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Ongoing Neck and Back Pain, Help!
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Ongoing Neck and Back Pain, Help!

Have had a progression of symptoms since February with numbness and tingling in left hand and foot to increased pain in neck and back, with neck pain being more severe right now.

Have seen GP, 2 Neurologists, Orthopedist, Rheumatologist, Chiropractor. Have had blood work, Lumbar and Cervical spine MRI, Brain MRI, urinalysis, nerve conduction study, and most recently Echocardiogram. Without boring you with all the details, I am trying to make a decision about surgery...on my cervical spine. The back will have to wait for now. In regards to my neck pain, my Ortho says that he can only give me about a 50% chance of pain relief since I don't have a lot of pain in my arm. Apparently studies support this. The neck pain can be truly horrible at times.

The MRI says:

C5-6. Appears to be ...compromise to the foramen to the left related to a posterior lateral disk protrusion to the left. Produces a borderline central canal caudal foraminal stenosis and left lateral recess stenosis. Facettes moderately hypertrophic.

C6-7. Mild encroachment foramen to the right. Minimal diffuse disk protrusion. Right lateral recess is borderline. Central canal is widely patent.

Blah, blah, blah.

I have read, understand what stenosis is and the mechanics of it all. When I read it, I think that doesn't sound so bad...borderline....mild. However, I have been in pain for 7 or so months and it effects every part of my life. I am not a whimp! Anyone have input?
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Avatar_n_tn
I've had neck/cervical pain for almost a year and a half, so I can relate to how miserable it can be and how it can effect every part of your life.  My MRI says "mild to moderate central spinal stenosis", but I can tell you that some days it feels much more than mild to moderate!!  I think the word "mild" is somewhat misleading.

I've tried chiropractors, physical therapy, had 2 neck epidurals, seen a neurologist, neurosurgeon, othopedic surgeon etc....  The only relief I've found so far is with accupuncture.  I had accupuncture twice a week for about 5-6 weeks and then went to once a week afterwards, and it truly did help with the pain and even the tingling/shocking sensation I was getting down my legs/feet when I'd look downward.  The downside is it's VERY EXPENSIVE! Between accupuncture and getting a weekly massage (the only thing that feels good on my neck to help relieve muscle tension), I was spending 650+ a month. It's hard to keep that going long-term which is why I'm now conteplating the surgery as well. I really don't want to have surgery and I'm scared out of my mind, but also feel like I don't want to continue living like this either! Wish there was a clear cut answer for all of us.
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Avatar_n_tn
And your comment about your Ortho says that he can only give about a 50% chance of pain relief since you don't have a lot of pain in your arm...SCARES ME!!  I don't have pain in my arm(s) either, but if I have my arms up like I'm driving or up around my head when I'm sleeping, they lose circulation and go numb. My ortho surgeon hasn't given me any % of better, he just says I have some atypical symptoms and that I may have those even after having surgery. Guess that's similar to your 50% chance.
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Avatar_f_tn
Wow! Yes, I have practically the very same issues with neck - C Spine. Originally, in the mid 70s, it was attributed to auto accident. Now for the last 10 + years it has moved from sporadic episodes to constant debilitating agony. The massage and acupuncture helped so very much, but the cost HEAVY! Helps are so inaccessible due to lack of services in this location not to mention the cost! Add this to the expense of Humira and other meds that aren't covered with SSD.
The stress of the unrelieved pain and costs and lack of the only help = more PAIN. I have been given the same tests starting 30 years ago, the same info on any surgical intervention, it is overwhelming. If my husband was still alive, I'm sure we would have moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas. There are government pricing control of massages, baths, etc. for services since Hot Springs is a National Park. But, that would take a lot of research and motivation that I can't muster alone.
I'm 60 and it is frustrating to find compassionate, understanding pain management. At my age and no history of ever having any addiction (other than my morning Coca Cola :) )

The organizations and advocates for legitimate pain control are making headway. With their efforts, I know that great strides will continue.  A changed attitude in government and medical fields must take place. The 'witch hunt' and labeling of pain patients as 'drug seekers'  is "cruel and inhumane".
Sorry to be so long winded. but I don't want anyone to think they are alone in the battle against pain.
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