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MCC 02-19-2004 07:23 PM

C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
I'm new to this board and really enjoy reading everyone's posts. They are very helpful.

I have been diagnosed with a small buldge in C5-6. My NS is recommending a fusion with plates. I am scheduled for March. I had back surgery 8 years ago at L4-5 with complete success.

My progress with the C5-6 is this:

About 8 months ago, I experienced a very stiff neck for about two weeks. That stopped and then I started having stabbing pains in my shoulder blades. That lasted a few weeks and stopped. The next symptom was terrible pain in my wrist and forearm, numb and tingling thumb and awful pain in my shoulder. My shoulder started making a popping sound. This prompted me to see my DR, I thought I had Carpel Tunnel. He ordered a nerve conduction test that showed something wrong in the neck/shoulder as well as a "pinched nerve" at my elbow. Next he ordered an MRI and referred me to a NS. MRI of my neck showed a "small" buldge at C5-6. The NS said surgery was the only real solution, as all other options would just hide the problem, or even worse cause nerve root damage. That diagnosis was about 2 months ago.

Since then, I have noticed (just a few days ago), that I am losing muscle mass in my shoulder. When I run my hand over the top of my shoulder, over and down to my arm, there is a noticable "dip". My shoulder socket bone (forgive the terminiology) also feels like it has nothing over it compared to the other side. Feels like just bone sticking out.

I have absolutely no pain in my neck. The pain now is mainly in my forearm, bicep and shoulder. The numbness and tingling is caused by two things: when I have my shoulder hunched forward or if I look up (hyper extend).

This is scaring me to death and I am now starting to question my decision to have this surgery. Does anyone else know if a small buldge at C5-6 can cause loss of muscle mass over the shoulder, or could it be that my median nerve is entraped in my shoulder somewhere? Should I have the doctor take a look (MRI) of the shoulder region?

Rolex 02-19-2004 10:13 PM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
Hi MCC, I have some questions. You say your MRI shows a "small" buldge, but you also say you have C5/6 herniation. I was under the impression that a herniation is where the inside of the disc has actually leaked out of the outer layer of the disc. This is different than a small buldge, or so I think, but of course I'm still learning this stuff since my problem started.

I have C5-6 protruding disc with bone spurs. My arms and hands are now much weaker. I had mostly neck and shoulder pain for over a year but now I have pain in my arms and hands as well. My surgeon said my problem will not go away without surgery and it can cause permanant nerve and muscle damage if left untreated too long. I definately think the mucles could athrophy from pinched nerves. I am having surgery March 9th.
Does your NS have a good reputation? Maybe you would feel more comfortable with a second opinion?

MCC 02-20-2004 07:11 AM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
Thanks for the reply. I guess I am confused with all of this medical jargon. My NS did not say anything about anything leaking. He just said that the disc is protruding out the left side and pressing on the nerve root. He said that it's "small", didn't really seem blown away by it (kinda of non-chalant). He has a good reputation around this small town. I have a friend that is an RN at the same hospital and she spoke highly of him. However, I'm not naive. Surgeries pay much more than PT or blocks.

Do you have any muscle loss in your shoulder or arm?

I am wondering if a nerve is compressed in the shoulder, can that mimick the symptoms of the disc? No imaging has been done on my shoulder, nor has anyone brought it up as a possiblity. I have looked high and low (on the internet) to find anything about the C5-6 nerve compression causing such terrible pain and muscle loss in the shoulder but nothing yet.

If this "Small" protrusion causes this much pain, I can only imagine what it would be if there was a "big" protrusion.

2nd timer 02-20-2004 08:05 AM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
Cervical herniations can definitely cause atrophy in the shoulders or arms if they go too long without treatment. I had no neck pain this time around. All of my pain was in the shoulder, elbow, and hand. I too wondered if something was wrong with my shoulder since my neck wasn't stiff or hurting. I had a followup visit with a ortho surgeon who removed ganglion cyst. This visit was shortly after my symptoms had fired up. He did a thorough exam and told to get to my neurosurgeon as quickly as possible.

Rolex 02-20-2004 09:43 AM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
"If this "Small" protrusion causes this much pain, I can only imagine what it would be if there was a "big" protrusion."


MCC, I met a girl last summer with my same problem C5-6 (she had fusion surgery)
who told me she felt like cutting her arm off it hurt that much.
My brother had a work accident with 2 level disc herniation, he said the same thing and I have read at least two posters on here say it.
I am so lucky I am not in that much pain yet!

stacyace 02-20-2004 10:14 AM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
I would not be too scared. I had exactly the same symptoms before I had my surgery on disk C5 C6. I too had the dip on the shoulder blade from muscle mass loss. Your going to feel so much better the minute you wake up from surgery. I was in so much pain w/ mine as well. More than I ever want to bare again in my life. I had the MRI and a Mylogram where they inject the dye in your spinal colum and then take you to the catscan. I had a severe bulge in my disk. after 7 weeks of diagnosis my surgeon rushed me to surgery 2 days later, for fear that the the disk would sever my cord. When I woke up from surgery I never had anymore pain. It was such a relief. You'll be fine. Just think youll be pain free soon. Good Luck. I was off of work for a month after the sugery but really i was on my feet w/in in a few days. God bless. :wave: :angel:

stacyace 02-20-2004 10:47 AM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
after reading more, I thought I would tell you more since your not finding much on the internet about this stuff. It all started w/ me pretty rapidly. One morning I woke up and had an aweful ache in my shoulder, and arm. It moved up to my neck and mostly in my shoulder blade on my left side. It was agonizing. It came to where I couldnt even get out of bed, unless I rolled onto the floor. I told my dad to take me out back by the shed and put me out of my misery. They took me instead to the emergency room where they gave me pain meds til I could see my doc on monday. (this all happened 2 years ago.) When i went to my primary doc he basically said it was in my head and humored me by sending me to physical therapy after I insisted I was in pain. I went a few times but the excercized they gave me only made the matter worse. I went back to the doc and demanded a referral to a neurologist. I could not get in there for a week and a half. When I seen him he sent me to the hospital to have tests run. I had a MRI then the mylogram (the needle in the spine w/ dye injected) Then I had to go back to the neurologist 5 days later. He referred me to the Neurosurgeon who took more tests. At which point he set up immediately the surgery to replace my c5 c6 disk w/ a cadaver piece of hip bone, they covered that w/ a titanium plate held in place w/ two screws. from the time I woke up that morning w/ the aweful pain to the time I had the surgery it was 7 weeks. It all started a year earlier but just minor aches, but the big onset started a year later. I empasize w/ you all who are currently going through this. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Good Luck. Let me know if you have any questions. ill try to answer them the best I can.

MCC 02-20-2004 11:05 AM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
Thanks for all of the WONDERFUL replies. I was really freaking out, but now I'm somewhere between antsy and sub-panic. :)

While my arm hurts like crazy, it's doesn't hurt 24/7. There are periods of time that it stops altogether (until I sit at the computer too long or have my shoulder in a weird postion).

I'm thinking that maybe I'm not in enough pain yet to have surgery, but I fear nerve and muscle damage (muscle already starting) if I don't go ahead and do it.

When I had back surgery 8 years ago, I was in constant, relentless pain and wouldn't have cared if my head had been cut off. This time, I'm not at that stage. I am trying to decide if I should wait on this surgery or if I don't want to make the same mistake as last time with two years of suffering. (I did not have any nerve damage with my back, though).

My surgery is scheduled for March 11 so I don't have much time to decide. For some reason, the idea of my neck being cut open freaks me out much worse than my back???? Am I being paranoid?

unstoppable 02-20-2004 11:21 AM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
I feel your pain, I am a bodybuilder and i was preparing for a show and one day i noticed that my neck was stiff and so i thought nothing of it, with in the next week my arms and shoulders were going numb, and the day before my first of many Dr. appointments i was doing superset bicep/triceps workout and i could not feel my right bicep nor tricep after doing 10 intense sets. i went to the Dr. and i was told to immidiatly stop working out and to forget about the show. it is now Feb 20, 2004 and i have still not had my neck fixed, i was diagonsed with c5-c7 herniated disc and a deterioation in height of c4 and c6 vertabre. im am no longer to able to take and pain reducing medications because my doses were so high that my stomach is now so damaged that i have a hard time eating pizza. I am constantly told that i cannot have the operation to fix it due to my age, being 20 should have nothing to do with it. :dizzy: i am scheduled for my 10th dr. appointment on monday and this one is a month early, i only have 20lbs. of grip in my hand now and its rapidly deteriating, my shoulders are now gone, i used to cut my own hair, saving money as a college student but now i cant even hold the clippers up that long. all of my neck problems were not due to my in the gym lifting, but to some scotish weight games, Caber toss, 16lb. hammer throw, 28lb ball and chain toss. and the 8 vs 8 tug-o-war as to which i was the anchor. i did however to pretty well in the games, i wore my heavy duty weight lifting belt, but i should of been advised to wear a neck brace or something.

DonnaKay 02-20-2004 12:18 PM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
[QUOTE=MCC]Thanks for all of the WONDERFUL replies. I was really freaking out, but now I'm somewhere between antsy and sub-panic. :)

While my arm hurts like crazy, it's doesn't hurt 24/7. There are periods of time that it stops altogether (until I sit at the computer too long or have my shoulder in a weird postion).

I'm thinking that maybe I'm not in enough pain yet to have surgery, but I fear nerve and muscle damage (muscle already starting) if I don't go ahead and do it.

When I had back surgery 8 years ago, I was in constant, relentless pain and wouldn't have cared if my head had been cut off. This time, I'm not at that stage. I am trying to decide if I should wait on this surgery or if I don't want to make the same mistake as last time with two years of suffering. (I did not have any nerve damage with my back, though).

My surgery is scheduled for March 11 so I don't have much time to decide. For some reason, the idea of my neck being cut open freaks me out much worse than my back???? Am I being paranoid?[/QUOTE]

Yes, you're being paranoid. ;) But you are justified in being so. I think we all were!

The muscle/nerve damage is extremely scary to me. It takes a long time to come back. Remember that as you ponder your March 11 surgery. The longer you let it go, the longer it will take to come back (nerve and muscle both).

Do you like your surgeon? I keep asking everyone that same question. I think that has a whole lot to do with how well you do after surgery. I have had this surgery twice and I'd do it again with the same surgeon (if I had to). I totally trust him.

What did you have done to your back?

MCC 02-20-2004 02:12 PM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
My back surgery was a laminectomy because of 2 ruptured discs. The good DR's tell me that it's degenerative disc disease.

Gosh, after reading the posts from all of you on this thread, I feel like I'm being a big cry baby. I haven't experienced anything near what some of you have gone through. My prayers are with you.

I'm just afraid of having the surgery and being worse off after it than I am now. I'm not at the point of "cut my arm off" as far as pain is concerned. It's painful, yes, but not all the time. I guess I'm having a problem deciding what to do because the pain is not forcing me into the operating room (yet). The little voice in my head is saying (it'll only get worse, take care of it) but it hasn't convinced me yet.

Thanks again for all of the comments and assurance. :)

grace2 02-20-2004 03:33 PM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
[QUOTE=Rolex]"If this "Small" protrusion causes this much pain, I can only imagine what it would be if there was a "big" protrusion."


MCC, I met a girl last summer with my same problem C5-6 (she had fusion surgery)
who told me she felt like cutting her arm off it hurt that much.
My brother had a work accident with 2 level disc herniation, he said the same thing and I have read at least two posters on here say it.
I am so lucky I am not in that much pain yet![/QUOTE]

I have a "small protrusion" at c5-6 and a "huge protruded disk" at c6-7. It happened on January 24, 2004 and I had my first visit with the neurosurgeon on February 17th. He recorded some notes to send to my primary care physician while I was there and noted several groups of muscles which were already diminished in less than a month. My right arm is very painful to use so I try to use my left if possible. I'm not sure if the atrophy is due to lack of use or to other medical/chemical reasons, but it is definately effected.
Grace

lexie3131 02-20-2004 06:34 PM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
Hey MCC !

I'm not able to tell you what to do...I took the advice of Donnakay: "only YOU will know if it's time for surgery". I am one of the people you read about "cutting off their arm"....that was in back in Oct, Nov, & Dec. Surprisingly I no longer have that type of pain. I still have pain but it no longer shoots down my left arm. It is now located in my neck, between my shoulder blades and in my head behind my right ear. I no longer get the severe pins and needles either. However, I now get severe numbing if I lift my arms, my left ear goes completely numb, my feet go numb and my legs ache bad...and it is now taking longer for feeling to come back. MY FEAR: We've waited too long for surgery and I'm going to have permanent damage now. I have severe spinal cord compression, and my Dr also explained I have a complete block which is preventing spinal fluid from getting to my cord. Well, my surgery is on Thursday. I'm nervous but looking forward to getting back to my normal life. I haven't worked since 10/14/03 and can't continue to live my life as I have been. I hope you are able to come to a decision. If you have any post surgery questions I'll be happy to answer. I empathize with you because I had the same big questions about surgery. Let me know how things go.

Lexie

MCC 02-21-2004 07:09 AM

Re: C5/6 Herniation Causing Shoulder Athrophy?
 
A BIG thanks for everyone for their replies. I think I have decided that it's a GO for surgery. I'm at the stage where I'm actually invisioning my life without the numbness, tingling, cramping, weakness, etc.

I will pray for the best for me and all of you who are going through similar or even worse situations.

It's great to have a place to go like this where others can "IDENTIFY"

Will keep my progress posted.....

To Be Continued....... :angel: :angel: :angel:


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