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prognosis for my herniated cervical disc
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prognosis for my herniated cervical disc

Hi I'm a 42, female, I hurt my back at work for the third time. Allways the same place on my back. I've seen company doctors all times. The first two times they said cervial and shoulder strain and that was it. This last time I had the usual pain in my neck and shoulder ( I also have a muscel just under my right shoulderblade under bra area that has been in a tight painful spasim like state since the first time I was hurt about 6 years ago). Back to my cervical: Each time I rehurt myself it seems to be worse and this time I also had pain radiating down my right arm, numbness and tingeling in my index finger, middle, and thumb, mild weakness in the arm, pain in the neck. So they sent me for a MRI (shoulder) and an EMG. I'm seeing a doctor of my choice now and have had another MRI of my neck this time. I feel the previous doctor just gave me very brief partions of information. Not much about the first MRI, The EMG showed what they said was mild nerve irritation in c5-c6, c6-c7 area. Second MRI of the neck was done about a week ago and my new doctor has diagnosed me with two herniated discs in the same area that may be leaking fluid that is pressing aganst my nerve. I know I'll probley recover but my job is very physical labor. Each time I've been hurt it's been worse than the last time and I've never fully recovered from any of them. I have no doubt that if I stay at this job I'm going to hurt it agin. Even now I often come home close to tears after work, the last injury happened almost 5 months ago. Will the damage keep getting worse each time I hurt it in the future?
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Avatar_n_tn
It is possible that the problem will get worse if you continue to have injury to that area. Whereas it sounds like conservative non-surgical treatment is indicated, you want to avoid the need for future surgery if possible. Changing type of work or job would obviously help, but I'm not sure how possible this is. Perhaps your doctor could liaise with your employer about finding a less physical job for you. The EMG report and MRI (although I cannot confirm this) seem to show some compression of the nerve roots - in the C5-7 area this could cause tingling ot numbness in the shoulder, upper arm or lateral arm area on that side and weakness in the shoulder muscles and muscles that move the arm at the elbow joint. If you develop problems walking or an inability to void urine, then seek medical attention right away as a disc might be irritating the spinal cord also. It may be beneficial to wear a soft cervical collar at night - check with your doctor

Good look
14 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey Lyn,
    I'm a 43 yr old man, had c-4 through c-7 discs' removed 4-22-05. In my experience, the surgery helped tremendously in that I was having wild swings in the severity of the symptoms. My hands would go from slightly tingling, to barely being able to make a fist. Walking was worse, my right leg would just go out from under me with no warning, like in line at the store for example. Very embarassing. But again, there were days when I was fine, or better at least. The whole thing was bewildering.
    I finally went to the Dr. after enough people asked me what the hell was wrong with me.(about a month)My Dr. sent me to a neurosurgeon who ordered an mri,and long story short, said I needed surgery NOW, The longer you wait, the greater the chance of the symptoms being permanent. After some hassle with workers comp, I got the surgery almost 2 months after the accident.
    I do have some of the same symptoms now.(a year and a half later)But the surgery seemed to arrest some of them. My hands are still numb, my walking sucks sometimes. But I have other complications as well, a possible failure of the fusion at c-6/c-7. LISTEN TO YOUR DR. AND GET A SECOND OPINION, IF YOU SMOKE STOP. I DIDNT AND IT COULD HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE FAILURE AT C-6&7.
    Keep digging on the net and you will find out plenty, I dont pretend to know what you need, but it sounded very similar to my own situation, same age and so forth, same discs' blown out. It might not even require surgery. Alot of people,(I dont know what the statistics are) enjoy a full recovery. I hope you are among them. Good luck. Mike
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you Mike it helps to hear from people who know what I'm going through. My pain (like yours) dosent always stay the same. Somedays it's better  then it'll get worse for a few days, same with the numbeness and tingeling. I spoke to my doctor Friday afternoon and told him I was doing better. By that evening I had gradually gotten worse and I've hurt all weekend. This getting better for a few days then worse agin  made me doubt myself. I've thought that maybe I'm just being a baby, maybe my problems are minor and I'm making a bigger deal out of it than I should. But this dosen't make sence because I've always been the kind of person that could tolerate pain well and  not complain. I'm glad to hear that your sergury helped you but I hope I don't have to go that far. I've never smoked, I drink very lightly, and I use to walk but that's harder now because it fatiges my back and causes it to hurt. Now that you've had your sergery (surgery) are you able to do physical labor? Can you  be  as active as you were before your injury without a lot of pain? Does it seem like it's a lot easier now to hurt your back? I am worried about my work. I've put 12 years in and If I stay I would be eligable to retire at 56 but that's not worth it if I'm going to keep hurting and straining my back over and over untill I end up permantley in pain or worse. I'd like to hear from you agin about how this is affecting your life now. I hope your continue to do well.
Lynn
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Lynn,
I herniated c5-6 three years ago.  I recovered completely after a couple months only to have symtoms (symptoms) come back again a few months ago.  I had sudden leg weakness with neck pain and much trouble walking.  The MRI showed mild cord compression and other things. I was skeptical about the surgery but after the neurologist said not to wait much longer or I may have permanent nerve damage I had the surgery.  I am not doing very well. The only thing that is improved for me is the neck pain.  My neurological symptoms are probably worse than before surgery. I hope I improve in time. I had concerns that my symptoms were not all from the neck problem and still don't know for sure.  I waited 3 months to have the surgery.  I think a second opinion is a good idea.  I know several people who have had the surgery and all of them said they were glad they did and that their pain was relieved almost immediately.  So I think I may be the exception.
Good luck to you.
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Avatar_n_tn
I just wanted to let you girls know although I went through a long period where I thought there would be no improvement, I feel better now than I have since feb. of 2004. Patsy, If you're anything like me you want to recover yesterday. It'll get better, give it time. My Dr. told me in cases like ours, 95% of the recovery will be immediate, the other 5% over time. It seemed more like 60% at time of surgery, and I'm still working on the other 40. I have high hopes. Lynn, I know I'll never do the same job again, and it sucks, but I was hurt at work and they have to give you a job you can do if you were injured while working. Are you on workers comp? The illinois commerce comm. regulates it here (dont know where you live)you should find out. I did heavy, construction type work and it would be foolish to try to do that again. I've got another herniated disc in my neck (that makes four) and I dont know yet if it will have to be removed too. You are not being a baby Lynn, I've felt the same way a hundred times. Feel better, do something I shouldnt, and end up flat on my a-- for a day or two. Male ego, ya know. It sounds like the three of us have similar symptoms pretty much. I've had to accept that I have to live life by a new set of rules. I try to blame it on old age instead of injury, It sounds better. Like I said though, I have high hopes and you should too!
It's all good you girls!   Take it slow, Mike
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you Patsy and Mike It's nice having someone to talk to who knows exactley what I'm talking about.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have 2 hernated disk but they can't do surgury on them and i have been off on workman com for a year as of last week i am no longer with my place of employment theyonly have to keep you i year and do not have to give you a different job . I work for the only hospital here in town and and hurt my neck thee and they are saying I can never lift over 15 lbs agin now i am having headache all the time and have several blocks in neck and back that have done no good. after 4 hour my neck wont hold my head up anymore but doctor can't till if I disable or I was at my job 18 years I have lost everything. can you till how to post on form to the doc help
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Nannie:
I think you asked how to post a question to the doctor?
Go to the Neuroology and Neurosurgery forum (The page that you see the list queston and answer posts to click on). Right above the first queston post is the [Post a Question] button, click it. You'll need to register if you havn't done that yet (but I think you have done that since you have a user name) If not; register and they'll send your password to your email. They sent mine right away. Then you can go back to the forum, sign in, and post your question to the doc. I hope I understood what you wanted and that helps. I'm very sorry to hear about the problems your having. You have many serious problems and not much help with them it seems to me. From one patient to another: I hope you don't settle with one opinion (specially if it's company doctors). No offenct to them but I believe they may be more restricted to what they can do and say. Don't give up maybe there is doctor that can help you more.

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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you Doctor for answering my question. It reasured me that I'm getting the treatment I need. It also helps very much to know that infact I should take measures to protect myself in the future. I'm very lucky in that my employer has many different jobs with differnt levels of skills required. I think I have a good chance that they will work with me.
Thank you so much.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello Pokielyn,

I injured my neck over 10 years ago. I have dived into my pool and slammed my head on the bottom. Doctor's have told me that I was lucky that I wasn't paralyzed. I suffered for many years as I didn't have health insurance. Once in a while I would end up at the ER but they would only do x-rays because I wasn't insured. Then I would get a shot for pain and the basic scripts for muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory's. I did try a chiropractor at one time, but he only made my pain worse. About three years ago, I finally obtained health insurance and had testing done for both my cervical and lumbar area. I was told that I needed fusion surgery on both as consecutive treatment working helping matters. I had to make the decision on which to have fixed first and I had picked my lumbar. I had a two level on lumber and in 2003 and have suffered since. I also just had a cervical fusion last month and I have absolutely no pain in my neck. I only had one of the herniated disc's fused at this time as I do have three. It took me a great deal of time to agree to my cervical surgery because of the outcome of my lumbar surgery. But at this time I am very happy with the results. I did have compression on my spinal cord and I pray that it repairs itself.

Their are certain forms of treatment that you may want to try before agreeing to surgery. You may have luck with physical therapy, or maybe even traction depending on how bad your herniations are. Most doctors also suggest ESI (epidural steroid injection) but I wouldn't recommend them to anyone. I've had them and they made matters worse for me.

Also one of my herniated disc's did slightly repair itself over time. It is now bulging. Not sure how or why, maybe from not moving my neck for a great deal of time. I do wish you the very best in whatever you decide.
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Avatar_n_tn
I don't know what to conclude from your comments, basicaly you are rambling between subjects, not even mentioning about your symptoms, however as you mention surgery may help or not, it depends in the pathology being treated, in your case it appears that made your low back worse and cervical area better.
Epidural and selective nerve injections may be of great benefit
for the appropiate candidates as I have often seen with patients
with real and discernible complaints. Imaging findings quite often have no relation with patient's symptoms, on the other hand, very frequently patients may have incidental findings on mri of multi-level disc herniations and arhtritis changes while the patient has no symptoms.Also fusion is performed to the vertebral bodies after discectomy is performed, not to the discs. I think this forums are very helpful to share information and experiences, however we must
assure that our comments are accurate and substantiated.
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Avatar_f_tn
Barinas,

I am happy to hear that you have seen many patients benefit from the epidural and nerve root or selective nerve root injection's. I have also read of many patient's besides myself that these Band-Aids did not help. And for me they did make me much worse, and other's or so I have read on other forums. I guess after reading your posts these injection's helped you. Good.....

As for my symptoms, I had many and if anyone needs to know or wants to know they can email at ***@****. And my comments have been accurate, I am sorry that you don't agree with them.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for your comments, what I meant with my statement is that we should not generalize, I too have heard horror stories
from these procedures, usually from third parties, but much more often I hear from people that swear by them, even when most do not provide permanent releif, there are cases like yours, where they do not work at all, in fact if they do not
help after the first, and at the most the second injection, they should not be tried anymore.I am sorry you had so many.
Let me tell you about one with a very happy outcome, my grandmother "Yiya" had an intestinal tumor resection, a year latter one morning, she could not get up from bed due to intolerable back pain, we all thought, well this is probably a metastasis to the spine and she is near the end, she was then evaluated and found to have a compressed nerve secondary to a disc herniation,she had an epidural injection, one day after the procedure, she was completely pain free never even returned for a second injection and was able to walk for approximately ten more years until she passed away two years ago at 91 years old.
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Avatar_n_tn
Large herniation repair, C/5/6 on April 9, 2005 on my right side. My right shoulder was almost hanging. Drs. did me as an emergency. 50 year old female.
Came home from hospital with pain in left shoulder. Was told it was trapiezius muscle. Pain would subside with physcial therapy. Was told that I may have some nerve damage prior to surgery. My lower back has such pain, burning in legs and ankles hurt. My left shoulder and neck hurt. Pain going down left arm when I turn my head certain ways. I now feel at times that I can't catch my breath and something is on my chest. My throat also is tight.
In July, I felt as if I was having a heart attack, and went to hospital, had work up. I am fine. Just went for a stress test and pulmonary test. I feel this is referred pain from back. Finally someone is now taking me serious again and had another MRI for my Cspine again.  Should hear results today or tomorrow.
I am scared because of the breathing. IF not taken care of immediately, will something terrible happen to me.  I am so stressed. I have been getting the run around from so many drs.
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