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    Old 09-22-2004, 09:49 PM   #1
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    Arrow Please help... Pinched nerve?

    I have been experiencing pretty lousy arm pain and numbness in my left arm for about 6-7 weeks. I saw my oncologist yesterday (b/c survivor) who thought it may be a pinched nerve & he is sending me for ex-rays of shoulder and cervical spine, (he didn't feel it was b/c related). My gp had also suggested this same possibility.
    I do plan to have the exrays, etc, but until I'm able to I would love some info.
    Can someone fill me in on what this means and how pinched nerves are treated? And what causes them? I am currently taking Ultram for the pain which gives me only fair relief but I'm trying to avoid (re-addiction to) opiates. Other chronic back conditions are degenerated discs L4 & 5, & arthtrtiis, for which I have been taking Vioxx.
    The term "Pinched nerve" is a new one for me. Is this yet another chronic condition?
    Thanks so much in advance for any insight you may have.

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    Old 09-23-2004, 10:00 AM   #2
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    Re: Please help... Pinched nerve?

    Hi Ellen, Pinched nerve is a garbage laymans term that doesn'tt tell you anything, What's pinching it, a lobbster? Where is it being pinched? Your neck , your shoulder, elbow?

    You really need the diagnostics to get an acurate diagnosis. An actual term would be a bulging disc compressing a specific nerve root at a specific level, Discs can bulge out and impinge nerve roots, It's a disc problem not a pinching problem.LOL You cold have stretched a nerve root or the brachial plexis.

    With arm pain, It can be your neck, It can be your shoulder, It can be the brachial plexis "the huge nerve cluster near the arm pit, or something unralated to the spine like carpel tunnel syndrome.

    There are several diagnostic test that can look at different nerve branches, roots, bundles or specific nerve pathways. MRI is a good start, An Xray doesn't show nerves. IF you had radiation for B/C, it could have cooked the discs in your cervical spine and be causing the problem.

    If an MRI doesn't show anything, the next step is usually an EMG where they do a nerve conduction study to verify an impingment and it's location. Then there are Meylograms with contrast and CT';s, CT's of the brachial plexis and shoulder. It's just too hard to say with such a term as a pinched nerve that really doesn't describe the source or cause of pain.

    Nerve pain is harder to treat than say a broken bone that responds well to opiates. The non opiate treatments for nerve pain are antidepressants, usually starting with the trycyclics before going to the SSRI's. you also have folks that have benefited greatly from anti seizure meds like Neurontin, Gabatrill, Toppamax, Lamyctil,Dilantin, the list of anti-seizure meds is pretty large and it's just a matter of trial and eror. A tens unit could help relive pain or a nerve that has been damaged or stretched can simply heal itself over time.

    Keep us posted about what's happening with the diagnostics and perhaps we can give you clearer advice and what your option are once you know what is casuing the "pinched nerve" and which nerve it is and hwere the impingement is coming from.

    Some docs are just like that, vague DX, ddon't want to discuss options before knowing what's up and limited description of the problem. The dfays of surgeons patting you on the head and saying I can fix this are over, I want o know what your fixing, what are the odds of suuscess, how your going to fix it, what's the rcovery time, PTafter surgery or not and what if this doesn't work?

    The internet levels the playing field greatly but some docs just don't want to explain because we just aren't bright enough to understand the medical terminology and all the mysterious information he holds deep in his amazing brain.

    Hang in there, wait for answers, f your miserable let him know, perhaps he can sped up the Diagnostic process but that's another problem with surgeons. They see foks in pain post op all day ong that are flat on their back and can barely move. They have that idea ofpain in the backof their head and when you describe your pain it's best to put it into terms as far as limitations, rather than your comfort level. He may ask how is your pain on 1-10 scale, BUt that doesn't tell hm you can't lift your arm to wash your hair, you can't pick up a two liter without dropping it and typing is so painful your going to have to change carreers.

    Real limitations and inabilities are a far better way to describe pain and the impact it has on you than a simple subjective number system that's different for everyone. What's ungodly miserable pain to one person may be the level of pain I live with on a daily basis. because I live with it, I don't call it a 10, "the worst pain imaginable." Unfortnately with each surgery, I have had to reset my idea of what the worst pain imaginable actually is.

    Hang in ther and ortho problems will not likely move as quickly as your treatment for B/C. You walked into his office, you won't likely die from pain. Docs are great at suggesting a lifestyle or career change. It's an easy statement for a surgeon to make but if you tell the same doc he can't operate anylonger, watch him crawal into bed with all his hopes, dreams and work to get there shattered. Just like every patient he has made this suggestion to.
    Take care, be patient and push the docs office if things aren't happening and you feel someone has dropped the ball as far as schedulaing diagnostics.
    Good luck, Dave

    Old 09-23-2004, 10:14 PM   #3
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    Re: Please help... Pinched nerve?

    Hi Dave,
    Wow! Thank you for sharing your knowlege with me! I was intrigued and just spent the last hour reading some of your posts. I'm so sorry that you are dealing with living with so much pain. I too was on methadone (not for p/m!) for 5 long years and came off it in 1976.
    I agree with you that the exrays will probably be a waste of my time, but it seems that is where my doc wants to begin to rule out whatever. A too conservative approach if you ask me. Since it is the only prescription he gave me, I made an appt for tomorrow (Fri), for Cervical spine and shoulder films. ho hum! I'm sure I will need further testing from there.
    Btw, since I am also taking Lexapro for depression (Paxil, prior to that) I was told to keep my Ultram use to only 1 tab 5h, intead of 2tabs 4-6. Like I said I only get fair pain relief, so I'm hoping to get to the bottom of this dx sooner than later. In addition, I've read some stuff about the nasty w/d from Ultram, and since I have been taking it on and off for pain due to my breast surgery, radiation tx, etc. and before that for other post-op pain. (don't ask!) And now, I am taking it again. Just wondering what might be ahead. Since I am a recovering addict (clean and sober 16 years), I wonder if you know what other meds are available truly being non-addicting? I know nuerontin might be an option for me? I am taking it one step at a time right now, and am just in the baby stage of getting a diagnosis right now. Just fearing the worst. My fear of re-addiction is very real and scary to me too.
    Anyway, thank you so very for your imput. May I ask? Are you in the medical field yourself or just learning and researching to be pro-active with your own tx? If that's too nosy of me, please forgive. I enjoyed our talk. Hope you are feeling well tonight.
    Warm regards,

    Old 09-24-2004, 07:54 AM   #4
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    Re: Please help... Pinched nerve?

    hi ellnyc
    I am sorry to hear of all of your physical problems your having..I had numbness in the right piinky finger and ring finger.eventually i couldnt even make a fist anymore!!i am wearing a splint which is just a 1/2 cast..i am 1 month post op..i believe it is inhuman to expect yourself to get through very tough times w/out pain meds...have someone hold them for you and make sure you dont take more than nessasary!I KNOW i xcouldnt not have made this far w/out all the meds i have had to take!!There have been days when i wished i could cut my arm off it hurt so bad!!!I hope this can be fixed soon for you!!

    Old 09-24-2004, 08:24 PM   #5
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    Re: Please help... Pinched nerve?

    Awwww, thanks so much for your message and your suggestion. I had an exray
    of my vertical spine and shoulder done today as the first step towards getting my diagnosis. I guess I'll take it a test at a time. I do hope you continue to heal and feel better from your surgery.
    Thanks again!

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