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  • Very Concerned, Cervical Stenosis

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    Old 01-24-2012, 12:50 PM   #1
    Coralocean
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    Very Concerned, Cervical Stenosis

    Hello Everyone this is my first time posting on any board. I am scared and am looking for others with knowledge and/or experience with my problem.

    Some History

    I am 44 and have had back pain all my life, 7 years ago it became severe after I lifted a very heavy object. Right above my tail bone it felt like there was a knife in it, it was very very painful to get up and down from a chair, I was in tears. I went to a doctor and they said everyone has back pain just stay in bed for a week and take NSAIDs. Well I couldn't do that or I would loose my job. It finally healed after months but came back sporadically with no apparent reason, meaning I didn't lift anything heavy. It was like I would move a certain way and a sharp pain would appear like a lightning bolt right above my tailbone.

    I have lived with moderate to severe back pain ever since, it has limited me immensely. Now lets add a little salt, while I was at work 2 years ago I was attacked and thrown to a concrete floor. I went to the ER and was diagnosed with a "neck sprain", and was given muscle relaxers, NSAID's and even Valium. The spasms and pain were not going away so I was finally referred to an Orthopedic Specialist who ordered an MRI. The test revealed that I have severe arthritis in my neck and disc degenerative disease. Doctor said it was pretty bad for someone my age. Sorry this is so long, I am trying to shorten it. I was out of work and on Workman's Comp, they sent me to physical therapy for a couple of months which helped. I decided to try to go back to work despite some pain, but I was much better. My second day back to work I turned my head and felt a zap of pain like a knife was stabbing the back of my neck. My co-worker put her hand on my neck and felt a large knot, I could not stay at work and went home. It has been downhill ever since. Now everything hurts, taking a shower, typing, cleaning, lifting, and I stay in bed most of the time. My right and left shoulders go numb, fall asleep, sometimes going to my fingers on each side. It seems to take turns going from my right arm to my left. All the doctors I had I can no longer see, I lost workman's comp and my job. I have no money to get treatment. Workman's comp had denied cervical epidurals. I managed to borrow 250 dollars to see my pain specialist I had with workman's comp and I have been prescribed Dilaudid, (I cannot tolerate other pain medicine). I am taking 2-4 mg daily to take the edge off, thank god for that.

    I am in tears as I write this, I am very scared. My doc said nerve damage cannot be reversed, does anyone have any advice? Thank you kindly in advance.

    Coralocean

     
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    Old 01-24-2012, 02:53 PM   #2
    jennybyc
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    Re: Very Concerned, Cervical Stenosis

    You don't say where you live but if it's in the US, you might want to start applying for Social Security Disability. I believe Canada has something similar. It can take a while to get but you need money and medical care. You might also consider seeing a Workman's Comp lawyer as they should be paying for your neck problem....for life. They often take the case for free and are paid out of your settlement. If you were fired for the injury, that is retribution and illegal.

    Just so you aren't going nuts thinking you are developing permanent nerve damage, you probably aren't. A nerve that is screaming in pain is a live and kicking nerve. If it is starting to die or is permanently damaged, then you get the signs of paralysis(a dead nerve is a paralyzed nerve). That would mean less pain or no pain, numbness along the nerve involved, muscle weakness followed by muscle wasting maybe tingling or electric shocks, and in the arm, a hand that doesn't work. Sounds like you are in the stage of intense pain when the nerves are compressed but not yet in danger.

    Most people with low back problems have neck problems too...a spine is a spine whether it's high or low, the arthritis travels the entire thing. And that knot that your co-worker found in your neck that second day of work....a huge muscle spasm! Those muscle spasms hurt more than anything else in the neck. The muscles are trying to compensate for the loss of strength and motion in the bones of the neck and that makes them overwork and they get tired and spasm in revolt.

    Heat helps spasms. When a muscle spasms, it forces the blood flow down to a minimum. Heat helps to restore the blood flow and that helps to ease the pain. use a heating pad while sitting. Use one of the microwave heat wraps for moist heat when you can. I love the ThermaCare wraps that you tape on for 8-12 hours of heat when you are up doing stuff. Take ibuprofen regularly to help keep an anti-inflammatory drug in your blood stream. If you can get someone to massage your neck muscles, that helps a lot too. You can buy those soft neck collars at any drug store and they help to support your head and take the load off the muscles...that helps too. Just find one that keeps your head up in a comfortable position.....no Rx needed for them. Reminds you to watch how much you use your neck, too.

    But in the meantime, start talking to a lawyer or try calling and talking to your state WC board......they might be very interested in your story. Sounds like an abuse of the system to me. WC is supposed to help the employee, not punish them. It is enforced by the state to the advantage of the employee but most of us don't know that. You don't even have to apply for WC through your job...you can apply directly to the state and they will send a copy to the company and unless they complain to the state, you get it automatically....found that out when I did it for myself. Neat! The state WC people are there for the employee so try talking to them to see if your company has broken the law.

    good luck...........Jenny(fused C3 to T1)

     
    Old 01-24-2012, 08:39 PM   #3
    Coralocean
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    Re: Very Concerned, Cervical Stenosis

    Thank you for the information, sadly WC is not an option. At the time the surgeon said I was not operative and that after I went back to work he would not say to the WC arbitrator that the new flare up was totally work related. My lawyer and a few others I called said if that surgeon won't help it's over, nothing to do but settle now. I settled got some cash which is gone (from back debt from not working). I am in the process of my second application to SSDI..sigh. I hate losing my independence. Kind of you to reply.

    P.s. I am in Illinois

     
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    Old 01-25-2012, 09:24 AM   #4
    jennybyc
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    Re: Very Concerned, Cervical Stenosis

    Sorry the doc wouldn't help. but you are correct in that if the doc won't go along, you are sunk.

    I also had to go on SSDI due to my neck problems and the best piece pf advice I can give you is to know what SSDI is looking for and make sure you can give it to them. You have to prove you can't work for a minimum of 2 years and you find the docs who can confirm that and use their reports. I found a sympathetic neurologist and used her reports to conform my future. My neurosurgeon was not someone I wanted to submit reports so I didn't use his....he was optimistic I would recover fast enough to go back to work....he was wrong....it took 3 years to get my left arm back. I backed up the reports from the neurologist with info from my arthritis doc and my primary and anyone else I could find.

    I know they send you to their docs too but if you have more favorable reports on your side than they have, it tends to tip it in your favor. I gave them so much info, they never even sent me to their docs.

    But as I well know, every case is different with SSDI.

    But again, the pain you are experiencing is a good sign that the nerves are alive and kicking. What numbness you are experiencing is over mostly the C4 nerve dermatome but the fact that it comes and goes is good. When it comes and never leaves but actually get worse over time, that is when you start to worry.

    When I had my first neck surgery, I had no pain and didn't even realize that I had lost sensation in both arms. I thought that not feeling it when I pricked my fingers for blood(diabetic)meant I was getting used to it. Nope...after surgery I could feel it again. And I was losing fine motor control of my fingers and kept dropping things. I find out in 2 weeks if my doc is going to operate on my back as the bottoms of both feet are so numb I can't feel the gas pedal. I kept getting bug bites all over my ankles last summer as I couldn't feel them. My chronically aching left knee is barely hurting....I don't register the pain properly. These are the type of symptoms that you have to watch out for and get help for. Spine surgeons generally don't do anything for pain......they know the nerves are alive and unhappy...but alive.

    Hang in there.................Jenny

     
    Old 01-25-2012, 11:08 AM   #5
    Coralocean
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    Re: Very Concerned, Cervical Stenosis

    Wow, sounds like you have been through a great deal. I also found my surgeon to be very optimistic while my pain specialist seems very concerned. (Funny thing is after the WC case was closed he wanted to order a Myleogram (spelling?)), she did fill out a report for SSDI telling them there is no way I can hold a job at this point and sent the EMG reports etc. Still I am seeing 2 SSDI docs next week, and I have a lawyer helping me. It makes sense when you say pain means the nerves are not dead yet, but how long till they are? I have dropped a couple of coffee cups burning my lap, and I had no idea why that happened, my doc said it is related to the spinal problem. My arms and hands fall asleep with more frequency now. Things were intermittent but lately the pain has been constant, and my biceps spasm and go numb for a little while. It is mainly the right side but the left side has started to do the same. Your information has been helpful and makes a lot of sense. I am sorry the way you had to learn all this stuff, I am happy to hear that you have SSDI to help. I never took for granted health insurance when I had it, I knew I was fortunate. Now I have nothing, lost my career and the clock is ticking against me.

    hugs,
    Coral

     
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    Old 01-27-2012, 11:19 AM   #6
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    Re: Very Concerned, Cervical Stenosis

    Just read this thread, hope you are ok and hanging in there. Your not alone, there are alot of us! I to am disabled from spinal stenosis, I have permanent damage and have had surgery, but it didn't help, just had it to stop the deterioration. Dont you give up! I to lost a great career, went bankrupt, and lost my sense of self. Alot of couseling and ppl online have given me the support that has kept me going.
    REmember your not alone! And there are alot of ppl who will talk to you and understand.
    __________________
    Fibro,neuropathy,TN, failed acdf 3 level, stenosis of the spine, cvid

     
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