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C6/C7 bulging disc. Pain. Arm weakness.

1,169 Views | 25 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by BB675
El Chupacabra
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8 months ago or so I woke up with a 'stiff' neck...typical 'crick' in the neck that we all get from time to time. It stuck around longer than normal, but pain was mild, and it eventually went away. But then it came back over and over and over and over again. Pain was always manageable.

4 weeks ago, it migrated down a little, shooting pain into my my shoulder blade.

3 weeks ago, I went to the gym as normal...normal routine of dips, pullups, pushups...no issues.

2 days later I went to do the same workout...and I couldn't do a pushup...there was just zero strength in my right side. Pain was no better or worse than the previous week.

Called and got an Ortho appointment, which I went to this past Monday. She did a few tests, took x-rays, which only showed very minor arthritis or bone spurs, nothing to be concerned about. So she scheduled an MRI for today, which I did a few hours ago. The MRI showed a 'minor' bulging disc in C6/C7.

While the bulge isn't big (insert jokes here), the symptoms are pretty scary...pretty much 75% loss of push strength, still can't do a pushup, dip or bench press 100lbs. My left (formerly weak) arm is not changed at all.

I go to PT starting Monday. I'm going to get an epidural steroid shot in the neck ASAP (probably 3 weeks out), then a couple more weeks of PT. If things aren't improved, then it is surgery time, most likely a disc replacement.

Who else has been through this?
Did PT and ESI help? How much?
Is the nerve damage permanent, meaning my strength won't fully return?
Article 58-10 Offender
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I crunched my neck / upper back at jiu jitsu last January (2019) and had the same symptoms, except that I had pretty severe pain early on. After getting mobility back, I had the same problem - I could barely do any pushups or anything that required delt or tricep strength (bicep unaffected). I did go see an ortho, and he recommended I just do PT, which I promptly ignored because I was too lazy to go do it. I just gradually started easing back into workouts with super low reps and light weight.

Long story short, I am almost back to full strength on my right side. I still have some atrophy that I can see, but my wife says she cant tell. The only time I can tell a strength difference is when I get to failure, my right side goes first (I'm right handed, so it used to always be my left side that failed first).

My recommendation - and I am NOT A DOCTOR - is give every non-surgical option the most possible effort. Once you go down the road of back surgery, well...you just never know.

Article 58-10 Offender
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just for some timeframe reference and possible expectation management, it was a full month before I started working out again, and close to six months before I felt somewhat normal.
culdeus
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AG
BIL went thru this. Was a horrible experience start to finish.

Took him more than a year of pt to get back and not sure he's really 100%
n_touch
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Came here to post the same questions. Woke up last week with my muscles locked on my Right side and the same pain in the arm and weakness you are talking about. Could only do Telephone visit with the doc. No MRI because of Covid and will be doing a tele visit with PT to start soon. He also suggested watching Youtube videos to start PT on my own. Great time to have this happen.
OasisMan
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AG
I would see a neurologist (neuromuscular) +/- NeuroSurg, rather than Ortho

May need an EMG/NCS
El Chupacabra
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OasisMan said:

I would see a neurologist (neuromuscular) +/- NeuroSurg, rather than Ortho

May need an EMG/NCS
She recommended that after a bit of PT and the ESI.
El Chupacabra
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n_touch said:

Came here to post the same questions. Woke up last week with my muscles locked on my Right side and the same pain in the arm and weakness you are talking about. Could only do Telephone visit with the doc. No MRI because of Covid and will be doing a tele visit with PT to start soon. He also suggested watching Youtube videos to start PT on my own. Great time to have this happen.
got any good links to PT videos? there are a ton out there, it's been difficult to filter out the garbage.

n_touch
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I just started looking yesterday and found this guy. I have really like his delivery and videos. I did these yesterday and I did feel better most of the day. Not sure if it was the exercises of the muscle relaxers



She follows pretty much the same







n_touch
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Did they put you on any meds? They have prescribed Gabapentin but I have not gotten it yet.
El Chupacabra
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Some sort of steroid dose pack that I take for six days.

Seems to have helped some, in conjunction with ibuprofen.

Got my ESI scheduled for 4/22 and first PT on Monday.
Cromagnum
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AG
Been fighting with this exact issue last two years. An EMG will help diagnose extent of injury (but this procedure sucks ass). What has helped me is epidural steroid injection directly into spine (they knock you out for this). It doesnt last forever though and I've had to do it twice so far, but its helped me a lot. 2nd is PT. Learn moves to help fix instability but you MUST keep doing them even after your symptoms abate.

Cant hurt but worth a look. Get a new bed if you are due for one. Adjust all your car seats and office seats to support your neck (free). Minimize time looking down at your phone.
El Chupacabra
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Cromagnum said:

Been fighting with this exact issue last two years. An EMG will help diagnose extent of injury (but this procedure sucks ass). What has helped me is epidural steroid injection directly into spine (they knock you out for this). It doesnt last forever though and I've had to do it twice so far, but its helped me a lot. 2nd is PT. Learn moves to help fix instability but you MUST keep doing them even after your symptoms abate.

Cant hurt but worth a look. Get a new bed if you are due for one. Adjust all your car seats and office seats to support your neck (free). Minimize time looking down at your phone.


Since I've never had any type of injury or trauma, sitting in a crappy posture staring at a screen is what probably caused it.

I tried to do a tricep extension with a milk jug today...I couldn't.
Cromagnum
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AG
I have degenerative disc disease and it is particularly bad at C6-C7 as well as in my L-S region. I have issues in my left arm and in my right leg as a result. No acute injury, but poor posture and lack of stretching stabilizing muscle groups is my culprit.
BB675
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AG
I have been dealing with neck pain and headaches for years now and recently saw a pain management doc who scheduled an MRI. The MRI found bulging C2, C3 disc impinging the nerve roots and thecal sac. Fortunately, I have not had the symptoms you are referring to. I had an epidural injection three weeks ago. The shot worked for roughly a week or so before wearing off. The doctor and nurses told me to not be surprised if I did not find much relief in the first shot and I would likely find the most relief after the second and third shot. I was scheduled to have my second shot two weeks ago but had to cancel due to COVID. Good luck with your progress.
n_touch
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On day one and a half of the gabapentin. Pain seems to be a little less in the fingers and biceps area except if I sit wrong for to long at my desk. Stretches have been helping as well. Feel a lot better than two weeks ago so hoping this week will be easier.
aggiederelict
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Order a Theracane on Amazon. Very helpful for the kind of thing. I recommend it to all of my neck patients.
n_touch
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Week 3

Yesterday was 3 weeks from the time this started. Got the MRI results back and there is a 3mm protrusion in C5/C6. Strength has gotten better in my Right arm, but there is still a noticeable difference between left and right. The pain has gotten better, still taking the Gabbapentin. We changed our bed and the new one will be here tomorrow. Still looking for a PT and will have my follow up on Friday and see if I can find one.



Hope everyone else is getting better as well.
El Chupacabra
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Good to hear. My strength is much better, but nowhere close to normal. Pain is still there and getting comfortable at night is difficult...not sleeping a whole lot.

My pt seems to be pointless. I'm doing more at home than the therapist is doing. All we've done in 3 sessions is dry needling with electrical stimulation and 2 attempts at traction that didn't do anything.
oldarmy76
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Yeah, unfortunately I haven't gotten any help through the years going to PT for a pretty badly herniated disk at the same location. It's quite a bit worse than the image above but fortunately And to the shock of the doctors I've been to I've never had the weakness. I've dealt with it by never sitting at a desk, mousing with left hand only (the bulge is to the right and for whatever reason this helps a lot), posture strengthening excersises, foam roller and lacrosse ball daily, and ice on shoulder and neck every night. It's a lot of effort but it's gotte me to a place where I can usually tolerate the pain and discomfort.
aggiederelict
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Where are you located? I'm a PT and I can help find you someone if need be.
n_touch
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Cypress. I have been doing the Mackenzie stretches on a daily basis. At first with the neck in and back there was a little pain in my arm when pulling my head back, but there was also relief after doing it a few times. It is like is was sliding back in place each time. Its a weird feeling and relaxing feeling all at once.
aggiederelict
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Let me ask around and see what I can find. Lots of places closed. Best bet is a small clinic maybe even a place with only PT in a private treatment room.
El Chupacabra
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Got my ESI on Wednesday afternoon. No improvement that day, except having a nice buzz all evening. Woke up Thursday feeling better than I have in about a year. As the day went on, and today so far, some of the pain has returned. I haven't seen if I can lift a milk jug over my head yet, but I can to a full pushup and 20 'girl' pushups!
n_touch
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Man I must be really lucky, thank god, compared to what you guys are going through. It was a month on Tuesday. I could not move the first day and there was no relief from the muscle cramps that I was getting in my back and all through my arm for most of the week even after trips to the doctor.

I had another chiropractor visit this morning. It was the second. We did decompression on my neck and an adjustment. There is some pain and tingling in my fingers, but many times this week I have forgotten to take my meds where as before it was clockwork to help ease the pain.

We did change beds so I am able to incline now and I am no longer using a pillow at night just a towel roll to extend my neck. Although it takes some getting used to, it is helping with keeping me on my back when I sleep and I am not in as much pain in the morning. I will admit I did not use it last night and went back to the pillow and have regretted it all day. I am sticking with the towel since you can roll it tight or loose depending on what feels best that day.

I am also ordering the traction device below to use during the week. Chiro said to use it daily or two times a day for 10-15 minutes to help relieve some of the pressure.

Neck Traction Device

I will keep you guys in my prayers.
BB675
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AG
Has anyone experienced good results with the ES injections? I am scheduled to have my second one this Friday. The first injection gave me relief for maybe one week but that was it.
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