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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.

20 Responses
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.  
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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
Avatar universal
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,
Avatar universal
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?
Avatar universal
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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