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Ouchie along with little worry... neck and shoulder pain-C5-C6 protrusion w/ stenosis and spinal cor

Hi everyone,
I'm new to this forum and after looking over the site, it looks like there is some great info to gain here! Thought I'd see if there were any opinions out there regarding treatment and whether I need to really change my activity level for good.

A little sx background:
My symptoms started with left-sided neck pain and stiffness from what I thought was just from sleeping in the wrong position. Using my heating pad seemed to REALLY aggravate it; ice helped some. After two or three weeks, the symptoms seemed to magically shift to the right side of the neck. Went to PT, got some HEP and a TENS, tried some traction which initially felt really good. Had an x-ray in order to move forward with the traction and got the thumbs up, but a diagnosis of DDD. Went ahead with PT and the traction for about 6 weeks and was discharged because it wasn't getting any better, in fact maybe even worse. I've now been going to a chiropractor 2 times per week for the last 2 months; he performs manual manipulations. I have better range of motion to the right with the neck, but now I have pain in the left shoulder and some intermittent numbness, pins and needles, and pressure-like sensation down the left arm into the hand. I had an MRI, which I showed the chiropractor, but he didn't seem too terribly concerned. Had a meeting with my PCP who also didn't seem concerned in the least. When I asked her about my activity level, her answer was, "if it hurts, don't do it." She gave me a short dose of Prednisone and a different NSAID-diclofenac (because naproxen and ibuprofen were making me nauseous even after taking them with meals). I also take muscle relaxers with not much benefit because they either make me super drowsy (e.g., flexeril) or don't work (e.g., baclofen). I'm continuing with the chiropractor, but I'm wondering what my future holds as far as treating this stupid thing....

More background:
I'm a 38-year old female and served in the Army for 8 years (and took a physical beating). I was dx with scoliosis way back then, but that was just that...nothing really could be done. The recent cervical spine MRI showed:
Loss of the normal cervical lordosis. No spondylolisthesis but desiccation of all cervical discs.
C3-C4: minimal posterior central disc osteophyte complex, without significant central canal or foraminal stenosis.
C4-C5: minimal diffuse posterior disc osteophyte complex without significant central canal stenosis or mass effect on spinal cord. Uncovertebral hypertrophy is noted without significant foraminal stenosis.
C5-C6: moderate sided diffuse posterior disc protrusion as well as mild hypertropy the posterior elements which results in moderate-to-severe central canal stenosis with effacement of the subarachnoid space around the spinal cord and mild flattening of the ventral spinal cord. There is no signal abnormality in the cord. Uncovertebral hypertrophy results in mild bilateral foraminal narrowing.
C6-C7: moderate diffuse posterior disc osteophyte complex and mild hypertrophy of the posterior elements which results in moderate central canal stenosis with effacement of the subarachnoid space. There is no mass effect on the spinal cord. Uncovertebral hypertrophy results in minimal bilateral foraminal narrowing.
Everything else was unremarkable.

Now the questions:
I do a lot of physical work at home (e.g., built a fence, put down sod for my yard, planned on building a deck this summer, etc.). Should I NOT attempt to do these sorts of activities anymore? I've been trying to exercise, but even light (and I'm talking 3# weights) lead to muscle spasms shortly thereafter. So, I'm not sure what to do and have a LONG way to go in life. I don't want to make this worse, but I need to do something here. Any advice would be MUCH appreciated!



  • You sound like me. But now instead of my right ARM hurting it is my left. I also have facial numb feeling and tingling lips. I went to a chiro who adjusted my neck and ARM 7 times. I don't know if the adjustment caused me to go haywire, but if your left ARM started hurting after the chiro maybe u should lay off that for awhile. I have. It has been 6 months of aggravation for me.
  • Hmmmmm.... I've begun to think the same thing. It did start after I was well underway w/ chiro. Thanks for your reply!
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  • I even called my chiro and asked if it was possible the adjustments caused my problems. I had no neck pain or other symptoms until the adjustments. The only thing I had was right ARM and shooulder pain. Of course he told me no.my mri showed bulged disc at 3/4 and 5/6 6/7.
  • cathyccathy Posts: 29
    edited 01/26/2013 - 2:05 AM
    I am frustrated to say the least. I even mentioned to him my tingling tongue. And my facial numbness, I seriously believe that the adjustments irritated what was already there.
  • cathy said:
    I am frustrated to say the least. I even mentioned to him my tingling tongue. And my facial numbness, I seriously believe that the adjustments irritated what was already there.
    I'm afraid that is the chance we take with chiro treatments. I just went yesterday, as I was feeling pretty tight up in my neck, and the pain in my clavicle area was bugging me more than usual. It was a different doc, as my usual one is out of the country right now. We did some decomp traction, then he took a hands-on look, and did do a couple of quick adjustments on my neck. Felt pretty good till last night, when a new pain set in my upper left arm. It's like I'm trading off one thing for another when I go there. I guess I still hold on to the fact that the very first visit there several weeks ago is what finally got me off the pain killers (which were causing me a whole other set of issues.)
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  • Yeah... When my chiro took a look at my entire back, he said that I was misaligned all over the darn place so I image that it does take time to get things the way they "should" be. I imagine the spine saying, "what the heck is going on here??" I guess just as you would traumatize the spine through injury, chiro adjustments are doing the same thing, only "good" trauma if you've got someone who knows what they are doing.

    I've actually been taking a 5-day course of Prednisone to see if that would help "heal" the protrusion some. I'm on my 5th day and will say that my neck range of motion is almost 85% pain-free, so my fingers are crossed that this helps long-term. I'm still having some muscle spasms though across my rhomboids (I think that's what they are called).
  • My name is Tina and i am 38 and like you i would like to do every thing myself but i have had to learn to take things easy and just leave things for another day and please stop lifting things its not good for you . I have had C3C4 C4C5 C5C6 C6C7 Fusion and have alot of spinal cord dammage at that level . you really need just need to take things slower with the hard work in the garden and i wish you well .
  • cathyccathy Posts: 29
    edited 01/30/2013 - 9:39 AM
    When I mentioned the eye twitching and tongue and lip tingling my gp thought I was nuts. I told her it all started with my shoulder. I know,or think I know this has everything to do with my neck.
  • I hear you! It is really difficult to do, but I am going to forego the heavy lifting and high impact activities. I guess it's just not worth it in the long run. I consider myself lucky that there is no cord damage or issues that may require surgery so I'll definitely try to keep it that way. Good luck to you! I hope that things level off for you!

    On a sidenote.... The Prednisone has really helped! I'm just looking forward to it being out of my system now completely. I've been looking into the side effects and looks like muscle soreness/spasms may be part of the withdrawal symptoms. Who knew a little pill for only a few days could give a person such grief? Looking back I had:
    -intermittent facial flushing and hot to the touch
    -increased heart rate
    -EXTREMELY sensitive to even the slightest bit of sodium
    -a feeling of just being out of it
    -water retention
    -and many, many trips to the potty...
    I guess it could'a been worse though.
  • Hey Cathy,
    I'm no neurologist, but it certainly seems plausible that an adjustment (or maladjustment) could lead to those types of symptoms. Nerves can get pressed and pinched. When I told my chiro about the shoulder issue that I was having, he said that he actually thought that my upper back needed a little more adjustment at the time of the previous appt, but he didn't want to push it. He adjusted it again and my shoulder and arm have been good. Have you checked out a dermatome map? It's interesting how the different levels of the spine are "responsible" for particular areas of the body.
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