cervical spondylosis halting progression

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Hi I am working on computer 6hours in one day and 9 hours the next day alternatively. With break for 3hours in 9 hours shift, and 45 mins drive to work.I am 52.

Many days its not possible to take break in between because of the work load.

I have developed cervical spondylosis with posterior osteophytes indenting the thecal sac and spinal cord.

Although with exercises of neck my pain is better but symptoms of burning, numbness, weekness and pin and needles in my back of head, neck and rt. Arm comes up with in an hour of starting my computer desk work.

I need advice from experts and public that changing my job to non computer work will halt further progression.and will be better for me

.I do have an option to switch over.I really need an straight forward advice.Waiting for the reply

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  • Posted

    I am 55 y/o, and have a background in computer programming and engineering, and ran my own web-based business.  My C.S., which was originally diagnosed as "degenerative disc disease stage 4", started to have a big impact on how long I can sit at a computer screen.  I tried ergonomic measures, such as swivel arms for the right and left wrist that attach to the desktop, better chair, etc, but now, as my condition has progressed, I find I can only sit at a screen for about a 1/2 hour without aggravating my condition.  I have similar symptoms as you report, and a lot of trouble sleeping because of it.  I am lucky to get 5-6 hours sleep, often only with the help of a sleeping pill.

    Working at a computer screen is not possible for me now, as my condition has worsened, but every person is different.  I have tried using soft cervical collars, but for me, I now use a hard, but adjustable cervical collar, if i have to work at the screen for more than 1/2 hour.  The chin rest of the hard collar seems to help reduce the strain, but I look like Darth Vader.   Luckily, what little work I do now is done from home, so I dont have to worry about appearances.

    Your question is essentially: "will continued work at a computer screen impact my condition and should I change jobs" is not easy for anyone to answer but you.  I am further along with this progressive disease, so I can say, Yes, it would for me, as I have detailed that it now does.  3 years ago, it was not as much of an issue.  But a lot of things can aggravate the neck.  I cant do any kind of overhead work, such as installing a ceiling fan, or painting a wall over my head, or plumbing a sink faucet or changing my oil.  It just flares up my symptoms.

    Should you switch jobs?   Depends on whether you can adapt ergonomically to your current job (can you, for example, add Dragon Speaking Naturally software, so you do less typing?, get swivel arms to reduce carpal tunnel, or do your work standing up, as one person I know does now.   If you are able to work at a screen while standing up, and you like your job (i.e. it is not stressful and also flares up your symptoms from the stress of your job or your boss), then that might be a solution for you.   I know a realtor in my town, and can find the link, who due to unspecified arthritis issues, converted his desk to a standing only desk, and was able to soldier on.    So, that is something to consider, if you enjoy the work and it is keeping you going financially.   

    If you are financially able to find another job or retire early, then that is another path to consider.   I say that, because, if I had known then, what I know now, I should have retired at 50 and done all the things I really wanted to do, before the daily and nightly pain of CS flareups came to put a giant black cloud over my entire life, now that I am on the cusp of retiring.

    So, the bottom line is: "it depends on you, and on the job".  I quit a good paying job as a Project Manager for Siemens back in 1997, after a whiplash injury the year prior, as I could not handle the stress of the job and lack of support from my superiors, and also heal the injury.  It took two years to heal and I have made it another 18 years before my symptoms got a lot worse.  I have not had to have any surgeries, but am now at the point where I likely need the disc at C5-C6 replaced or fused.   

    So, if  you are able to reduce your stress, change your workload, "baby" your neck,  you can improve or heal the tissue in some cases (but not always).   Only you can know for sure where you are with your illness. 

    I wish you the best with a tough call.  I don't regret resigning as a Project Manager, and I did find another less stressful job with a 40% paycut.  One day at a time.

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  • Posted

    Thanks J91297.

    I have read your kind and detail reply multiple times.

    This is an exceptionally great reply, and for long I was searching in the internet any detail and complete description and someones journey and decision like this.

    You have made my life easy with no regrets.

    I have come to the conclusion that the first and most important step to handle you C.S is to stop doing any thing that brings back the symptoms.

    Secondly to do exercises to make your neck strong. Keep youself well hydrated.

    Be thankful for what little we have and be thankful that we are not one of those who are surviving with hope in medical, surgical and cancer ward of hundreds of hospital. .

    And to convince that pain is part of our life but can go away any time.

    With thanks and keeping you in my prayers.

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  • Posted

    Thanks very much.  That is such a kind and thoughtful reply.  It makes my day.

    s an update, I have had a bad C/S flare-up that has lasted about 2 weeks.   Lots of pain and spasm, and my palms starting going numb and my arms hurt.  I made an appointment with the neurosurgeon's office, but could not get in for 3 weeks; then made one with my GP to get some Amitryptylin for the nerve pain, so I could sleep better.  As a last resort, I made a new patient appointment with a chiropractor that my previous chiropractor recommended, due to my condition (he goes to this chiropractor himself, so I guess that makes him a chiropractor's chiropractor).

    Well, it turned out to be a real blessing, as my appointment was today; I felt better than I had in the past two weeks with no arm pain or palm numbness, and this chiropractor really UNDERSTOOD cervical spondylosis.   He told me that the problem is fluid build-up from inflammation around the nerves as they exit the facet joints, due to the Cervical spondylosis, and that I can only hope to manage the symptoms for now.  I most likely did NOT need surgery yet, as I do not have constant arm pain, or hand weakness, or numbness, (which he tested for), and since my symptoms come and go (flareups), I can still try to MANAGE my pain and symptoms as I have been doing with a TENS machine, heating pads, hot tub, inflatable cervical traction device, etc. and he recommended Meloxicam over Ibuprofen, and not aspirin or any salicylates (downs pills for example), and also taking better care not to aggravate my symptoms by aggravating the nerve endings.  

    He used a commercial TENS machine, followed by Ultrasound treatment, then used "distraction" - a form of traction and adjusted my old neck, which obliged him, although you could have heard it in the next room, as it went "crunch-crunch-crunch" back into place.  Both sides and then he adjusted my head upward to relieve pressure on C2 which was pinching a nerve that feeds into my left ear.

    He made no promises that the treatments would do more than delay the inevitable.   But, he did suggest that I read up on FORAMINECTOMY and LAMINECTOMY surgeries.   He said that many neurosurgeons recommend disc replacement or fusion when FORAMINECTOMY will do instead, but the insurance company pays less for that.   And, while foraminectomy will open up the space where the nerves are getting pinched, reduce the pain and the spasm. Also, I can always get the disc replaced or fused later if this does not work...

    Interestingly, one of the local neurosurgeons he recommended is the one I go to now, so I know I did my homework.

    His other key point was that I must continue to baby my neck; to do the most to not aggravate it; to not lift more than 10 lbs over my head (thus, no ceiling fan install jobs, or overhead painting tasks), no jogging or horseback riding or high impact anything.  In the past, when I felt better, I would do stuff like that, only to suffer that night or the next day or days.

    He also recommended liquid glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, which ironically I had in my refrigerator, but had not used (I had bought two bottles; tried one, and could not tell it did much.)  So, I will get back on that, as it is inexpensive.  I think the brand I bought was found on Amazon.  Not sure if you have access to that in the UK.

    I felt much better after the treatment and will take it easy through the weekend to see if I can get my symptoms reduced.  Not sure if his advice will ring true for you, or for others, but I hope it might.

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  • Posted

    I am 52 and have had the ACD&F surgery (fusion) of c5/c6 in 2012;  My symptoms were very similar.  Neck and left arm pain with numbness and tingling in left arm and into my left pinkie.  The neurosurgeon said that nerve damage would not be reversible.  I also had vertebral lipping and some other osteophytes that needed to be 'trimmed' in order to help.  Now three years later and the symptoms are beginning to flare again with the added problems of affecting my right arm as well.  I work at a desk and have adjusted my chair so that my computer screen is eye level.  This seems to help more than other things I have tried.  Also stretching and sleeping on my back.  There is no pillow made that I have found that will help my neck so that I can sleep on my side without waking up with a stiff neck.  I hate sleeping on my back, but it seems to be the only way I can with minimal discomfort.  As for the increased symptoms, I am afraid of seeing a doctor again because the diagnosis will probably be that I need another surgery at either the levels above or below the prior level.  I work in radiology and see this on a daily basis.  Some days the knowledge is a burden.  I cannot change my profession, nor take disability or retire as I have no other income and no way to reduce my bills yet.  I am working on changing my living situation so that I may one day be debt free and can live on much less.  My mortgage is my biggest monkey on my back.  I own a piece of land that I have decided to remodel the existing mobile home on it and move there.  But of course that will take some time and money.  Once it is done, I can sell my current home and hopefully either retire fully or change my profession so that I will not be as taxed physically, as I have other issues that also interfere with daily living..  I wish you good luck and get several opinions before opting for surgery, because once it's done, it cannot be undone... And with MY experience, if they say you will be recovered in 2 weeks, make a mental note that it will take twice as long.. 
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