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danjenh

VA Choice Problems C5-6 & C6-7 Stenosis & Radiculopathy

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I am at a loss of how to speed this process up? This all started in April 2016. I woke up and stretched on a Sunday morning and felt something snap in my neck and upper back. Went to VA ER in Denver and they took an XRay and said degenerative disc disease. I was in incredible pain, couldn't move my neck barely at all up down or side to side. Upper back was killing me as well. They kept giving me muscle relaxants. All my back muscles were spasming.  Finally got put in VA Choice program in August/September and talked to a NP. I have nerve pain down both arms and neck. I was driving for a job and had to keep tapering off due to pain, numbness, etc. My primary care requested an MRI for cervical spine. VA Choice took two months to get it through and finally got one on Nov 29th. In the interim I went to the ER again because the pain was overwhelming although the 5 hour round trip was not worth the 20 Percocet they gave me in the end. The ER doctor said they would not do an immediate MRI unless I was losing function of my limbs or bowels and I stated my hands are numb and getting pins and needles as well as severe neck pain. On Nov 29th after the Choice finally approved MRI I was shocked that the radiologist had called my primary care within an hour of me leaving and she immediately called me with the results. She said I needed to be referred to a neurosurgeon. Radiology stated the following:

Indication spinal stenosis pain radiculopathy. C5-6 moderate diffuse hard disc/osteophyte complex moderately encroaching upon thecal sac as well as both neural foramina. C6-7 clinically significant central and right sided acute disc herniation which obliterates the right neural foramen and moderately encroaches upon thecal sac.

I have been waiting to see pain management since early November and am finally getting in on December 28th since it took this long for VA Choice to approve it (1 1/2 months for pain management?). Now I am waiting for VA Choice again for the neurosurgeon appointment since November 29th. You can imagine how much fun this has been with the only pain medication available being Ibuprophen, Aleve, and whiskey. Is anyone else having similar issues with VA Choice and any other advice would be greatly appreciated? I was also sent to OMT and they tried acupuncture as well. From what I was told by OMT physician and reading online is that it is highly likely that I will have permanent nerve damage now since this has gone on for over 8 months now and it will be another 2 months before I will get into neuro? I am not service connected for this but may try since after 10 1/2 years in service and a lot field duty with all the gear weight and helo rides with hard landings etc. Not really thinking about that right now though, just trying to get treatment. I am only 46 and thought I had a little more life left in the bones!

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danjenh,

Did you have any falls or any injuries from the hard landings? Some spinal injuries can take years to show up.  Do you have anything like that at all in your service medical/treatment record?

I fell down a flight of stairs during boot camp. Had pain in my neck, back, knees and so forth. But the only injuries that were DXd at that time were low back and knees.  20 years later I started having a lot of neck pain, and upper extremity numbness and pain issues.  I have had both X-rays and MRIs on my neck, which do show issues at C5, C6 and C7, but am left with having to get an IMO/IME to get this service connected.  And that is with proof of original injury in my SMR/STR.

Andy

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