CERVICAL DISC PROTRUSION AND ARTHRITIS…

After the brilliant guest post from Neil Velleman on ‘All you need to know about a slipped discI found myself being diagnosed with yet another disc problem in my cervical spine.

For the last six months, I have been having constant pain going down my arm from my neck as well as pins and needles down to my little finger.  Initially, we thought it may have been my ulnar nerve again. I say ‘again’ as I had surgery last year for a trapped ulnar nerve which was a total success but they said it can come back even after surgery.

After a 2 hour consultation with a physiotherapist, it was decided that it could be one of two things. Either the ulnar nerve or a disc in my cervical spine so the first port of call was a nerve conduction test.

The nerve conduction test showed no problem with the ulnar nerve so I was then sent to have an MRI scan. Those results have shown that I have another disc bulge which is compressing a nerve and giving me the pins and needles and pain and it also showed that I have arthritis in that area.

Neil Velleman explained that ‘the spinal discs act as shock absorbers and through a variety of causes, including injury, poor posture and general “wear and tear” (meaning gradual deterioration), the walls of the disc can become weaker. If the centre of the disc pushes out, this can cause the disc wall to bulge and that can be when pain strikes!’

Mine is definitely in the ‘wear and tear’ category as I have had two previous surgeries on the C3/4 area of my spine which has meant the disc below it has had to do all the work. I have now been told I will need to see a consultant about the sort of treatment they can give me for the pain which could be IDD Therapy, Injections, Manual Therapy or Surgery.

Back in 1996 when I had my second surgery on the C3/4 discs they gave me traction first but IDD Therapy seems to have taken over from that method but I shall just have to wait and see what they suggest.

The worst pain is doing the simplest of things like cleaning my teeth or drying my hair so I am just hoping an appointment comes through sooner rather than later.

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THE AWFUL PAIN OF A TRAPPED/PINCHED #NERVE…

A trapped/pinched #nerve pain in any area of your body can literally stop you in your tracks. A pinched #nerve refers to a certain kind of damage to a #nerve or group of nerves. It’s caused when a disc, bone, or muscle places increased pressure on the #nerve.

Pinched nerve signs and symptoms include:
  • Numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve.
  • Sharp, aching or burning pain, which may radiate outward.
  • Tingling, pins and needles sensations (paresthesia)
  • Muscle weakness in the affected area.
  • Frequent feeling that a foot or hand has “fallen asleep”

A pinched #nerve can occur at a number of sites in your body. A herniated disk in your lower spine, for example, may put pressure on a nerve root, causing pain that radiates down the back of your leg. Likewise, a pinched #nerve in your wrist can lead to pain and numbness in your hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome).

They say that with rest and other conservative treatments, most people recover from a pinched #nerve within a few days or weeks. Sometimes, surgery is needed to relieve pain from a pinched #nerve.

Last year I was diagnosed with a trapped ulnar nerve. The ulnar #nerve is one of the three main nerves in your arm. … The most common place for compression of the #nerve is behind the inside part of the elbow. Ulnar #nerve compression at the elbow is called “cubital tunnel syndrome.” Numbness and tingling in the hand and fingers are common symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome.

After months of conservative treatment, I was told I needed surgery. Ulnar #nerve decompression is a surgical procedure designed to explore the region around the elbow through which the ulnar nerve passes. The ulnar nerve is responsible for the “funny bone” phenomenon when you hit your elbow. The surgery involves a 3-4 inch incision which is made along the elbow in between the two bony prominences that are on the same side of the arm as the thumb. The incision is taken deep enough to be able to visualize the ulnar #nerve. The #nerve is then explored into the upper arm to the point that is passes through the triceps muscle. It is explored in the forearm until it passes through a muscle in the forearm. Once the entire nerve has been explored through this region and is seen to be well decompressed, the overlying connective tissue and skin are closed with stitches.

Quite soon after the surgery, I was completely pain-free with no more pins and needles in my hand or pain in the arm or grip problems. As far as I was concerned the surgery was a complete success.  Fast forward 11 months on and the problem started again only this time the pain started in my neck and went along my shoulders, down the inside of the top of my arm and into my elbow with pins and needles in my pinky and ring fingers. Gripping has now become absolute so anything that needs opening I need help with. Simple tasks like cleaning my teeth, blow drying my hair and even spraying perfume give me awful pain in my elbow.

It came back suddenly while on holiday and I initially thought that maybe I had just aggravated something while swimming but from May onwards it has just got progressively worse and worse. I have now seen a physiotherapist who has done a thorough neurological check and checked over my nerves and feels it is definitely a trapped ulnar #nerve but what we do not know is where it is trapped.

The physiotherapist has booked me in for some #nerve conduction tests which I had last year which will confirm if its this particular #nerve that is trapped and then she wants to follow up with an MRI of my cervical spine to see if it is trapped from there. The ulnar #nerve arises from the medial cord of the brachial plexus with predominant contribution from the C8-T1 nerve roots so it could start with a problem in my neck. They say that Cubital tunnel syndrome is the second most common peripheral #nerve compression syndrome of the upper extremity following carpal tunnel syndrome.

For me now it’s a waiting game which I must admit is proving to be a painful one. I can now only work on my laptop for short intervals which I am finding really frustrating as my life revolves around my blog writing and access to the internet. I have looked at how I could maybe talk into the computer to write the posts but it’s quite a bit harder than typing as you have to know exactly what you want to say when you speak. I am hoping surgery will not be an option this time but at the moment cannot see how they can get rid of this debilitating pain.