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Cervical Radiculopathy - Ideas to get doctor to up pain meds?

Hi there.. I'm 6'3" tall, 290 pound 45 year old male. No other known medical conditions than whats noted here. In 1999 I was rear ended by a tractor trailer, I was at a red light and it was estimated the tractor trailer was going approximately 50MPH when he made contact with my vehicle. One of the injuries I sustained resulted in c5-c6 disc herniation indenting on the thecal sac according to the MRI and what the doctors told me. 

Fast forward from 1999 to December 2016.. the condition began giving me pains unlike I had experienced in the past 17 years for example I can only sit for short periods without having to continuously resituate due to my neck stiffening and more pain setting in, when standing I have to resituate often for the same reasons.. This may seem strange but if I do keep my neck in one position without repositioning while sitting or standing in addition to the pain and stiffness when I move my neck it actually pops. When I walk I hear a crunching in my neck with every step I take. 

So due to the increase in pain and symptoms I told my primary doctor about in February 2016 she put in an order for me to get a new MRI in April or June of 2016 which now shows in addition to the herniation I have DDD, Spinal stenosis, spondylosis with radiculopathy and bone spurs. If I'm correct spondylosis is basically DDD.. On my medical record the neurology center I now go to wrote that the primary condition in my neck is spondylosis with radiculopathy. 

Within the past few months it went to a whole new level when in addition to the cervical pain I began having severe pains radiating into my left anterior deltoid which radiates down my bicep and usually stopping around my antecubital space (the area opposite my left elbow) but sometimes goes on into into my forearm. I know this is odd but sometimes this pain also goes into my anterior chest and throat. I had thought I was having a heart attack when this began but an EKG showed good results and the doctors do not think it's my heart. This radiating pain feels like a deep burning sickening pain. Horrible pain that awakens me if I'm lucky enough to be able to fall asleep. After searching online I have found onlone doctor that has described this radiating pain almost exactly as it's happening to me.

The doctors here say there's no medication that will reduce my neck pain and have referred me to physical therapy which begins next week. Have since February had me on Gabapentin 300mg which was recently increased from 3x per day to 5x per day, Diclofenac Sod EC 75mg 1x per day, and Tizanidine 4mg 1x per day. I did PT in 1999 with no positive results. The only true relief I currently get is sleep. The pain gets worst the longer I'm awake and the more I move and the more I stay in one position while awake. 

I feel like the doctors have no concept of my level of pain although I've attempted to explain it to them the best I can. I don't feel comfortable asking for additional meds. The reason I feel the doctors have no concept is because the meds that I'm receiving are absolutely no relief from the pain and I've explained this to them. They've literally told me I'm going to have to learn to live with the pain and there's no medication that will relieve my neck pain. The doctors I'm seeing are in Lexington, Kentucky. 

What can I do to get a doctor to increase my pain medication to the point that I deem suitable for my condition? 


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745
    hello rufusburger
    please click on the links for useful information


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,510

    Welcome to the Spine-Health forums.

    You don't mention surgery.  Have you looked into surgery?  I don't push surgery, but you seem to have tried other things.

    As far as medicine goes, have you seen a pain management doctor yet?


    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.

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  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561
    I find it hard to believe there are no medications that will help with the pain, there is to much out there.  Will it cure the pain , no, but certainly should help.  Now if the doctor does not want to prescribe it that is another story, but I see red flags in a doctor who says no medication would reduce pain.
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • RufusBurgerRufusBurger at homePosts: 2
    edited 08/21/2016 - 12:20 PM
    Hi Bruce Eitman, No I haven't had surgery.  University of Kentucky Department of Neurosurgery told me I wasn't a candidate for surgery although I'm not exactly certain why. I'm guessing I could find someone to do surgery but would like to try meds first, if there's truly no meds that would offer relief then surgery may be an option as a last resort. I haven't been to Pain management in approximately 16 or so years which was right after the accident. When I was going they were doing guided facet joint injections. They did help but only lasted for a few days. 

    Hi its autonomic, My primary dr prescribing the meds I described above told me I'd have to learn to live with the pain and the Neurosurgeon I'm seeing now which is not at the University of Kentucky increased the Gabapentin 300 from 3x per day to 5x per day and said it may help with the radiating pains and told me there's no medication that will help with my neck pain and referred me to PT. 

    I've explained to them that the meds are not blocking the pain at all and I'm not sure how to get a medication that will offer any relief. I'm wondering why they even had me get an MRI if they're not interested in offering me medication that might help with the pain after seeing positive results. Not trying to be negative but I also believe that PT will not help my condition improve but start PT this coming week. 

  • I highly suggest you see different doctors. I take about 500mg gabapentin a day. If you take the gabapentin with any other meds, it will make them work better. I take norco and that helps a ton. It doesn't completely take the pain 100% away, but it brings it down to where I can function. You're case seems very odd to me. Norco was the first med I got. I get it from my pain management specialist now. My case is so bad he actually feels sorry for me. I've also been told by a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic that I'm not a candidate for surgery either. The only surgeon that was willing to operate has only done 2 necks. Although, he does back all day long. Good luck! My advice is that if someone isn't willing to give you what you want, there are plenty of people out there who will. Just find them. Gabapentin isn't even a big deal btw. It's a very safe medicine if you can deal with the water weight.
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