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C5-C6 neck pain with occipital neuralgia and dizziness?

Lili_InuLLili_Inu Posts: 633
edited 05/13/2014 - 8:07 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical

I've been dealing with a moderately degeneration of C5 and C6, but since August, I developed a herniated disc after doing strengthening exercises with a PT. I ended up in the ER with numbness down the arm and pain on the back of the neck that made me feeling like I was going to pass out.

Ever since then, I would get better and then sudden get worse for no apparent reason. When I get worse, it's usually the occipital headaches that debilitate me. I will get tingling in the back of the head up to the crown accompanied with dizziness. When I get dizzy, I have difficulties eating because of the nausea. Recently, I've been dizzy everyday for the last 2 months. Some days or better and some are worse.

The pain in shoulder, neck and upper back is nothing compared to the dizziness! Last week, I had a CT scan done that revealed "a severe biforminal narrowing due to uncovertable hypertrophy" and they found posterior and anterior osteophytes between C5 and C6. Does anyone have similar symptoms of occipital headaches that make you dizzy from C5 and C6 nerve impingement?

2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches


  • Before my fusion of C5/6, I used to get severe occipital headaches. I never had dizziness associated with them.

    Have you seen a spine specialist yet?

    Best wishes,

  • Hi Marianne,

    Thank you for your reply! I'm quite sure that the dizziness is from my trapezius muscles. When I apply pressure on the part of the muscle between my shoulders and my neck, I feel pain radiating to the back of my head and the eye. I get temporary relief and then it slowly comes back. I know that I have nerve root impingement. The muscles around my neck, shoulders and upper back are always super tight and in pain throughout the day and sometimes I feel the muscle spasm when they start twitching.

    I have a couple of appointments with different neurosurgeons within the next 2 weeks. I can no longer deal with the dizziness. I feel surgery is my only option, since I've tried PT twice, acupuncture, chiropractor and had my first epidural last week with minimal relief.

    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
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  • Gosh, I've posted alot about my "new found dizzyness since having this acdf surgery" I'm glad I stumbled onto your post. I too have extremely tight muscles that start from the left side of my neck, across my shoulders/traps daily and this all started after my surgery. I can only hope that if you have to have surgery that all your symptoms will be gone!

    I personally think that I still have some nerve compression and this is causing my dizzyness. I'm going to see an Ear Nose and Throat specialist next week...my dizzyness, like yours has been going on for 2 months 15 days and counting! Please keep posting Lili I'll be watching for your post. My neuro has been of no help regarding my issue. Perhaps I can learn from your experience. thanks in advance
  • Hi cgm,

    I also have an appointment with an ENT in a couple of weeks. On February 1st, I'm meeting with the best neurosurgeon for the cervical spine at EDITED Hospital. Hopefully he will be able to provide some insight for both of us.

    Try massaging or pressing really hard on your traps between your shoulder and neck area. It might even be near your clavicle. Dig around that area. When you find this sensitive area, put pressure there. You should feel pain radiating up the side of the neck and behind your head. This is why I think the traps are involved. You might even notice that the dizziness goes away for a little while. Let me know if that works for you!

    I think you should meet with the doctor who did your surgery to discuss this new symptom you have. Good luck and keep me informed of any developments on your end!

    Standards agreement and posting rules.
    Naming specific institution or doctor names is not permitted in the Spine-Health.com forums.
    Edited by Authority Member Cath111.

    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    I also experienced severe occtipital headaches with severe dizziness. My dizziness would come out of no where. I was afraid to drive or go anywhere alone because when the dizziness would hit I couldnt even stand up. Since I have had my surgery it has all gone away.
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  • My headaches are here and there...not debilitating. I have never suffered from headache issues but I've noticed an increase. JlrFrye, lucky you...glad surgery fixed your issues! Thats awesome.

    My clavicle has a area that is painful when pressed and I can feel that the muscles are very tight thru that area as well.I'm constantly kneading my neck and shoulder muscles and I do not feel relief of dizzyness. Not sure when your ENT appt is, but my PCP told me to take mezinine sp?/motion sickness tables 25mgs 3 x a day so that I can rule out "vertigo". She did a balance test and eye test and saw no indication of vertigo nor any ear infection. By taking them and letting the ENT know, I can bypass this step. Apparently, they will ask you to take this to see if it helps. I just want it to stop. I will say, that I'm not near as off kilter like I was a month ago, but I still have it...and it's a constant. It's hard to explain the sensation. My head feels heavy and any upper torso movement makes me feel an off balance sensation.

    Keep the updates coming on what is going on Lili...I'm curious...I'll let you know too.
  • Hi Susan,

    Can you tell me which area of the cervical spine did you have surgery on? I'm so tired of this dizziness that it's impossible to function. I'm lucky that I can take time off from school. I was a full-time student and this is the second semester I had to ask for a leave of absence.

    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • While you are waiting for Susan to get back to you, if you click on her screen name (at the top left: jlrfrye) you will see her medical history that explains which levels have been operated on. :-)

  • Thanks jellyhall! I'm a new member and still learning.
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • I have many years suffered occipital headaches and occipital neuralgia. It's not much fun. My problems were from C2-C3 as well as vascular issues. I wound up with a vascular injury after surgery at C1 and C2 that damaged the vestibulocochlear nerve, creating horrible vertigo, hearing loss and nystagmus (involuntary eye movement). I also have disc problems at C4-C5 and C5-C6, but I no longer have the headaches or vertigo.

    Has your doctor determined if you are suffering dizziness versus vertigo? I used to think the two were synonymous until my experience referenced above.

    What type of doctor are you seeing for all of this? It took a team of neurologists to get things figured out for me and get me going in the right direction.

    Welcome to Spine Health.

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