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chronic neck pain
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chronic neck pain

Hi, I just found this forum and now I know that I'm not alone.  I was in a car accident in Feb of 03, and walked away uninjured....or so I thought.In October I woke up one morning with a very sore neck.  After talking to some of my coworkers I decided to see a chiropractor, which I did for a very short time because he scared me, I thought he was going to make it worse. So I went to my GP and she ordered an MRI.  The results were that I had a herniated disc at C6-7 and a bulging disc at C5-6. She referred me to an Orthopaedic surgeon who suggested traction, which I did for a total of 4 months. Didn't really help so he started talking surgery.  At this point I was in so much pain with numbess in my left arm, excruciating headaches and shooting pains into my head. My head felt like it weighed 80 lbs.  So I went ahead with the surgery in March of 04. The surgery was a success, my arm pain and numbness was gone, but not the neck pain.  I saw him for 6 months of follow up after the surgery and he just told me to be careful because of the bulging disc underneath.
I was in pain, but he said that I could go back to my normal activities and the fusion was healing nicely. Fast forward to Dec 05, the disc at C5-6 herniated and I had another surgery.  Same scenario, follow up, but still in excruciating pain.  He finally told me after prescribing physical therapy like 3 times with no improvement that could no longer prescribe pain medication for me.  So I tried not taking anything and just dealing with the pain. But I couldn't sleep and was in tears the pain was so bad.  I called my ortho dr. back and he referred me to a Pain Mgmt Clinic which I am still going to, have been since 2006.  They are very good at this clinic, but have yet to diagnose the source of my pain...after trigger point injections, botox injections, facet injections, nothing has helped. He prescribed physical therapy 3 times to no avail.  He recently sent me to a neurosurgeon who did a cat scan and a bone scan.  The results were not good.  He told me that my fusions had never completely healed.  First time any one has ever said that to me, and I have a several MRIs, CT scans, & bone scans over the years since my second surgery.  I have to back track a little bit here, I forgot to mention that I was rear-ended in October 2010 so obviously there was concern that it may have caused me more problems.  I don't know yet if the accident caused the space in my fusions or if they actually didn't heal, but I have never been told that, I was always told that my fusion healed fine.  I have a disability case pending, which my attorney thinks will be approved, but I now also suffer from lower back pain, which I will begin physical therapy for this week along with more PT on my neck. Hope it helps this time, seriously. I'm tired of being on pain meds that don't even touch the pain anymore, and anti-depressants.  The neurosurgeon said he could do a third surgery but they would have to go in in the back of my neck, and use screws to secure the fusions, but he told me it wouldn't relieve my pain, and there is only a 50/50 chance of success of this surgery.  My only other option is for the Spine and Pain Clinic to continue to manage my pain.  So I basically feel like i'm just screwed.  I'm a 48 year old woman who thank God is wonderful and helps me and loves me.  Most men would have packed their bags by now, so I thank God I have him.  But this zero quality of life is getting to me, it's very depressing and frustrating to me. I was a very active before my problems began and now I can't even clean my house, it takes me about 2 hours to shower and dress, and then I have to rest for a couple hours just to get up for a half hour.  Just really tired of it all, and I feel like I have pretty much exhausted all of my options.  I would sell my soul to the devil for just one day pain free, to feel like the old me...does any one know if there's anything else I can do?
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I read my post and it  reads wrong in one place. Where i say I am a 48 year old woman...insert who has a husband who is wonderful and helps me and loves me. Didn't sound right the way it was worded, thank you!
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Avatar_f_tn
I definetely would have continued the chiropractor path first but that's all water under the bridge now. I wish u the very best, choronic neck pain can be so debilitating!! *hugs*
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875426_tn?1325532016
I'm no doctor, but I would think the fusions should have plenty of time to heal and that a car accident could not undo healing from surgeries 5 and more years previous to the pics taken of your neck.  So I might suggest looking into if you have a medical issue which causes slow healing.

I was in a less serious accident than you back in 1998 since I didn't have the disc herniations or bulging, but I had a severely sprained neck and underwent about 10 months of physical therapy.  My neck has never really been the same.  Because of my neck, when I lay flat on my back, I use no pillow.  It helps that I have an old Select Comfort mattress which I keep pretty soft and I use an old Simmons Beauty Rest contour impression type pillow for side laying.  

When you did the physical therapy- did the therapist find if you had any knots in your muscles in the area of your neck or trapezius muscles?
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Avatar_f_tn
thanks for responding, believe me any input helps....as for your question about physical therapy, my entire neck, shoulder, and upper back area is full of muscle spasms and knots. My shoulders are not in the proper position, they atte bowed forward and raised higher than they should be. I have a lot of soft tissue damage which is what is being worked on in PT at this time.  But this is like the 7th time I've been in PT since this all began. My drs say that my muscles are protecting my neck and my spine, and there is a reason for it. Plain and simple, things are not right. I have degenerative disc disease also and narrowing of the vertebrae/spine. And finding out that my fusions never healed came as a complete shock to me because I have been told by more than one dr that everything healed. My pain management dr has tried to pinpoint the source off my pain for over 4 years now, and is now sending me to different drs to see if I can be helped. I guess I'm just at my wits end with all of this and I'm petrified of having yet another surgery. 50/50 chance of success ate not good enough for me. I've been told that all that can be fine is pain management. Just a lousy feeling to know that no one can help. But I won't give up either ill keep going to different drs in the hope that someone can help. and continue physical therapy. My neurosurgeon and my PM dr have both said to me that I'm the last person in the works that needed to get rear ended. Makes, me afraid to even be in a car. just wish I could go back to 2003 and not have that accident. but we all know you can't change the past. Just exhausted and depressed. i can't get comfortable in any position so i get very little sleep and it's only an hour or two that I can sleep at a time. I don't usually talk about any of this because I feel, like it's just whining. so I'm really glad that I found this forum. I don't feel so alone.
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875426_tn?1325532016
I wanted to clarify something I said before- when I lay on my back without a pillow, I don't really lay "flat" because I lay at a slant in a hospital bed.  I have acid reflux.

I remember someone in PT- a PT assistant, after my accident massaging my back and it hurt so bad I asked her to stop and kicked the table but she kept going.  I reported her, I felt so violated.  You are so vulnerable when you are in so much pain.  But it helps if you have somebody to support you through your suffering who is trying to help you.  Have they used the tens unit on you?  Once, I had PT do that and I felt so much better and I ordered one for take home, but you really have to know what you are doing because I tried at home and gave myself a headache.  Do they have you lay on a big moist heat pak?  That feels really good.   Have they ever recommended trying acupuncture?

Neck surgery is a very risky thing and 50/50 does NOT sound like you ought to dive into it!  The more surgeries you have, the more chance to get additional adhesions from scarring which can add to your pain!  My mom once met somebody who was on a pain pump from failed neck surgery, so it's an encouraging thing to know those surgeries didn't go worse for you than they did & sounds like at least one of them helped you!  

Depression comes so easily when you don't feel good.  Your brain chemistry gets altered and your endorphines tend to be low, which is why excercise and laughter are needed to try to boost them.  
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