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  • Degenerative Disc Disease (w/herniation) & Headaches??

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    Old 01-14-2004, 03:49 PM   #1
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    Degenerative Disc Disease (w/herniation) & Headaches??

    Hi everyone,

    Ok, so I've got the DDD at several levels in my neck, topped off by a herniation at C7-T1. And significant damage to the long thoracic nerve in the right shoulder, causing the burning pain right at the skin all around that right shoulder. This is just to prime the question.

    For almost a week now, I've had a virtual perpetual headache. I'll get very small breaks, occasionally, but more or less I have some degree of a headache for the whole day. Sometimes very mild, sometimes not. The first thing I'll say, for many years now it seems (even before all my CP) I would sometimes get headaches that would last for days at a time. Don't know what that means exactly. But I have a few things to point at now, that I'd like to see if it tips off anything to anyone. Like, for about the last month I've been doing a new job that has me looking at a computer screen all day, save for 2 breaks and a 30 minute lunch (it's a data entry gig, that I only took thru a temp agency because I haven't been able to find film work around here). Now I've certainly become an avid personal computer user the last few years, but like I said, this is ALL DAY (including what personal stuff I still do at home, like gee, what I'm doing right now

    Not that's a difficult job by any stretch, but I'm usually pretty focused during it, the bosses tell me I'm the best performer of the new temps by far. My original thought was that this xtra computer screen time was pushing the HA's. But then a couple days ago a coworker asked if it might be sinus related. That hadn't occured to me, after all I haven't had much problem with runny nose, etc lately, but I have been noticing that whenever I inhale thru my noise (most of the time obviously) that little gust of air seems to make this acute little wave of pain in my head.

    Now, I have been taking Methadone 5mg for about 3.5-4 months now for all the neck and shoulder stuff. At first it was steady 3x day, but now for the last 1.5 month my doc has wanted me taking 2 for 15 days, 3 for 15 days. He's not big overall on the use of all these narcotics for this, especially since, as he just told me last week, he forsees this problem taking a good long time to get fixed (but this idea I think I've mentioned before). Anyway, like I haven't had enough to worry about, for about the last month I've had a world of tooth ache pain from one that cracked in half about 4-5 months ago (but didnt hurt til now-cavity problem). I've been using a lot of oral aenesthetic gel, and taking Ibuprofen too, but as many of you know, not all pain meds work on all pain. While the Meth has helped my nerve problems (though I'd sure feel more comfy being able to just take 3 everday), that tooth pain, and now headache pain, just keeps punching through inbetween, and with a vengeance. When I talked to my PM about this (well, just the tooth, the HA's weren't much then), he asked why I didn't just get something from the dentist. To make a long story short at this point of the story, I'll just say that I wasn't able to get an additional short acting narcotic from the dentist, just Ibuprofen (what were the odds?) and they were kinda jerky about it. I feel I could use something like at least Norco 10's for this (I've taken them before) just 2x day, no more than 3 on bad days, and this way I could more easily stick to the 2x day on the Meth. But I'd even be happy with Vicodin 5's at this point. I've been taking the Meth 3 everyday so far, and even took 4 one day.

    But I'm sorry, I kind of got off on a tangent there. What brought me here with this is, with these kinds of headaches I"m getting (and not the tooth, I know why that is), does this perhaps sound to anybody like it could have anything to do with the disc problems in my neck? Any experience with this anyone?

    Well thank you very much for reading this all, and I will very grateful for any replies. At least tomorrow is the last day of my work week, so I won't have to be on a computer so much (though hey, if I get a load of responses, I guess I will! But if I were to, that's at least worth looking at the screen for awhile

    Thanks everybody, I hope you're all doing ok

    Last edited by tyler7; 01-14-2004 at 04:12 PM.

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    Old 01-17-2004, 04:18 AM   #2
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    Re: Degenerative Disc Disease (w/herniation) & Headaches??

    Hi tyler, Just exactly where are your headaches located?Are they always in the same spot,or do you just have an overall pain throughout the head?I have many problems with severe neck and shoulder pain due to two surgeries for disc problems and also have DDD throughout my C-spine.These headaches were there even before the major surgery that was done on my spinal cord.The worst headache spot for me is at the base of the skull.I am pretty sure that mine are caused from some really bad muscle knots(you can actually see them when you look at my upper shoulders).that are just pulling everything upwards towards the base of the skull.Let me know where yours are and maybe we can come up with a reason,okay? Marcia
    3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
    11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
    9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

    Old 01-17-2004, 07:00 AM   #3
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    Re: Degenerative Disc Disease (w/herniation) & Headaches??

    Hey Tyler, As I was reading your post I was thinking I wonder if He's having teeth problems and BOOM, You mention a tooth, If it's an upper tooth, regardless of what you think caused the tooth flair. Roots can easily grow right through the gum and bone line and up into your sinuses and refer pain from sinuses to teeth or from teeth to sinuses.

    I have had so much tooth pain that I was sure was a tooth that turned out to be a sinus referring pain to the roots that protrude well into the sinus cavity. I have a grosser story but I'll leave it out for now. Yes sinuses can cause headaches and upper teeth can refer serrious pain into your sinus cavity and vice versa.

    I know your having insurance problems but if this could be relieved by a simple extraction it may be worth investigating. I know dentist don't like to do extractions if they think they can save the tooth with a 600 dollar root canal and then a 600 dolar crown and you still have no gaurentee you won't have the now 1200 dollar tooth eventually yanked.

    It seems a simple Novacaine block to give your tooth relief may give you a sign as to whether it's a sinus infection or a tooth problem. It's been my experience that most dentist will treat a sinus infection with antibiotics if they believe that's the cause of your tooth sinus pain.

    Sinus infection also have a very distinct smell. You know something funky is going on by the foul smell and a quick wisp of cold air across the sinuses is another good sign something is wrong with the old snooter.

    The home cure for sinus infections is to flush your sinuses out with warm salt water. You use a bowel, fill it with warm salt water , add a teaspoon of salt and stir. Then you dunk your beak into the bowel and draw as much saline fluid up your nose as you can bear. This will cause your sinuses to weap and you repeat it as often as you can bear. It will certainly clear out some nasty stuff regardless of whats going on. The salt water bowel sounds nasty and you want plenty of tissue as you do this remedy over a sink, but you can clean those puppies out very safely and effectively at home.

    You could also go the doc route and there really isn't a need for a sinus Xray if your positive to all other symptoms and palpatation of the sinuses, just meaning it hurts when they press on your upper or lower sinuses.

    This time of the year it wouldn't be uncomon.
    An upper tooth can certainly cause sever sinus pain, the roots often protrude directly into the sinuses, A sinus problem can ceratinaly cause a sever headache or tooth pain. So you may not be that far off base.

    I was playing connect the dots as I read your post and you were naming the dots as quickly as I could connect them. Now if it's a bottom tooth, it blows the whole theory somewhat, at least it excludes the tooth. But because of the distinct nasty smell of a sinus infection and the obvious yellow green discharge certainly indicates a sinus infection.

    I was writing to say I don't think your initial thoughts were that far off base. When your sinuses are impacted, they flush them with salt water, It's even more unpleaseant then the home remedy. At least you have something to try over the weekend.

    What exactly did the dentist do, did he give you an antibiotic? The salt water rinses will help break things up so the antibiotic can really get to work. If things start to ease off within 3-4 days of antibiotics you know you found the problem.

    On the other hand, It is very possible for cervicle problems to create huge headache problems, lots of muscle tension in the neck which requires a muscle relaxer or possibly an occipital block or some TP injections into the neck area to release the tension in the neck. However TP injections are expensive and blocks even moreso.

    I know, talking about procedure you can't really afford is frustrating, but perhaps somewher in my post is a usable answer or trick to isolate and figure out what the problem is and find the least expensive way to resolve.

    I know my upper teeth all grow into my sinuses and used to give me a fit with blurry tooth pain/sinus pain which turns into headaches.

    Now all my upperteeth have root canals and I have a 8k bridge that covers every upper tooth. Lots of chicklets. LOL Much better than dentures or a partial but that's what I used my back pay from SSD to fix.

    Hope your feeling better soon. The sucking air across your sinuses is the biggest clue that something is going on. Only you know what smell you might notice and the color of drainage, you can spair us that. LOL Surely there is an answer and it just takes a little Sherlock work to find the cause and connect the dots. Take care, Shore

    Old 01-17-2004, 09:16 AM   #4
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    Re: Degenerative Disc Disease (w/herniation) & Headaches??

    So, I'm going to develop a brand new form of pain management. It's called a ballpeen (sp?) hammer to the toes. I figure if I do that, I'll forget ALL ABOUT what's wrong with everything from my shoulders and up. lol

    I feel like I couldn't be more lost right now if you dropped me in the middle of the Congo. And it seems like I should've just included what I was trying to to be brief about (the use of my 'to make a long story short' in the 1st post)

    Shore, I hate to say this to you now, but my bad tooth is on THE BOTTOM. Bottom left to be exact, 1 in from the back end (it used to be the 2nd, but I had all the wisdoms removed 3 yrs ago). When I first went in to the dentist, he took a little xray, and seemed pretty sure that it was all due to the cavity I've had in that tooth for a long time. That was why it cracked in the first place, the cavity eventually weakened it, and it didn't hurt for so long because it needed time to burrow inside to get to the nerve. He gave me Penicilin then, saying it could at least help the infection the cavity was producing (at least I think that's what he said), but bearing in mind that I would only be stalling with that. The extraction he said would cost about $2400, because it also involved "bridging" the two surrounding teeth, and some other small stuff. He even drew me a little diagram to show what was happening. And I have to say, it did seem like I had some relief after I'd been taking the Penicilin for a few days. So, just the other day when he gave me the 10 Vic ES's, he gave me two more refills on the Pen., but we agreed on the point that this isn't something he'll maintain me with continually, that I have to "make a decision" about how to solve the problem.

    Now, after I'd heard all about this sinus/teeth stuff, I called his office (for one thing to thank them for the scripts, because nobody was there when I picked them up, just an envelope was left out for me), and asked the recept to pass along the question to him about it. Just wanting to know that the pain was DEFINITELY due to the cavity stuff, and that it couldn't be from any sinus problem. She seemed pretty confident that if it did, he would've noticed something during my exam, that it very much probably is the cavity, but she'd pass it thru just to be safe. And since then I haven't heard back, so, take from that what you will....

    Now a couple points I can make. A little over a year ago, my mom had some tooth problems, and the dentist (same one I just saw) said she needed a route canal (this was my 2nd option). I forget if she ever did, but he gave her Penicilin also. Actually he gave her 1 RX of 10 Vic ES too, but her pain wasn't as bad and plus my mom is the type to rarely take narcs, she'll stick to Tylenol unless she ABSOLUTELY ABSOLUTELY can't take it. So she hardly touched the Vic's.

    Also, Shore, for what it's worth I've noticed neither a foul smell (besides my usual B.O. of course, lol) nor a discharge any different from when I usually blow my nose, although I really haven't done that that often at all, weird I guess especially when you consider that I've been taking a nasal decongestant for about 4 days now (Pseudoephedrine 30mg).

    To answer your question FEELBAD, the h/a pain is pretty much all over my head, though I'll say it seems more often around my temples, forehead and right at that spot of the side of the ear where a man's sideburns would start, and less often in the back, at the bottom where the skull meets the spine.

    (Ok, forgot to add this part when I first wrote this) Just for the record, and again I'm pretty certain that my mom's teeth trouble before weren't sinus related either, but as far as her sinuses, she's been taking the supplement Cider Vinegar tablets (aka Apple CV) everyday for I would guess over a year now, and she swears that her sinuses in general feel so much better and she rarely has any problems with them since taking it. I think I"m going to start partaking myself.

    But my god, my head's been throbbing all morning. And for my tooth, well it's 12:15 now, I didn't get out of bed until about 10:30 (my only day to sleep in this week), and I've already liberally applied the Orajel to my mouth THREE TIMES. As one might have expected, the couple of Vic ES's I've taken so far have not packed much punch.

    Now.... where DID I put that hammer....... ?

    Last edited by tyler7; 01-17-2004 at 10:53 AM.

    Old 01-17-2004, 01:40 PM   #5
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    Re: Degenerative Disc Disease (w/herniation) & Headaches??

    Sorry Ty, Sounds like the tooth doesn't have much to do with the headaches. Antibiotics for a bad tooth would pretty much take care of a problem with your sinuses anyway so you have that covered.

    Sounds like the Headaches are part of the cervicle and Tspine problem. Muscle relaxers for the neck and shoulders and pain meds for the pain are about all you can do, I know your waiting on insurance but Adittonal meth and somethng to loosen up the neck and shoulders would be my gues to help with the headaches and isn't terribly expensive.

    If you have a history of migraines you get to try all the fun abortive drugs but that doesn't sound like it's the problem. I hoped my reply about how to switch docs sounded useful. It really does cover the bases. What's your doc going to say if you want to try a doc that does trigger points injections and he doesn't do them, or one that does myofacial release techniques and he doesn't. In fact he probably doesn't know exactly what another Pm is really capable of unless they happen to be associated or friends. Even then, knowing every modality your competetors use isn't neccesarrily info a doc would look for unless he was very buisness oriented.

    Anyway, It doesn't sound like you need to be sucking any salt water up your snoot so forget that one or file it away for another time. Sinus infections really do have an unmistakable smell most of the times. Pressing above and below your eyes is the docs version of a physical exam and you can check for pain this way yourself. If it causes undue pain then you may have a sinus problem, just another tid bit to store away for future use. HAng in there, I do think in your case switching docs is something you really may need to do to find a doc that isn't trying to pigeon hole you and uses the same dose of med on every patient. Just enough to keep you from loosing your mind.LOL

    Anyway, good luck and I hope the tooth thing works out. I haven't heard of the Cider tablets, my folks live in the mountains now too and they have some interesting cures up there.LOL What is Vinigar suposed to do?

    Take care, Shore

    Last edited by Shoreline; 01-17-2004 at 01:46 PM. Reason: can't spell ;)

    Old 01-18-2004, 07:13 PM   #6
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    Re: Degenerative Disc Disease (w/herniation) & Headaches??

    hi tyler
    i also get constant headaches and have problems at c7 my pm doc says they are cause from the nerve pain causing the muscles in my shoulder and neck to spasm and pull at the muscles on the side of my head causing tension headaches he prescibed 5 mg of valium as needed for muscle spasms and they seem to work well as long as i take an asprin and tylenol with it

    Old 01-20-2004, 12:43 PM   #7
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    Re: Degenerative Disc Disease (w/herniation) & Headaches??

    Hiya Tyler,
    Has your dentist checked into the function of your TM joints? I too have cervical pain and headaches...long story but still unraveling the cause of it all. TMJ Disorder is one theory, and cervical rediculopathy the other.

    I'm questioning the TM joints due to your pain in your forehead, temples, and your right "sideburn" spot...dead on with the TM joint.

    My experience so far in doctors trying to treat TMJD has only worsened my condition, so proceed cautiously down that path.

    Best to you,

    headaches, neck pain and spasm, and my tmj's are burnin' baby.

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