Skip to content
Includes Expert Content
bulging disc and pinched nerve
avatar
sdc_1984 posted:
In April of this year I started having severe pain in my neck that would send shooting pains down my left arm and shoulder blade and then proceeded to cause some weakness and numbness in my arm with a weird sensation of my ring finger and "bird" finger feeling "pulled". I went to an orthopedic Dr. and he did X-rays then ordered an MRI. The X-rays were fine but the MRI showed a bulging disc between c-6 and c-7. I was told also that the disc looked "degenerative". I was given a medrol dose pak and flexeril and vicodin-none of which helped at all! I questioned him giving me a muscle relaxer for nerve pain as well as a pain pill for nerve pain and didnt see how either would help the situation-and the response was that "maybe it would dope me up enough to not know I was in pain". Needless to say, the pain wore off on its' own about 2 weeks later to return again a few days ago with a vengeance. I have been taking 800mg of ibuprofen (with no relief) and then chose to see a chiropractor, as the Dr. didnt seem to help. The chiropractor did several different therapies on me including spinal decompression which seems to have given me some relief. He also said to take large doses of Omega 3's and some other OTCs. My question now would be- at my age- am I looking at a long road of pain with my neck bothering me all the time? I have several family members that have this same problem-could it be hereditary? Im not overweight and have not done anything that would have bothered the problem.The only injury that I have ever had in that area was about 4 years ago when a tv fell on my head from the wall at an outpatient surgery center. Could an injury from that long ago be causing my problem? I can't deal with this kind of pain all the time. No meds help at all. Do you know of any kind of supplements or anything that could help me keep this at bay? Any input would be greatly appreciated, as I have 3 children and dont have the time to be in pain! Thanks Again!!
Reply
 
avatar
DUKE MEDICINE
Joe T Minchew, MD responded:
SDC

Your symptoms do seem to be consistent with a disc herniation at C6-7. The natural history of this problem is the approximately 90% of people will improve with conservative care in a period of 3-6 months. Therefore, it is very likely that with some additional treatment that the symtpoms will improve dramatically. Conservative care usually includes medications and physical therapy. Spinal manipulation with the chiropractor includes some aspects that may be a part of physical therapy or PT but there are other parts that it does not cover. It is generally shown that active treatments such as PT are more effective in the long run than "passive" therapies like manipulation. In addition to PT, many patients will respond to an epidural injection or nerve root block. This is something that could be ordered through a spine specialist. Also, many patients respond to medications that are specific for the nerve pain. These include medications that are classically used to treat seizures or depression but taken low doses they seem to help "nerve" pain. The down side of these medications is that they can make you sleepy or drowsy though this tends to pass after you have taken them for a while.

With respect to the long term, you are at some risk for neck pain due to the degenerative disc that resulted in the disc herniation. Even if the nerve pain improves, which it should, the disc will not go back to being "normal" or young. The key to trying to avoid chronic neck pain is a regular neck range of motion and strengthening program that you would learn in PT. With respect to the "cause" of the degeneration, it is just the natural aging process of the spine. It affects everyone, albeit, with different degrees in different people. It does tend to be hereditary though not as directly as things like hair and eye color.

Hope this was helpful. Good luck and the odds are on your side for improvement if you get active in recovery.

JTM
 
avatar
ladyjuliet responded:
Hello,

I just stumbled across your post from several months ago. I hope you have found some relief for your pain.

I had a very similar experience and like yourself, sought help at a chiropractor. What neither my doctor or chiropracter mentioned is physical therapy. I had to ask for a referall to go to a Physical Therapist and finally got one.

I had a HUGE change after going to physical therapy 3 times a week for a few months. I still have symptoms once in a while but I just do the exercises that my PT taught me and I know I can schedule more visits with him if I need to.

I felt that he had a better handle on disk issues and I learned more about my body and prevention and treatment from physical therapy than from anywhere else.

I liked my chiropractor too, and will continue going to him for adjustments. He seemed very upset that I would go to PT. I guess Chiropractors and Physical therapists don't get along. haha. But in the end I wonder if back adjustments actually HURT my cervical bulging disk rather that help. Getting traction at PT is what helped me in the end.

Best of luck to you.
 
avatar
bj1208 replied to ladyjuliet's response:
hi ladyjuliet - welcome to the support group -

one thing i would like to point out - before going to a chiropractor and/or physical therapist be sure that you have an orthopedic spine specialist and/or neurosurgeon spine specialist review your x-rays/MRI's and/or CT Scans - they will let you know what exactly is wrong with your back/neck areas and they will write a script for the treatments with the chiro/PT and will order the right treatments - sometimes traction can hurt in the long run and with certain adjustments - that's why it's a good idea to get the referral from either the ortho or neuro spine specialist - rather than your primary care physician -

let us know how you are doing - take care - Joy~~
 
avatar
thixotropic replied to bj1208's response:
Traction definitely caused me problems. My soft tissues were stretched out and I began to have problems with my neck. These were exacerbated by later injuries (my neck is trashed now) but I wonder if they would have been so bad w/o that initial traction.

I do think PT is wonderful and highly recommend the exercise portion of it. If you do traction, be careful with the amount of weight used.
 
avatar
bj1208 replied to thixotropic's response:
hi thixotropic - glad that pt is working for you - unfortunately nothing has helped me - and there is no way i can do any type of traction - i have a plate, screws and cage in my back at L5-S1

chiropractic care and physical therapy are great and benefit a lot of people - the only thing i would add is that it is beneficial for people to get a script written from either an Orthopedic Spine Specialist, Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist and/or Pain Management doc (provided surgeons agree with pm doc for therapy) - as with any therapy it must be written so that the therapist knows which areas are the problem areas and stays away from there -

hope that you can find some relief for your neck - take care - JOy~~
 
avatar
georgiegirltwo responded:
have you ever tried a tens machine. my doctor told me about this 20 years ago and it is the best non medicine going. ask your doctor about this it seems to block the pain signal.
 
avatar
bj1208 replied to georgiegirltwo's response:
hi georgiegirltwo - not sure who's your post is in response to - if mine, then yes I have tried this - 3 different times with 3 different physical therapists - and each time it did not help no matter what settings it was on - i've also tried all types of injections in my back, facet joints and piriformis muscles (upper buttocks covering sciatic nerves), i've also tried the trial spinal cord stimulator implant (failed - caused pains to increase), 2 chiropractors and 6 or 7 physical therapists (lost count!) - all treatments failed and had Anterior Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 - which I fused but they could not do anything for the chronic low back pains or the nerve pains in both legs (nerve damage) - I've had lots of treatments both before and after surgery - everything has failed.

as in my responses to thixotropics problems which are in the neck not sure if the TENS Unit is available for that as I have not heard of someone with neck problems use one - which i could be wrong with that.

take care - ^Joy^
 
avatar
CAE_Georgia responded:
Dear sdc_1984 & others

I've just read your post and wow, you described my symptoms exactly. I couldn't have been any more specific right down to my ring and "bird" fingers. I also read Dr. Minchew's response and the other 5 post. Throughout all of them I never once read anything about diet? Specifically the daily amount of protein in your diet. I'm about as redneck, backwoods, country boy as your gonna find online posting things like this so take that as my testament to the fact there is some truth in what I say.
After all the test, pills, and physical therapy (and all the bills) I found myself right in the middle of my second go 'round with this neck, shoulder, arm pain. Now money unfortunately has become an issue since I'm still making payments for the first go 'round. After the initial pain, muscle relaxer, and steroids ran out and the OTC's proved ineffective but I was still taking them, I got up one morning slowly rolled outta bed and went to the kitchen to eat something so I could take my morning dose of ibuprofen all I could find to eat was a banana and a muscle building powdered drink mix. Now guess what, I have that glass of chocolate milk mix and that banana took my ibuprofen kicked back in my recliner and within a couple hours I was up and doing chores around the house. I'm no nutritionist but my online research has lead me to believe that the increased protein body builders use to recover after working out has somewhat the same effect on my disc herniation. Truth or myth all I know is now I drink the stuff with breakfast every other day and I'm hoping and praying it stays away, six weeks and counting now. I would love to hear some real expert feed back and am offering this post to anyone else going through what I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Give it a try you can pick up a pretty big can of it for about $20.00 which is a heck of a lot cheaper than any of the other things we have talked about. Good luck to all and thanks in advance for any feedback or responses.
 
avatar
BAILEYBABY098 responded:
I just had back surgery 2 wks ago & I can't say I am pain free...worse pain right now, with the hope that it will get better. good luck with the drugs..i have tried them all.
BAILEYBABY
 
avatar
hauln replied to CAE_Georgia's response:
Have had lower back pain for 10-14 years and I found your post about muscle building drink powder very interesting and would like to try it. What brand did you take and have you tried others with more or less effect? Have had chiropractic adjustments, tens therapy, heat therapy and ice therapy...all with varying success.
 
avatar
DianeFisher replied to hauln's response:
Try the Protein Powder Mix currently encroaching into America's kitchens! Body by Vi (Visalus) Drink Mixes. Google it. It is a cake batter flavored protein powder that far surpasses the taste and nutritional value of any other shake mix on the current market. A friend sells it, it is a current craze. Being a Nutritionist myself, I have looked at the product, tested, and compared. It is changing people's lives, they are feeling better, living better, looking better. My friend started working out, using the shakes, and lost 40lbs in 2 months. If you need to lose a lot of weight, substitute the shake for 2-3 meals a day, if you just need to bulk/tone, substitute 1-2. Also, on another note, Shark or Bovine cartilage, found in vitamin section of supermarket. I also have a bulging, protrusion/extrusion disc L5, S1. I going this direction, as well as meds, and pain injections to avoid surgery. However, since the extrusion is 8mm and touching my spinal cord, my husband (pain doc) thinks I will probably need surgery to relieve the pressure that could become permanent loss of feeling in my left leg.


Helpful Tips

Making the Most of Your Doctor Visit #2Expert
Here are the rest of the suggestions (had to break into to two parts due to the character limits) 5. Make sure that all records ... More
Was this Helpful?
27 of 41 found this helpful

Helpful Resources

Be the first to post a Resource!

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health Spine Center