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Osteoarthritis pain, numbess, frequent waking, etc... need advice please...

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Old 08-30-2011, 07:46 AM   #1
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Location: bardstown, ky
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autumnjoy803 HB User
pain, numbess, frequent waking, etc... need advice please...

hi all. i just joined the board today, and could really use some help, encouragement, anything i can get.=)

i am a 36 y/o female. i have been dealing with pain, at varying degrees and times for the last 4 years, mostly in my neck and upper body. i had my first mri about 3years ago, and it showed mild arthritic changes. fast forward to June of this year...

i moved the first week of June and i havnt been the same since. i have had constant numbness in my hands and fingers (the left being worse), i wake up constantly all night long with excruciating pain in my shoulders and arms, with the numbness spreading further and with alot of pressure. when i wake up in the mornings, i have extremly stiff hands and feet, and cannot close my hands.. i have to wake up an hour earlier than usual to gt everything moving. once i get going, i have discomfort, but i do ok, but as soon as i stop, everything stiffens up again.

i dont have health insurance, but go to the free clinic for the working uninsured. at my last visit, over a month ago, i explained my symptoms, and they ordered an mri w/o contrast. to sum in up...

i have mild broad-based posterior disc osteophyte complexes that flatten the anterior thecal sac at C3-4, and C4-5, w/o causing canal or foriminal stenosis. at C6-7 i have more moderate broad-based posterior disc osteophyte complex more prominent left of mid-line that causes a mild focal central canal stenosis and left neuroforiminal encroachment.

alot of my numbness is in my left hand and foot, but i have some numbness in my right hand, and my right shoulder is very painful, with searing type pains thru it at times.

i dread going to bed because i know i am going to wake up all night with horrible pain. i am so exhausted from the lack of sleep.

can anyone please offer me any insight or advice as to what i am looking at here? i go back to the clinic next week to discuss the reults of the mri, but i jst really need some help with this now. i appreciate any type of response anyone is willing to give. thankyou so much....

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Old 08-30-2011, 10:11 AM   #2
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Re: pain, numbess, frequent waking, etc... need advice please...

Hi came to the right place...I'm pretty good and putting medicaleze into plain speak.

So the report says you have "broad based disk/osteophyte complex" which is a bulging disk but not ruptured(think slightly squished donut) that has bone spurs from arthritis with it and it has "flattened the anterior thecal sac" which means it is hitting the covering of the spinal cord that holds in the spinal fluid but not the actual cord itself, "at C3-4 and C4-5"....they report on the spine at the intervals between the bones as that is where the disks are and where the most problems are so you have 2 disk areas doing this in the upper neck, "w/o causing canal or foraminal stenosis"..... it does not cause the canal to be smaller than it should be not does it cause the holes where the spinal nerve to go out to the body to be no nerve compression.

At C6-7...the stress point for the neck where it joins the shoulders, you have the same problem but a little worse. Note that they called the first "broad based disc osteophyte complex" MILD and the second one MODERATE. This is radiologist speak for worse...they use the words minimal, mild, moderate and severe to denote how bad things are. This complex is causing some closing up of the canal (so it is bigger) and some closing up of the hole where the spinal nerves come through to the body....and that means pain and numbness and all sorts of problems....and it's affecting the left side...why you have the most numbness on the left.

And believe it or not, where it goes into the canal, it may be touching the cord and that can cause the numbness in your foot.

Unfortunately, most spine surgeons will not operate until you reach the severe level because the surgery itself can cause nerve damage and even paralysis. But here is a tip from someone who has already had 2 neck surgeries and an impending 3rd..........spine docs don't care about your pain....they send you to pain management for that.....what they care about is nerve function and so they concentrate on numbness and muscle weakness and things like reflexes that get hyper or disappear. Start keeping a diary of your symptoms in case you don't remember and write down things like what is numb and where, what you drop(hand weakness), things you can't pick up any longer, if your legs get stiff or you have trouble walking and how(balance, unsteady, tripping etc). Anything.

You may be sent to pain management for a while until you get bad enough to need surgery. They can do injections into the bad areas that helps with the pain. But it's a waiting game until you qualify for surgery.

Sorry for the bad news but I've been there and once you start down this road, it never seems to end. Any questions, ask away.


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Old 08-31-2011, 03:37 AM   #3
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Re: pain, numbess, frequent waking, etc... need advice please...

thankyou so much for taking the time to answer my post. it was definately easier to understand and i appreciate all the thought you put into it.

i dont think i'll be able to go to pain mangement. as i said, i dont have insurance and it is very expensive to go to pain management. the visits alone are very high, let alone the injections. i sure would like to try those injections though, i just desperately need some relief from this and some good sleep! i woke up literally screaming last night, its horrible. =(

thanks again for your thoughtful reply.

Old 08-31-2011, 09:24 AM   #4
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Re: pain, numbess, frequent waking, etc... need advice please...

You may be able to find pain management through the free clinic you go to. If not, they can give you pain meds and what I find works best, muscle relaxers. Most are generic and fairly cheap. There is another drug that helps with nerve pain and that is Neurontin and that is generic too...and cheap if I remember. Makes me dizzy but helps.

And one of the biggest helps is a good back massage....maybe someone in the family can help you with that...doesn't have to be a pro massage but just someone kneading those muscles as they go int spasm at the drop of a hat. I have found that 75% of the pain is muscles that are so tired of taking the load off the neck that they hurt to the touch and are rock hard(especially across the back of the shoulders). That is why massage helps...gets a good blood flow to the muscles and that takes away the acid that builds up in them that causes the pain. Heat can help and so can ice, but watch the ice...can cause more pain if on too long. I use ice to stop the pain from doing something strenuous and then heat later to help the blood flow again. At physical therapy, they have you put on heat for 15 minutes before you exercise and then ice for 15 minutes when you finish.

I never went to pain management and preferred to try what I could at home to help the pain(I have an equally bad lower back and am headed for surgery soon). Believe it or not, exercise helps as it makes the muscles tired and they relax. If you do a search for exercises for a bad back on-line, you can get what you need to do...not hard. Just if it hurts, stop. Take it slow but persist. I do them regularly to this day and have avoided back surgery for 35 years and only had my neck fixed after 22 years of pain when I went numb. I also never took pain pills as I have allergies to them.....but I wish I could have.

You can manage this at home without surgery or professional pain management...just takes persistence and a willingness to try anything.


Old 08-31-2011, 05:41 PM   #5
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Re: pain, numbess, frequent waking, etc... need advice please...

Jenny has given wonderful info (as always ), I wanted to add that if you do not have anyone around, as I don't, that hot showers that beat down on the affected muscles help stimulate blood flow. I also have what is called a tens unit that helps stimulate the muscles. You can get a script for one from the clinic and get it at most pharmacies. I feel your pain, literally, as I have gone the route of surgery for 6-7 and have arthritis and disc problems from the top to the bottom. I hope you can find some relief, the pain and numbness really affects all areas of your life. Deep breathing and focusing on relaxing muscles starting from the top of your head to your toes can help also. Hang in there!

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Old 09-02-2011, 11:06 AM   #6
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autumnjoy803 HB User
Re: pain, numbess, frequent waking, etc... need advice please...

thankyou both for yur replies, it means alot.

after dealing with pain for so long, i have gotten really good with different techniques i can use at home, to help w/ the pain. my heating pad is my best friend.=) i also have this little thing i warm up in the microwave that goes around my neck. heat definately helps me more than ice. i've also found that deep stretching helps alot.

i have another question for y'all... so my mri says that my c6-7 is moderately bulging. do they only consider it severe if it herniates? what's the difference in pain levels if it herniates? i cant even imagine having worse pain.

will neurontin help w/ the numbness? i'm so afraid of having permanant nerve damage.

so y'all think they're not gonna really do anything to fix this? i cant imagine going forever with waking up so much at night. i desperately need some good rest w/out waking up screaming in pain.

thanks again, both of you. i really appreciate it.=)

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