I have recently been diagnosed with degenerative arthritis, herniated discs and retrospondylolisthesis (had to get my doc to write this down) after 3 years of pain. Pains affect my neck, shoulders, arms and have tingling and pins and needles in my neck, arms and fingers. Also suffer from constant headaches to temple and deep in the back of right side of neck. Had nerve root block injection in May 2009 and have had 6 sessions of physiotherapy which hasn't helped me at all. The physio said my neck feels like "planks of wood". Am now waiting to start acupuncture. Feel a little lost at the moment and feel that my consultant hasn't really explained these conditions and how they will affect me and that she didn't really care about me as an individual. She obviously treats so many people I am just another face. At the time of my last consultation in May the orthopaedic surgeon said if I was older she would recommend decompression and bone fusion surgery at once, but as I was only 48 wants to see if any of these therapies help me.
Feel confused and at a loss at the moment and wonder if any other members had suffered these conditions and what their prognosis' were? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Regards. Jan Had.
Some of the posters might want your MRI findings here.
I was diagnosed at 44 and at 50, life with this spine is, sorry for the bad news, not wonderful.
If you have planks, it means your muscles are tight and knotted, and you might try some more intensive treatments like deep tissue massage or other alternative yet clinical therapies. It can bring you some temporary relief but you need to be regular with it.
This won't stop the deterioration and some on these posts might recommend you get another dr that you feel is addressing your needs. Don't know if that's an option for you, but it will be an even longer road for you if you aren't consulting with dr you can respect.
Thanks choc for your informed reply. Have appointment for acupuncture next Tuesday, so hope this will offer some relief. Willing to try anything at the moment if it helps with the pain. Have decided that I will see consultant when appointment due, but then if I still feel the same will ask to be referred to another surgeon. Have you ever had any dealings with neurology, as this hasn't been mentioned to me yet. Just wondering about the possible nerve damage which is going on? Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.
Have not posted for a while as have not been feeling good at all. Had to have my left back molar removed a couple of weeks ago and have been in agony with an absess. As a result have been spending many sleepless nights nursing earache, jawache and my bad neck also. I had to have an arthroplasty on my right jaw about 15 years ago as I had extremely impacted wisdom teeth and my jaw was damaged as a result. Because of this I cant open my mouth very wide, so the dentist really struggled to remove this tooth!
Anyway life goes on, better this week, so started my acupuncture after this break yesterday. My neck is very tight at the mo so the therapist is taking things very easy as she doesnt want to inflame it anymore. Have another booked for thursday and another next tuesday. Then will be assessed to see if it has helped me at all.
Having a few problems with my legs at the mo - they feel very heavy and its as if they dont want to do what I want them to do - very strange sensation. Dont know if this is anything to do with my neck. Any advice would be much appreciated! Best wishes. Janhad.
I don't know what your MRI showed, but if your legs are feeling heavy and hard to control, you may have some spinal cord compression going on. That was the first symptom I had, and I wasn't diagnosed properly for a year due to the neurologist thinking that my lumbar discs which were bulging were causing all the problems with my legs. My hands and arms didn't show symptoms until later. It turns out that I had a vertrabra so out of alignment that my spinal cord was compressed and bruised. I had ACDF surgery a year ago with plate and screws to put things back in place. I still have weakness and balance problems, but the downward progression has stopped and my arms and hands have regained strength. I found a great neurosurgeon who was able to put things right. Hope you find the answers you need.
Thank you for your help and advice. I am quite new to all the medical terms etc. Did you have lumbar problems and also cervical spine problems, the cervical spine problems causing your neuro problems? Also what is ACDF surgery?
The only consultant I have seen is an orthopaedic surgeon who wanted MRIs taken of my neck etc. Going to see a neurologist has not been mentioned yet, but perhaps it is something that I need to look into?
I am glad your symptoms are now no longer in a downward progression. Going back to the surgery, decompression and fusion surgery was mentioned in March 2009 (the last time I saw the orthopaedic surgeon). Is this the same as ACDF surgery? I would be really grateful if you could explain further for me.
Look forward to your reply. Jan.
PS am due to see the orthopaedic surgeon when I have finished a course of acupuncture, which hasn't helped me as of yet.
I had lower back pain off and on for several years, when it became much worse, and then I started having difficulty walking normally. My GP referred me to a neurologist for further evaluation, and he ordered a lumbar MRI which showed degeneration and two bulging discs, L4, L5 with some stenosis. He later referred me to a neurosurgeon, who ordered 3 epidural steroid injections which did little for me. My balance steadily was getting worse, and then I started having numbness in fingers and elbows, as well as further weakness. My legs felt like lead, and especially my left leg was hard to lift. I had a bad fall due to the balance problems, and I think I injured my neck further. They didn't start looking at my cervical spine until I began to have such severe neuropathy in my feet, that I had blood blisters. I also had extremely hyper reflexes, and much numbness, tingling, etc. in legs and feet. I went back to the neurosurgeon and he ordered a MRI of both lumbar and cervical. That's when they discovered that my C7-T1 vertrebrae were pushed in on the spinal cord. I was told I would need a surgery from both the front and rear to fix this, so I was expecting a Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion (ACDF) as well as a posterior procedure. I wasn't comfortable with the NS I was seeing, so went for a second opinion, and liked the second Dr. better. He planned to do the same surgery, but when he got in through the front incision (just a few inches on the neck near the collarbone) he was able to stabilize everything from the front. That was very good for me, since the surgery was half as long, and they didn't have to touch my back. I had a donor bone graft and a titanium plate with four screws to patch up my spine. I wore a collar for two weeks, and then was able to drive, etc.
I had physical therapy to regain strength and they also worked on my balance, and I still work on this in the warm water pool at the YMCA. I still have tingling, etc. which could still improve, but my strength has returned to my hands and arms. My neck was fused at my 6 month check up. I can turn it pretty well to either side, since my fusion is pretty low on the neck.
I still have the lumbar issues, but a surgery wouldn't help, so I control the pain with exercise, rest and over the counter naproxen. I don't have much pain with my neck, just some stiffness when I am very tired.
I came very close to being paralyzed, so I am very thankful that I walk as well as I do. I use a cane when out in public, since I don't want to fall.
I hope this gives you more information. There are so many people on this board who know so much more than I do, I'm sure you'll get some answers to help you communicate with your doctors. Keep us informed on your progress.
I must have missed some of your posts, anyway, I am sorry to hear that things are not so good for you. It's not good at all that your legs are starting to feel heavy and a neurologist is a good idea; have you had any nerve conduction studies done yet?
I have been having some problems with memory as well, and even when I read up on people's posts, I forget when I go to answer the post! So please forgive me; I really am trying to be helpful.
When the problems started in my legs, it felt like someone slipped a huge, vibrating rubber sleeve over each leg. I had many problems with electrical shock type feelings whenever I laid down (that ceased after 4 years). My feet changed to what feels like less flexible sticks of wood. When I got on my treadmill one day maybe 5 years ago, I wondered what had happened to my feet and things have never improved. I have to watch my feet/legs or at least keep them in my peripheral vision, or I don't know where they are. I don't have foot drop like some do, but I have to concentrate or I will trip and fall. Same thing with the hands; it started with not being able to feel light switches and went from there. I have to watch them as well.
Does any of this describe how you are feeling? I am not sure if I have other health complications as well, but thought I should post here anyway. I am glad others are posting as this information is such a help, isn't it?
Keep us posted, okay? I have to limit my time on here because of some S1-L5 nerve problems and just get really uncomfortable but will try to check in.
Sorry for not posting sooner but have been feeling really bad over the last few days - really bad neck pain and intense headache over my left eye and also at the back of my head. Feeling a little better today so read your post.
Thanks for your reply and for explaining some of the medical terms to me ( I am a complete novice in these things so have a lot to learn).
You explained your problems really clearly and the surgery which you undertook. I was just wondering how long it took for you to recover from the neck surgery. Just thinking whether you have a pretty normal life after this? How long before you can start to do the normal everyday things etc?
I have extreme difficulty moving my neck to each side these days and find it nigh on impossible to look upwards and even when I look down for any period of time experience really distressing pain and then electric shocks and severe burning pain. It is the kind of pain that is very hard to try to explain.
All my symptoms seem to be getting much worse over the last 4-6 weeks and I was thinking this might have something to do with the spondylolisthesis (retro) which has been diagnosed - perhaps the amount of slippage through the spondylolisthesis is getting worse?
I am feeling a little scared at the moment as my legs also feel very heavy and sometimes I find it hard to get into and out of the car and find I am lifting my legs with my hands. This is something that has very slowly happened, but when thinking about when I am walking, feel as if I am not getting anywhere and that I am dragging my legs. Sometimes it is difficult to coordinate my hands also, when picking things up - I have to try quite a few times sometimes!
Have a further acupuncture on tuesday and then get reassessed by the physio. Think I will stress to her that I really want to go back to see my consultant now. I don't want to wait any longer just incase things are going downhill.
Thanks again for your help and advice and I will keep you posted.
Take care. Jan.
Sorry that you are still experiencing problems with your hands, arms, feet and legs, but thankyou for explaining how you still manage to do things etc. It is good to hear that there is someone out there who is experiencing similar problems, as a while back I didn't feel like I had anyone to discuss with other than family and friends who had no similar experiences. It is always good to share with likeminded people don't you think?
Have you ever been to see a neurologist in relation to these problems. I didn't even realise that you could start to have problems with other parts of your body through problems with your spine etc. So am learing so much as I go along.
I am finding it difficult even with my own family doctor who doesn't really know that much about spines etc as they are a general practitioner and not a specialist on the spinal cord etc.
Like you I sometimes find it difficult to remember things. I am putting that down to my hormones at the moment! Know it doesn't really help but don't want to think that my spine is responsible for my lack of memory etc. But you never know do you. I find myself having to reread posts and my own posts as I have a tendency to forget also. Don't worry too much. Jan
PS Have not had nerve conduction tests done, these have not been mentioned to me and I don't know what these are, so an explanation would be greatly appreciated!
I'm sorry to hear that you are experiencing these problems. It can be very frustrating, especially when the medical people don't really understand unless they have actually experienced these symptoms. What they have learned from books doesn't really explain all the crazy things the body does when the spinal cord is compressed. To answer your question, I probably resumed the activities that I could handle around 2-3 weeks after surgery in a limited way, and by two months, could do more. I still can't do some household chores, since my lumbar is in pain, so I just do what I can and let my house get much more in disorder than I really like. As far as my legs, I also have to lift them by hand when I get in the car. The left is worse than the right. I have difficulty sitting for any length of time, and must use pillows positioned just right to do it at all. That includes in the car. We have taken several long road trips in the past two weeks, and I have been paying for that with some sciatic pain which I didn't have previously. It has improved today with more rest. I hope that you are able to go back and get something going with an EMG (nerve conduction test) or other tests to pin point the reason for your pain and nerve symptoms. The longer they wait, the more damage can be done. By the way, we visited Wales in 2001 and really enjoyed it. We have friends who live in Northern England, and we love Britain. We have been to England five times, Scotland twice and Wales once. Haven't made it to Ireland yet, but hope to in the future. However, I must get more able to get around to enjoy it. Hope you get more answers soon. Keep us posted.
Jan, I wouldn't wait much longer to see a neurologist or neurosurgeon (preferable). I'm not sure how your system works there. My dad had a completely different medical condition, but it was resulting in spinal cord compression. He had many of these same symptoms, but they were just overlooked by various doctors. Unfortunately, it eventually left him completely paralyzed in a matter of months. By the time they discovered what the problem was, the damage that had been done was permanent. I don't want to scare you. Not everybody ends up this way, but I think these symptoms need to be taken more seriously by those in charge of your care.
I myself have benefited from acupuncture and believe in its ability to help us heal, but it is not going to really treat your problem. I think you need to see a specialist as soon as possible. I wish you the best.
Nerve conduction will show, to a degree, what condition your nerves (function) are in. Other posters can describe this test, but it is a starting point that can be helpful for the neurologist. I had one over two years ago that showed somewhat normal, but things have changed drastically since then.
It looks like our medical systems have some similarities. We are at the mercy of our family doctor, called GP here, who decides where we need to go, or not. If your symptoms become too troublesome, go to emergency. Perhaps that will speed things up for you. But like here, you would have to be critical to get immediate response there.
You mentioned hormones: I am not sure exactly what you mean. I am well past menopause at 50. I have no idea if the horrible leg problems that I had about 4 years ago, especially at night, are related to that or not. All I know is that although I would get full-body and/or leg, what I used to call 'fireballs' because they would travel through my body and end in toes, have stopped for the most part, I now have symptoms already described, with nerve pulses in feet and constant vibration. I don't think I have seen such symptoms on the Menopause board. The added L5-S nerve root/disc situation adds to the mix, so who knows?
So like the other posters, I hope that you can get the necessary medical care you need. I did see a neurologist years ago and need to see one again. I am now on a waiting list for another GP; mine told me 6 years ago I was on a slow road to paralysis, including what signs to look for, and at my last appointment, he said things were fine. Make sure that you don't end up with this kind of quack. It's devastating, to say the least, and my only option is emergency (ambulance), but I would have to be critical. Sounds crazy to me but that's where it's at right now.
Be persistant, yet in control of your emotions and see this through. I can't stay much longer tonight, but let me know if I can be of any help.
Apologies for not posting sooner, but have been having a few problems with my internet connection, but all sorted out now. Just to let you know of my recent progress. Went for my last acupuncture last tuesday. The therapist doesn't think it will help to have more acupuncture as it seems to just inflame my neck more and really hurts after for a few days. This is not good as you can imagine, so have now made an appointment to see the first physio I saw at the hospital to be reassessed and to see if there are any more treatment options that she could possible give me. Feel that now I am going to stress being referred back to the consultant who actually ordered the course of physical therapy to say that I don't feel I have been helped and need further investigation/treatment. Now I don't want to wait any longer, so hopefully will know more after next wednesday. Will keep you posted with any news etc.
We have been living in North Wales for about 9 years now and it is a lovely part of the uk. I am originally from the north west of england (manchester) and moved here to run a country pub and restaurant with my partner. Late last year we sold out of the business partly because I just couldn't work the extremely long hours because of the problems I was experiencing with my neck. I do feel very frustrated as I am used to being very active and it does get me down when I can't do the things I want to do. Find that I can only do a little of the things I used to do and my house is not as clean as it used to be, but what else can you do?
Like yourself I find driving very uncomfortable and last week went to visit my dad who lives only about 50 miles away and was in agonies with muscle spasms in my neck and then it takes quite a few days to get over the amount of pain etc.
Anyway hope you are not so bad at the mo and best wishes from sunny wales - well it was yesterday.
Am writing this at 5.30am as neck sore and can't sleep! Jan.
Thanks for your kind reply and was so sorry to hear about the problems that your dad experienced. It does make you start to think though. These problems I have been experiencing just sort of creep up on you and I am finding that I tend to just accept them, but now feel that I really need to get something sorted. It might be something or nothing. Am going back to see my physio next wednesday to be reassessed so will post again.