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Avatar universal

neck, left shoulder and arm pain

I've been having alot of neck, shoulder and arm pain.  My doctor ordered an MRI and the report showed bulging annulus c6-c7 but no focal disc protrusions, mild posterior lateral spurring on the right at c5-c6 with a slight thecal sac encroachment.  What does this mean?  Will this get better on it's own?  I have severe pain that travels down my left arm so bad I can't even use my arm.  It's worse when I first get out of bed in the mornings.  Is this going to require surgery?  If it will get better on it's own, how long will it take before the pain is tollerable?  Thankyou, Rhonda
48 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear Rhonda:

Sorry about your pain.  I am not sure what to tell you.  Most of the time slight disc buldging has no effect.  The spurring, which can cause problems but yours is on the side of your body that gives you no problems.  So the question remains why the pain.  Did your neurologist indicate that your neurological exam was completely normal?  Do you have diabetes, vasculities, vitamin B12 or folate deficiency, drink alot of alcohol, osteoarthritis, etc?  Does the pain come and go, or is it the same every day?  Are there specific areas in your shoulder and arm that hurt more than others?  Where in your hand, which fingers hurt?  How did the pain start?  What is your age?  Any medical problems other than your pain?

Pain medication might help but you need to find the etiology of the pain.  If you haven't seen a neurologist then I would make an appointment to see one.

Let me know the answers to my questions and I will get back to you.
Avatar universal
Dear Rhonda,

I also had c 5-6 herniation and a couple of large pieces of disc
which had broken off and were hitting the spinal cord, this was
2 years ago.  I ended up, because the pain was so severe,
being operated on in Sept of 97 which helped that particular problem but i still have several herniations and many bone spurs,
arthritis and degenerative disc disease.  The doctors had to be
convinced of my pain...see a couple of doctors neurosurgeons etc
and ask many questions.  I still have much pain -but if i knew
then what i know now..maybe i would have made other choices.
Feel free honey to e me at ***@**** if you need someone
to talk to..and in the meantime offer up the pain for the conversion of sinners.

Avatar universal
Thanks for your comments.

CCF Neuro MD
Avatar universal
I am having somewhat the same symptoms.  My Dr. said that it was a C5 protrusion and that a lot of times this goes away by itself.  My left thumb is numb and there are days that I can not lift or use my left arm.  Some days the pain is too much to bear too.  And it is always more painful when I lay down and when I wake up in the morning.  I am going to try doing some arm and neck exercises since I don't know what else to do at this point.  I will let you know if this helps and if you find something that helps, please let me know. ***@**** Thank you!
Avatar universal
Dear Randa:

Sorry about your pain.  I am assuming that you had a MRI and that showed disc protrusion.  Was there thecal sac compromise, neural foramen changes, cord compression????  Depending on the etiology, such as arthritis, collagen vascular diseases, etc the treatment might vary depending on the MRI and neurological exam findings.  I would speak to your neurologist and see what your options are depending on the MRI findings and your medical history.  You may only need life style changes and rehab with a little medication to help you through the pain while rehabing.  Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
Avatar universal
Dear Rhonda,
I am 40 years old and I was kind of in your spot in 1993. The more doctors I saw, the worse things got. I ended up with 2 carpel tunnel surgeries, one of which became infected during surgery with fecal matter bacteria, then I was diagnosed with a rare bone disease in my right arm called keinbock's disease which required 2 surgeries and a year in a cast, then I was diagnosed with myofacial pain, then finally a ruptured disk at c4-5 which I had anterior cervical fusion surgery where now instead of a disk I have a bone with a metal plate and 4 screws. Oh, I forgot about the fibromyalgia diagnosis.
What my point is, is that sometimes the cure is worse than the problem. I still suffer debilitating pain and am unable to work.IF you have degeneratative disk disease, there's no stopping it other than lifestyle changes. Don't lift ANYTHING over 30 pounds and be really careful with any kind of sports or impact activities. Unless you can't move, I wouldn't suggest any disk fusion surgeries because the remaining disks just wear out faster. Just be careful and forget about some doctor or some surgery making you feel like you did before. Sorry to be so negative but think really hard before you submit to surgery. Good luck.  Susan
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