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C-5 C-6 bulging disc, with neural foramen narrowing
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C-5 C-6 bulging disc, with neural foramen narrowing

About 5 weeks ago, I felt pain in my left shoulder, down to my elbow. The pain is worse in a slouched, sitting position, and when I move my neck back to a certain point. My IM suggested cervical traction, and NSAID's. Neither have worked, and I had a MRI last week, which showed a bulging C-5 C-6 disc, and neural foramen narrowing at that spot. It also showed slight spine flattening in that area. I have been scheduled with a neurosurgeon for January 25th.

Questions-

What are my projected treatment options?
If time is an answer; what is an estimated time of recovery?
What should I ask the physician, and is surgery inevitable?
When do you believe I will be able to resume normal exercise?

Thanks, and I'm extremely frustrated.

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20 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_n_tn
After physical therapy, many exercises and stretches, lots of discomfort,I had a cervical disc fusion last august. the area was c4,5,6,7.
my symptoms were pain in the shoulder and forearm, and loss of strength and atrophy in some areas.
the surgery was a snap, recovery was 8 weeks then started therapy.
so, if that is where you are headed, don't fret, plus, this type of surgery is one of the most sduccessful.
by the way, are you left handed? my problem was right arm oriented and I am right handed.
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Avatar_n_tn
On my left side. It's a bulgin C4 C5 disc, not C6. No muscle weaknees, or atrophy. Pain when I slouch while sitting, and pain when I move my head back to a certain degree.

My appointment is on the 25th, and I'm interested to see what happens next.

Thanks.
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Avatar_n_tn
Neurosurgeon has scheduled me for an Anterior Cervical Fusion at C5 C6 on Monday.

He said that I will be off for three weeks, and I can't drive or lift over 5 pounds. The three weeks after that, I can work and lift up to 25 pounds.

My mother-in-law had this done, and she felt great within the first week, except for a bad sore throat feeling.

I'm in good shape, and exercise 5 times a week. (Mostly cardio right now) I'm 35, and I want to get back to the gym sooner if possible, and I'm wondering if anyone has a story that suggests that this is possible.

Thanks.
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Avatar_m_tn
We were in a car accident 12-7-07, rear ended with us sitting still and the car hit us going 40mph.  I was seen shortly after accident with x-rays showing inflammation and neck spasms.  I have had bad headaches going on since the wreck for a mth.  The dr sent me to therephy and they wanted to do tracksion with no results.  Hurts too badly, moving head to either side or back and forth.  I worked the week after in so much pain and numbness now she has me off work since 17th.
She ordered MRI and it shows bulging of C-5 C-6 disc and I am scheduled on the 24th with a neuro-
surgeon.  I am getting very frustrated about nothing helping revieve the pain.  
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Avatar_n_tn
I too have been recently diagnoised with a herniated C5/6 disc. I also have pain down right arm to the elbow,tingling in both hands and feet occasionally. I also have severe pain at times in the middle of my back and under shoulder blade. The back of my head feels like I've been hit with a bat. My injury occured on 10/31/07. I had 1 month of physical therapy that quite frankly made me feel worse not better.  I am now awaiting a 2nd MRI of my upper back to rule out any other injury. I know you are frustrated and wish I had a quick fix to tell you about. Try to keep positive as this to will pass. Keep me posted on your recovery and I'll do the same. One doctor talked surgery but I am awaiting to talk to a neurosurgeon after the next MRI. You'll be in my prayers for a speedy recovery.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks, that was very helpful!  As of yesterday the physical therapy
wrote a letter to my doctor to request a ting unit to be worn at all times.  My doctor just pulled me out of therapy, (not soon enough)
And, she prescribed me a sleeping pill with a muscle relaxer so hopefully I will get more sleep.  Having both my husband and I hurting makes for a bad time.  His whiplash was nothing like mine due to my head turned towards the left talking to me when we was hit.  The appointment is on the 24th with the neurosurgeon.
Thanks for the prayers and you have ours as well.
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Avatar_n_tn
I understand what you are going through, except I have a Herniated disc on my fifth Lumbar. It happened this summer in June of 2007, and I have had problems with my back ever since. I'm a senior at Iowa State University, and attending classes has become really difficult. I can't sit for more than about five minutes before I get a lot of pain. I have pain in the left buttock and in my left calf muscle. It hurts when I lay in bed too, and yes I've a good bed. This is the stuff I have done to treat my back, maybe this will help you maybe it won't. I have started with in order: aleve, inversion table, chiropractic care with physical therapy (2.5 months), acupuncture, 1 steroid injection in the epidural space (doesn't hurt as bad as you think), massage therapy, fish oil, (it has omega 3 which is the body's natural antifimfalmmatory), antiimflammatory pill and muscle relaxers(prescription), decompression table, and I'm getting my 2nd steroid injection in two days. I've tried a lot of things and done a lot of research for my problem. I have pain all the time but I don't take any medicine except for that antiimflammatory. Things that have worked for ME. I hope this helps people. The decompression table which can be found at your chiropractor, as well as chiropractic care helped me a lot. I have gone to several chiropractors before I found the right one, one thing to ask when going to set up an appointment is to ask if they use the drop table. The drop table is the way to go. The fish oil actually helps, I was skeptical at first but I just went to wal mart and bought the pills. The steroid shots help a little but not a lot, but I'm going to discuss other options with the neurosurgeon. One thing I forgot to add was walking helps keep everything loose even though it can be difficult for me to do. I wish I never had to deal with my back condition I have. I'm young active person, and this inhibits my activities. I have been nursing my back along for 6 months and want to return to my normal activity. If anybody has any questions or suggestions for me to try go ahead and post a comment on this forum.
Good luck for everybody.
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Avatar_f_tn
did you have the surgery?   If so, how are you?   I am going wed. for my 2nd cervical fusion, I have been unable to eat, for over a year now,  so my hardware is going to be removed (anterior)  then, they are going to flip me over, and open me & do Posterior fusion with bonegraft & rods and screws.   good luck to everyone out there.
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Avatar_n_tn
From degeneration and wear & tear, after a 2nd MRI, doctors confirmed that I have emptied out c 5/6 c 6/7, with 2 pinched nerves and the encephalitic liquid barely even passes through. I haven't yet been sceduled for surgery but am on a 2 month waiting list to have them both removed ( the discs). I'm scared @#$%less but have been suffering from "electrical" type pains for about 8 years now. 'till it was too late, no one did anything but prescribe narcotics and even refuse me an MRI. Because I'm from Quebec, the health care system doesn't defend the rights of any patient really. Unless you go private, you will never be assured decent health care, you know, the type you would give a stray cat.
Anyhow, anybody who's been suffering from this for any length of time is in my book, a true soldier. I have seen a grown man cry over the constant shooting pain he suffered from a pinched nerve due to a muscle spasm.
Still though, I need a bit of reassuring as to post-op. recovery I'm a 31 y, old woman who works out 5 times a week (little home routine) and I want to know how fast I can go back to work because I'm a hair stylist and I need my arms ( it's my left arm that the most affected, it went flaccid in November). They say 8 weeks, but I want the true truth. Thanx much!
Ari
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Avatar_n_tn
i am 12 and its hurting relly much my left neck side to and i dnt know wat to do is it bad??? do i have to go to a doctor???



please tell me as soon as possible tnx,
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had neck pain for more than 35 years. My neck at time will stick to one side or the other. No Doctor has ever really done anything. About 6 years ago all of a sudden I couldn't raise my left arm. I complained to my Dr. and with out even looking said it's your fibromyalgia. After another year I finally convinced him to get x-rays. Normal shoulder they said. My Dr. just kept feeding me Soma & Vicodin (which don't help) After another year I had begged enough to go to a neurologist and got an MRI. The Dr. never said they found anything. After another year I went & picked up my MRI and I saw the report and found out I had C5-6 herniated disk. Bone spurs and etc. I switched Drs. and he agreed it wasn't Fibromyalgia but offered nothing but the same pills.I got vision problems and very bad occipital nerve pain. I found out about epiderals so ask for one and within 48 hours could lift my arm. It wore off in a few months. (They gave me neurontin for the nerve pain.) I finally was scheduled for another epideral and this time it did nothing. So, I just had another MRI. It shows Disk protrusion and spurs in C5-6 & C6-7 with flattening and narrowing of the spine. No one has said anything about fixing it. Just stronger pain pills and they do not help with that neck pain at the base of your skull. Mine hurts so bad and then seems to subside after a couple weeks. What should I do ask for surgery? Or just keep complaining?
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Avatar_n_tn
I am 42 yr old female, I had a seizure while driving 1 year ago and ran into the back of another car. Although I was not conscious I was diagnosed with severe whiplash, had a CT & MRI scan. These both showed bulging between C5-C6 with slight narrowing. I get horrible headaches that start in the middle of the back of my head and span out to encompass the entire back of my head. I have severe muscle spasms in my the back of my neck and on each side of my neck, along with the entire upper back area. I have numbness sometimes on the side of my face. Right after the accident I got numbness on the rightside of my mouth then it starting spreading to involve my the entire right side of my face. This lasted for approx 12 hours. I have tried local pain injections (nerve block), 1 round of epidural steriod injection, and physical therapy for the past year going twice every single week. I stopped PT at the end of May but a flight home to Texas triggered everything all over again!  I now have numbness/tingling in my upper left arm & on the inside of my left arm. For this past year I have only been able to work at the most 5 hours each day.  I am soooo done with this and frustrated! My primary care doctor referred me to a neurosurgeon to discuss other options. My appt is this Tues July 28th. Surgery used to scare me, but now I just want my life back. My family has been so supportive, but I am not the person I used to be. I will update my post after I see the neurosurgeon.
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Avatar_n_tn
Have bulging disc C5/6 and C6/7. Pain down neck,stiffness,butterfly,fluttering, feelling. Pain and stiffness, swelling in hands pain along side of arms into palms and baby fingers right and left. Shooting pain down neck into shoulder blades across into underside of arms down to both hands,palms and ring and middle fingers. Worse as day progresses doing normal activities, not working. Carpal Tunnel Release operation both hands, and tendonitis both elbows,forearms. Told to hold off on surgery long as possible. Limited to daily activities, washing hair, laundry, cleaning, everything done in moderation, pain gets dabilitating. Not looking forward to anymore surgery, it's overrated.
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Avatar_n_tn
First of all I would like to say keep trucking. You know your body and what is normal and not. So keep being your own advocate and try to find the right healthcare professional that fits your personality and needs. I personally know that it is hard tiring work but eventually if you keep trying it will happen. I was in a few accidents about 10 or so years ago. I was a very active vibrant wife and mother of two, on just an infant. I was already a migraine like person but not chronic. Could stop it with mild medications. But after those accidents my headaches got worse and my low back pain was unbearable. Went to several doctors including pain managements, top headache clinics, etc. Finally after many several failed attempts at crazy procedures on my lumbar spine, I finally underwent two levels of disc replacement and fusions. Found the perfect surgeon and the procedure was tolerable and I healed well with a great physical therapist. But all along and during this time my headaches got tremendously worse. The neurologists kept telling me my shoulder pain and spasms across my chest, neck and so were just muscle spasms from the headaches. Went o for quite a few years until my physical therapist said enough. Low and behold I had a labrum tear in my left shoulder from the accidents. Got that repaired and it healed well. Well needless to say my headaches even got worse after that. Had more injections, even more medications, etc.. By the way, I had to stop working in 2007 after establishing a great self employed career. Well late last year I found yet another chiropractor who practices a totally different kind of pain management. No hard adjustments for me anymore especially after the fusion in my low back. We did a few weeks of work, noting was working. He ordered a new set of cervical plain x-rays, and low and behold, WOW, they actually showed that I had some serious thing going wrong in my cervical area. Scheduled for yet another surgical consult, maybe this should have been the first thing looked at 10 years ago. But I kept on going and being the advocate for my own health. And you can do it too. The physicians and especially my physical therapist who has been a rock in my health care, that I currently have are great, understand me and know what I need to get back to doing in my life. The surgeries that I had I healed wonderfully from. The only draw backs are the neck and lumbar braces. But if you follow the directions, eat healthy and take care of yourself it works and works well. Good Luck to everyone.
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1169479_tn?1263268285
I had pretty bad back pain to the point of back sezing up on me (barely being able to crawl to the bathroom, emergency room by ambulance once).  I also had SI joint pain.  I went to the Virignia Spine Institute complaining of SI joint pain (paid out of network prices for the best-they fix backs other doctors make mistakes on....hey you only get one back).  They did PT to release my SI joint which felt great and it worked.  However it freed up the herniated disc the SI joint was protecting.  My right leg went limp.  I had a microdiscetomy soon after by their best guy .  After about a year my pain is much less but not gone.  I am currently training for my first half marathon.  What has significantly reduced my pain is yoga.  I practice Shiva Rea's Yoga Shakti.  The stretching in the practice creates space and helps align my back so I dont have as much pain. This is important because as a CPA I sit for 10-12 hours a day. After I do long runs I get pain but I take aleve and use a medicated icey hot patch.  I get massages every month and I will start rolfing for the first time this month.  My own personal feeling is that you need to have strong stomache muslce to support your back when the disc is missing.  You can suppliment building up your core with doing stretching, massage and and getting adjustments from a good chiropractor.  You should feel better on the first visit to a chiropractor.  If you dont then you need to see an orthopedic back surgeon or you need a better chiropractor.  THEY ARE NOT ALL THE SAME.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND researching your doctors and going to the best in the nearest metropolitan area.  Doctors are human and some are much much better than others.  For me, paying extra was worth it.  The surgery I had went great.  Tiny incision and fast recovery.  I was walking in 24 hours.  Two weeks out of work.  If my pain gets unbearable I will need a fusion one day.  
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Avatar_f_tn
I have had multiple injuries resulting in C5-C6 bulging,and C4-C5 right neural foraminal narrowing with horrible pain, muscle spasms, numbness/tingling, shooting pain, and my back seizing to the point where I cannot move either. Although I am not fond of taking Rx's, Flexeril will allow my muscles to relax to a point where the pain is tolerable, also cortizone injections were phenomenal, but beyond that what I found that what worked great also, was a combination of vitamin supplements called Amino Fuel(can be purchased at GNC, I only take a 1/3 or 1/2) taken with COq10, and Glucosamine Chondroitin, (sp?) I have noticed a considerable difference with all of these. Epsom Salt baths help when I am so tense and cannot get relief, massages are good too but the cost adds up, chiropractic is great as well, but once again the cost adds up. I have heard stories where others have gone in for invasive surgery and the recovery is just as long and painful with no real difference in the outcome. I found that low impact excercise for my shoulder/arm/neck such as painting or swimming with the long strokes helps with atrophy. Stretching my neck side to side (gently) and chin to shoulder/chest (gently) also seems to help. I have also purchased a memory foam mattress which has worked wonders also and is not incredibly expensive. I would hope that someone out there, in the kind of pain that I have been in, might be able to benefit from trying some of these things. I dont know what it is, but surgery just seems like another injury to me?
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Avatar_n_tn
I have five bulging discs which affect both my legs quite bad now i work full time, i am now getting to the point where i am struggling to walk, im taking tablets that make me feel quite drunk most of the time, my friends laugh and say its a cheap way i have to laugh to although i feel like crying most of the time. I have started having facet joint injections about twice a year, which i have to say gives me a few weeks relief, the only problem with this is i also have osteoperosis which is thining of the bones and these injections i have thins the bones catch 22. y GP tells me now that he is trying to keep me working as long as i can im 56 will i be in a wheelchair in another five years.
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Avatar_f_tn
I just found out that I have a bulging disc on my neck at the C-5,6. This is freaking me out, I am finding it hard to do my work since I work with severely handicap students. Not sure what is going to happen.
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Avatar_m_tn
I have just seen a spinal surgeon who is going to do c5/6 anterior cervical spinal decompression with foraminal stenosis,I am awaiting a date for this now but am worried about having it done.I also have L5/s1 spondylolytic spondylolisthesis with foraminal stenosis which is another surgery for a later date.My symptoms are many,arm pain with feeling heavy, tingling,although I have had nerves cut at the nerve roots in the past which helped with pain in my fingers.I get bad heads (fuzzyness) with headaches,if I tilt my head back it kills and seems blocked with movement,I also have pain in the middle of my back which is worse with exersise,My left leg is cold and doesn't feel the same as my right leg,my left ankle does not work with up and down movement,I have twitches in my foot with a creeping feeling under the skin on the side of my leg and around my ankle,followed by painful spasms.Also bladder problems.
What I would like to know is there anyone who has similar problems or surgery so I can get my head around this.Thanks Des
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Avatar_f_tn
I was rear ended by a car that was also hit while it was still in motion. I was sitting still when I got struck. Immediately I had neck pain. I went to the ER the next day and they did a Cat Scan of my neck which was negative! Began Chiro and manual manipulation spiralled my headaches out of control. I tried telling her that I could press a place in the back of my neck that made me feel as though I was struck by lightning! By week 2 headaches became disabling along with the pain in arms and top of my back. I stopped therapy and went to see another doctor that listened. I was starting to think I was crazy. I left his office with a diagnosis of occipital neuralgia and a RX for MRI that showed C5-C6 bulging. Dr. Said I had a pinched nerve! Since the accident I've had problems with biting my lip and cheeks while chewing. To add to the weakness in my arms now I've developed muscle twitching. I couldn't do my job as the pain with typing and staring at two monitors were tearing me apart. Single mother of 3 with pain that's moving everywhere! Seems every week something else shows up. My aunt that lives with chronic pain said one thing I agree with: No one feels your pain so make them listen! Trigger point injection next week. Oh yeah and my eyes are blurry and watery most of the time! Just want my life back! :'(
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