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  • Cervical Radiculopathy from Pinched Cervical Neck

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    Old 02-23-2015, 05:00 PM   #1
    coco3002
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    Cervical Radiculopathy from Pinched Cervical Neck

    Hi, I'm new to the boards. Have been suffering for 3 months with pain from cervical issues (diagnosed through MRI) - bulging discs, some stenosis, degenerative disk disease that is causing severe pain from neck through shoulder blade, underarm and down left arm. As I've had arthritis in my neck for a long time I know this pain came about from a stress injury to my neck. Have tried much conservative treatment (some physical therapy, chiropractic, and medication - currently 900 mg gabapentin and hydrocodene and ibuprofen and various others that I stopped.) I just had a Epidural Injection last week and thru this week experienced a bit of relief but not what I was hoping for. My question is has anyone gotten better with this type of problem doing these measures and had their problem resolve or at least get about 75% better without having any surgical intervention. My doctor thinks we can resolve this without surgery but also said surgery would be extensive as I have about 4/5 bad levels. I'm thinking of trying accupunture and would appreciate anyone's input. Very tired of the pain and getting a bit depressed. Thank you.

     
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    Old 02-23-2015, 08:28 PM   #2
    ChuckStr
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    Re: Cervical Radiculopathy from Pinched Cervical Neck

    Welcome to the board. I have degenerative disc disease in several levels of my c-spine including some as yet quite mild symptoms of myelopathy. I've had issues with numbness, tingling, slight pain etc, on and off for about 7 years. I had a bad "bout" of radiculopathy starting about a year ago, with pain that was terrible in my left arm, shoulder and neck along with some muscle weakness in my left arm. The pain and weakness mostly went away over about 5 months of physical therapy, steroids, traction, exercise and other conservative measures. The pain was significantly reduced in about 3 weeks. I don't have really have pain anymore although I did aggrevate the right side around Thanksgiving which hurt pretty badly for a month. I have a slight bit of weakness left in my left arm, mostly it just gets tired before the right one although the wrist extensors are maybe 10% weaker than they were. I had some neurogenic atrophy in my forearm and bicep muscles which is better but not to the point before last year. Overall, I'm hanging in there. I visit my spine specialist every 6 months to make sure my myelopathy symptoms aren't progressing and I'll probably have a repeat MRI when I go next time. I had 5 different spine specialist opinions from, "do surgery now or risk losing the use of your left arm" to "don't do surgery as long as possible as it won't help and may hurt you". I probably wouldn't have had 5 other then the first two were the extremes. I learned a lot about options from the specialists and did a lot of reading on my own and feel I'm pretty mentally prepared if I do need surgery (which all 5 surgeons said is pretty likely at some point).

    That was plenty of rambling about me, now for you... 3 months isn't a huge amount of time to take for conservative methods to work. That said, if I was in the pain for 3 months that I was in for the first 3 weeks of this last bout, I'd already have had the surgery. The one surgeon that I continue with for my follow up care, pointed out it's a balance. How much pain, or other symptoms you have and how that affects your quality of life against the risks, pain, recovery etc of surgery. A 4-5 level surgery, which I'm assuming would be a fusion, is an enormous surgery. Recovery would be a long road, and chances of a failed fusion would be relatively high.

    If it were me, I would stick it out with conservative measures a bit longer. I never did acupuncture, but I've heard good things about it. PT was a godsend for me and traction was pretty helpful also. While you're doing that, I would get second opinions from at least one more spine specialist, that is a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon with specialized training in the spine that limits their practice to only spine issues. They may have other thoughts for things to try, or as in my case, they may interpret your MRI differently than your current Dr and/or the radiologist that read it. Also, different surgeons will often have different ideas on the types of surgery to be done when and if that time comes as well.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on...

     
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    Old 02-24-2015, 07:49 PM   #3
    teteri66
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    Re: Cervical Radiculopathy from Pinched Cervical Neck

    I cannot think of anyone that has had a spine issue resolved through acupuncture. I have found that it will help a bit but you do need to keep going to maintain any results you get. When I was waiting to have surgery, it kept me going and made waiting manageable. Also, I think results vary with the practioner. There is so much variation from practice to practice. If you are lucky and find a terrific practioner, it can be helpful...but it will not resolve your problems.

    Depending on what specifically is wrong, prolotherapy might be something to look into.

     
    Old 02-24-2015, 08:05 PM   #4
    coco3002
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    Re: Cervical Radiculopathy from Pinched Cervical Neck

    Hi ChuckStr, thanks for your reply. 7 years seems like a long time to be dealing with these issues - glad you kind of have it under control and that the physical therapy works for you. I know I probably need to go back to physical therapy, that's what they all stress. The one thing that helped me in therapy was the time they did traction. What are the symptoms of myelopathy? Had an epidural last week and thought I was a bit better but the horrible shoulder arm pain is still there, not all the time but it makes an appearance every day - hopefully it won't be as excruciating as it has been for the past several months.

    Have you ever tried chiropractic. I know the doctors don't approve but I wonder if gentle cervical manipulation can unpinch nerves? I had a few sessions but all they did was some massage and use a tens unit - he didn't want to really work with my neck after seeing my MRI. Is there actually any other way to unpinch nerves other than surgery? You're right - mine would be a pretty excessive surgery and I'm scared to death of even the thought of that. Think I will get a second opinion though, perhaps with a neurosurgeon, already have seen the orthopedic spine specialist.

    Wishing you continued success with your recovery and keeping everything at bay and painfree. Take care.

     
    Old 02-24-2015, 08:14 PM   #5
    coco3002
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    Re: Cervical Radiculopathy from Pinched Cervical Neck

    Hi teteri66, I think I'm going to give acupuncture a try, why not - willing to try anything. Hopefully surgery has corrected your issues - did you have a good outcome? What is prolotherapy?

    Thanks.

     
    Old 02-24-2015, 08:16 PM   #6
    coco3002
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    Re: Cervical Radiculopathy from Pinched Cervical Neck

    Hi teteri66, I think I'm going to give acupuncture a try, why not - willing to try anything. Hopefully surgery has corrected your issues - did you have a good outcome? What is prolotherapy?

    Thanks.

     
    Old 02-25-2015, 12:31 AM   #7
    ChuckStr
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    Re: Cervical Radiculopathy from Pinched Cervical Neck

    I wouldn't let a chiropractor anywhere near my neck. The type of manipulations they do could definitely make things worse.

    Traction can definitely unpinch nerves, as can steroids if there is a significant inflammation component in the compression. For me it was probably the steroids that had the most effect although the traction and posture work I did also helped.

    Myelopathy symptoms can include neck, arm and hand pain/numbness/tingling, hand incoordination, heaviness in legs, gait disturbances, muscle twitching and cramping and occasionally hyperreflexia and bowel or bladder issues. Most people don't have all symptoms and things like gait disturbances, incoordination, hyperreflexia, and bladder issues are indicators of more serious compression.

    It sounds like you're on the right track with the second opinion. Thanks for the well wishes and I hope you can get some relief as well.

     
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