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Radiculopathy Rollercoaster!!!

Ok, where to begin? Approximately 5yrs ago I suffered a herniated disc at c5-c6. I was quite young (25yrs) and it came out of thin air. After about 2mo of chiropractic care and general physician I was referred to a spine surgeon and had an MRI and diagnosis above. Started PT and within a month or two, was 100% back to normal. To add my pain stayed localized to my neck, I never felt any nerve pain or shooting pain or anything to indicate nerve involvement. I had long forgotten that pain until one morning, about 5-6wks ago, I awoke with that awful feeling of a "crick" which quickly became clear to me with worsening symptoms, it's the disc is rearing its ugly head again.

 So here's what I'm struggling with... the pain quickly turned from my neck (which itself doesn't hurt at alll now) to down my shoulder blade and into my arm. I have no insurance but saw my chiro and was feeling 75% better after 3-4 visits over a two week period. Then BAM, pain comes back with a vengeance. Wonder if chiro is bad idea? Visit a good friend who's a well regarded physical therapist and she does tens, gentle manipulation, and traction. I'm feeling 75% better again at this point. Repeat visit in a weeks time, feel 100% WORSE... that nerve is screaming at me now down both arms and almost a creepy crawly restless type sensation.

Also, every exercise I try only increases the nerve pain. Chin tucks, nerve glides, you name it and I've tried it. It never reduces the pain, it intensifies it. 

Every day feels like a roller coaster of pain and I'm trying but becoming quite defeated. I have three young kids, one of which is 10mo and requires being carried quite a lot. My husband helps in the evenings but I'm a stay at home mom, so their care is all mine all day, every day. 

Some days are decent and I think: ok I can handle this.... just to be blindsided the next day with pain. I am taking anti inflammatories, a mild muscle relaxer at bedtime, and received a "long acting" steroid shot from my primary physician. 

All this rambling to say I'm terrified a) I won't heal 
b) I need surgery and am without insurance c) by a delay in proper treatment I may live with chronic pain.  
 I would LOVE to hear some non surgical success stories. And maybe what your personal healing process was like? Weeks? Months? Has the pain stayed gone for a long period of time? I honestly feel lucky it's been 5yrs without any issue whatsoever... but this isn't going away and I'm feeling very defeated and sad. I'm a young (normally) active and very happy person. Pain changes your ability to function physically and I'm learning it quickly takes a toll on your ability to remain happy and positive. 

Any advice or personal stories are so welcome! If nothing else, thanks for the vent :) 



  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    hello kenz1281 !
    you may be interested in reading*****chronic pain step by step****
    you can find with search, upper right on page.

    since you mentioned you're not too sure about continuing chiropractic care, you may want to stop anything that is increasing pain.
    personally, to have cervical herniation, i would not want adjustments or such done to that area.

    while waiting for responses from members with shared experiences, you may benefit from search, typing in any of your concerns may lead you to current or older discussions.
    also, the main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to continue your research on.

    please know, other members' experiences, even if look the same on paper, so to speak, are uniquely theirs, as your situation is unique to you.
    we each are so individual that what may have benefitted one may be quite harmful to another.
    thats one reason why doctor is so important, and nothing on forums takes the place of  advice from doctor.

    you mention treatments from your pcp. have you thought of pain management or other spine specialist?
    my pcp tried working with my pain two years before referring me to pm doctor.
    best thing for me!

    he did variety of other tests and learned more about my spine than pcp had mentioned to me.
    he also viewed my mri cd and noticed things not mentioned on written impressions.
    also, as a specialist, pm would know more re the meds most appropriate for your symptoms..and other treatments.

    i am curious, re your long acting steroid shot...was that an injection, epidural, that was done under fluoroscopy?
    please tell doctor about your symptoms including your emotional change, no longer feeling the happy positive you.
    although, the emotional toll often accompanies chronic pain, it is a symptom that may be treated.

    now might be a good time to also start to think of your support system. anyone who can help with the children while your in such painful time?

    please click on link for helpful information!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Sorry to hear about your suffering. As mentioned by Sue this is a great place to get support and knowledge. I have not quite gone through the same experience for neck pain (diagnosed c3-4 stenosis) and arm pain that radiates from neck. I went through months of chiropractic treatment that did not work, but thankfully my chiropractor ordered an MRI which revealed the problems above. She then sent me to a neurosurgeon who has prescribed steroid pack which brought down inflammation. Since then I have had emg which did not reveal much, cervical xray, and most recently was prescribed meds for nerve pain which have been semi-effective. My NS is somewhat perplexed by radiculopathy which effects both arms. It comes and goes. My next step is an epidural for c3-4 next week and additional MRIs. At this point there is not a clear diagnosis for the pain in the arms yet. 

    All this being said, I have found the members experience here educational and supportive. So keep coming back.
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  •  I cringe when watching those "ring dingers" at chiropractors on YouTube lol. Not for me. I'm biased as far as that's concerned because a chiro visit years ago landed me in the ER. Since then, and following my doctors' advice, I steer clear of them. It's rough when you don't have medical insurance and it's so expensive seeing a spine specialist. I don't think it's a good idea to go to a chiropractor until you see a doctor and have an MRI. Just my opinion. It could possibly cause more problems. I hope there is some way you can access the medical care you need, and until then, please be careful. Take care. 
    Ol' Spiney..Micro-D L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central HNP L4-S1,stenosis, retrolisthesis, EF, facet arthropathy, lumbar& cervical DDD. FBSS- Medtronic pain pump & SCS
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,526
    lets start with getting a solid reference about radiculopathy .

    what is cervical radiculopathy?

    interactive cervical radiculopathy video

    cervical radiculopathy video

    cervical radiculopathy treatment

    what you want to make sure of is the exact diagnosis and what the treatments will be. many times, surgery is not required to correct this problem. i would not venture into different exercises unless you had your doctors approval of a physical therapist has instructed you. personally, i would not go with a chiropractor. they are great with muscular-skeletal problems, but working on the spinal cord is a different thing.

    has your doctor prescribed any medication for you? have you found that the muscle relaxer has helped at all?
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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