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Pain when looking downwards

Hi All,

Long time lurker, first time poster. Over the last year or so I have benefited greatly from reading postings from many forum members here. I am 39 and have a herniation at C5-C6 and  a disc bulge at C4. I am trying my best to avoid surgery and am able to manage pain most of the time. However what I struggle with a lot is any movement that causes me to bend my neck downwards - for ex looking down at the keyboard or phone, I get instant pain in my neck and down my back. At PT when I did the chin to chest movement repeatedly I was in extreme pain for weeks (especially my chest and shoulders). Have any of you run into this before? I work in IT and simply cannot avoid looking down at a keyboard or laptop screen. The longer I do it the worse the pain get and many times it's also accompanied by a instant headache. I do want to get the range of motion back but just don't want to force my self to do certain exercises that will worsen my pain....any tips or experiences will be appreciated.

Arsi
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Comments

  • LizLiz Posts: 2,265
    edited 07/23/2019 - 1:08 PM
    hello arsi

    please click on the link for useful information Welcome to Veritas Health Forum
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,340

    Arsi

    Welcome to the forums, glad that you finally joined.

    My first two thoughts are; learn to type (seriously, then no looking at the keyboard) and get a monitor that you can attach to your laptop and raise up.  I am a software engineer with cervical issues, you can read my story by following the link in my signature.

    Talk with your doctor about traction.  Traction did a lot for me, but still in the end I had surgery and am glad that I did.

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  • Bruce Eitman said:

    Arsi

    Welcome to the forums, glad that you finally joined.

    My first two thoughts are; learn to type (seriously, then no looking at the keyboard) and get a monitor that you can attach to your laptop and raise up.  I am a software engineer with cervical issues, you can read my story by following the link in my signature.

    Talk with your doctor about traction.  Traction did a lot for me, but still in the end I had surgery and am glad that I did.

    Thanks Bruce! I read you story and it's truly inspiring . So I have improved office ergonomics quite a bit and  don't always look down at the keyboard unless I have to type special characters, etc. But it's other stuff that causes pain as well like looking down at the smart phone or reading a book. Also any activity that requires raising my arms causes immediate (sometimes dull, sometimes sharp) pain in my traps, shoulders and down my arms. My Neuro said my EMG was within normal ranges. Therapy was a waste of time, except for traction and I have purchased a home traction unit that helps with pain management. I have seen 2 surgeons and both agree that although the herniation touches the cord, I still have lots of room on one side. However I think the herniation is compressing a bunch of nerves around it which is causing the pain. Both the docs I consulted with recommended getting a cortisone shot but  I am too afraid about the risk of the injection puncturing my spinal cord. Both docs suggested that I am well suited for a Artificial Disk replacement as opposed to ACDF. I have recently started a new, stressful job and getting time off for surgery is out of the question. I am hoping to manage  my pain as long as I can. I wish these things could heal on their own. I have had great success with my back with rest and PT (I have a herniation at L4) however my neck just doesn't respond the same way. As for what caused my herniation, I would guess that it's probably from 20 plus years of lifting weights and being extremely active playing sports. 

  • nutcase007 said:
    arsi - I expect your goal is about quality of life.  Maybe you should be considering surgery.  You don't state in your posting if your condition exits because of an accident or a degenerate condition.  I was in an accident 38 years ago and it took 36 years until my broken facet was diagnosed.  Even though that cervical level was fused two years ago, I'm likely disabled for the rest of your life.  Please own your condition and try to get diagnostic information.  I was in IT for many years and yes I've had the symptoms you describe.  Remember, avoiding surgery is not always an appropriate goal, it is about quality of life.   
    Thanks Nutcase007,

    My goal is definitely to improve my quality of life. My condition is most likely a result of 20 years of heavy weight lifting and playing sport. Getting surgery is not only scary but also difficult since I just started a new job and simply can't take time off (unless I quit). I am sorry to hear about your condition and hope your health continues improving. 
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,340
    Arsi

    I understand the new high pressure job, but maybe there are things that you haven't considered, like
    1. If you are in the US, the Family Medical Leave Act.
    2. You may have short term disability insurance to help cover living expenses
    3. In the US, between Thanksgiving and New Years many companies slow down - your boss may be on vacation
    4. Your neck may lead to poor performance, so the surgery may make you a better employee
    Talk with your HR department about your options.
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  • pearlgirlppearlgirl St. Louis MoPosts: 1
    I have this problem too. Long story but my pain management dr said I'm a mess due to severe osteoarthritis and facet joint disease.  He is giving me two nerve block injections and then radiofrequency  ablation.  That  will burn all the nerves causing all my horrific pain.  Good luck to you!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 4,299
    edited 07/23/2019 - 1:08 PM
    hello pearlgirl!
    Welcome to Veritas Health Forumplease click on link for helpful information!
  • Hi,

    I found myself spinning in circles at first. It feels as if your life has handbrake turned, when the pain starts.

    Review what you want and what you are willing to do to level it or sort it.

    Then make your decision. It's a big learning process. Comfort, form, stability, pain management, lifestyle, support, information, don't aggravate anything, remembering what you have done and what you wanted to do!

    Good luck to you.
  • maehaleymaehaley PennsylvaniaPosts: 254
    edited 08/31/2016 - 1:57 PM

    Do you continue to do neck exercises suggested to you at PT?  have 2 herniated discs in my neck and I am a Business Analyst (at the company less than a year) so I am also having pain and issues with what you described, typing, smart phone, reading. I just started PT so I have to wait and see if it gives me any relief and if the exercises will help strengthen the weakness that I have around my neck, upper arm and shoulder blade muscles. I also have pain and discomfort lifting my arms and trying to do things like lifting things, getting dressed and doing my hair (more of girl problems I guess :)). Muscle relaxers help slightly though. I am hoping PT won't be a waste of time but the doctors want you to try in nonetheless. Good that you improved your office ergonomics. I still need to work on that. have you tried a standing desk? I don't know if I could deal with that but some people swear by it.

    I am also waiting to see a pain management doctor who I fear will suggest shots as well. I am not very keen on the idea either. I have read too many stories of failed shots and more issues and pain caused by them even though they are helpful for some people.

    I do not want surgery and doctors aren't really saying that I should consider it at this point. Also hard to miss time in my industry.

    Good luck, keep us posted. I am curious to see what helps you as I can totally relate!

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