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Neck injury causing numbness in hands and feet, MRI’s ok

Hi, I am a 29 yr old male, who was injured lifting weights about 3 months ago. I was doing a bench press with two dumbbells, and I was setting them on the floor, however I started to sit up before they were on the floor. So the stress went into my low back and shot up to my neck. I tried to get up after it but I got a bad feeling in my neck, like a painful, tingling feeling, and I realized I could not move for about 15 minutes. Both arms and legs were completely numb. For the first week after the injury it would randomly happen to me, my arms and legs would go completely numb and I could not move for several hours at a time. My entire spine was in pain. Now three months later my back sprain has mostly recovered, however my nerve symptoms do not seem to have recovered much, if at all. If I exert any kind of downward pressure on my fingers my hands and my neck will hurt immediately before my hands and arms go completely numb, and the same thing happens with my feet if I put any pressure on them. So for instance I can only type two sentences before it happens, and I can barely write one sentence with a pencil before my arms go numb, this in turn triggers my legs to go numb. I also can’t drive, as pushing the pedals triggers complete numbness and loss of function in my feet. Basically all the important things I need to do in life lol. I am able to type on my phone for brief periods of time though, as I’m barely touching the screen, and not exerting any pressure. 

I went to the ER immediately after the injury, and they did MRIs of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine, however they said the scans were normal, they did not see any disc protrusions or nerve impingement anywhere. I then went to a neurologist who did a repeat MRI of the neck about a month and a half later, and also an MRI of the brain, which were both normal. The problem now is that I’ve been out of work the whole time since I can’t use a computer, but the neurologist just told me that he is not going to approve my disability anymore as he can’t find anything wrong with me. However, I can’t use a pencil without my entire body going completely numb. The neurologist has never given me a diagnosis, and once he saw that the MRI’s were ok he doesn’t seem to listen once I start telling him my symptoms. I’ve also been going to physical therapy for the past two months, which has helped my back sprain a lot, but they haven’t worked on my neck much because they think I have nerve irritation in my neck, so they don’t want to make that worse.

Some additional things I’ve noticed about my symptoms:

The nerve injury feels to be at the base of my neck. That is the spot where most of the pain is, and if I press on it lightly it is very painful.

Whenever my symptoms are triggered the base of my neck immediately swells up, if I put ice on it however it helps my symptoms. I  get some feeling back in my arms and legs almost immediately. Also I have used tiger balm on my neck, and that helps quickly also. Neither of these get rid of the symptoms enough to where I can function however.

The numbness is only from my elbows down, and from my knees down.

When I try to push the pedals in my car I feel like something in my neck is pulling, like something is trying to shift down but it can’t because there is not enough room.

So that’s basically where I’m at, I also have an appointment to see a neurologist at UCLA and an ortho spine surgeon at USC. I’m hoping that a teaching hospital will know more, or can at least give me a diagnosis. 

Any help that anyone can offer I would greatly appreciate. If you need any more information please let me know. Thank you!



  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 953
    rotary792 - There are many other tests for spine issues besides the MRI.  There are EMGs, CT Myelogrms, SPECT Bone Scans, discograms (only for lumbar), and even a good digital x-ray will sometimes show issues not found with MRIs.  Also, there are vertical MRIs and motion x-rays. 
    I had ten MRIs over the years with "nothing found" only to have the problem found with another test.  When you have symptoms and pain, there is most times a cause.  Nothing found, means that the issue(s) have not been yet found, not that there isn't a problem.
  • Thanks nutcase! I will ask the neurologist about doing the other tests.

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  • rotary792 Did you find anything else out? Have you seen those new doctors yet? 

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