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  • What next for my neck/shoulder pain???

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    Old 09-26-2003, 08:47 AM   #1
    thebigad
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    Unhappy What next for my neck/shoulder pain???

    I have been suffering from neck/shoulder pain (sometimes goes into my arms) for the past 3 months. I have great range of motion. I am only 24 years old and it great physical health. I don't smoke or drink. In short -- I take good care of myself.

    I started out doing ice/heat and pain-killers and muscle relaxants. Did not help even a little. After several rounds of the medicine, I got an MRI done. It showed minor disc bulge at C5-6 and a few osteophytes. Then I did physical therapy for 9 total visits. The neck traction initially made my shoulder pain go away, but it flared up the pain in my neck! So, we stopped the traction and continued the rest of physical therapy. Some improvement with this, but then towards the end my neck/shoulder pain is just as bad. I went back to my orthopedist (who recommended the PT) and asked what next. At this point, I was really down in the dumps from the constant pain. The only time I didn't feel pain was when I slept. Well, he recommended a cervical injection. I had high hopes and got that done last Monday. My pain is still just as bad, if not a little worse at times.

    I am not taking any anti-inflammatories right now because I wanted to see if the injection would work. I might start taking tylenol -- although I never saw relief from prescription or over-the-counter meds. I really don't know what to do and this is really getting me down. I mean, I should be out playing basketball. Instead, I'm just exhausted from the pain and discomfort all day. I don't think I merit surgery (neither does my doc) and I don't really feel comfortable getting it done as I have heard mixed reviews on its success.

    So -- I left a message for my doc. The nurse called back and said he might recommend a second injection in a different spot in case the first didn't take too well. I don't know what my other options are....

    I was crying last night. I have already had it rough growing up. The only thing that I always was thankful for was my health. Now, even that is questionable...

    Help if you can. Sorry for being a downer. I just want the pain to stop...

     
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    Old 09-26-2003, 10:21 AM   #2
    mistyone
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    yep dont we all just wan the pain to stop, as for myself, i would like to be able to turn my neck as well i could before the surgery but i doubt that is a possibility....you are amoung friends here who all suffer like you do for the most part!!!! we all pray together that some day we will feel better but it takes time...for me i have 11 screws and 4 plates in my neck so i feel them every day and they hurt and i want them out of myneck....mistyone

    ------------------
    sept 02 nasty car crash by drunk driver. got C5-6-7 HNP, T-7-8 bulge, 8-9, 10-11 HNP, L 5 L3 S1 lateral recess, ACDF with my hip on right side, posterior CDF w 11 screws and 4 plates, hareware has to come out in feb 04 when the bone has matured. my n/s quit her practice an not i am up the creek trying to find another n/s or orthopod to help me as they are all fearful of malpractice where the other doctor was.....not on pain meds but on xanax 1 mg and effexor 75 mgs. have torn right rotator cuff w/ some DDD thrown in for good meaure. have left hand dominant CTS and not a happy camper right now....

     
    Old 09-26-2003, 02:38 PM   #3
    DariusTDog
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    Your situation sounds just like mine... Somewhere about 6 months into the constant nagging pain I saw a neurosurgeon who basically dismissed me and said try more traction. About one year later, my rheumatiologist convinced me to see another neurosurdgeon who said that based on the length of time and amount of pain, I automatically become a surgical candidate. The surgeon basically convinced me that the surgery would be simple and straightforward (in my case, one level C4-5). He estimated about 90% chance of fixing the problem. This was much higher than the 50% chance that the other neurosurgeon guessed. Anyway, I had the surgery on 3/18/03. I was never in a neckbrace and I went home the morning after the procedure. I was back to work in 3 weeks. I was playing golf again in 12 weeks. All in all, I feel much better than before, but I am not free from pain, yet. I still have major muscle spasm issues, but I believe they are the result of being in pain with pinched nerves for several years. At one point in recovery I was completely pain-free with full range of motion, but I managed to ruin that with a game of golf (and one or two over-zealous swings). It keeps getting better little by little and I'm seeing a couple GREAT massage therapists that really help. My surgeon has basically released me from his care, saying that I am free to do whatever I like (at six months).

    In my case, the surgery seems to have been worth it. I'm not taking any medications now and my pain level has decreased significantly. I haven't quite returned to full activities, but I am close.

    It doesn't hurt to talk to a neurosurgeon. Just be aware that if you are looking, you will find one who is willing to cut you even if it won't help.

    Good Luck,

    Tone


    ------------------
    ACDF C4-5 w/locking plate and allograft
    3-18-2003

    [This message has been edited by DariusTDog (edited 09-26-2003).]
    __________________
    ACDF C4-5 w/locking plate and allograft
    3-18-2003

     
    Old 09-26-2003, 03:45 PM   #4
    Susie
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    Here is my take on living with pain. If there is a problem that can be fixed, but someone thinks that it's not bad enough, then talk to someone else. As far as the injection goes, my NS told me it could take 3 weeks to know if it was going to help or not. I didn't have that kind of time to wait that long for a 50/50 chance, so we went with the surgery. But enough about me. I was told by my girlfriend, an MRI tech, that it's hard to tell based off of an MRI alone what the treatment will be, that the NS would base it heavily off of the degree of symptoms because one person with a major herniation may have little symptoms while someone with a small herniation may have severe pain. Bottom line, I don't believe that people should suffer when there is so much out there to help. Now, I'm not advocating racing to surgery for something that doesn't need it, nor am I suggesting that impatience is a good thing, however, if you feel like your Ortho isn't putting enough merit into your symptoms and working hard to eliminate them, get a second opinion. Best of luck! I'm sure it is miserable at your age to be down with pain, but I'm finding that there is NEVER an okay time to be down with pain. Hang in there!

     
    Old 12-05-2003, 07:25 AM   #5
    thebigad
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    An update and more questions.

    Its been 5 - 6 months since this bloody problem began and I am far from well. The pain has gone down, but I am still in pain everyday.

    After the Ortho said he could do nothing more for me, I went and saw a neuro. He did the normal tests and then asked to see my MRI. He immediately pointed out that a bulging disc at C5 was causing nerve compression. He believed that was the cause of my pain and was surprised the Ortho didn't notice that immediately. He wrote down C5 Herniation on my patient form. He helped me read the MRI's and showed me how the bulge was compressing the nerves. He said there wasn't a major rupture.

    He then said I have four options:

    1 - Live with the pain. (his recommendation)
    2 - Get anti-inflammatories. (I have already tried most of the non-narcotic types. He recommended Xanaflex as a last try, If I wanted)
    3 - Get a 2nd epidural. (I did that. No effect again)
    4 - A surgery where they shave off the bulge and thereby remove the nerve compression and hopefully the pain. (he did not recommend and advised I should not get it done as preventive measure)

    He said the bulge could get bigger / worse or it could stabilize. He also said that sometimes the nerves shrink as they adapt to the compression and the pain will one day go away.

    I have tried to live with it over the past month and a half. I had a couple good weeks, but lately the pain is just always there. The second epidural did not work. I may try Xanaflex.

    QUESTION 1: For people with C5 bulge/herniations, is it likely that the pain will resolve on its own?

    QUESTION 2: Is Xanaflex any good? He told me it works directly on the spine.

    QUESTION 3: Should I get the surgery? I'm only 24 and can't bear to think I have to put up with this for the rest of my life.

    I would appreciate any insight, especially from people in my age group.

    Thanks for your support.

     
    Old 12-07-2003, 02:51 AM   #6
    flyonthewall
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    Re: An update and more questions.

    Hi,

    I had neck and shoulder pain so bad I couldn't roll over in bed or blow my nose. My PCP ordered Flexeril (muscle relaxant) and that helped. he said it could be arthritis in the spine. I havent had any pictures yet. I'll see a spine specialist in two weeks

    fly

     
    Old 12-08-2003, 11:02 AM   #7
    thebigad
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    Re: What next for my neck/shoulder pain???

    anyone have suggestions?

     
    Old 12-13-2003, 10:22 PM   #8
    stolie
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    Re: What next for my neck/shoulder pain???

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thebigad
    anyone have suggestions?
    Hi, you can read some of my old posts. I am 30 and had the same problems that you did since the age of 19. I have spondylosis and osteophyte formation at C5-6 with tons of muscle spasm and suffered most over the past two years, although in the past month or so, I've taken a turn for the better.

    I can tell you what worked for me, but I would ask a doctor before attempting it with a herniation. Basically, I got sick of living my life in a box and resting all the time. I have been going rock climbing at an indoor gym once a week, which is forcing me to develop muscle endurance and strength in my entire body that I didn't think possible with my condition. I recently started jumping rope several times per week for cardio workout and also occasionally hiking with a local outdoors club.

    Of course, if you have spinal cord issues like stenosis, some of these probably are not a possibility for you but you didn't mention that. It sounds like you are more like me, not really a surgical candidate but living with constant discomfort and feeling like an old man at a young age.

    Overall, since starting to exercise I feel a million times better. When your muscles are strengthened and conditioned and used to being put under stress, they seem to ache much less and hold your joints together more solidly. Also, I'm sure increased circulation plays a role. I am now able to fall from a 20 foot wall onto a mat and not feel a thing where two months ago, the thought of it would give me a stiff neck. I still have pain and discomfort, especially if I overdo things or sit in an awkward position for too long, but I feel a whole lot less fragile and like things are starting to get under control.

    Talk to your doc about getting more active and see if he thinks it would be a solution for you. Strength, conditioning, balance and coordination go a long way toward reducing musculoskeletal discomfort.

    Last edited by stolie; 12-13-2003 at 10:24 PM.

     
    Old 12-14-2003, 06:52 AM   #9
    srivito
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    Re: What next for my neck/shoulder pain???

    Hi "The bigad",

    I would suggest taking the Neurosurgeon's advice and waiting out surgery as long as possible. Once you fuse your neck, there's no going back. Also, it can put a strain on adjacent discs and you could herniate again. (That's what has happened to me and others on this list). Of course, there are times when surgery is absolutely necessary (spinal cord compression, unbearable pain etc....). But if you can prolong it--do so. There are newer techniques on the horizon here in the US that may give you more options. One new techinique is the Bryan cerivical disc replacement. It is in the same idea as total hip/knee/shoulder replacements that many people benefit from today. I'm crossing my fingers that I can have it done in Canada ASAP. I have spinal cord compression and am now having difficulty doing daily living activities. I too am young, relatively healthy etc...I know your frustration. It really s***s. Right now my husband and I are trying to find a good surgeon in Canada (where it's already approved), and also trying to find the funds to pay for it (b/c insurance won't pay for out of US procedures that aren't FDA approved).

    Best of luck to you--

    Sue

     
    Old 12-16-2003, 10:44 PM   #10
    Jack Waldhelm
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    Re: What next for my neck/shoulder pain???

    I have what seems to be a bone spur pressing on the nerve root at my C6/C7 cervical disk, causing pretty severe pain down into my left shoulder, arm, forearm, and sometimes all the way to the left hand.

    I began taking Neurontin twelve days ago, and the pain has been decreased by about 2/3.

    Won't solve the problem long-term, but has given me some relief until further definitive diagnosis and treatment options are determined.


    You might ask your doctor if neurontin might ease the nerve pain.

     
    Old 12-17-2003, 06:56 PM   #11
    PETEO
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    Wink Re: What next for my neck/shoulder pain???

    Im truly sorry for your pain i know what your going through. About
    8 years ago i started having some neck pain like i had laid crazy on
    my pillow or something. It progressed down my shoulder and arm.
    My doctor treated me for shoulder problems. Finally after 2 to 3 years
    and terrible pain I had a mri done and found C4567 was bulged. I
    had surgery c67 and it seem to get better for about 6 months and then
    the pain returned. i had another c45 and it helped the neck pain but did nothing for the shoulder and arm pain. I still have a tremendous
    amount pain in my shoulder and arm. I will more than likely have it the rest of my life. Im on a lot of meds and have taken injections for
    the last 5 years. Im scheduled to have a spinal cord stimulator put in
    feb 2. If it dont work i will have a morphine pump put in. I regret not
    doing something earlier to my neck. I think if I would have did the
    surgery sooner I would not have the nerve damage that I have now.
    That is something you should consider. Do what you can but when
    everything fails dont wait to long to get it fixed. I hope you get better
    my friend. Get a number of opinions. good luck from pete

     
    Old 12-19-2003, 12:29 PM   #12
    stolie
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    Re: What next for my neck/shoulder pain???

    yeah, my pain is back with a vengeance after quieting down for a couple of weeks. Damn, all it takes is moving slightly wrong or sleeping in a funny position and I set off a chain reaction of bad spasms that can last for days or weeks at a time - which then leads my muscles to weaken and I'm back where I started. This is the most #[email protected]# frustrating condition I've ever dealt with in my whole life. Hope you find a solution soon, I'm just an angry, angry person right now.

    p.s. I hate doctors. I really feel I've been left on my own to deal with this, and I don't want to be sent down the pain management (pills) route, because then you've got the addiction, sexual side effects, and concentration issues to deal with - all the while as you continue to erode away your connective tissue because your joints are out of whack. I wish they'd just operate and put me out of my misery.

    Last edited by stolie; 12-19-2003 at 12:34 PM.

     
    Old 12-19-2003, 09:38 PM   #13
    jodawa50
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    Re: What next for my neck/shoulder pain???

    Hey Stolie, Read Now I'm FRUSTRATED thread. I gave in and am now hooked on codeine. It doesn't really do alot for the pain but in keeps that "I'm gona shoot someone" feeling at bay. I have gotten off it twice now and its not really that bad, but I do know what heeby geebies are now. Oh and the misery I'm in now is from surgery. Don't be afraid of these pills they have out there as you are ultimatly in charge and can quit anytime. Even slight relief can be a joy.
    Good luck.

     
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