C5-C6 issue affecting my shoulder?

Posted by amywood20 @amywood20, Sep 18, 2019

Hello! According to my MRI, I have a bulge with a small annular fissure (noting it can be symptomatic) at the C5-C6, DDD and a small bone spur causing foraminal narrowing on the right side and foraminal stenosis of the right. I also have some slight reversal of the normal curve that I think has to do with the osteophytic change at the C5-C6 level. I have battled this issue for over 7 years and during that time it has come and gone. It is back and causing some left hand tingles and a bit of numbness, although if you scratch the hand I still have feeling in it and can use it. I also have a painful spot near the shoulder blade and can even get discomfort at the front of the shoulder near the armpit. Most of this is on the left arm/upper back, yet the narrowing is on the right foramen. I don't know if the bulge is centrally located or to one side. I do get a few tingles on the right hand but it's less frequent than the left. For a while now I was chasing the issue of if my left shoulder issue was from the shoulder or the neck. I had a MRI with contrast done on that shoulder and the only thing it showed was a low grade partial tear of the infraspinatus, most likely from weight lifting and just wear and tear being that I am 43. Shoulder doc said that many have these small tears and they do not cause pain. Because of the hand issue and how I did fine with the in-office shoulder manipulation, he feels my issue is from the cervical spine. He didn't even want to try a cortisone injection into the shoulder to see if it would help, noting he really things the shoulder is not the issue. I have had one cortisone injection into the neck without any relief. I am getting a second one next week. I see a neurosurgeon in November. Here is where I get pretty confused. I know the C5-C6 innervates the infraspinatus (ironic that is where my partial tear is) and from what the pain doc noted when getting the first injection, the pain around the shoulder blade is common. Does disc issues like this actually cause the shoulder to not function quite like it should or does it just cause it to hurt? Example: went to physical therapy this morning and had traction done on the cervical spine for the second time. Came home and as I was reaching down to pick up a cat bowl of water from the floor with the left arm I heard a clunk, which sounded like it was coming from the back of the shoulder. Then I felt discomfort in that one spot near the shoulder blade and some hand tingles. Can these disc issues cause the shoulder blade not to work quite like it should? Is the C5-C6 issue what cause this to happen? Because I know there is a low grade partial tear in that shoulder anytime it makes a weird noise or I get an odd discomfort my mind wants to blame it on that even though the shoulder doc says it's not the issue. Kinda of wish I didn't know about it, as it has really been exhausting mentally. I can't stop questioning things. Anyway, was just curious as to how these disc issues/nerve issues actually affect the movement of extremities. I hear people say that the C5-C6 can cause shoulder pain but I've not really heard much about how it can affect the movement of it. Side note, I also have an issue at my L4-L5 and L5-SI. I will be coming to the Rochester Mayo on Oct 1st for the first time to be seen for my PKD/PLD. I wanted to have a specialist there go over my cervical spine and lower lumbar MRIs but from what I was told, you can only see two docs per visit. I have already been scheduled with two doctors for the PKD/PLD so that's my limit. Where I live PKD and PLD isn't as common so traveling out of state for that reason is much more important than having my spine images looked at. Would have been neat though since I will be there anyway. 🙂

@amywood20

@jenniferhunter I still have a few weeks before my appointment with the spine doc. I looked at the links you included and found the training and rehabilitation one very interesting. Although the shoulder on the affected side has had issues in the past, it seems they really flared up when I was in PT for the other shoulder that has the full thickness tear. The physical therapist kept having me do the retract and down with my shoulder blades. I then started doing that when weight lifting and have to wonder if I do have TOS, as from what that article suggests, doing that makes the symptoms worse. I have not been doing any shoulder exercises recently, as I don't know what is wrong and don't want to cause harm. Well this afternoon I did a few external rotations with a stretchy band (physical therapist thought it would be good to do to help strengthen the infraspinatus) and it did not feel good. I had the shoulder blade down and back, as the PT said to do it that way to keep the traps from firing (and I hadn't read the article yet). Caused the spot in the upper back to really ache and even had some aches around the back of the neck. Do you think that movement would cause an issue if it is indeed TOS even if I didn't do the down and back? I keep thinking in the back of my mind that I do have that low-grade partial tear of the infraspinatus and maybe that is why it ached. I iced it but that seemed to make it worse.

The other interesting thing in that article was how raising the arm up can also cause it to hurt worse. I noticed that when I was lying in bed and put my arm above my head while on my back. Do you know if lying on your back would cause TOS symptoms? I noticed sometimes when I am in the recliner it will ache and even bring about muscle spasms, sometimes even on both sides. I will say I am at such a loss as I wait to get in with the specialist here. I need to get it figured out so I can get the right shoulder operated on to fix the full thickness supraspinatus tear. I wasn't having much discomfort with it but for the past week and a half or so I am feeling it in the front of the shoulder. That's the only spot it hurts though.

Mentally, I have not been doing well with this. I keep thinking about the possibility that the left side stuff will be determined to be from the shoulder and that the MRA on it missed something big. The thought of both shoulders needing surgery brings on so much anxiety. Both hurt but in different ways. I wouldn't know which to do first. But, then I have the hand tingles and it makes me think it's not the shoulder…unless I have two separate issues.

I'm also having issues with the left ankle/foot, as it tingles and has on and off for several months. I finally had it looked at and the urgent care doc (couldn't get in with my regular doc) x-rayed it. Nothing found so there isn't a fracture. He suggest an ultrasound (can't remember what it's called but it starts with a M). I am waiting for the scheduler to call to get it set up. I am hoping to have it done and with results before I see the spine doc. I was going to mention it to him. And as if that wasn't fun enough, I am scheduled to have a right knee scope to remove scar tissue on the 8th, just a few days after the appointment with the spine doc. I wanted to get it done before shoulder surgery so at least I could walk comfortably afterwards while I can't do much of anything else. That is why I decided to finally have the other ankle/foot looked at. If there is an issue there and I have to stay off of it, I won't be able to have knee surgery. I know once I have shoulder surgery it will be a very long time before I could get the knee scoped due to having to use crutches for a few days. Knee doc mentioned that. Really wanted to get it done but now I just don't know. So yeah, I am a little stressed with so many uncertainties.

Jump to this post

@amywood20 Sometimes we have to take things one day at a time. TOS requires patience for recovery, and there is surgery for TOS, but my doctor advised against it because creating scar tissue there will just add to the tightness that already exists, so I wouldn't assume a diagnosis of TOS would automatically indicate surgery. My therapy is myofascial release for TOS, and some strength training, but limited, so as not to kick up symptoms. I would think that using crutches will hurt in your present condition, so think that over if you really want to do a surgery that will require crutches for a while. Also, don't diagnose yourself. No doctor will want a patient telling them how to do their job. the Mayo doctors can take care of things, and your job is to explain your symptoms. They can easily test for TOS by listening to your pulse in your neck and have you turn your head. When you have TOS along with a cervical spine issue, you have overlapping symptoms.

Yes, you can have TOS symptoms while on your back. It is raising the arm that brings it on. The problem is the front of the chest is too tight and it causes the shoulder blades to wing out. Bad slouching posture causes symptoms too.

The tingling in your leg can be from a pelvis dysfunction and it can seem like a lower spine problem. My TOS causes tightness from my jaw to my pelvis on one side and it causes my pelvis to twist out of shape. You might want to read the training and Rehabilitation article on that. https://trainingandrehabilitation.com/identify-treat-lumbar-plexus-compression-syndrome-lpcs/

Good luck with appointments.

REPLY
@jenniferhunter

@amywood20 Sometimes we have to take things one day at a time. TOS requires patience for recovery, and there is surgery for TOS, but my doctor advised against it because creating scar tissue there will just add to the tightness that already exists, so I wouldn't assume a diagnosis of TOS would automatically indicate surgery. My therapy is myofascial release for TOS, and some strength training, but limited, so as not to kick up symptoms. I would think that using crutches will hurt in your present condition, so think that over if you really want to do a surgery that will require crutches for a while. Also, don't diagnose yourself. No doctor will want a patient telling them how to do their job. the Mayo doctors can take care of things, and your job is to explain your symptoms. They can easily test for TOS by listening to your pulse in your neck and have you turn your head. When you have TOS along with a cervical spine issue, you have overlapping symptoms.

Yes, you can have TOS symptoms while on your back. It is raising the arm that brings it on. The problem is the front of the chest is too tight and it causes the shoulder blades to wing out. Bad slouching posture causes symptoms too.

The tingling in your leg can be from a pelvis dysfunction and it can seem like a lower spine problem. My TOS causes tightness from my jaw to my pelvis on one side and it causes my pelvis to twist out of shape. You might want to read the training and Rehabilitation article on that. https://trainingandrehabilitation.com/identify-treat-lumbar-plexus-compression-syndrome-lpcs/

Good luck with appointments.

Jump to this post

@jenniferhunter I know, one day at a time. I need to figure out how to get out of my head. That's my personality and once I fixate on something it is hard to put it down, so to speak. The spine specialist I will be seeing is not at Mayo since I live nine hours away but if I don't get answers here, I will definitely go to Mayo. My foot is in the door since I had one of their rehab docs look at my imagines and do a few in office tests. She felt an EMG would be the next step since she wasn't able to draw any firm conclusions. Mayo could have done it a few days later but I was flying back home the next day. We'll see what the spine doc wants to do. My fear is that he will think it's the shoulder. The shoulder doc thinks it's the cervical spine so if that were to happen I am left in the middle. I will say the full thickness tear in the other shoulder feels nothing like the other one. I need to get all of this figured out soon since the full tear is starting to give me grief whereas a month ago it was pretty mild. As far as the crutches, that should only be for a few days and I can start walking normally as tolerated. There isn't a tear or anything to repair as it's just cleaning up scar tissue. I've had it done before but can't remember how much I used the crutches. I want to say not much at all. I do have a walker from a hip scope three years ago and could use it, putting the weight on my hands. Probably not much better but maybe some. I need to dig it out and try. I just know if I don't do it now it will be many, many months before I will be able to due to shoulder surgery. I've been dealing with it for a year and a half already. I'm leaving the door open to canceling it but very well may not. At least it would be one thing fixed I could check off. Thanks for the link and all of your responses!

REPLY
@amywood20

@jenniferhunter I know, one day at a time. I need to figure out how to get out of my head. That's my personality and once I fixate on something it is hard to put it down, so to speak. The spine specialist I will be seeing is not at Mayo since I live nine hours away but if I don't get answers here, I will definitely go to Mayo. My foot is in the door since I had one of their rehab docs look at my imagines and do a few in office tests. She felt an EMG would be the next step since she wasn't able to draw any firm conclusions. Mayo could have done it a few days later but I was flying back home the next day. We'll see what the spine doc wants to do. My fear is that he will think it's the shoulder. The shoulder doc thinks it's the cervical spine so if that were to happen I am left in the middle. I will say the full thickness tear in the other shoulder feels nothing like the other one. I need to get all of this figured out soon since the full tear is starting to give me grief whereas a month ago it was pretty mild. As far as the crutches, that should only be for a few days and I can start walking normally as tolerated. There isn't a tear or anything to repair as it's just cleaning up scar tissue. I've had it done before but can't remember how much I used the crutches. I want to say not much at all. I do have a walker from a hip scope three years ago and could use it, putting the weight on my hands. Probably not much better but maybe some. I need to dig it out and try. I just know if I don't do it now it will be many, many months before I will be able to due to shoulder surgery. I've been dealing with it for a year and a half already. I'm leaving the door open to canceling it but very well may not. At least it would be one thing fixed I could check off. Thanks for the link and all of your responses!

Jump to this post

@amywood20 I understand the frustration of being caught in the middle when doctors think it is something else. I went through that too. I always had a plan B for the next doctor I would try if things didn't work out. I went through 5 spine surgeons who could all read my MRI, but none would help me because they didn't understand how to connect my symptoms to the imaging. Don't stress, just move on and start over with a new opinion if that happens. Things happen in time, and we can't control when it will work out, or in what order or what other thing could change our plans. What seems right at the beginning, may not be, and a new day could bring a different answer that no one thought about before and a better solution. Sometimes you have to choose your priority.

My two years of searching for and not finding help gave me more time to be with my dad as he was dying, and I was taking care of him and my mom. If I had surgery and was in recovery, I would not have been able to be there, and missed the last time with him. It was the hardest 2 years of my life and I was in a lot of pain because I needed spine surgery. Right after my dad passed, I got the call from Mayo for appointments, and I was able to take care of myself. Remember to breathe, and savor every day even when the days are challenging. There is always a lesson there, if you can quiet your mind and listen.

REPLY
@jenniferhunter

@amywood20 I understand the frustration of being caught in the middle when doctors think it is something else. I went through that too. I always had a plan B for the next doctor I would try if things didn't work out. I went through 5 spine surgeons who could all read my MRI, but none would help me because they didn't understand how to connect my symptoms to the imaging. Don't stress, just move on and start over with a new opinion if that happens. Things happen in time, and we can't control when it will work out, or in what order or what other thing could change our plans. What seems right at the beginning, may not be, and a new day could bring a different answer that no one thought about before and a better solution. Sometimes you have to choose your priority.

My two years of searching for and not finding help gave me more time to be with my dad as he was dying, and I was taking care of him and my mom. If I had surgery and was in recovery, I would not have been able to be there, and missed the last time with him. It was the hardest 2 years of my life and I was in a lot of pain because I needed spine surgery. Right after my dad passed, I got the call from Mayo for appointments, and I was able to take care of myself. Remember to breathe, and savor every day even when the days are challenging. There is always a lesson there, if you can quiet your mind and listen.

Jump to this post

@jenniferhunter I am sorry to hear about your dad. That must have been a very difficult time with all that was going on. My parents also have health issues and it seems my dad ends up in the hospital every winter due to COPD complications. That is why I am living here. The husband is retiring from the military and could easily get quality work as a contractor but it's not here. I don't want to move so that's been a challenge. I know things will all work out in the end. It's just getting to those points. And yes…your story about your dad reminded me of when I broke and said we could move but only three hours away. It was a few years ago and would have had us closer to where the husband was working so that he didn't have to commute. I prayed the house wouldn't sell, as deep down I still didn't want to move. We gave it a few months and then pulled it off the market. A few months later my dad ended up in the hospital. Had it sold I would not have been living here to readily help. But again, thank you for your words. I need to hear this stuff. I am usually one of the most organized, detailed, knows what needs to get done, when and how. This has taken me out of my comfort zone as so much of what happens is out of my control.

REPLY
@amywood20

@jenniferhunter I still have a few weeks before my appointment with the spine doc. I looked at the links you included and found the training and rehabilitation one very interesting. Although the shoulder on the affected side has had issues in the past, it seems they really flared up when I was in PT for the other shoulder that has the full thickness tear. The physical therapist kept having me do the retract and down with my shoulder blades. I then started doing that when weight lifting and have to wonder if I do have TOS, as from what that article suggests, doing that makes the symptoms worse. I have not been doing any shoulder exercises recently, as I don't know what is wrong and don't want to cause harm. Well this afternoon I did a few external rotations with a stretchy band (physical therapist thought it would be good to do to help strengthen the infraspinatus) and it did not feel good. I had the shoulder blade down and back, as the PT said to do it that way to keep the traps from firing (and I hadn't read the article yet). Caused the spot in the upper back to really ache and even had some aches around the back of the neck. Do you think that movement would cause an issue if it is indeed TOS even if I didn't do the down and back? I keep thinking in the back of my mind that I do have that low-grade partial tear of the infraspinatus and maybe that is why it ached. I iced it but that seemed to make it worse.

The other interesting thing in that article was how raising the arm up can also cause it to hurt worse. I noticed that when I was lying in bed and put my arm above my head while on my back. Do you know if lying on your back would cause TOS symptoms? I noticed sometimes when I am in the recliner it will ache and even bring about muscle spasms, sometimes even on both sides. I will say I am at such a loss as I wait to get in with the specialist here. I need to get it figured out so I can get the right shoulder operated on to fix the full thickness supraspinatus tear. I wasn't having much discomfort with it but for the past week and a half or so I am feeling it in the front of the shoulder. That's the only spot it hurts though.

Mentally, I have not been doing well with this. I keep thinking about the possibility that the left side stuff will be determined to be from the shoulder and that the MRA on it missed something big. The thought of both shoulders needing surgery brings on so much anxiety. Both hurt but in different ways. I wouldn't know which to do first. But, then I have the hand tingles and it makes me think it's not the shoulder…unless I have two separate issues.

I'm also having issues with the left ankle/foot, as it tingles and has on and off for several months. I finally had it looked at and the urgent care doc (couldn't get in with my regular doc) x-rayed it. Nothing found so there isn't a fracture. He suggest an ultrasound (can't remember what it's called but it starts with a M). I am waiting for the scheduler to call to get it set up. I am hoping to have it done and with results before I see the spine doc. I was going to mention it to him. And as if that wasn't fun enough, I am scheduled to have a right knee scope to remove scar tissue on the 8th, just a few days after the appointment with the spine doc. I wanted to get it done before shoulder surgery so at least I could walk comfortably afterwards while I can't do much of anything else. That is why I decided to finally have the other ankle/foot looked at. If there is an issue there and I have to stay off of it, I won't be able to have knee surgery. I know once I have shoulder surgery it will be a very long time before I could get the knee scoped due to having to use crutches for a few days. Knee doc mentioned that. Really wanted to get it done but now I just don't know. So yeah, I am a little stressed with so many uncertainties.

Jump to this post

@amywood20 I'm sorry I missed your response. I've been traveling and not online.

I know from my own experience with TOS, that overdoing any strength training resistance or weight lifting can kick up the symptoms. I have had the unbalanced chest tightness on one side be enough to cause a functional scoliosis and rotate my chest out of shape. It has caused me to loose complete feeling in my left arm below the elbow on one side of the forearm, and that was only relieved when therapeutic stretching rotated the thoracic vertebrae back in line, and my therapist stretched the tight areas on the front of my chest and neck with myofascial release. I get ribs that twist out of position. I was worried about loosing complete feeling because at the time, I still had spinal cord compression and was still looking for a surgeon willing to help me, so it made that seem like it was spine related, but it wasn't; it was the TOS doing that.

When you describe TOS symptoms laying on your back, that says to me that the front of your chest might be to tight, and that might be what you are feeling. If you stand sideways and look in a mirror, do your shoulders line up under the center of your neck or are they forward? When I first started laying on a foam roller, and stretching my arms out perpendicular to my body, they were so tight, they could not stretch to touch the floor. Doing this over time got them to the floor, and they are even better now because slowly I work at all the tight areas that are resisting that movement.

The ankle pain you mentioned can be caused by nerve compression anywhere along the path to the ankle. It can even be from overly tight muscles in your hips and pelvis. For me, I had a similar pain in my ankle that felt like a dog was biting me that was caused by bone spurs contacting my spinal cord in my neck. I could turn that pain on and off just by rotating my head. That was my first symptom of cervical stenosis before anyone diagnosed the spine problem, and that connection was missed by all the doctors I saw before I came to Mayo as being related to the cervical stenosis. I found medical literature with a case similar to mine, and I wrote to a surgeon at Mayo with that and he took me as a patient.

Here's a link about lots of pelvis alignment issues
Lumbar plexus Compression https://trainingandrehabilitation.com/identify-treat-lumbar-plexus-compression-syndrome-lpcs/

I see from the calendar, that you have probably had your knee scoped by now and met a spine surgeon. You do have a lot on your plate right now with possible shoulder surgery too. Any surgery will create scar tissue that will tighten your fascia and can make symptoms worse, and recovery is better when you can stretch this out with MFR therapy. It seems like you may need to choose your priorities of what should be addressed first. If you have TOS, most often MFR therapy is best over a long term because surgery for TOS can create more scar tissue that just adds to the problem. I was advised against surgery for TOS. I know a lot of this can be overwhelming, and the tricky part is when the pain originates somewhere else, and you had all this testing on your ankle. With knee problems, you can have issues with your pelvis and it's alignment which can cause sciatic pain and it seems like a spine problem. That is very treatable with physical therapy and MFR, and I've had pelvis alignment issues too and it all connects through my body as tightness from my neck and chest to my hips and pelvis. You'll need an expert level MFR therapist to figure all that out when you are able to work on it with your doctor's blessings. It takes a lot of patience when you are recovering from surgery and can't do therapy, but it's all part of a good recovery and following post op instructions. I went through that too when I was waiting for my spine to fuse and everything tightened up from surgical scar tissue. Work out your plan and in what order you need to do things to recover. Set your goals, and then you will take baby steps for awhile until you can get there, but you will get there. Believe that, and you can do it. Pay attention and get sensitive to the nuances of your symptoms and your progress. It helps to write it all down so you can chart your progress. You might not be able to continue with weight lifting as a regular routine. You'll need to listen to your body on that after you have recovered from any procedures. Work with a physical therapist and discuss that when the time comes.

As for anxiety, I've been there too. I was terrified of spine surgery, but I worked through that, and facing all my fears and learning from them changed my life. There is always a lesson in the adversity we face if we are open to learning from it. Fear can sneak up on you and be there in the background distracting you in your decision making. I've learned how to manage fear, but I'm not immune to it; I just recognize it sooner now and can take steps toward overcoming it. Just prior to my travels, about the time of your response, I was dealing with a dental issue that sent my anxiety upward again. We all are affected by our fears early in life and the patterns we learn, and I still have work to do. Work out whatever you need to do to ease your stress. For me that was using music and art as therapy.

Hopefully by now you have some more answers, and a better path toward your decisions. Let me know if I can help any further.

REPLY
@jenniferhunter

@amywood20 I'm sorry I missed your response. I've been traveling and not online.

I know from my own experience with TOS, that overdoing any strength training resistance or weight lifting can kick up the symptoms. I have had the unbalanced chest tightness on one side be enough to cause a functional scoliosis and rotate my chest out of shape. It has caused me to loose complete feeling in my left arm below the elbow on one side of the forearm, and that was only relieved when therapeutic stretching rotated the thoracic vertebrae back in line, and my therapist stretched the tight areas on the front of my chest and neck with myofascial release. I get ribs that twist out of position. I was worried about loosing complete feeling because at the time, I still had spinal cord compression and was still looking for a surgeon willing to help me, so it made that seem like it was spine related, but it wasn't; it was the TOS doing that.

When you describe TOS symptoms laying on your back, that says to me that the front of your chest might be to tight, and that might be what you are feeling. If you stand sideways and look in a mirror, do your shoulders line up under the center of your neck or are they forward? When I first started laying on a foam roller, and stretching my arms out perpendicular to my body, they were so tight, they could not stretch to touch the floor. Doing this over time got them to the floor, and they are even better now because slowly I work at all the tight areas that are resisting that movement.

The ankle pain you mentioned can be caused by nerve compression anywhere along the path to the ankle. It can even be from overly tight muscles in your hips and pelvis. For me, I had a similar pain in my ankle that felt like a dog was biting me that was caused by bone spurs contacting my spinal cord in my neck. I could turn that pain on and off just by rotating my head. That was my first symptom of cervical stenosis before anyone diagnosed the spine problem, and that connection was missed by all the doctors I saw before I came to Mayo as being related to the cervical stenosis. I found medical literature with a case similar to mine, and I wrote to a surgeon at Mayo with that and he took me as a patient.

Here's a link about lots of pelvis alignment issues
Lumbar plexus Compression https://trainingandrehabilitation.com/identify-treat-lumbar-plexus-compression-syndrome-lpcs/

I see from the calendar, that you have probably had your knee scoped by now and met a spine surgeon. You do have a lot on your plate right now with possible shoulder surgery too. Any surgery will create scar tissue that will tighten your fascia and can make symptoms worse, and recovery is better when you can stretch this out with MFR therapy. It seems like you may need to choose your priorities of what should be addressed first. If you have TOS, most often MFR therapy is best over a long term because surgery for TOS can create more scar tissue that just adds to the problem. I was advised against surgery for TOS. I know a lot of this can be overwhelming, and the tricky part is when the pain originates somewhere else, and you had all this testing on your ankle. With knee problems, you can have issues with your pelvis and it's alignment which can cause sciatic pain and it seems like a spine problem. That is very treatable with physical therapy and MFR, and I've had pelvis alignment issues too and it all connects through my body as tightness from my neck and chest to my hips and pelvis. You'll need an expert level MFR therapist to figure all that out when you are able to work on it with your doctor's blessings. It takes a lot of patience when you are recovering from surgery and can't do therapy, but it's all part of a good recovery and following post op instructions. I went through that too when I was waiting for my spine to fuse and everything tightened up from surgical scar tissue. Work out your plan and in what order you need to do things to recover. Set your goals, and then you will take baby steps for awhile until you can get there, but you will get there. Believe that, and you can do it. Pay attention and get sensitive to the nuances of your symptoms and your progress. It helps to write it all down so you can chart your progress. You might not be able to continue with weight lifting as a regular routine. You'll need to listen to your body on that after you have recovered from any procedures. Work with a physical therapist and discuss that when the time comes.

As for anxiety, I've been there too. I was terrified of spine surgery, but I worked through that, and facing all my fears and learning from them changed my life. There is always a lesson in the adversity we face if we are open to learning from it. Fear can sneak up on you and be there in the background distracting you in your decision making. I've learned how to manage fear, but I'm not immune to it; I just recognize it sooner now and can take steps toward overcoming it. Just prior to my travels, about the time of your response, I was dealing with a dental issue that sent my anxiety upward again. We all are affected by our fears early in life and the patterns we learn, and I still have work to do. Work out whatever you need to do to ease your stress. For me that was using music and art as therapy.

Hopefully by now you have some more answers, and a better path toward your decisions. Let me know if I can help any further.

Jump to this post

@jenniferhunter thanks for the response! Yes, I had knee surgery yesterday. There was a band of scar tissue in the area that was causing pain and then some in other areas. All of the tendons and ligaments looked good though. I am now just sitting around hooked up to the ice machine and hating it. LOL. Sitting in the recliner and bed is aggravating the nerves in my neck (assuming), as the pain meds I have help with the knee but do nothing for that area in my upper shoulder blade. Also have the left hand tingles and today, I woke up to find the tip of my index finger is numb. That hasn't been the case up until now. I suspect it's from bad positioning and then using the walker to get around. I put pressure on my arms when using it so the surgical leg isn't weight bearing. I image this is funneling up to the neck. The walker has a seat on it and I have been trying to scoot around instead. I have crutches but don't like using them. Hoping to be walking without any of this by Monday. The tip of the finger thing is frustrating.

I did meet with the spine doc and he is recommending ACDF surgery. He would add a spacer to the C5-C6 and then move the vertebrae above it back in place so I have the curve back in my neck. He does not think the issue is coming from my left shoulder, which is a relief since I will need to get the right shoulder fixed. I wasn't prepared for the surgery recommendation so I didn't have a list of questions. I scheduled another appointment in about two weeks to see him again and ask the 12+ questions I have. I need reassurance he is 100% confident that's my issue and surgery will fix it.

The ankle…had a MSK done on it. That doc said my ligaments and tendons are in pristine condition. He thinks it's a neuropathy. I am not sure how that would explain the snapping noise it makes sometimes. And, it's not one snap. It snaps with every step for a while and then stops. I know the physical therapist that looked at it prior to the MSK said both ankles weren't all that stable. He noted a little fluid in the ankle joint as well. He suggested an ankle brace and a few stretchy band exercises, noting it should be better in 5-6 weeks. I see a different therapist on Monday that will be doing my knee PT. I've gone to her for many other post ops and she has 20+ years in the profession. I plan to get her take on the ankle as well. I almost laughed though when the doctor said everything was in pristine condition. Having been a runner and then into weight lifting for two decades I doubt anything in my body is in pristine condition. LOL. Oh and he said that he thinks all of my issues are related to something and named a few diseases (can't remember the names). He asked if I have been tested for them, which I haven't. He doesn't think my cervical spine is an issue and is putting it on whatever these diseases are. It should be noted he is the radiologist who did the MRI review on the cervical spine. His report wasn't detailed and i remember being disappointed in it. So Monday I saw the spine doc who said I need surgery and then that afternoon I saw this other doctor that said I do not. I was so confused. I will do whatever blood tests he thinks I need if my primary care doctor wants me to. I don't think that's it though. The spine doctor explained my MRI in detail, showing what was touching what, etc. I tend to believe him over the radiologist but who knows. If I have cervical spine surgery I will do that first and then the right shoulder. I did let the two physical therapists who have been working on me and doing dry needling know about those appointments and my confusion afterwards. They discussed my email and both said if they were in my shoes (having seen me over the months) they would have the ACDF surgery. Like I said, I have lots of questions for the spine doc first. I see the shoulder doc that same day just as a follow up, as he wanted to know what the spine doc had to say.

This upper back shoulder blade discomfort and hand tingles/tip of the finger numbness is frustrating. I can't believe the pain meds aren't touching it. I hope once I am more mobile in a few days the nerves or whatever the issue is will calm down some so that at least the tip of my index finger has feeling again. Sorry this is so long. 🙂

REPLY
@amywood20

@jenniferhunter thanks for the response! Yes, I had knee surgery yesterday. There was a band of scar tissue in the area that was causing pain and then some in other areas. All of the tendons and ligaments looked good though. I am now just sitting around hooked up to the ice machine and hating it. LOL. Sitting in the recliner and bed is aggravating the nerves in my neck (assuming), as the pain meds I have help with the knee but do nothing for that area in my upper shoulder blade. Also have the left hand tingles and today, I woke up to find the tip of my index finger is numb. That hasn't been the case up until now. I suspect it's from bad positioning and then using the walker to get around. I put pressure on my arms when using it so the surgical leg isn't weight bearing. I image this is funneling up to the neck. The walker has a seat on it and I have been trying to scoot around instead. I have crutches but don't like using them. Hoping to be walking without any of this by Monday. The tip of the finger thing is frustrating.

I did meet with the spine doc and he is recommending ACDF surgery. He would add a spacer to the C5-C6 and then move the vertebrae above it back in place so I have the curve back in my neck. He does not think the issue is coming from my left shoulder, which is a relief since I will need to get the right shoulder fixed. I wasn't prepared for the surgery recommendation so I didn't have a list of questions. I scheduled another appointment in about two weeks to see him again and ask the 12+ questions I have. I need reassurance he is 100% confident that's my issue and surgery will fix it.

The ankle…had a MSK done on it. That doc said my ligaments and tendons are in pristine condition. He thinks it's a neuropathy. I am not sure how that would explain the snapping noise it makes sometimes. And, it's not one snap. It snaps with every step for a while and then stops. I know the physical therapist that looked at it prior to the MSK said both ankles weren't all that stable. He noted a little fluid in the ankle joint as well. He suggested an ankle brace and a few stretchy band exercises, noting it should be better in 5-6 weeks. I see a different therapist on Monday that will be doing my knee PT. I've gone to her for many other post ops and she has 20+ years in the profession. I plan to get her take on the ankle as well. I almost laughed though when the doctor said everything was in pristine condition. Having been a runner and then into weight lifting for two decades I doubt anything in my body is in pristine condition. LOL. Oh and he said that he thinks all of my issues are related to something and named a few diseases (can't remember the names). He asked if I have been tested for them, which I haven't. He doesn't think my cervical spine is an issue and is putting it on whatever these diseases are. It should be noted he is the radiologist who did the MRI review on the cervical spine. His report wasn't detailed and i remember being disappointed in it. So Monday I saw the spine doc who said I need surgery and then that afternoon I saw this other doctor that said I do not. I was so confused. I will do whatever blood tests he thinks I need if my primary care doctor wants me to. I don't think that's it though. The spine doctor explained my MRI in detail, showing what was touching what, etc. I tend to believe him over the radiologist but who knows. If I have cervical spine surgery I will do that first and then the right shoulder. I did let the two physical therapists who have been working on me and doing dry needling know about those appointments and my confusion afterwards. They discussed my email and both said if they were in my shoes (having seen me over the months) they would have the ACDF surgery. Like I said, I have lots of questions for the spine doc first. I see the shoulder doc that same day just as a follow up, as he wanted to know what the spine doc had to say.

This upper back shoulder blade discomfort and hand tingles/tip of the finger numbness is frustrating. I can't believe the pain meds aren't touching it. I hope once I am more mobile in a few days the nerves or whatever the issue is will calm down some so that at least the tip of my index finger has feeling again. Sorry this is so long. 🙂

Jump to this post

@amywood20 I would encourage you to get several opinions about your C spine. Surgeons use different spaces, cages,etc, and plates on the front of the spine. If it is only one level to be fixed, it can be done with a bone graft and no hardware, and not all surgeons would offer that, but mine did at Mayo which is what I wanted. Hardware brings the possibility of complications if something is dislodged or a screw backs out. Patients can feel the plate in their neck. With my asthma, I didn't want anything extra in my neck taking up space, so I had only a bone graft. I stayed in a neck brace until fused at 3 months, and it as worth it to not have hardware. My neck also used to be straight, but since surgery, and my therapy, I have my normal curve back without a surgeon rebuilding it for me. I don't get pain with weather changes like a lot of C spine surgery patients with hardware do. It's better without rods because my range of motion is normal except that I cannot touch my chin to my chest, but it is darn close. My head turning is normal. If you have hardware placed on your spine to put a curve in, you probably will not have normal ranges of motion, and the longer the fused portion is, the greater the stress it will put on the adjacent segments that can move which raises the risk of spine surgeries in the future. Plates also do this and the fusion shrinks as it heals, so the plate gets longer in relation. If the plate rubs on the adjacent disc, it can cause injury and wear a lot sooner. There are immune reactions to foreign materials too, but none with a bone graft and my surgeon said it heals best with just bone. You can always elect to do the curve rebuild later if you think it is necessary after your recovery. My physical therapist advised against surgical intervention for the lordotic curve, and my curve is normal as long as I don't trigger muscle spasms in my chest and neck with over exertion. I also now how to fix it if it happens, and most of the time I feel normal without being aware that I did have surgery.

I think you are right that bearing weight on your hands will cause pain because it's compressing everything and you already have tightness between your chest and neck. Just the muscle spasms from a spine issue will do that. It would bother me too to do that because of TOS, and I am not as strong as I was before my spine injury and the muscle atrophy that came with it.

I still think you could have TOS issues, and your doctors are not even thinking about that possibility, as they are mentioning other diseases as a cause without you having a test to confirm that. That is just guessing. Also the the snapping in your feet and ankles happens to me too. I've had plantar fasciitis, and that starts with tightness in the hips, thighs or pelvis that translates down to the feet. I get snapping in a knuckle on my thumb, and my therapist has me pull on the joint and twist first in the direction is goes easily, and then in the opposite direction. I hold that with a gentle pull, and it reseats the joint . That is the same thing that happens in lower limbs, so myofascial release will probably help as it loosens everything. It's the tightness and twisting in the body that causes alignment issues, and over time, wear and tear on joints. When you subconsciously brace against something it gets worse too. I still guard my left shoulder and raise it, and I have to learn to stop doing it.

Your neck might feel better with a microwaved heat wrap to relax the muscles and it can act like a neck brace. I did that a lot before my surgery. Topical Arnica gel helps too calm nerves and inflammation. I have a list of questions I can find for the spine surgeon if you want it. Take it easy and don't push too hard for a faster recover. You body needs to take the time that it needs.

REPLY
@jenniferhunter

@amywood20 I would encourage you to get several opinions about your C spine. Surgeons use different spaces, cages,etc, and plates on the front of the spine. If it is only one level to be fixed, it can be done with a bone graft and no hardware, and not all surgeons would offer that, but mine did at Mayo which is what I wanted. Hardware brings the possibility of complications if something is dislodged or a screw backs out. Patients can feel the plate in their neck. With my asthma, I didn't want anything extra in my neck taking up space, so I had only a bone graft. I stayed in a neck brace until fused at 3 months, and it as worth it to not have hardware. My neck also used to be straight, but since surgery, and my therapy, I have my normal curve back without a surgeon rebuilding it for me. I don't get pain with weather changes like a lot of C spine surgery patients with hardware do. It's better without rods because my range of motion is normal except that I cannot touch my chin to my chest, but it is darn close. My head turning is normal. If you have hardware placed on your spine to put a curve in, you probably will not have normal ranges of motion, and the longer the fused portion is, the greater the stress it will put on the adjacent segments that can move which raises the risk of spine surgeries in the future. Plates also do this and the fusion shrinks as it heals, so the plate gets longer in relation. If the plate rubs on the adjacent disc, it can cause injury and wear a lot sooner. There are immune reactions to foreign materials too, but none with a bone graft and my surgeon said it heals best with just bone. You can always elect to do the curve rebuild later if you think it is necessary after your recovery. My physical therapist advised against surgical intervention for the lordotic curve, and my curve is normal as long as I don't trigger muscle spasms in my chest and neck with over exertion. I also now how to fix it if it happens, and most of the time I feel normal without being aware that I did have surgery.

I think you are right that bearing weight on your hands will cause pain because it's compressing everything and you already have tightness between your chest and neck. Just the muscle spasms from a spine issue will do that. It would bother me too to do that because of TOS, and I am not as strong as I was before my spine injury and the muscle atrophy that came with it.

I still think you could have TOS issues, and your doctors are not even thinking about that possibility, as they are mentioning other diseases as a cause without you having a test to confirm that. That is just guessing. Also the the snapping in your feet and ankles happens to me too. I've had plantar fasciitis, and that starts with tightness in the hips, thighs or pelvis that translates down to the feet. I get snapping in a knuckle on my thumb, and my therapist has me pull on the joint and twist first in the direction is goes easily, and then in the opposite direction. I hold that with a gentle pull, and it reseats the joint . That is the same thing that happens in lower limbs, so myofascial release will probably help as it loosens everything. It's the tightness and twisting in the body that causes alignment issues, and over time, wear and tear on joints. When you subconsciously brace against something it gets worse too. I still guard my left shoulder and raise it, and I have to learn to stop doing it.

Your neck might feel better with a microwaved heat wrap to relax the muscles and it can act like a neck brace. I did that a lot before my surgery. Topical Arnica gel helps too calm nerves and inflammation. I have a list of questions I can find for the spine surgeon if you want it. Take it easy and don't push too hard for a faster recover. You body needs to take the time that it needs.

Jump to this post

@jenniferhunter yeah I don't know what I am going to do. The more I read up on cervical spine surgery the more I am not sure I want it. Having said that, as I sit here typing and things don't feel right and the tip of the left index finger is still numb, I know there is a problem. I feel so much pressure because I need to get my right shoulder fixed due to the full thickness tear in the supraspinatus (it's started to retract some) but need to get this issue taken care of first. I may ask the spine doc about trying physical therapy again like i did three years ago. I have been in physical therapy for my shoulder but had them do dry needling on muscles in my back, shoulders and the last two times on my neck. Tried traction three times. Prior to that one of the therapists did a little manual work. I remember back when I had PT years ago telling the therapist that it wasn't helping much. He said sometimes there is just too much crowding going on, which is due to the bone spur and the narrowing I have, among other things.I start knee PT tomorrow and can't wait to chat with that therapist about all of this. She is amazing and highly respected. Anytime I have had a surgery or a doctor sends me to PT they always ask who I plan to go to. When I say her name they note how I am in good hands. In fact, the surgeon who did my right hip labrum repair sends all of his patients there unless they are unable to go there due to insurance reasons. She doesn't do dry needling but does do ASTYM. She also does not do spine PT…unless that has changed from three years ago. I have to respect that, as I know there are therapists who think they can do spine work and really shouldn't be.

Anyway, I will specifically ask the surgeon in a few weeks about TOS. I may have my husband meet me there if he can get out of work early enough. He works 2 ½ hours away right now. The frustrating part about that appointment is it's at 4:45 p.m. and the scheduler said to plan on him being 1-2 hours behind, as she is overbooking him due to wanting to help patients get in prior to surgeries, etc. I guess in December he's only doing surgeries. Ugh. On a positive, I am walking without my walker today. Not bending the knee much when i walk, as that is when I feel discomfort. Which I can't bend it much anyway even if I wanted to because of how it's wrapped. Again, THANK YOU for taking time to respond and offer guidance. I will absolutely keep you posted on how all of this goes.

REPLY
@grandmar

@amywood20
Is your head yet?
I stopped lifting until the PT said it was safe and then I used very light weights and few reps.
I built up slowly.
Yes, surgery is sometimes needed.
For me, after more than a decade of chronic pain, it was my time surgery.
Since I waited so long, I developed severe nerve damage in my legs and some in my arms.
Therefore, my PERSONAL suggestion is to see a neurologist and have an EMG, nerve test, to make sure you aren't doing any irreversible damage by waiting.
Good luck!
Ronnie

Jump to this post

@grandmar Hello Ronnie,

It has been a while since you last posted. I hope that all is well with you.

REPLY
@hopeful33250

@grandmar Hello Ronnie,

It has been a while since you last posted. I hope that all is well with you.

Jump to this post

@hopeful33250 – thanks for checking on me. I am scheduled for cervical spine surgery on Dec 19th. During my second meeting with the neurosurgeon he went over my MRI again and answered all of my questions. I feel confident in his skills and truly believe he wouldn't be recommending surgery if it wasn't needed. My neck has lost it's curve and one vertebra is slightly pushing in the other direction. He feels all of this is the reason for the disc herniations and said that if it doesn't get fixed then down the road I could easily herniate some of the other discs due to how pressure is being distributed throughout the neck. I know others who have gone to him (or had a loved one) and everyone says he is phenomenal. Once it is done and healed than I can have the full thickness tear in my right shoulder fixed. I am curious to see how much of the shoulder issues I have on both sides go away after cervical spine surgery. Because of the discs involved it can cause shoulder dysfunction and it has. I am having issues on the left shoulder and am praying that it's all from the neck, as one shoulder surgery is going to be enough. Thanks again for checking on me!

REPLY
@amywood20

@hopeful33250 – thanks for checking on me. I am scheduled for cervical spine surgery on Dec 19th. During my second meeting with the neurosurgeon he went over my MRI again and answered all of my questions. I feel confident in his skills and truly believe he wouldn't be recommending surgery if it wasn't needed. My neck has lost it's curve and one vertebra is slightly pushing in the other direction. He feels all of this is the reason for the disc herniations and said that if it doesn't get fixed then down the road I could easily herniate some of the other discs due to how pressure is being distributed throughout the neck. I know others who have gone to him (or had a loved one) and everyone says he is phenomenal. Once it is done and healed than I can have the full thickness tear in my right shoulder fixed. I am curious to see how much of the shoulder issues I have on both sides go away after cervical spine surgery. Because of the discs involved it can cause shoulder dysfunction and it has. I am having issues on the left shoulder and am praying that it's all from the neck, as one shoulder surgery is going to be enough. Thanks again for checking on me!

Jump to this post

Thanks for letting me know, @amywood. I'm so glad to hear that you have a "phenomenal" surgeon. That sounds great.

Keep in touch, I'd like to know how you are doing.

REPLY
@hopeful33250

Thanks for letting me know, @amywood. I'm so glad to hear that you have a "phenomenal" surgeon. That sounds great.

Keep in touch, I'd like to know how you are doing.

Jump to this post

@hopeful33250 I will definitely keep you posted! I do see my shoulder doc next week about the left shoulder one more time. That is not the one that will be getting surgery. I had a MRI on it months ago and although he reviewed it (quickly) and didn't seem to think anything needed to be done, I want him to look at it again. Obviously, a radiologist here read it. I also sent it to Mayo and had a radiologist there read it. This was when I was still in the confused phase of is it a shoulder issue or a neck issue. The radiologist at Mayo noted two things the local radiologists didn't. These things are minimal but I still want to discuss with the shoulder doc. 🙂

REPLY
@amywood20

@hopeful33250 I will definitely keep you posted! I do see my shoulder doc next week about the left shoulder one more time. That is not the one that will be getting surgery. I had a MRI on it months ago and although he reviewed it (quickly) and didn't seem to think anything needed to be done, I want him to look at it again. Obviously, a radiologist here read it. I also sent it to Mayo and had a radiologist there read it. This was when I was still in the confused phase of is it a shoulder issue or a neck issue. The radiologist at Mayo noted two things the local radiologists didn't. These things are minimal but I still want to discuss with the shoulder doc. 🙂

Jump to this post

We'll all be thinking of you, @amywood20,. Do keep us posted. I hope you get wonderful, lasting relief.

REPLY
@amywood20

@hopeful33250 I will definitely keep you posted! I do see my shoulder doc next week about the left shoulder one more time. That is not the one that will be getting surgery. I had a MRI on it months ago and although he reviewed it (quickly) and didn't seem to think anything needed to be done, I want him to look at it again. Obviously, a radiologist here read it. I also sent it to Mayo and had a radiologist there read it. This was when I was still in the confused phase of is it a shoulder issue or a neck issue. The radiologist at Mayo noted two things the local radiologists didn't. These things are minimal but I still want to discuss with the shoulder doc. 🙂

Jump to this post

@amywood20 Great idea. The more information you can provide the doctors the better off you are!

REPLY

Have the docs ruled out Cubital tunnel Syndrome..the nerve that some call the "crazy bone" in the elbow…I had that and it caused pain in the cervical spine..

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.