435
    here for having surgery and getting it done sooner.

    This is a topic that only you and your doctor can discussed and figure out the best action plan.

    While there are similarities with various spinal conditions, each person is unique. Therefore, it is so important that you work it out with your doctor and family.

    Having surgery is a very personal action, something that you always need to way the pros/cons. People here can not give you those answers. We may suggest some things to look at.

    Look at our FAQ under the medical section. There is an item about 38 things that you should discuss with your doctor prior to surgery. Those items are written by doctors and approved by this site.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Welcome to Spine Health. Although age seems to factor into just about every aspect of our health, we don't have to settle for "it's just that A.G.E. disease". We are all of us eligible for and allowed to have some sort of decent quality of life no matter what stage of our lives we are in. Having a good relationship with your doc is crucial to achieving this.

    Conservative treatments and surgical intervention both have their respective places. Getting your doc to work with you to find a solution and to find what is in your best interest goes a long way towards a successful outcome.

    What kind of testing have you been through other than an MRI? Have you even seen anyone other than your primary care physician and PT? How long has this all been going on? Unfortunately when it comes to this sort of stuff, nothing seems to happen very quickly, other than the pain.

    Like Cathie said, there's a lot of great information on this site. Many fantastic articles and videos. The personal stories are great too, however keep in mind that most people land on this site, during a period of time when they are hurting or frustrated with their own physicians.

    Best wishes

  • If surgery is suggested for you, I just want to share with you that my surgery was very successful. There are days now when I forget I had it done. I only notice a slight loss of range of motion and have to be careful bending my head forward for too long. Best of luck to you.

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  • I went golfing last night with my wife on an executive par 3 course. My neck paid the price...as usual. Next morning my neck was sore....the shoulder was sore....I popped a couple Aleve...iced the neck....and went out and cut the grass. It is what it is....the aging process. It isn't fun...but, what do I do? I have a very expensive device that stretches the neck...Saunders Neck traction machine...it feels good...but, it doesn't last. Stretching the neck to the right feels good...but any movement to the left pinches....do to the bone spurs. My neurosurgeon gave me the 10 pound weight restriction for 6 weeks...PT...and to see her after that period of time. Well....PT is a copay joke. I know what stretches to do...I have the McKensie book on neck pain. Oh brother....my thumb is partially numb...I know that the nerve is being pinched....I also know that it will just get worse as I age....I don't see any cure for this....other than chopping out the bone spurs.....not now. I will stay with the ice, Aleve...and just living with the pain....I hate it. I just retired Friday...and this isn't what I wanted in my golden years.
  • Sometimes we plan for all the great things and we get things that are not so great at all. Living with pain is no joke and few people understand what it is like to do everything in relation to how much pain you are in, or could be in. Living life like one long risk assessment is no fun. I understand exactly what you are going through. I had aCdF surgery five years ago and lived mostly pain free, but with a constant vigilance over what I could and could not do. Now, I'm in pain again and it sucks. I'm told by other members that 5 years between serious episodes of neck and shoulder pain is a good run. Well, sometime I just want to go to an amusement park and ride a rollercoaster. But I guess that is not going to happen..
  • I understand how you feel. When I first started having cervical problems, I also had to do six weeks of PT and had a traction machine at home - it felt so good while I was using it, but like you, the relief was short-lived. It eventually stopped helping altogether, as did the PT and I was eventually told by my PT that he could no longer help me. He'd done all he could and it was time to see a surgeon.

    I also golf and was golfing during this time also. My biggest worry was grounding the club, which I did on occasion - ouchy! That seemed to radiate through my arms and into my neck - not pleasant at all.

    So, six months after my cervical surgery, I was golfing again, but not much because my lumbar pain started four months after that surgery. So I was having a bit of a double whammy - recovering from a 3-lvl ACDF and having back, hip and leg pain to boot. So I golfed when I could while doing injections for the lower back and eventually, this last January, I had a 1-lvl TLIF (lumbar surgery).

    This time, I had PT afterwards and they taught me how to golf with the rods in my back and plate in my neck, and my swing is now totally different. I thought it was great that I was getting golf lessons for the cost of a copay and it payed off for me.

    Although I can't golf as much as I used to (nine holes is my limit and sometimes can't get through the entire nine), my swing is much changed, having learned how to turn my hips with my shoulders, lessening my back swing to accommodate my cervical hardware and lack of ROM but I can still hit the ball pretty good. Sometime I even want to keep playing even after we've finished our nine holes - imagine that - I'm only seven months out from lumbar surgery.

    I guess the whole point of this is that you CAN get back to the golf course when you have spine problems. It's a good, low-impact exercise that incorporates the spiney necessity (walking) but just have to watch your limitations and pay attention when your body says enough. Be sure to mention to your doctor when the PT stops helping (sometimes it'll be the PT that says "I can't do any more for you") and always tell your doctor if you have any new symptoms like numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms and any pain that arises that was not there before.

    Keep on with the PT and keep doing what your doctor says. Having spine problems is not a life sentence for most of us, and if you eventually have to have surgery it doesn't mean the end of life, it just means the beginning of a new life, just a different one that you can soon adjust to.

    Hang in there Jack and take care of yourself. If there's anything I can do to help you, don't hesitate to PM me at any time.

  • I appreciate the feedback. However, there does seem to be a common them with back/neck surgery. It seems that, eventually the problem returns...either higher or lower from the previous surgery. I remember a professional baseball player, who ended up with the most perfect posture...but, he also ended up with a back completely fused.

    I know that surgery isn't an option at this point. I have slight numbness in the tip of my thumb. The
    Aleve does get me through the day. It hurts locally all the time how....but, the radiating pain only occurs when I twist a certain way...or reach down, or move so that the bone spur pushes down on the nerve. Wear and tear is really crappy. There are those that don't have any of the spine/neck stuff I am feeling. Genetics and proper care of the body....Oh well.

    It would be nice if they could take a thin wire, like arthroscopic surgery, and just slid the thin wire into the neck (as a camera), and then accompany that wire with any one that has laser capabilities to blast the crud off the discs....how cool would THAT be?

    Hey....I may have an invention here!
  • I also would not consider surgery at this point if I were in your shoes. It's always, always best to go with all conservative measures before deciding to dive into fusion surgery. It's no secret that you are never the same after a fusion, and I wouldn't have had either of mine if it hadn't been an absolute necessity.

    I was amazed at how bad my cervical spine was and how little symptoms I had up until I found out just how bad it was. By the time my symptoms began and increased very rapidly, I already had so many problems that surgery was only a matter of when, not if.

    So I applaud you for taking the route that you're taking. Surgery should be a last resort and I'm glad you consider it as such.

    Just keep doing what you have to to stay away from the knife and enjoy your retirement as much as you can. You've got a great attitude.

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