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Old 05-11-2008, 11:15 PM   #1
lilydilly lilydilly is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Australia
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badly need reassurance and advice: neck pain

Apologies beforehand for long post.
I'm 52 years old and I have severe neck pain but without much arm/shoulder pain.
I've had episodes of neck pain for years, but they resoved within weeks, and seemed to be postural/muscular related. Had some minor accidents inolving head and neck over the years... a few slips and falls, side-swiped by heavy crate in neck area, toddler jumped on my head in pool...things like that.
2 years ago, did hours of computer work and developed muscle spasm, with numbness of lower face, and severe neck cramping. They did a brain scan to rule that out and neck xray showed lack of lordosis, which I knew was from the computer, myself. This resolved too.
Though the more acute episodes settled, in between I've always been conscious of fairly stiff neck, bits of buzzing feelings and tightness etc, but nothing i couldn't put up with.
Then 4 months ago, I did a lot of cooking for a public event, and that day got a severe tension type headache and my neck began to cramp up. By the next day, I couldn't move my head without severe stabbing pain in the side of my neck on L side and also a neuralgia type pain developed behind and below my ear.
That has continued off and on for 4 months until for the past 2 months I don't have a day free of it.
This is a typical day. I wake up ok, until I start to move or yawn and stretch, then I feel the pull start in my neck and an irritated nerve-on-edge feeling through my neck and back of head. I get out of bed, and within 5 minutes the stabbing pulling pain is severe enough to have me leaning on the wall or over the counter, and yell with the pain. Sometimes I could get through a morning of normal work, stopping and starting like this and it would seem to have loosen up some. Then by PM, the pain would settle in. My neck cracks and pings a lot. I could press on it and move it a bit to make it do this, and it seemed to relieve the pain somewhat for a little while... unlock it anyway. When the pain is worst, my neck won't crack at all. Lately though my neck just cracks itself with the slightest movement, irrespective of the pain.

Lying down, and resting back against pillows relieved the pain almost immediatlely, and ibubrofen has been mostly effective too.
So, For the past weeks I simply did what I could in 15 minute time bites, until it got to the point of having to lie down again.
Grocery shopping and small movements seem to be worse than big ones. Eg. I could get in the washing, clean out a cupboard, and it'd be bearable, but then just to brush my hair or give someone a kiss hello, would make it "grab" and lock into a spasm. The pain is enough to make me yell out loud.
I got a bit of numb tingling occasionally down my arm into my pinkie and ring fingers and left palm, but only occasionally, also a furry cobwebby feeling in my upper arm.
I get a lot of between the shoulder blade upper back pain, which seems to only hang around when my neck is playing up too.
I've been under a GP who did an Xray and Cat scan which showed nothing very much at all. He was hesitant to refer me to a specialist, because he says that for most disc problems, I would be getting arm and shoulder referred pain and less movement.
However, after 4 months with absolutely no improvement, he finally decided to give me a referral. So, I have sent off the xrays, and an application info form to the NS I want to see, but now I have to wait for them to contact me and arrange an appt, which could be weeks, if not months. The reason I am willing to wait to see this NS is that he did a disc replacement in my lumbar L4/5 disc seven years ago, which was successful and I have a lot of faith in him. But he is very popular, and busy, so it's a matter of join the queue.
Meanwhile I am lying around worrying myself silly.
Lately this pain has started going a bit haywire. Even at night, sometimes I'll get this deep burning pain right in the joint of my neck (the GP said it was c5/6) and a sharp biting pain in there. It reminds me of when my lumbar disc went bad (it was totally degenerated ) and the surgeon said it was chemicals released from inside the damamged disc that irritate the nerves around it. However the GP is so adamant that I would have severe arm pain if it was a disc problem, and he says that surgery doesn't really fix any neck problem unless there is referred pain involved.
Also, I can turn my head reasonably well. It seems to hurt more from small sideways movements, like putting on the kettle, or looking around a corner, rather than swivelling movements.
Thank you for bearing with such a long post, but I hoped someone could relate to this, and give me some reassurance while I'm waiting around to see the NS.
I've tried Bowen therapy, massage, traction (under the GP), mild manipulaton (again under the GP) and nothing works.
The GP is sure this is mechanical, because I'm otherwise well, but can't tell me what.
He suggested discitis.. which essentially means inflamed disc from infection or injury, but then he says that would resolve in weeks, and I've had this for months now. He himself has had neck surgery, so has studied it a bit, but he says my symptoms aren't typical for that, and my Xray and ct scan showed only a bit of narrowing of the disc spaces, and some osteophytes (?)nothing he says to cause this much pain.

The worst pain is the sharp stabbing in the left of my neck and below my ear, and that is nearly always movement related ,though unpredictably so. And then if I don't lie down, that develops into a pincer type of pain that grows tighter and tighter, which I assume is muscle spasm. Sometimes now it spreads into the right areas as well, but I guess that's just the inflammation spreading or what???

Until now the pain has always been relieved by lying down and resting, but in the last week, I've started getting really horrible pains right in the back of my neck, whether I'm lying down or not, enough to make me feel nauseated and sweat. Thank you so much for bearing with me here... I've done talking now, and am ready to listen to all you other "neck" folk out there.
Regards to you all.
Lily

Last edited by lilydilly; 05-12-2008 at 05:20 PM. Reason: Too long