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rpowell01

Cervical Issues

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I have a question for people who has Cervical Radiculopathy. For the past few months I have been having severe pain going down the base of my neck into my shoulder into the back of my left arm into my forearm. The pain is a shooting pain, severe pain and burning pain. I also have been having muscle spasms next to my shoulder blade. I notice that whenever I tilt my head backwards I can really feel the shooting pain. For the past week I've been getting the pain in my right arm, not as bad as my left arm, but the symptoms are pretty much the same. Whenever I sit down, it does not matter where I sit, the pain gets worse in my left arm so I have to lay down for a bit before I can get back up. I also been dropping a lot of items I hold in my left hand even though I don't have any tingling in my hands like I did back in 2010 whenever all the DJD changes began. Even whenever I stand it gets worse. I'm thinking gravity is pulling down on my spine causing the pain to get worse.

Does it appear I may have herniated a disc or the foramina might have some bone spurs?  To be honest the pain was so bad I thought it was my shoulder because I would hear this popping sound but realized that is coming from all the muscle spasms pulling down on my shoulder causing it to pop. Does this make any sense?

I go see my private PCP on Nov 3 and I'm going to request a new XRay and MRI on my neck, upper back and shoulder to see what in the world is going on.

Edited by rpowell01
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when i was first diagnosed with lumbar radiculopathy, i had a bulging disc and arthritis. so you don't have to have a herniated disc.

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Yea your right, I am similar to you, DDD and DJD but I had herniated a disc that healed itself but I still have nerve damage and that disc constantly bulges.

I had herniated a two disc in my neck back in 2010. Actually I didn't herniate them, they just popped. There are three stages to a herniation and I wasn't at the worse stage where the nucleus came all the way out. In 2010 I had this pain but with tingling and numbness in my hands but this time its just severe pain in my arms, worse than I had in 2010. This time it feels like a mac truck hit me and ran over my arms.

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Cervical radiculopathy is the clinical description of pain and neurological symptoms resulting from any type of condition that irritates a nerve in the cervical spine (neck).

Cervical nerves exit the cervical spine (neck) at each level, C1 - C7. Nerves in the neck exit above the designated vertebral level at all levels except the last one (C8 exits below the C7 vertebra), and then branch out to supply muscles that enable the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers to function. They also carry sensory fibers to the skin and muscles that provide sensation.

When any nerve root in the cervical spine is irritated through compression or inflammation, the symptoms can radiate along that nerve's pathway into the arm and hand.

The patient's specific cervical radiculopathy symptoms will depend primarily on which nerve is affected. The symptoms may also be referred to as radicular pain.

Causes of Cervical Radiculopathy

Any condition that injures or somehow irritates the cervical nerve can cause cervical radiculopathy. The most common causes include:

  • Cervical Herniated Disc. If the inner material of the cervical disc herniates, or leaks out, and inflames and/or impinges on the adjacent nerve, it can cause a cervical radiculopathy.
  • Cervical Spinal Stenosis. As part of the degenerative process of the cervical spine, changes in the spinal joints can lead to tightening of the space for the spinal canal.
  • Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease. When the cervical spine degenerates over time, it can result in degenerated discs and a pinched nerve.

Infrequently, cervical radiculopathy can be caused by other conditions, such as a tumor, fracture or sarcoidosis, which can compress or cause damage to the cervical nerve roots.2

Article continues below
 

Cervical Radiculopathy Symptoms

Patients with cervical radiculopathy typically feel pain, weakness or numbness in the areas served by the damaged nerve. Pain can be in one area only, like the shoulder, or progress along the entire arm.

The type of pain also can vary. Some patients describe dull, all over pain; others describe the pain as severe burning or sharp. Patients may feel tingling, "pins and needles," or numbness.

Certain neck movements, like bending the neck back, side to side, or rotating it, may increase the pain. Some patients report that pain decreases when they place a hand behind their head; the movement may be relieving the pressure and traction on the nerve root which then lessens their symptoms.

In This Article:

Types of Cervical Radiculopathy

Cervical radiculopathy symptoms differ depending on which nerve is affected. For example, if the nerve root that runs above the C6 vertebra is affected, a physician will use the term “C6 radiculopathy”.

While any patient's specific symptoms can vary widely, the following are common descriptions for the types and symptoms of cervical radiculopathy:

  • C5 radiculopathy can cause pain and/or weakness in the shoulders and upper arms. Especially may cause discomfort around the shoulder blades. It rarely causes numbness or tingling.
  • C6 radiculopathy (one of the most common), causes pain and/or weakness along the length of the arm, including the biceps (the muscles in front of the upper arms), wrists, and the thumb and index finger.1
  • C7 radiculopathy (the most common) causes pain and/or weakness from the neck to the hand and can include the triceps (the muscles on the back of the upper arms) and the middle finger.2
  • C8 radiculopathy causes pain from the neck to the hand. Patients may experience weakness in hand grip, and pain and numbness can radiate along the inner side of the arm, ring, and little fingers.

Cervical Radiculopathy Treatment

There is a wide range of treatment options available for cervical radiculopathy, and the treatment will depend mainly on the underlying cause of the patient's symptoms as well as the severity of symptoms:

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You need to see a neurologist.  If the nerve is impinged, it could be very painful.  Depending on how bad it is, the nerve could be damaged.  Weakness or numbness is the red flag that indicate that the actual nerve has become or are being damaged.  Dropping items indicates weakness.  If you experience either of these, don't wait, walk in to see your PCP today.  They should give your the xray/MRI in short order and get you to the neuro department.

These kinds of problems can be bad.  It is better to do this now than to wait.

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Okay this is what has happened so far. The pain subsided a lot even though I still have mild pain in my upper shoulders.  What happened to cause it to subside? Well Saturday morning I woke up and I felt great, I was like wow, but at about lunch time my life went into hell big time. My heart rate dropped then I remember to always cough so I coughed, then my heart rate went back up to normal. Guess what It wasn't my heart doing this but a pinched nerve in my upper back causing my heart to freak out. Then after I coughed a huge muscle spasm appeared next to my right shoulder blade and the muscle spasm was so big it reached my spine. Just touching it put me in severe pain that it put a lot of tears in my eyes. So, I did everything taught by the VA Physical Therapists (many of them). I tried heat, ice, then heat again, massage, stretching and even all the meds I could take. Nothing worked. So about 7pm my wife took me to the ER. Luckily the doctor there was an MD not a PA. I live in a small town so our ER doesn't have a trauma dept but just a regular ER. We hear Medivacs all the time flying in over head going to land at our hospital to pick up patients and take them to places like Orlando or Tampa. Anyway the MD felt the muscle spasm and he knew what was going on. He said "Your kinda of young to have problems like this." I said, "Well the green behind my ears have finally fallen off because I just turned 47."..He laughed and he said he knew what to give me. So they gave me a Torodol (spelling) (Its a presciption of high Motrorin injection which is something I could get once a month) and then some kind of injection of a muscle relaxer. WIthin 30 minutes I was ready to go home. Also he gave me a prescription of Flexeril. I quit taking that stuff about a year ago because it was making too drowsy during the day. The first time I ever took that stuff was in the Army after my injury which was 20 years ago. Back then that stuff made me drowsy also. Anyway yesterday (Sunday) my wife picked up the Flexeril and I was out within 30 minutes at 6pm. I wake up today and the muscle spasm has subsided a lot. 

 

So, how can muscle spasms cause the radiating pain down my left arm? Its my understanding that muscles spasms in the neck and back cannot cause radiating pain but only a pinch nerve can. Is it possible I bulged a disc just enough to cause both the spasms and radiating pain? OR, could it be possible that the OA changes in my upper back is causing the muscle spasms which in turn is pinching the nerves? Again its my understanding that muscle spasms in and of itself cannot pinch a nerve.

 

My pain levels are back to normal and I will tell you right now that pain was worse than when a PM Doctor gave me facet injections while I had a herniated disc which caused the disc to be pushed back into place. It was not a fun Saturday or Sunday for me.

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Valium (Diazipan) or Robaxin are easier to tolerate than the Flexeril. The Flexeril knocked me out for 18 hours so I can't take it.

I also take Naprason (amped up Alieve) with the ones mentioned above. I have a herniated C6 with bone spur into nerve root among other things.

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