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C5, C6 & C7 With Chest Pain---Anyone?

I have been suffering on and off since mid-December with arm pain, back pain, tingling, twitches, and most upsettingly, chest pain on the right side. I had an MRI in mid-April which revealed the following: "There are mild degenerative changes involving the mid and lower cervial spine. There is mild loss of disc space height and endplate degenerative changes at C5-C6 and C6-C7. There is not evidence for a cervical bone marrow replacement process. At C5-C6, there is a very small central disc herniation minimally effacing the ventral thecae sac. At C6-C7, there is a small focal central disc herniation mildly effacing the ventral thecae sac without causing underlying cervical cord compression. There is no central or neuroforaminal stenosis. There is a benign hemangioma within the left side of the C7 vertebral body."

My doctor, whom I saw only twice and for this ailment, told me lots of people have the above-described condition and experience no symptoms so he couldn't say for sure they were causing my problems. He referred me to a neurologist and gave me a cervical radiculopathy diagnosis and the neurologist gave me an epidural, which did nothing. Oral steroids did nothing. Two months at a chiropractor did nothing. On and off since December, I have had periods where I feel almost fine except for a random, almost nostalgic sting in my arm or shoulder which doesn't bother me at all. These periods of painlessness last about 2-3 weeks usually and then something happens and it starts to hurt again. When this first began, the pain was terrible and the right side of my neck hurt also, but it seems to have settled mostly into the chest pain and back pain with tingling and achiness down the backs of one or both arms. The pain in my chest is like a mild burning ache and sometimes if I massage it it will go away, for a while at least. It's below my clavicle and above my breast. I was so freaked out about it I got a ct scan in May which came back clear. The other posts where people have chest pain seem always to be on the left, mimicking a cardiac event. I'm really confused about all of this because my doctor made me feel simultaneously as though this was a cervical spine issue or not a cervical spine issue; and no one else seems to have the right-side chest pain. I don't know if my MRI results reveal anything like what other people in pain have gotten. I have an appointment to get an EMG in three weeks, and I'm going to a PT next week but I still feel very unclear on my diagnosis and neither the doctor nor the neurologist have convinced me that what I am experiencing corresponds with the C5-C7 abnormalities outlined in my MRI report. 

Any input is appreciated. I know no one is a doctor here and cannot diagnose me with anything. 

Thanks,
Virginia
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Comments

  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,437
    Virginia

    Nothing that you describe is inconsistent with what I went through before surgery.  Almost all of my symptoms were on the right side - those that weren't were due to stenosis.

    Have you PT check out that chest pain.  There is a chance that they will find a big ole knot there.  They could find mine even when I couldn't.

    You say shoulder pain, do you mean shoulder blade pain?  If so, there are connections from it to the front - so for me, when it was really bad was when I felt it in front.

    Bruce

    Read my story at Bruce - My Story
    ACDF C4-C5-C6-C7, and getting better every day
    It has been a process of healing, learning, exercising, and resting - and figuring out when to do which.

  • Thank you, Bruce. Do you think I should bring the MRI report to the PT? Sounds like a dumb question but I don't know about these things. 

    When I say shoulder pain I mean shoulder, like front, where the joint that feels like a ball is. That was REALLY bad at first. Felt like it was on fire, just a spot of pain. My back hurts just inside the shoulder blade, between the blade and my spine. When it was really bad I'd roll a tennis ball on it up against the wall. Sometimes that helped. One thing I forgot to mention is that sometimes when I'm in pain I feel the urge to sit up very straight and pull my shoulder blades together and probably 1 out of 3 times, there is a painless *pop* in my right side ribs below my breast that feels like something clicking into place, or becoming unstuck, if that makes any sense. Sometimes this helps. 
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  • It's even occurred to me---could it be my actual BREAST??? I had my annual mammogram yesterday so I guess I'll find out.
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,437
    Virginia

    To be honest, I am not a fan of MRI reports - I prefer to go over the actual images with a doctor.  With that said, it never occurred to me to take it to PT, so ask them.

    Have you had that shoulder thing checked out. What you describe seems like it may be different from any cervical problems - but heck, I am not expert.

    Bruce

    Read my story at Bruce - My Story
    ACDF C4-C5-C6-C7, and getting better every day
    It has been a process of healing, learning, exercising, and resting - and figuring out when to do which.

  • I had an MRI of my shoulder actually, ordered by the first doctor I went to who thought it was a pulled muscle. I am not worried about that part--from what I've read it's not uncommon. I did give the MRI images to the neurologist who never said anything about them. I gave him the disc during my visit and as I was leaving, he said, "Do you want this disc back after we upload the images?" and I said no, and I have never heard from him again. My first doctor, the one who interpreted the text report, never saw the images and he told me he wouldn't know how to read it anyway. The place I've had my MRIs and Ct scan is a big diagnostic center so they do the imaging and send the report to the physician who ordered it. 
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  • jillh10jjillh10 VermontPosts: 21
    Virgina, you may have compensation injuries from protecting your neck.  Although my MRI results are much less complex than yours, your symptoms sound like mine - including shoulder pain that was on the front of the shoulder and what felt like chest pain.  It was tendinitis and muscular skeletal pain from overcompensating for long because of my neck.  The shoulder issue sounds like tendonitis in your bicep.  I'm not sure if you see an ortho but my PT and ortho both confirmed I have tendinitis in both of my biceps, elbows, and wrists from overcompensating when I lift.  Sorry you are going through this!  It's so frustrating!
  • Jill--your MRI was less complex?! I got the impression from my doc that mine was basically nothing. This has been going on for eight months, do you really think it could be musculoskeletal pain? The chest pain was actually the first thing I noticed when this all began, then everything else reared up immediately. It was so bad the first month I had to stop what I was doing and lie on the floor. I had a heating pad pressed to my body for six weeks afterward.
  • jillh10jjillh10 VermontPosts: 21


    Jill--your MRI was less complex?! I got the impression from my doc that mine was basically nothing. This has been going on for eight months, do you really think it could be musculoskeletal pain? The chest pain was actually the first thing I noticed when this all began, then everything else reared up immediately. It was so bad the first month I had to stop what I was doing and lie on the floor. I had a heating pad pressed to my body for six weeks afterward.

    Yes, basically my MRI showed no degenerative changes and just one small protrusion, in a very unfortunate spot apparently.  And that was it.  My docs also said "you'll be fine!" but as the pain specialist pointed out yesterday, as have others on the board, it doesn't matter if it's small, it matters if it's laying on a nerve!

    That said, some of my worst pain has come from compensating for my neck while caring for my kids.  It's amazing how much damage I've done without knowing it.  I know you said you have a young child as well so there's a chance you are compensating and causing other issues.  Other than the tendinitis, I've pulled muscles in my upper back and lats - and had one pull that felt a lot like chest pains.  

    Of course, mine came AFTER the neck pain but it's something to look into, especially if you notice it gets better after a few days of rest.
  • jillh10jjillh10 VermontPosts: 21
    Have you ever been checked out for a heart issue though?  I mean, reading through your symptoms again, I am wondering if you need to have that explored.  The first thing they ruled out for me was a heart attack and a condition where you have excess water around the heart.  I would follow up on this, particularly since your MRI doesn't show any discs around your nerves AND the epidural did nothing...I was told, even if it did nothing, that would help the doctor diagnose what might be causing my issues.  
  • A couple of years ago I had a complete heart workup including multiple echo cardiograms, ultrasounds, and I even wore a holter monitor for a few weeks. I did all this because I was having palpitations all the time, which I now chalk up to a multi-year lack of sleep. My son really didn't sleep through the night until about a year ago. He's five. :) My chest pain is all on the right--it wouldn't cause pain on that side if I had a heart problem, would it? My son is constantly getting into situations where he's hanging upside down on monkey bars or has managed to climb halfway up the door frame and I wind up having no choice but to rescue him, so despite my best efforts, I do sometimes have a 50-lb child in my arms. I'm also a SAHM and so it's laundry, mopping, up & down stairs, making beds, pushing furniture around (my kid likes to rearrange), etc. If it were just the chest thing I'd be more worried but it's always in conjunction with the arm, the back, the shoulder, the fingers...I mean, I have to assume it IS a nerve issue. My theory on what caused it is that around a week before it started hurting, I used a gym machine wrong. I was on the deltoid/pec fly machine, where you sit facing a chair back--so, sitting backwards on a chair with your legs on either side of the back, and arms outstretched grasping bars which you push to your side, arms extended. I did about 5 reps when I realized that there was way too much weight on the pulley and I had to stop and let go, dropping the weights. I think someone before me had flipped a heavier switch below my choice of 40 lbs and I didn't see it, so the machine lifted with the heavier weight. My upper pectoral region is where it hurts, and I think I just jacked myself up somehow on that machine. Maybe squeezed the discs, hurt the chest at the same time--I don't know. My ring and pinky fingers tingle, sometimes my thumb aches. I'm going to physical therapy for the first time this coming Monday. I'm hoping he will shed some light on things. 
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