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    Degenerative Disk Disease
    Jayne4694 posted:
    Hello I have degenerative disk disease. I have had two disks removed in my lower back L4 and L5. Ray Cages were put in place of the disk. I also have another disk bad in my back but I'm living with that. I know my limitations. I also have a disk out of place in my neck. In January 2008 I was rushed to the hospital with the most intense pain I was basically incoherient from the pain. The pain was going from my neck down the right side of my arm. The pain stopped at my elbow. In the emergency room they gave me all kinds of pain meds but no helped. The pain was so severe my blood pressure was off etc. Finally they put an IV in my arm and gave me some pain meds through the IV. Finally the pain went away enough that it was tolerable and put me to sleep and that was good to as I was exhausted. Then I started Physical Therapy. It took about 2 weeks to get the pain out of my arm and then another 2 weeks to build back up the strength in my arm. It's funny, but no funny but since January of 2010 I started with the pain in my neck. Then the pain went to my elbow Then something new is that my right arm from the elbow down is numb and tingly. Sometimes that tingly feeling is painful. My Dr. said they don't like to do Neck surgery unless a last resort. So I'm back doing Physical Therapy. This time some place different. My PT is wonderful. She takes time to treat me and doesn't watch the clock. She is sorry for the pain but her major concern is the numbness and tingling. After trying many things the only thing that 90% of the time takes the numbness and tingling away is to lay my head to my left. She says it releases the disk from hitting the nerve. I start off in a pool that is 96 degrees and do exercises in the pool with the resistance of the water. My hand still goes numb but when that happens I stop the exercise. Then I won't go into it but they treat me wonderfully. I also have a massage 2-3 times a week to help relax me. They say I am extremely tight from my lower back to my neck. The kicker of all this is I'm a typist and type almost 6 out of an 8 hour day. And that is really a chore to get through the day. The pain pills that I take help with the nerve pain but no the numbness and tingling. Also my right hand is my dominent hand.

    Can anybody tell me if they have experienced any of this or some of it? Am I going to eventlly get the disk off the nerve? I'm losing muscle tone in my arm and my thumb is completly numb going up my arm. So is PT going to help this time or am I looking at surgery again. Neck surgery can be so dangerous.

    This is all so depressing.
    natureme responded:
    Hi, I just read your post, I'm new on here too. I have DDD and osteoarthritis and Sjogren's and a host of other illnesses. I had to have my L5 S1 replaced. They put a large peak spacer in between my L3 down past my L5 to hold me together. I also have three leaking discs in my lower neck to my upper back and several bone spurs. The reason I'm replying is that I noticed you said something about arm pain. I've been having bad pain in my left arm from my shoulder to my elbow. I've been putting off going to the doctor. It hurts worse when I reach for something. Or when I put my shirt on or off. I've been though the PT that you mentioned. The pool thing. It was before my back surgery. They didn't even do an x-ray on my back when I was complaining. And I didn't know anything about it. I've learned to stand up to my docs better now. Anyway, I guess I don't have any advice for you but I found someone who shares some of my symptoms. Not sure what's causing my arm pain. Guess it's time for a doc visit. So, your post kinda helped me some. Thanks.
    doonsie responded:
    I feel for you - I have had two lower back surgeries and I did end up having a neck level fused because of terrible pain and numbness in my neck, arms going into my fingers. If I had it to do again, I would NOT do it - the fusion in my neck gave me limited relief for about 6 months. After that, the pain became worse and worse. Surgeon just looks at me 'what? your surgery healed well' -

    I would highly recommend a Pain Management Doctor and stick with the therapy as much as you can. If it makes it worse,take a break. But also take a look at what you do, how you sit and have someone look at your workstation that is trained in ergonomics - if you use a computer for work. That helped me the most. My PM doctor put me on a combo of Topomax and Neurontin and that really seemed to help the pain too. The center I went to had a full-person view of the patient and included behavioral therapy as well as physical therapy. If you don't have success, try a different therapist or pain center.

    You may also want to see a Neurologist, who can check to see if some of the problems you are having could be from carpal tunnel or ulnar nerve problems. I put the pain down to my neck for years and found that I had carpal tunnel too! That improved with PT and wearing braces at night. Any relief helps.

    I have to remember to keep my posture straight, and it helps some too.

    Good luck,
    Jayne4694 replied to natureme's response:
    natureme, they say the pain going down your arm is a disk out of place, Your hand/fingures going numb and tingly is a disk pressing on a nerve. I have pain medicine for the nerve pain. But you need a good physical therapist. Mine told me everybody is different and mine is going to take some time.
    Rotorhed1966 responded:
    Hi Jane and I saw that nobody else replied to your post, but I can share what happened to me. I was in the Air Force for just over 21 years and while unfolding the main rotor blades of a helicopter after it was off loaded from a huge C-5 cargo plane, one of the blades fell and basically ripped my left arm out of the socket. After 4 surgeries over 5 years to repair my rotator cuff on my left arm, I began to lose all feeling in my left arm. On the other hand, I started having massive panic attacks. Here is what happened. When the rotor blade came down, it not only ripped my left arm out of the socket, but it also twisted my C-6 vertebrae in my neck to a 45 degree angle. Before the doctor even saw me, he saw the MRI and he expected to see someone in a wheelchair. He came into the room and verified my name and asked me if I was in any pain and I replied no. He was amazed that I could even walk and after I told him that I had been running ten miles a day after recovering from my surgeries he almost fell out of his chair! I saw him on a Wednesday and I was in the operating room on Friday morning. I had a plate and 4 screws installed in my neck and when I woke up in the recovery room I had all of the feeling back in my arm and my panic attacks stopped cold! Somehow my brain changed the pain into panic and I was misdiagnosed. I hope this helps, but as for people not replying you just have to wait and be patient. You certainly don't have a condition that everyone else gets and until now, nobody had anything to offer. Think back and try to remember if there is anything you could have done to hurt your neck or request a cervical spine MRI and see what the doctors say. Good Luck!
    Shinty1 responded:
    cweinbl responded:
    Jayne, you have spinal stenosis in your cervical spine. Because there is insufficent space to pass through, your nerve root is pinched. I have the same problem. I also have had four lumbar spine surgeries, including multilevel fusion. All four of my spine surgeries failed.

    Surgery should always be a last resort, after failure with PT and pain management. You can also try traction. If all of these fail to help and you remain miserable, you can consider fusion.

    However, there are some things you should know first:

    1. Spine surgery is 80% successful for improved function (less arm or leg radiculopathy), but only 50% successful for pain. Yet, most people have the surgery for pain. So, surgery is just as likely to fail as to succeed.

    2. For cervical surgery, you can have disc replacement, which is much better than a standard fusion. It offers the mobility of a discectomy with the stability of fusion. Disc replacement is stil considered experimental for lumbar surgery, where body mass is many times greater than cervical vertebra hold. But, I would not (will not) have cervial surgery without disc replacement.

    3. You should only trust your spine to a spine surgeon. A spine surgeon is someone who has completed a fellowship in spine surgery (about 3-4 years AFTER a residency) and who restricts their entire practice to trauma and disease of the spine. No orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon can come close to a spine surgeon for experience, training and technique. Spine surgeons are at the leading edge of their field. They were the first to use disc replacement, rods, pins, cages, etc., and they are light years ahead of standard surgeons for technique. Spine surgeons can typically be found at or near teaching hospitals (universities).

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck.

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