Cervical vs Lumbar Issues- is one worse than the other?

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Meydey
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Cervical vs Lumbar Issues- is one worse than the other?

I'm going in for a cervical MRI soon for a sudden onset of severe shoulder pain. In the past my old MRI showed severe desiccation on C5-6 and disc bulge at the same level, along with other disc bulges and mild kyphosis in C3-C7. I had a cervical epidural 2 years ago for severe shoulder pain and radiating nerve pain down my arm and hand. I also get numbness and aching between my shoulder blades, as well as occasional headaches. My shoulder this time hurt so bad I thought I had a ligament injury or something. X-rays were negative for that and labs were normal. My doctor feels it's a cervical issue. The weird thing is that I had mild swelling in my shoulder that is better now which made me think it was not cervical problems. I read online that it could happen sometimes-how I don't know. Maybe 2 separate issues happening coincidentally at once? I also wondered if small cervical disc herniations don't feel as painful as lumbar because they are not weight-bearing? If anyone has any idea or has experienced this please share your story. Much appreciated

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Motor1
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Meydey

I was injured at work. I complained immediately of neck pain & shoulder pain. I was diagnosed with c4-5 herniation. I had mri of shoulder & was told there wasn't anything wrong with it. They gave me a cortisone shot & said to come back if it didn't get any better. When I went back to orthopedic doctor & told him my shoulder felt worse, he told me it was coming from my neck & there was nothing I could do about it.
I put up with it for a year and a half. I finally saw a new orthopedic doctor. He looked at my past mri & said it shows a tear? He sent me for an arthrogram. The results from that was clear that I had a full rotator cuff tear. I had surgery 4 months ago to repair it.
I was told that X-rays can't show ligament tears & the way to see for sure was to get an arthrogram.
I'm not saying that you do have a shoulder injury, but I'm saying you could have 2 different issues going on?

Meydey
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Thanks Motor1

I had the cervical MRI already and am waiting for results. I'm also having my shoulder done but I don't think it's a joint issue anymore. There's no stiffness, no more swelling, and I can move it. Most of my symptoms however is pain, spasm, numbness & tingling, and the occasional headache at the back of my head. It's just weird how it all transpired. We shall see...What symptoms did you have when you first herniated C4-5?

Ol' Spiney...Microdiscectomy L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central disc herniation L4-S1, sciatic nerve damage, retrolisthesis, epidural fibrosis, facet arthropathy, severe DDD & OA.FBSS- Medtronic SynchroMed II pump.

Motor1
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My symptoms

When I was injured, I felt & heard a pop. I had immediate pain in my neck & shoulder & down into my left arm. I couldn't turn my head at all to the left. Couldn't look up or down. I couldn't raise my left arm up without screaming in pain. My arm & hand felt tingly.
I had to go through work comp, I had to use their doctors. I had several injections, did therapy & more injections. They finally sent me for mri & it showed c4-5 was herniated. I didn't care for the work comp neurosurgeon, so after 90 days, I was able to see a doctor of my choice.
When do you get the results of your mri?

Meydey
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Thanks Motor1, I'm sorry you

Thanks Motor1, I'm sorry you went through that. I know what it's like but in my lumbar spine not cervical. MRI without contrast showed cervical DDD and stable bulges on C4-5, 5-6, 6-7 and mild kyphosis, with no significant stenosis. My question for the doctor about the stenosis- the report didn't outright say "no stenosis" just no significant stenosis. I wonder if it's there very mildly so that is viewed as insignificant or no stenosis whatsoever. I've seen other MRI reports from here and other websites and when there is none, it is written as no stenosis. Maybe I needed contrast for a better picture. When I had lumbar disc herniations, the ct myelogram showed nerve impingement were more pronounced when i was put in an upright position on the table. I'm relieved I don't have a slipped in my neck- I have enough to deal with already with all my lower back problems. I notice my neck and arm bother me more when I drive or while I use a computer or using my arm.
Yeah, WC is one big cluster [EDIT] huh? I feel bad for those who are getting messed over by them because they really don't have your best interest. I'm sorry you have to deal with them. Are you seeing a spinal specialist or plan on having surgery? I hope they are managing your pain..it's terrible to go through.

Ol' Spiney...Microdiscectomy L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central disc herniation L4-S1, sciatic nerve damage, retrolisthesis, epidural fibrosis, facet arthropathy, severe DDD & OA.FBSS- Medtronic SynchroMed II pump.

Motor1
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Meydey

I'm glad your mri didn't show any problems with your discs. I'm not sure what no significant stenosis means?
Have you tried any therapy to help your neck & shoulder? How about a tens unit?
My injury happened in 2013. I've had 2 neck surgeries & recent shoulder surgery. My surgeon has me seeing a pain doctor now. He's done some injections & tried different meds, but my pain has never lessened?
He wanted to do a Rhizotomy, but the medial branch block didn't work, so he said the Rhizotomy wouldn't do me any good?
Although work comp is paying me, it is only 70% of my pay. I ended up hiring an attorney because my employer wasn't paying me properly. I'm glad I did because now he handles everything!

Meydey
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Hi Motor1

Well, 2 years ago I had a cervical epidural that was helpful for 8 months and then I would have neck pain or nerve pain on and off. I'm already on pain meds so it covered my cervical issues as well. Suddenly last month I woke up with horrific pain in my shoulder that led me to the ER. Days later I noticed aching in my neck and spasms and random nerve pains down my arm. It mostly feels sore and heavy-ish. My lower back commanded all my attention until cervical problems crept up again. I was diagnosed before with cervical radiculitis after the doctor reviewed my old MRI from 2 years ago. I also have bulging discs in the thoracic spine (can't remember which ones- haven't been reevaluated in years since all focus went to L spine).
I have a Tens unit, I use cold packs, and I love the new Bengay Cold Therapy-cooling pain relief gel..feels great. I've had a pain pump for a few years and also take Norco and other oral meds. I have a follow up appointment next month and most likely they'll want to do another ESI or PT. Today I'm getting a double whammy from neck and lower back pain and can't get comfortable in any position. This sucks..hope you're feeling better today. It's like living on borrowed time when we feel a bit decent..enjoy it while you can because it can be gone in a New York second.
I also had a bilateral nerve block which helped 5 days, then bilateral rhizotomy in my lower back a few months ago. My facet joints there are severely degenerated. I'd say it helped 30%..better than nothing right? Yeah I've heard if the nerve block's not helpful then the rhizotomy probably won't be. It was a longer recovery than an ESI and you'll know in 6 weeks if it took, and if so, it may last up to 2 years before the nerves grow back. The post procedure spasms were pretty bad, and I was given IV pain meds right after because it hurt so bad. The pain and spasms should ease up little by little.
It's good to hear you have an attorney too..it's a must when dealing with WC. I hope it works out in your favor. How are you doing today?

Ol' Spiney...Microdiscectomy L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central disc herniation L4-S1, sciatic nerve damage, retrolisthesis, epidural fibrosis, facet arthropathy, severe DDD & OA.FBSS- Medtronic SynchroMed II pump.

Motor1
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Last seen: 42 min 46 sec ago
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Joined: 08/22/2014 - 1:52pm
Wow!

You really have a full plate! I feel bad that you have so much going on. I'm sorry that you aren't having a good day.
And you're right...everything does change in a minute!
I had a follow up appointment with my ortho doctor today. He was following up on my new found discovery. I have ulnar nerve entrapment in my elbow. He strongly suggested surgery. I told him I'm not interested in surgery right now. I'm still in therapy 3x week for my shoulder surgery & they're working on my neck too.
He explained to me that if I don't get it fixed, I could have permanent damage.
I ended up agreeing to getting a new EMG & see if it is getting any worse. He said if it shows that it's worse, then I need surgery soon. That will be 4 surgeries in less than 2 years. I'm at a loss on what to do.

Meydey
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Sorry Motor1, I certainly

Sorry Motor1, I certainly understand. I don't want any more surgeries either. You're going through so much right now and I know how overwhelming it can feel. Sometimes all you can do is take care of one thing at a time. I know you'll make the right decision and do what feels right for you. I had a microdiscectomy and 2 level TLIF within 8 months..no fun at all. Does the ulnar nerve entrapment feel similar to cervical radiculolitis? Hang in there my spiney friend : )

Ol' Spiney...Microdiscectomy L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central disc herniation L4-S1, sciatic nerve damage, retrolisthesis, epidural fibrosis, facet arthropathy, severe DDD & OA.FBSS- Medtronic SynchroMed II pump.

Motor1
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Last seen: 42 min 46 sec ago
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Joined: 08/22/2014 - 1:52pm
Yes it does

I have constant nerve pain starting in my neck & going into my shoulder & down into my hand. My fingers get numb almost constantly. I can't touch my elbow without jumping.
I was very surprised when the doctor said ulnar nerve entrapment. I still wonder if it's coming from my neck? Ever since my shoulder surgery, my neck issues have increased. I was blaming it on wearing that sling for 2 months. The sling went around my neck & it definitely wasn't good for it.
I'll be calling to get an appointment for the EMG today.
Then, I'm going to try to put it out of my mind. I allowed yesterday as my crying day. Today, it's a move forward day!

Meydey
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Hi Motor1

Yes, we are certainly entitled to our crying days..thank goodness we can support each other here because we're all going through this. I'm sorry you had such a hard time and hope today is better. I wore a sling for a couple weeks but my doctor said it's not good for me. It helpful because my arm hurts a little less when elevated. It's said that people with neck problems feel better when they raise their arm and touch their head because it eases pressure on the nerve. I tried it and it happened. When do you see your doctor again and what have they given you for pain, if I may ask?

Ol' Spiney...Microdiscectomy L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central disc herniation L4-S1, sciatic nerve damage, retrolisthesis, epidural fibrosis, facet arthropathy, severe DDD & OA.FBSS- Medtronic SynchroMed II pump.

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