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I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 05, 2011 09:13AM
I've had neck/upper back/shoulder issues for years. I always thought it was related to poor posture and years and years of bending over my microscope at work.

In the last year, it had gotten noticeably worse and the last few months even worse. In the last few weeks, I've had problems sleeping b/c there was no comfortable position to lay in. I resorted to sleeping without a pillow, flat on my back with a little, but not much, relief.

Anyway, went in on Friday to get an MRI and found that I have a disc herniation at the level of C5-C6 (ie, in the neck).

I'm lucky that my brother is a rehab medicine doc, so he is guiding me through the process now, starting me out with a 5 day course of oral steroids to cool off the acute process. Next step will be physical therapy. If it doesn't get better with that, the next step would be an epidural steroid injection and, if I don't get relief with that, the last resort is surgery.

Obviously, I'm hoping to avoid surgery and plan on doing the PT religiously once I get it started.

Anyway, I'm just wondering if others have gone through a cervical disc herniation and what things have helped/not helped? Also, have you found a good sleeping position? I'm going on maybe 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night, wondering how I'm as functional at work, at home, with the kids, etc., as I am.

Thanks.



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The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: Black
Date: December 05, 2011 09:20AM
Sounds like you're in good hands. Hope it burns out soon.
Is your pillow memory foam?




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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: rgG
Date: December 05, 2011 09:23AM
I have no personal experience for you, but want to express my sympathy for your situation. I know how hard it is to feel your best when you are not getting enough sleep.

I am glad you have someone you trust to help you through this. Best of luck with the PT. It can do wonders.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 05, 2011 09:24AM
Quote
Black
Sounds like you're in good hands. Hope it burns out soon.
Is your pillow memory foam?

Yes, memory foam mattress topper and memory foam pillow. It almost feels too soft for me now.
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 05, 2011 09:25AM
Quote
rgG
I have no personal experience for you, but want to express my sympathy for your situation. I know how hard it is to feel your best when you are not getting enough sleep.

I am glad you have someone you trust to help you through this. Best of luck with the PT. It can do wonders.

Thanks!
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: LaserKun
Date: December 05, 2011 09:30AM
Oh yes, pink, I can relate! For many years for me. Mine is not cervical dis herniation, but injury to back, etc. You will learn to live with it, and you are in good hands it seems. I try to walk, keep weight down, etc. and all that helps.
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: lazydays
Date: December 05, 2011 09:35AM
Oral steroids rock when you are hurting. I've done that a few times. I also did physical therapy which improved my strength but did not affect my pain level. Then on to the injections which are even better than the oral steroids but they only last (for me) about 8 weeks and you can only have 3 of them a year. So most of the time sleep depends on vicodin.

I did try a lot of pillows. I'm sure what works for you depends on your problem but I did find one that I like. It's called a cervical traction pillow. Think of when you roll up a towel and put it under your neck. Does that feel better? If so, this pillow will help. The only thing I don't like about it is that it kind of compacts with time and needs replacing to keep it's effectiveness. It is inexpensive enough to do so though. I was not able to sleep on my back until I got this pillow. Not a miracle but it helps.

[www.amazon.com]

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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: Microman
Date: December 05, 2011 09:46AM
Microscope?, what line of work you in?, I'm a CLS myself . Clinical Laboratory Scientist, or lab tech in hospital when not being picky
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 05, 2011 09:57AM
Quote
Microman
Microscope?, what line of work you in?, I'm a CLS myself . Clinical Laboratory Scientist, or lab tech in hospital when not being picky

Pathologist. Did 6 years combined of residency with 2 fellowships and have been in private practice now for almost 10 years, so have been bending over a 'scope for about 16 years!
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: olnacl
Date: December 05, 2011 10:00AM
I have the same problem, same place. After conflicting advice from 2 doctors - one was sold on a laminectomy while the other said fusion was the answer. Since neither appealed to me, I asked what would happen if I did nothing. The answer was that, if I could handle the pain, eventually it would likely fuse on its own.

I decided to try rehab, which was essentially stretching my spine and heat therapy. While the hospital would provide those services for about (at the time - much higher now) $300 per visit (I had no insurance), I looked for alternatives. I found a local chiropractor and visited him, describing my symptoms without mentioning the remedies already suggested and interestingly, his advice was the same except he would do it for $75 per visit.

Bottom line is that I put up with the pain, saw the Chiropractor regularly for a few months and the pain gradually diminished to the point where it stopped bothering me. That was 30 years ago and while I get a small concert of noises from my neck when I twist my head side to side, I figure it was good therapy. YMMV.
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: guitarist
Date: December 05, 2011 10:04AM
I'm in my 9th week of PT! I got diagnosed with a less critical version of what you describe, not a herniated disc, but a bulging disc, with associated nerve pain radiating down my left arm. It's been a huge hassle to get under control, and heal. Included in this process was an epidural injection, and scripts for narcotic pain relief, as well as normal anti-inflammatories taken orally. Only in the last two weeks have my symptoms finally abated, medications no longer needed, and surgery a distant option. I even got a neck-traction device that I own now, via health insurance, a handy therapeutic tool during the period of peak pain symptoms. And a big blue inflated ball, to do exercises on.

As My PT appointments draw to a close (got one coming up in about two hours) I have developed an attachment to my Physical Therapist! I'm grateful for the progress I've made, and the ritual of going twice a week. I hope you are fortunate and get a PT you like and trust, I predict it'll be the most important relationship in your life for the next couple months. In the right hands, you'll see a lot of benefits, and can avoid surgery. There are all these muscles that you'll develop, the body is very plastic, you can reshape and strengthen more than you would have imagined. And bring your PT office Christmas cookies, find out what their vice is. (My PT is a sucker for chocolate) And bring jokes. It'll be a regular thing in your life for a little while. Good luck!
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: dad@home
Date: December 05, 2011 10:21AM
I am an Anesthesiologist that has a subspecialty in pain management..... I personally treat this sort of thing with epidurals in association with other modalities (PT, massage, etc.).

Myself, I have bulging discs at c5-6 and c6-7. Those with arthritic facets give me moderate to severe spinal stenosis.
My symptoms (in addition to neck pain/neck muscle spasm) is limited to left arm tingling with no weakness.
I have gotten two cervical epidural injections about a month apart which completely took care of the arm symptoms. Neck is slightly better....nothing I can't live with.

In my opinion your goal is should be (non-narcotic) symptom control......in other words delay surgery for as long as possible. Surgical techniques are evolving and may be total different five years from now. All of the above suggestions (excepting neck chiropractic manipulation) can be helpful. I don't want to invite flames but there is NO roll for chiropractic for neck problems.....it's too dangerous (being a pathologist you can appreciate the fragility of the vertebral arteries and consequences of avulsion).

dad
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: iaJim
Date: December 05, 2011 10:24AM
I've been there. I've had two cervical fusion surgeries, and one lumbar surgery. I now have three vertebrae fused in my neck and two pairs fused in my back. The cervical fusions are great, and the lumbar are ok. I tried steroids, traction, rest but not PT. I did have PT after the lumbar fusions, and it gave me my life back.
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: Black
Date: December 05, 2011 10:41AM
Edit-- 2 1/2 hours sleep-- figured out the typo on my own, eventually . . .




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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/05/2011 10:42AM by Black.
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: December 05, 2011 10:50AM
....yes, got CERVED [served] with one a few years ago.....



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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: LaserKun
Date: December 05, 2011 11:21AM
Quote
dad@home
I am an Anesthesiologist that has a subspecialty in pain management..... I personally treat this sort of thing with epidurals in association with other modalities (PT, massage, etc.).

Myself, I have bulging discs at c5-6 and c6-7. Those with arthritic facets give me moderate to severe spinal stenosis.
My symptoms (in addition to neck pain/neck muscle spasm) is limited to left arm tingling with no weakness.
I have gotten two cervical epidural injections about a month apart which completely took care of the arm symptoms. Neck is slightly better....nothing I can't live with.

In my opinion your goal is should be (non-narcotic) symptom control......in other words delay surgery for as long as possible. Surgical techniques are evolving and may be total different five years from now. All of the above suggestions (excepting neck chiropractic manipulation) can be helpful. I don't want to invite flames but there is NO roll for chiropractic for neck problems.....it's too dangerous (being a pathologist you can appreciate the fragility of the vertebral arteries and consequences of avulsion).

dad

Dad, my doctor has recommended that I get an epidural. Glad to see someone here who knows about that kind of thing. I did research on it, so guess I will be getting it in a few months.

I had a spinal fusion way back, just a couple of months after returning from Vietnam... been bothering me every since, increasing in pain, arthritis, neck problems, etc. you name it just about have had it.

pink, let us know what you decide... we're hanging in there!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/05/2011 11:21AM by LaserKun.
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: vision63
Date: December 05, 2011 11:28AM
Feel better!
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: fauch
Date: December 05, 2011 12:35PM
I don't have a cervix...
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: Grateful11
Date: December 05, 2011 02:11PM
Hey pink do what your Brother says, wish I would have had someone I could trust years ago. Spinal Fusion, Failed Back
Syndrome and now 2 more bulging but not herniated discs. Just do what he says and don't push yourself too far too
fast, take it slow and easy. Good Luck!



Grateful11
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Re: I have a cervical disc herniation. Anybody else?
Posted by: pinkoos
Date: December 05, 2011 03:01PM
Thanks for the informative replies and words of encouragement. Hoping to start PT this week.

Yes, I agree, no chiropractor for me.
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