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C4-C5 & C5-C6 Disc injury, no pain relief 3 months in

HayleyHHayley Posts: 1
edited 06/13/2013 - 2:41 PM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have come to this forum seeking some support and advice. I am a 25 year old female and I work with people with developmental disabilities. I had difficulty transferring a man I support and started getting moderate neck pain that never went away.

On March 15th I was shovelling snow one night when I slipped and fell. My pain felt worse after the fall so I took some tylenol and went to bed. I awoke in the night with severe pain and was unable to turn my head/ move my neck. I went to the doctors and was told I likely strained a muscle and should take a few days off of work and recommended physio therapy.

Time went on and I had to make frequent trips back to the doctors because my pain was out of control. I was prescribed the following drugs in this order.
- Over the counter muscle and back pain pills
- Cyclobenzaprine & teva-diclofenac sodium
- Tylenol 3
- Tylenol 4
- Ratio-Oxycocet
- Oxyneo

The only thing that has helped at all is the ratio-oxycocet and oxyneo. I am taking 30mg oxyneo and 2-4 5mg percocet each day now and have been doing do for nearly 2 months. I have also start taking cymbalta. My pain is not improving at all but my doctors and physio therapist are encouraging me to continue to take large amount of narcotics, which I do not like. The drugs I am on make the pain less intense, but it is definitely still a constant presence. Physio therapy doesn't seem to help at all.

My MRI shows "a tiny disc protrusion at C4-C5" and "a small posterior disc bulge and protrusion on the right, which abuts and indents the ventral aspect of the thecal sac. There is focal flattening of the contour of the cervical cord with mild efacement of CSF signal around the cord."

My pain is in my neck and shoulders and down my right arm. It is always present in my neck, shoulders, and down to my elbow in my right arm. I have intermittent pain, numbness, and tingling from my elbow into my fingers. My arm is very weak.

I have a referral to see a neurologist for a nerve conduction study and also to see a neurosurgeon. Given that I was injured at work, I am dealing with the workers compensation board to have all of my appointments and referrals taken care of. They have continued to encourage me to work and I am really struggling to do this with the intensity of my pain. I am barely able to care for myself at this point.

I am struggling to advocate for myself and I don't know what to do or what to say to my doctors and case manager to make them take this injury seriously and help me get better. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated, I am at my wits end and I just don't know what to do with this pain any more.

In addition to medication I have tried the following: Traction (with machine, manually, and with traction pillow), Hydro/Aqua Therapy, Acupuncture, IMS, Massage Therapy, Ultrasound, Relaxation, neck/ shoulder strengthening, ice packs, heat packs, and Epson salt baths.

Thank you.


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,699
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    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • raintreerraintree Posts: 6
    edited 06/16/2013 - 4:07 AM
    Hi hayley, i just wanted to drop in and say i know exactly what you are going through. I am 6 months in to recovering from disc injury in my neck. I have not had surgery. Pain that travels is the worst and difficult to control. The first two months were the hardest. I could not take pain medication so i stayed on the couch for almost two months in certain positions to take some of the pain away. It probably hindered my recovery somewhat as they say not to lay around too much. I searched far and wide hoping someone could tell me when it will go away and like you feel like i have tried everything under the sun to get the pain to go away. After about 2 months i started getting better, slowly. I did have one epidural injection early on but I don't think it worked for me. It works for some. At 6 months i still have pain but it is no where near the level it was in the beginning. I am still trying to hang in there as each passing month does seem to get better. I have to make lots of changes to how I do things, gave up golfing this summer, and exercises at the gym are now limited to walking on the treadmill. I did a 5 mile brisk walk one day and payed for it dearly for the next week. I am constantly aware of my posture and made some desk modifications at work. I do massage, traction, and since stress and anxiety make my pain levels worse i see a counselor to help me manage. ( my arm feels so much better after a session with my counseler). I also use tennis balls in a sock and gently rub my shoulder blades up against a wall. That really helps with the the stabbing pain in my shoulder. I also use a foam roller to roll out my back and sides. I know all dr are different my doctor told me not to get massages as it can contribute to inflamation so i waited until the 5 month mark. I know what your going through! Hang in there, i hope you find relief soon!
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  • lin1234llin1234 Posts: 1
    edited 06/20/2013 - 7:24 PM
    I so feel for you, hope get better soon. I too had all the same thing c4 c5 rupture protrusion herniated bulging right arm bad nerve in neck and hand from it... all!! where to start and as brief as possible.. I was 27 and its been yrs since . Off and on but manageable. some migraines also off and on. few trips back for help through the yrs. won case with lawyer but only took medical help for life after paid loss income. how ever think mistake should of went for life settlement since they closed up.. so kinda hard to keep getting help and didnt know have to live with it or other problems went with it for life. But still was lucky its tolerable to live with.. And still was able to work after month or so while with pain management. so here is some opinions hope it helps. Get yourself workers comp. lawyer based on commission if win only. I did and won but saw no reason not to win anyway just helps.

    First do what you need to do with all of it ... no one is the same or handles it the same... just same stuff happened that's all. Only you know what helps and what don't , if you feel you cant work then don't. I did that and hurt myself worse. All I am going to say since I was to weak to stick up for myself till hurt myself worse .. that was it I stood ground after that no choice. That includes taken advise from Dr. Trying it when it bothered me more or didn't seem to help I spoke up... And may have to go through a lot to find good results since all different and all handle it different...

    So that is some advise that learned help me the most listen to myself and speak up .
    Now what I did that helped me was neurosurgeon and pain management. But only after I saw a bad one. Said no hope would stay like that and needed to get help to even take care of son etc. whether it was physic 1 0 1 it was wrong took me leaving upset and outside about 20 mins in awe of news to decide no he is wrong and least need to try to get better.
    Thats when I found a good one and good place for both ... And they worked with me a lot and listen as well as advised to. Thats who you need for it. Did the nerve damage horrible test few times one of the worse .. think was worse then the injury so know it was pretty bad I thought anyway... But has to be done to see first and improvements.. Now pain med to start was all trial and error ... so your on your own with dr. But Vicodin worked for me and gave me no side affect while handling the pain most of it... along with inflammation med and then and which swore it helped me to the end best improvement dont know why just know and told them.. Prozac of course it help depression but I believe it did lot more to this day and only took it for month and half. Even went off myself even though not suppose to do that slowly you are. And also the fact I saw a Sweden Russian Dr lady was the best .. Had 2 shots of epidural injectionin neck in office then once or twice in neck under xray in hospital. Also had therapy at my own pace and what i felt better with and when .. Even then different things for different days helps all depends.. loved the stims use to use it on full where I shook but felt good. Massages where and how much I needed them . Cold or hot compresses which also same depended what day hot or cold worked. exercise again what felt good to me. bike, tread etc. Dr gave me all different meds but i ask for better since wasnt helping he said thought might have problem with drugs I said no and told him before I didn't use them after wasn't working and he could have them all back and I brought them back ... that was my only problem there after that was all good... They were all so nice respectful and helpful. Still have nerve damage in hand and problems off and on .. after yrs.. and said migraines off and on. And weakness in arm or watch everything you do to not reinjure yourself very hard sometimes. But it will remind you fast not to.. after paying for a bit from it again,, But after few months It got lot more tolerable and then through the yrs.
    So guess no short and simple answers just error and trial and listening to what's helping you. and time patients like everything else learn more and more older you get. Sorry tried to make it simple but its not but its possible to be some what happy again. take care speedy recovery as much as possible.
  • I to suffer from head, neck, shoulder, arm pain with numb hands. I had my surgery in 2004 and I still suffer. My only advice is be careful. I got Hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain) Long story short is I was on 150micorgams of fentanyl pathch.
    and still dealing with pain of 8s on the 1 to 10 scale. I needed to get physiotherapist to help me deal with the everyday pain.
    Don't try and deal with it on you own. And remember it it not how much pain we are in that people judge us. But how we deal with the pain. I hope you feel better soon, or at least deal with it better.

    David Henderson
  • Well, you are certainly not alone here. I had neck surgery almost a year and a half ago and I'm MUCH worse off now, and I researched neurosurgeons and orthos for 5 YEARS before I had the surgery. Big mistake on my part, but most people turn out better than I did. From what you posted, it doesn't sound to me (and I'm not a doctor) that your disc problem is bad enough to be causing the amount of pain that you are describing. Are they sure you didn't break anything up there? Pars fracture or pedicle or something? I would do what Raintree suggested and wait it for a few months and see if it gets better. If it does, then great, NO surgery. If it doesn't, then you can go that route if you have to. In hindsight, I wish I never would have had surgery, even though I had two major central herniations. The pain I have now is intolerable unless I am laying absolutely flat and still. I can't even read a book now. Don't mean to scare you, but if you were me, I really would give my body a fighting chance to see if it is just a tendon or torn muscle or something (which is what it sounds more like to me). Muscles can REALLY hurt, especially in the neck. Usually, though, the muscle relaxers would help with that. I would get the opinion of at least 3 neurosurgeons, and more like 5 or 6 if you can. Hang in there, take it easy, and maybe you'll get better on your own. We all feel your pain here, and we know how much it stinks. Definitely take that MRI to several NS's before you do anything else to make sure the diagnosis is correct.
    7 failed lumbar surgeries L3-L4-L5-S1 posterior and anterior, broken screw, Failed ACDF C5-C6-C7
    I want my Mommy
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