Back in January, 2007, I tripped and fell while playing basketball and hurt my right elbow, but not too badly. Within a week I had a sore elbow and then I started to have some pain in my right shoulder and right arm and tingling in my right index finger. I was sent for an Xray for the elbow (negative) and an MRI which clearly showed a pinched nerve in my neck, between c5 and c6. The orthopedic doctor that I went to here in VA recommended a cervical epidural and if that did not work, neck fusion surgery.
I wasn't ready to go the invasive route so quickly so I opted for physical therapy first to see if that worked. The physical therapist realized, after examining me, that my spine was out of alignment. Due to my fall, evidently, my thoracic spine was misaligned to the left and my cervical spine, to compensate, was moved to the right thus causing the pinched nerve in my neck. The therapist immediately started to manipulate my thoracic spine to the right and the pain, which had been constant for two months despite painkillers, began to ease within 48 hours.
Progress since the first 10 days slowed as I was still having occasional tingling in my right index finger and my arm would still get tired and I would be in some pain. Today, after 7 weeks of physical therapy, I am almost completely back to normal. I was even able to swing a golf club yesterday without a problem.
Conclusion - I would certainly visit a physical therapist or chiropractor first for an examination before getting into invasive techniques such as an epidural or surgery.
My Chiropractor sent me for a MRI and it showed bulging disks c5, c6, she is going to send me to a pain management dr. She said he will either give me oral steroids or shots! Then back to therapy with her. I hope this works, I think the shots are just a band-aid, not a real cure and will probally not work after years of shots.
I believe pt is always the first line of defense. Surgery is very expensive and usually won't even be approved unless PT was tried. I had PT for months and months and months and no change for both of my injuries...I ended up with two surgeries and a third coming. As long as it is only a herniation PT is a good option. Most herniations will go away on their own. The problem is when bone spurs or narrowing persists. No pain meds or PT makes bone go away, darn the luck.. Great for you................God willing you do not have any further issues.