Degenerative neck problem

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I have suffered on/off with headaches/neck/upper back pain for several years and have had several courses of cervical traction/exercises/soft collar for sleeping which have helped very little. I recently had a second MRI approx 18mths after 1st (I believe 1st showed mild spondylosis) due to worsening neck pain/headaches/pins/needles/pain in my hands (I also have wrist splints mainly for sleeping).

The latest result showed small degenerative posterior disc osteophyte complexes at C4/5, C5/6, C6/7 levels which probably explains the crunchy sensation I get when moving my head.

There is bilateral exit foraminal narrowing at C4/5,and C5/6 with mild C5 nerve root impingement and moderate to severe nerve root impingementat C6 nerve root.

Although there is central canal narrowing at all levels mentioned luckily  there is no evidence of significant cord impingement and vertebrae appear to be normally aligned and intact.

I am currently on Pregabalin 225mg at night but had to have a lower dose of 150mg for daytime due to side effects, this is supplemented when needed by gabapentin and or nefopam but I use these only in desperation and only when staying in the house as I suffer weird side effects and mild confusion, hence I have been unable to return to my job at present as I have to be able to work in a busy often stressful environment where I use a keyboard/screen and telephone plus lifting heavy files at times.

I am waiting for an appointment with a neurology surgeon due to pins/needles in hands and more importantly clawing/triggering of my ring fingers (mild on left but quite severe on right hand) which started around early October this year. My hands particularly the right are always cold even indoors (unless I am in a very warm room). I also find when my lower arm is eleveated as in using hairdryer or holding telephone my hand goes numb.

Although carpel tunel was considered for tingling in fingers (before triggering appeared) the nerve conduction tests of wrist nerves and ulna nerve at elbow were normal.  

I was wondering if anyone else had similar symptoms and PARTICULARLY the clawing/triggering of fingers relating to neck pain?  

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Denise. These symptoms are definitely signs of a trapped nerve. I have this clawing/triggering of fingers also. I have in the past undergone nerve conduction studies as I too have a couple of fingers on my left hand that feel as though I have an electrical currant running through them.

    At my last MRI scan I was informed that surgery was now not an option, as there were too many discs involved

    I am now waiting for a refferal to a pain clinic. I am taking a cocktail of medication, including morphine.

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    • Posted

      Thanks Lesley, I just wanted to see if anyone else had the hand clawing as from articles I have read it looked like an additional problem not related to the neck although it would be rather a coincidenence that it occured around the same time as the neck.

      I am now just waiting to be seen by neurosurgery and hopefully I can get back to work.


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    • Posted

      Just an update, saw consultant last week and now awaiting a nerve injection to c spine to see if it will help pain, I was also informed that the triggering of the finger is not related to neck problems but rather due to arthritis in hand so now have to seek another opinion on that.

      Seems odd or just bad luck that both problems seemed to get worse around the same time. Meanwhile its just painkillers to help manage the pains.sad


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    • Posted

      Denise, I think the injections made mine worse. I've tried so many things and am out of options. The last person that I saw was a very good neurosurgeon and he said that he won't touch it. Besides the look on his face. I read into his emotions and figure that another specialist would only do anything because of money. That's just my thoughts.
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  • Posted


    I've also had the 'trigger finger' effect,  at times.  I've got C/S,  and always assumed it was part of that.  It self-resolved after a few weeks,  but does return occassionally,  particularly on waking in the morning.  Your 'cold hands' symptom could be 'Mimicked Thoracic Outlet Syndrome',  which is also a recognised C/S issue.  If the hands develop  a 'bluish' or 'purpleish' discolouration,  it might mean it's actual Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) caused by a restriction in the Thoracic Outlet in shoulder blade.  If there's no discoloration,  but still cold hands,  it usually means it's the 'mimicked' TOS version which is caused by nerve impingement in the neck.  Mention this to your consultant before any treatment for possible arthritis in hand.  They may well have overlooked this possibility of  mimicked TOS.

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  • Posted


    Had an injection last week for trigger finger which does seem to have eased the clawing although physio did say it would take up to 4 weeks for full benefit. Now just awaiting neck injection (15/3) to see if that will help.

    Found a site on facebook called Spine Health (quite informative with videos from surgeons) covering various spinal problems/treatments

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  • Posted

    I have finally got my confirmed date for next week for cervical spinal injection for to help with pain/tingling to fingers. Hopefully that will sort out the pain and help to determine whether its pain from the neck problem or the Fibromyalgia (which GP reckons I have) which is making me feel so down in the dumps.

    Even if the injection doesn't cure it I'll be happy just to get myself back to the level where my regular pain relief was keeping everything manageable so I can get back to work. On hindsight over the past year its been getting progressively worse needing more and more painkillers until finally it got too much to cope with and I've now been off sick since end of October.

    On the plus side the triggering of the finger was essentially cured by the steroid injection to my hand so thats one thing less to worry about. 

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