Cervical Disc Prolapse

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Hi All, 

I don't have a particular question as I am pretty clued up on everything but would just like to share my story and see your thoughts. 

About 5 months ago I woke up in agony which was very different to any pulled muscle pain I have had before. I had trouble dressing, washing and doing my hair. At one point I had pins and needles in my arms but it did all settle with physio and pain relief but since I have never returned to how well I was before. 

1 month ago the severe pain returned. It took me 2 hours to get out of bed and finally got to the GP in tears. She felt it was muscular but referred me for more physio and an MRI scan to be sure. The pain continued to get worse and I started taking diazepam which has been the only drug that works. I began to get numbness and pain down my arms. NSAID's do bugger all for the pain and to be honest I do not want to get into that category of someone who is a chronic pain sufferer. 

At this point I was referred to a neurosurgeon. Yesterday the results of my scan came back and I have a disc prolapse in C4/C5 that is slightly touching my spinal cord. 

The plan is not surgery but to try steriod injections. I have now had about 20 sessions of physio, acupuncture, used a TEN's machine (amazing!), heat, rest and I think I manage the pain pretty well. Admittedly some days are good and some are horrible. My thoughts are that steriod injections will just mask the problem the underlying unstable disc will still be there to cause trouble in the future.

It doesn't help that due to a few mess ups I don't trust my neurosurgeon; an initial incorrect MRI scan interpretation, the perscription of pain meds that due to my past medical history I can not take, his insistance that it was muscular in nature then admitted it was a disc prolapse and his referral to being of "moderate build" in his clinic letters (petty I know but I am a size 12!).

Plus he just doesn't listen to my concerns or given me any reassurance. He shows no compassion for my current situation and just smiles when I try to explain how this is affecting me. I went to him for a diagnosis and a fix and not for pain reflief advice. He also makes me feel that I am making it up. So tomorrow I am seeing another surgeon for a 2nd opinion tomorrow and I'm continuing to be having a bad week with the pain (I guess stress has not helped). 

I'm 32, have no kids but was planning start thinking of a family, a successful career, a budding relationship, a very busy active life and this is ruining everything. I refuse to be this incapacitated at this age.

I must admit that the thought of spinal fusion makes me feel sick but there are some minimally invasive procedures I have been looking at that I would like to try. I honestly can not continue for much longer this way and emotionally it is knocking me for six.   

I am not prepared to give up an easily as I really want to get this fixed as soon and as smoothly as possible. 

Wish me luck for tomorrow's appointment smile

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  • Posted

    Good luck for your appointment, there's nothing worse than losing faith in the person you expect to help.

    My back first went in early September, for 8 weeks my GP kept saying it's nothing it'll be ok, then my mum came to my appointment with me, I'd like to say I'm 43 but the power of stroppy mum worked wonders, I'm sure he was shaking by the time we left, but I did leave a referral to a neurosurgeon and an MRI appointment.

    I'm now waiting for surgery and my GP is very sympathetic now.

    My point is stick to your guns, you'll get there and you will get your life back on track.

    Good luck

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    • Posted

      I'm sure she'd be happy to oblige, she does good stroppy mum, I can do it for my son but not for myself, have to say my mum does get results, I could start a new business 'Rent a Strop'
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  • Posted

    Thanks Debbie,

    My GP was the same and she said she would take her hat off if anything came back positive on the MRI............

    She also wrote in my referral letter that she had referred me for a scan only due to my anxiety. Very sensitive and obviously she thought I was making this up too. The physio knew instantly what the problem was, it's taken 5 months to prove it to my consultant and GP. Why when you are in so much discomfort should you have to show them proof before they believe you is beyond me.

    There is a lot of people in the medical world that say try conservative therapy first and apart from injections I have done so. I am game for some kind of surgery to get the this fixed so it will probably end up that way.

    However I don't want someone who can not communicate, can't take an accurate history and can't interpret an MRI scan anywhere near my neck with a knife.

    Good luck with your surgery,

    Rachael xx

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    • Posted

      I agree Rachael, hopefully the appointment you have today will be more positive and you get the result you want and need.

      My neurosurgeon said he could do the injections but he said he'd see me again not long after in pain again, my thoughts are they mask the problem, they work for some people but I didn't want the chance of them only working for a short time.

      I've got a 15 year old and due to him having his own problems we try to do a lot of stuff with him now while we can, at present this is getting in the way of that, we need these things sorting.

      Let me know how you get on today, fingers crossed for you x

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  • Posted

    Hey Cray, be very careful what you wish for mate, C-spine surgery is as risky as it gets. I really hope you get some relief from your pain, any surgery, even if it's just for your disc will weaken your spinal strucure. This is the reason why surgery is the very last option. You've a long life ahead of you so why not give time a chance, what's the rush for surgery? All the very best and keep us posted.
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  • Posted

    Firstly bin your doctor!  (You're a tax payer and deserve better).

    Secondly, if the disk has sequestered and resting on the nerve then a microdisectomy is probably your own solution. If it's a disc buldge then carry on with the physio as core strengthening can eventually help pop the disc back or keep it at bay, but neverending core work will be required.

    Admittidly, what the village idiot (expert) never understands is that the pain is effecting one's life. Its horrible and yes it needs sorting asap. If I hadn't been insured I would would have wacked the op on the credit card.

    Good luck.  Fusions are a different more complex, but  still a common solution which requires more thought and research. I have met two people with two different outcomes.  

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    • Posted

      My MRI was £400, but they scanned the leg too as I initially saw a hip surgeon, so coud have been. He was £150 per visit (*2). The back surgeon was £180 per visit (1 visit) and the op was £6,700 2 nights, 5 physio sessions and a 2 month check up.

      The op was going to be £7,800 but I negotiated it down with no anesthetic ! only joking, I matched the price elsewhere. 

       

       

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  • Posted

    Hi Guys, 

    Just back and relaxing after a complete polar opposite experience.

    Believe me I was by no means wishing for surgery! That is the last thing that I wanted. I just wanted some reassurance, confidence in my consultant and a treatment plan that meant I can carry on living my life. 

    I am actually pretty fortunate in that I have private health insurance with my job so all my treatment has been private and fully covered.

    So after a complete examination my new consultant was so lovely, oozed experience and made me feel very relaxed. I actually started crying when he started to be so nice and sympathetic to the discomfort I was in. I felt like he listened to me as an individual and gave me a selection of options for treatment to consider.

    He walked me through my scans. I have had 2 recently - one on the NHS that the GP called me a few weeks ago to tell me that I had a prolapsed disc. The second was repeated privately as my old consultant said he was unable to see the images from the NHS.

    The old consultant at that horrible follow up last week showed me the MRI scan that I had privately and basically said there was nothing wrong with me. 

    On BOTH scans there is one obvious prolapsed disc at C4/C5 that is resting on my nerve root (I have a degree of clinical knowledge but I am not an expert on MRI scans and swore I saw this on the image last week. Unfortunately at the time I did not challenge the consultant)

    I also have a slight prolaspe to C6/C7. 

    He felt that surgery is certainly not indicated (phew!) and thinks that it can be managed with physio and epidural injections.

    They are trying to fit me in with an appointment for next week to get this done as soon as possible.

    I've also emailed my old consultant and told him politely where to go. 

    I'm going on a business trip to the USA in a few weeks and finally feel that I can start planning for it.

    What an absolute joke this first bloke was! My insurance company offered to log a complaint against him but I actually can't be arsed. Hopefully he will reflect on his attitude in clinic (when I was telling him my concerns he actually started smiling! A disturbing lack of effective communication skills for someone as high up as he is) but knowing this type of consultant who thinks he is god I doubt it. 

    For those of you that have massive disc prolapses you have my absolute sympathy. The pain has been terrible and if this was a small prolapse I can not bear to think how painful a large one is. 

    Right guys so injections into my spine - sounds like fun! Anyone had them?

    Love and hugs,

    Rachael xx        

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    • Posted

      Really pleased it went well for you today Rachael, must be a huge relief for you.

      Hope the injections work and you have a great time in USA

      Take care Debbie x

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    • Posted

      Thank Debbie, 

      Yes it is a hugh relief. I'm going to send them a post card to say thank you haha!

      When is your surgery and what procedure are you having? x 

       

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    • Posted

      I'm still waiting for an op date, getting really fed up of waiting, wish I was in a health scheme now!! I'm having a discectomy (think that's what it's called)

      I've only worked one day this year, luckily work are ok and very understanding. X

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    • Posted

      Oh that's good. I got a message from my boss this morning saying that I am no longer eligible for sick pay and they have already had a hearing re sickness which could of resulted in a written warning. So I'm dragging myself into work tomorrow with a truck load of drugs and looking like death. 

      Private medical isn't all it is cracked up to be (as per experience above) and I think you are safer in an NHS hospital too. 

      I hope your getting looked after and pampered by those around you x

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    • Posted

      Haha - it was pathetic hearing him grovel and apologise on Saturday over the phone. What an absolute joke! 

      When I googled him there is an article in the local rag that is really not pleasant. It's scandalous and involves a court case so his reputation is already in taters. 

      Well anyway I have a wonderful consultant now so those things that come out to test us only make us stronger smile 

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    • Posted

      I had a welfare meeting with work last week, they came to my house, basically came for a general chat and to eat cake, they told me I'm on full pay til June an then half pay for 6 months, I'm hoping I'll be done and back before June though, I'll go back on phased return.

      I didn't think work were allowed to have a sickness hearing without you being there, also didn't think they could go straight for a written warning!

      I'll be on level 1 sickness monitoring when I go back x

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    • Posted

      Yeah they aren't the most sympathetic. You wouldn't believe that I work in healthcare would you? 

      I was present at the hearing and slapped all my clinic letters on the desk. Therefore nothing came of it and occy health were furious - it made me feel dreadful and didn't help the situation.

      It sounds like they are being wonderful and very supportive x 

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    • Posted

      They take the p*ss don't they, I'm sure they think everyone is swinging the lead. I actually work around the healthcare sector too lol. Think I'll have a visit to occ health too to look forward to 😊
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    • Posted

      Grrr... wack em in the hamstring with a baseball bat and then ask them to sit down for the next 8 hours. 

      Then they'll know all about it.! 

      Sitting at home all day is ok for a week or two, but them become incredibly boring, no one to talk to, have banter with, no sense of achievement etc. One needs work to keep sane. If people hate their jobs so much they should leave and give their  job to some one wants it. 

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    • Posted

      I agree - it backfired (pun!) in my case unfortunately - Thoughtout this I have had a total of 3 weeks off spread over 4 episodes in 6 months. I kept going back but would then end up in agony and have to come off again.

      In this time I have seen 6 consultants over 4 specialisties, 2 A&E visits, numerous GP visits, 20 sessions of physio, 3 daycase procedures, 5 different scans/diagnostic tests and had numberous blood tests and needles. I have been diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst, an iron deficiency, coeliac disease and a proplapsed disc. 6 months of health hell!

      Unfortunately 4 episodes in a year = no pay, more than 10 days in a row or 3 episodes in 6 months triggers a capability meeting sad - I think I've managed pretty well to be in as much as I have been in but there is no bending of the rules and now I shall go in tomorrow when I still feel like toss. 

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    • Posted

      Bless ya that's crap, it makes ya wonder why we drag ourselves to work in the first place when we feel sh*t, I'm guessing you're like me and don't like letting them down.

      Hope your ok tomorrow x

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    • Posted

      I love my job, can't wait to get back to it, I'm bored stupid being at home, I learnt how to knit today lol, my saving grace is my dog, she's enjoying having lots of cuddles
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    • Posted

      Hello Debbie. how are you?

      Week 5 post op and saw my physio today.I have to admit his attention to detail seems second to none.  He advised that the injection has a 60% success rate. I just jumped straight to the microdisectomy as I didnt have any more patience for trial and error, He was clear if the 1st one doesn't work then the op is the best option or wait 2 years unitil it clears up on its own!  He advised the chemcial reaction when the disc rests on the nerve is what causes the pain i.e. the body sees a foreign body and attacks it until it surrounds the prolapse.  

      I dont have any regrets as now I have passed the re-herniation period and can now start some rehab up the walking and can start some light swimming. Such a relief, however, I am now going to have to start addressing my weight, as I have put on 11 pounds since this started.

      Interestingly, he also pointed out (following my curioristy about the fast track american option) that GB and Australia tend to take a much slower rehab approach than the Americans i.e. lots of walking in the early stages. It's thought this approach leads to problems later down the road.  

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    • Posted

      Hey Anglo, take it easy buddy, it can re-herniate at any time during you life mate as the disc cannot heal. Slow and steady as you go mate, all the very best.
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    • Posted

      Hi

      I'm still waiting, the pain in my right leg is getting worse, I've googled it tonight, there's a condition called Charley Horse which says it causes sudden onset pain which can last seconds to an hour, can be caused by certain Meds, googled tramadol and one of the side effects is severe leg an arm pain, seems to much of a coincidence to me, think I'll talk to doc on Monday.

      Sounds as though you've come out the other side and doing well, really pleased for you, it gives me hope :-) x

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    • Posted

      Yes it can, the early weeks are the higher risk though. He said I would have to fall off a ladder to do it again as long as I follow a regular routine of core strength excercises; its up to me now (oh dear).

      The good thing he has 3 prolapsed discs and had a microdisectomy 10 years ago. He currently does triathlons and he is 47. 

      Thanks for your support Joe.

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    • Posted

      Thanks, yes I'm feeling positive, but still need to be careful.

      It was a real confidence boost and its good I am being advised by someone who has also had the problem and the operation.

      Conversely, I had a real downer Tuesday morning (I didnt sleep well), I had it in my head I wasnt even going to go to physio today. It was all crap everyone was crap, tv was crap, food was crap, fridge is full of crap, the garden looks crap, weather is crap, bank account is crap, news is crap, back is crap and I look like crap...you get the gist. 

      I didnt realise until I read it somewhere that one can go a bit emotional from time to time.

       

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    • Posted

      anglo I have those days to. I think they are allowed considering what you have been through. So long as you can pick yourself up again and stay positive that is the main thing x
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