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Pain for years, weird symptoms unexplained

APH123AAPH123 Posts: 5
edited 03/11/2015 - 9:12 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Two years ago I got an MRI done on my neck because at the time I was experiencing "intermittent paresthesias". I have had a whole lot of symptoms over the years when this neck pain began, but things have slowly gotten worse including general weakness on the left side of my body. The entire left side of my spine is hurting right now.

My test results two years ago show that I have degenerative disc disease in the mid and lower cervical spine. My doctor told me it was nothing to worry about too much as it looks minor. It was described as: "Axial images at the C2-3, C3-4 and C4-5 levels demonstrate minimal posterior disc osteophyte complexes without significant stenosis or foraminal narrowing." Also C5-6 show "Small posterior disc osteophyte complex.".

I was surprised to hear from a spine doctor about a year later that I have a herniated disc and bulging disc in there as well (looked at the same MRI). Both of these injuries were not of great concern to the doctor. The herniated disc is either at C-3 or C-4 (I believe C-4). Most of this damage is seen at the left side of my neck.

I have experienced very weird symptoms over the years, some of which I thought for sure were a neurological disease, but after seeing a couple of neurologists they tell me that I don't (I even had a spinal tap done).

I do experience times where my symptoms get better, but I keep injuring myself and symptoms are getting worse. I have seen a physical therapist, but I don't see much benefit (maybe I didn't stick with it long enough). Recently, my neck pain and symptoms have gotten a lot worse. Something that I have noticed over the years that doesn't see much improvement is a dull aching on the back left side of my head. I get pain and tingling a lot on the back left side of my head and the top left side of my head. I did some reading recently and came across Occipital Neuralgia and I think it is close to matching a lot of my symptoms (although I don't have chronic headaches), tingling of my head is my main complaint. I also have issues with my eyes which were checked by the neuro-opthamologist and he said they looked good. I also have problems with extreme fatigue, anybody else get that with their neck injuries?

Sorry if it sounds like I am rambling. A lot of this is hard to explain. My three main questions to you all would be:

1. Does Occipital Neuralgia need to be diagnosed and treated even if it does not cause chronic headache?
2. Would I need another MRI in the near future to see if things have gotten worse for my neck?
3. Is a physical therapist worth my time and money or do I just try to wait things out like before and hope I heal with time?

I seem to injure my neck repeatedly because I like to lift weights. I need to seriously look into lifestyle changes because I am tired of feeling injured all the time and I feel like I am not making any progress in life. I would appreciate any help or comments that you all may have, I am really confused at this point.


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,694
    edited 03/11/2015 - 9:12 AM
    welcome to spine-health

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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
  • I had a disc herniation at C5/C6 that had compressed my spinal cord. All my pain issues started about 4 yrs ago now. I used to have muscle spasms very frequently and with it came chronic headaches. I some were similar to migraine headaches but were often on one side of my face only but the back part of my head would hurt. Even since my surgery last September, I still get them. They have actually gotten worse. I have gotten the diagnosis of cervicogenic headaches/migraine headaches caused by the degradation of the cervical nerves. I am now on several medications to control the nerve pain, muscle spasms and the headaches.
    I can try to answer your questions some what but I am by no means a doctor or anyone in the medical field. These answers to your questions are only based on my opinions and experiences.
    1. From what I have read, Occipital neuralgia is pretty much diagnosed by ruling out other issues. Your doctor would have to look into it. The pain in the back of the head could be a lot of things. I was seeing a physical therapist that was helping me deal with it all. He had told me that the pain in the back of my head and the headaches can be caused by the sub occipital nerves in the neck. They are located at C2/C3 area. The PT had done some dry needling to help calm down the nerves in that area. I cant say if it helped or not because I had severe headaches at that time and the headache was still there over a week later( the headache lasted approx. a month)
    2. If you are still having issues a year later or the symptoms are new and its getting worse, I think that another MRI should be requested by your doctor. A lot can change in that time. If you cant get your doctor to take things seriously, fire him/her! It took me 3 years to get someone to take my pain seriously. If I could go back in time, I would have fired my doctor then. It took the crap my doctor and their partners years to even do an xray and when nothing showed up on the xray, they blew me off again. My chiropractor is the one that kept with me to find the source of my problem. By that time, surgery was ordered and in 2 weeks I was on the operating table.
    3. In my opinion, seeing a PT was worth it. He did a lot of work on my trigger spots and exercises. It all depends though. You have to be willing to do the work with doing the exercises that they recomend
    Tracie C
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