After about 9 months of what started as tingling down my left shoulder to mid arm, and then progressing to severe pain from the left side of my neck along the top back of my shoulder, I was diagnosed in December as having a herniated C3-4 disc. I did have an MRI done, then saw a neurosurgeon who recommended spinal traction and referred me to a Physical Medicine doctor. The neurosurgeon told me that he would not want to consider surgery on such a high part of the neck. The Physical Medicine doctor said that she would not want to consider target shots because the area was too close to the brain stem, so she prescribed nerve medication (first Lyrica, then generic Gabapentin) and physical therapy. Cervical traction had no effect at all. After two months of physical therapy, I see no difference in the symptoms, however, the nerve medication has definitely decreased the unbearable pain along the top of my shoulder. The tingling, however, which seems to have settled along the top of my shoulder and down to the front of my shoulder, even on the collar bone, appears to be more intense than ever. It's strong enough to keep me awake at night, and sometimes impossible to relieve by changing positions.
Here's my question. I've read that the pain can get better, but that tingling can stay quite a bit longer. Am I only masking symptoms, or will this eventually go away with time? If I keep taking the nerve medication and just wait, will this eventually heal? And, if so, about how long may I expect it to take....weeks? months? years? I am a fairly physically active 51 year old female. I live alone and own a small horse ranch, so I have many physically demanding daily chores and ride and train horses. If I know this will eventually get better, I can deal with the symptoms, but if I'm making it worse, or it may never stop, I need to know if I will be forced to change my lifestyle. So far, I feel like everyone I've gone to for help has given me a "Let's try this and see if it helps...", instead of a definite answer.
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