I had two car accidents where no neck injury was ever diagnosed when I was a teen. At 18 I did something to my neck while exercising, ended up in the emergency room with a diagnosis of neck sprain and spent a long time in pain in a neck brace. After that I saw doctors for years with complaints of back & shoulder pain and they always took an X-ray, said everything looked fine and sent me home. I finally gave up seeing Drs., and self-medicated the pain. Finally after suffering 15 years or so with the symptoms increasing in intensity, I went to an orthopedic surgeon at the insistence of family who thought there must be something someone could do for me. He actually "believed me", looked at me, saw a severe shoulder drop, took an MRI, and discovered I had absolutely no disc left in my C5/6 spinal area. I was in surgery within two days and they fused a piece of my hip bone without plating it. After several weeks, I was told I was cured and that because my condition had gone undiagnosed for so many years, they could not tell me when or even whether the pain would resolve, if at all but that I was "cured" and could engage in any activity.
I took them at their word, went to the beach with my kids, got caught in a wave and started feeling tingling down my legs and numbness in my feet. Went back to the doctor and was immediately in surgery again, putting another piece of my hipbone in my c5/6 area after they dug out the prior one that obviously had not fused but ended up shooting into my spinal column. This time they did me the favor of screwing a titanium plate onto the area. I woke up in excruciating pain in my right shoulder area and they had to keep me sedated for awhile. Their official reason was that I must have been having a reaction to a pain med (which I never have had a problem with).
I tried PT which did not resolve the pain and muscle spasm in my neck, base of my head, right neck & shoulder. I tried strengthening exercises which seemed to exacerbate the problem. I have had x-rays, MRIs, nerve conduction tests and CT scans which indicate I am cured and neurologically intact. I have been on many various muscle relaxers, pain killers, anti-inflamatories etc. They will no longer give me the medicine that works, hydrocodone, because it doesn't sedate me like they want it to, it actually takes the pain away and gives me a few hours of painless, productive energy. Now.....its all in my head and I am being sent to a psychiatrist for depression and stress so they can dope me up with anti-anxiety and depression medication.
I am a professional, attractive 47 year old mother of four not so old children still being raised at home. I am so distraught and upset. I have undiagnosed, chronic pain and muscle spasm on my right neck shoulder, shoulder-blade area. I don't know what to do any more. My days are getting more and more unproductive and I am, now, depressed. I feel like no one believes me and its just easier to send me to a psychiatrist than to try and responsibly treat the pain. I know how people can commit suicide....I'm not there yet.....I love my family, friends and kids.....but I can see where it can get to the point where its not worth it anymore.
My parents think I should go to the Mayo clinic.....but what would they do there that has not already been done? I've been suffering for 30 years now.
I would go to the Mayo Clinic, they need to look at a scan of your surgical location to make sure a screw hasn't come loose or something. Your back injury will always hurt. Since they're all freaked out about Hydrocodone, then someone should be more willing to give you a milder version of it, Tylenol Codeine #3. Lyrica also helps and they should be more willing to give you that, altho dosage has to be increased in the first month until you find your "plateau." There are a variety of shots they can give you to help back pain. A pain clinic is another group of doctors you should put on your list.
Get thee to a professional massage therapist, visit regularly. Also give acupuncture a try. And to explain how complex your neck injury is, you not only hurt the bones, but since it is the nerve center of the body, it hurts the nerves, and then all the muscles, tendons, and ligaments related to it are wrenched around, plus the neck and shoulders move all over the place, so there is a lot of continuous stress put on an injury to the neck. Keeping that area "protected" is like making a two-year-old sit still all day. I suppose when you're going to be real active, you could get a soft neck wrap to sort of protect it, but don't wear it always becuz you want to keep your muscles tight.
The main reason for surgery is to keep the spine from collapsing onto the spinal cord, which causes paralysis, very disabling condition. Also, if some part of your spine is impinging on a nerve, surgery can be attempted to relieve that sort of pain. Me, a car wreck broke my thoracic spine in three places, the disks vaporized on impact, it was compressed into a permanent deformed position, which over the years the tilt has created brand new problems with my lumbar spine.
I accept my pain, I do have medications to help it along, I do special exercises every day to keep my back supple, and once in a while I have to visit a masseuse for a few visits to get some kinks out. Yes, the surgeries can fail, the back and especially the neck is in a terrible spot for hardware to hold together, and yes, pain can depress a person and create lots of anxiety which is treatable to some extent, and yes, unless you can find adequate pain control it will drive you mad.
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