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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Neck/Rt arm pain and hand numbness

 ChristinaW65 - Thu May 17, 2007 10:48 pm

I'm 41, female, had a bad accident in 2000 that put me on crutches for a year due to lower right leg injury, which causes Rhomboid area to hurt often, and upper back aches.

About three weeks ago I went for a hike with my kids. I had to use a walking stick to help me up a very steep hill, and used it in my right hand. The next day I couldn't move my neck because it hurt so much. I noticed a numb area near the base of the right side of my neck, and got a massage the next day, which allowed me to move my neck with less pain, though I still hurt in my shoulder and upper arm.

Over the next week my right thumb and index finger went numb and I saw my doctor. He took x rays and said it didn't appear my discs were a problem. He gave me skolaxn and darvacet (spelling is off I'm sure), and a collar to wear when I sleep as I am in a lot of pain at night. The pain has increased in my rt arm both upper and lower, and the numbness increases to tingling as I use my arm. Just typing all this causes pain in my forearm. I got an MRI yesterday. I am just wanting to know what you may think is wrong. I normally would go to a chiro, but I've never had this kind of numbness and am afraid to be adjusted without knowing what is wrong.

Please advise.
 Marceline F, RN - Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:59 pm

User avatar Dear ChristinaW65,
Back injuries can take a very long time to heal, and since you had to move with great care for such a long time, your body has developed a personal safety mechanism called "guarding" in which muscles on the weak side tend to tighten up to protect the injured parts. When you took your hike, and had to use a walking stick to assist you, the extra strong grip I am sure you used to steady yourself contributed to muscle strain in your back. This multiple muscle strain can take a long time to heal. Massage therapy can indeed be valuable, and sometimes people have also found relief alternating heat and cold applications to the sore areas. Rest is definitely a good idea, as well as eating well, and drinking plenty of fresh water. Toxins build up in the body with overworked or strained muscles, that should be flushed out, or they themselves will cause pain to the body. Ask your doctor if he/she recommends ice over heat or vice versa at this stage of your healing.
 ChristinaW65 - Wed Jul 04, 2007 11:15 pm

The pain increased as well as the numbness. My doctor ordered an MRI and the Neurologist saw a ruptured disc at c5 / c6. I was scheduled for surgury on June 29th to remove the disc, and fuse c5/c6.

I decided to get a second opinion, and have an appt at Shands. I am hoping the Dr. can do something less drastic via othroscopic surgery and deal with the area affected and not take out the whole disc. My first surgeon recommended removing the entire disc because he believes in the long run that is what will be needed. I want to make the best choice as there does not appear to be damage to the front, but over time of course it could just get worse, and maybe taking the whole disc is the best solution. I'd like any expert advice on this likely outcome.

Thank you
 Marceline F, RN - Thu Jul 05, 2007 6:11 am

User avatar Dear ChristinaW65,
I applaud your decision to get a second opinion. Whenever faced with a difficult decision that you need further clarification on or additional options, a second opinion can give you just that. Surgical interventions are always scary, and you deserve to get as many of your questions answered as possible. I am sorry that the MRI came back with unhappy news for you, but I am glad you explored the injury fully so that you can indeed make the best choices. Without seeing the films, or all the rest of your clinical history, it is impossible for me to tell you which is your best option. But I can tell you, your surgeons have most likely been doing this type of repair for quite a while, and can review the results of the MRI with you, coupled with a direct knowledge of the rest of your body systems, to give you the best overall information. It might help you to prepare a list of questions ahead of time, so that the consulting surgeon can address them for you expeditiously. Include healing time, restriction of activity, anticipated length of hospitalization, and pre-/post- surgical medications. This should give you enough information to make a good decision.

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