Disc bulge between c6 and c7

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Hi, i'm new here, first post.

November 2015 i felt something go in my upper back/bottom of neck.Wasn't exactly a pain feeling but more like a weird shiver but i knew immediately it was something very very wrong and srious.Neck stiffened up immediately.I'd had a heavy bag on my shoulder.After a few days of just a stiff neck i started getting aching in right arm which then progressed within a day or two to agonising burning sensation all the way down right arm to my fingers.Went to doc who sorted me out with arranging an MRI scan on my cervical.Waited a month for the scan then another 3 weeks for the result.Result said i have a disc bulge between c6 and c7.Doctor referred me to the Referral Support Service and i was told i'd have to wait 2 weeks for a letter which i think will have a choice of spinal surgeons to choose from.Won't get the lettter for another week then i i'm not sure what happens, as i said i think i have to choose a spinal surgeon.No i dea how long i'll have to wait to just see him/her though.Just wondering how long the wait to see a spinal surgeon will be, anyone give me some idea? Then what are the options for me? Will i need an operation or is there another way of fixing it? I was in absolute agony a month or two ago but i can now kill the pain just simply with Ibroprofen - it's like the pain has eased a bit since two months ago -   EXCEPT  when i do anything physical.So i can't work and have been off work for 2 months so far and they'll stop paying me sick pay in a month's time and i'll have to go on SSP.I'm going to have to make a claim on my personal accident & sickness policy but even then it's not guarenteed my claim will be successful.It will pay me an amount each month for 1 year if my claim is accepted.

So i'm not in great pain as long as i'm taking it easy and not working or doing physical stuff and the Iboprofen kills any pain i do have.But the disc is obviously still bulged.Today however i noticed slight numbness,pins & needles and aching on left side of my body; my left arm and left leg when i've been sitting a while.All the problems i've had up til now have been in my right shoulder and right arm and hand.Very very worried with this new development.Getting worried the constant impingement on the nerves by the disc is causing damage.

How long will i be off work for? Its begining to dawn on me this could go on for months and months, maybe a year, maybe even longer.How long will i have to wait to even just see a spinal surgeon?  I'm going to have to ask my work if they'll keep my job open for me.I could be off for a year or more.

At this point i'm , as i said, not in great pain but am worried about the new development with the left side numbness.

I'm in my late 40s and i think the disc is damaged from wear and tear and having a heavy bag over my shoulder one day was the final thing that made the disc bulge.The pain wasnt bad the first few days but then i started getting excrutiating burning sensation down my right arm.But a month or two later it's not half as bad and as i said i can manage it now with just ibroprofen. Could the disc actually be healing itself? Like it's slinking back in to place? But then why have i started getting numbness down the left side of my body? How long will i have to wait to see a surgeon? How long for treatment? Endless questions and i'm starting to feel really really down and scared about this whole thing.I may lose my job if i'm off real long term.Will i be able to do any physical work ever again anyway???

Congratulations if you've read to the end of my long post and thankyou for perservering if you did.And thankyou in advance if you take the trouble to reply.

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16 Replies

  • Posted

    I did two discs in my neck in April and then three in my lumber in June.  All herniated.  Nearly a year on I've seen two surgeons one said one thing the other something else.  I've had two MRI scans a bone scan blood tests you name it and now I'm on a cocktail of drugs as the pain management now says I have fibromyalgia.  The side effects of those drugs outweigh the pain so they aren't for me.

    i was told as mine was wear and tear there was nothing that could be done on the NHS as its age related.  I'm 55.

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  • Posted

    Sorry to hear you have problems, the waiting is the worse it will depend on where you live. I have now been off work since August I have a prolapse disc and a bulging disk.

    Every time I had to see a different specialist it took between 8/12 weeks. I have seen surgeon and he said the date for surgery would be within 12 weeks I had a pre operation assessment 2 weeks ago and still waiting for date. I was first diagnosed in May and my doctor said if the disc was to repair itself it would have done by now...my sick pay has halfed and will soon end unfortunately I cannot get ssp due to only working less than 20 hours so not enough stamp.....I am working on the basis that if surgery will be within next 2 months I will hopefully return to work almost a year to the day that the problem started.

    But as I said will depend on area you live in and your hospital waiting times.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for replying, Pamela.Also thanks to minnie4.Sorry to hear both of yours problems. Concerning to hear minnie's problem that NHS can't treat a disc problem that is caused by wear and tear. What??? That's ridiculous.And depressing.Fingers crossed for you Pamela that you do indeed get sorted and are back to work almost a year to the day.I'm beginning to think i too could be off work for a whole year.Maybe longer.Maybe i'll never be able to work again if i can't be fixed.If the NHS can't fix people who have disc problems from wear and tear then there may be no hope for me as i have a feeling my problems are related to wear and tear.

      Well i live in the West Midlands.I haven't a clue how this affects operation waiting times, Is there any way of finding out? 

      My orginal problem of disc bulge between c6 and c7 and related nerve pain in right arm is still ongoing though not too painful but i'm getting really worried about the new development of numbess, slight ache & pain and tingling in my left arm and left leg now.Either the disc bulge at c6/c7 is now affecting both sides of my body or i have  another disc problem in my thoracic or lumbar.If so that means i have disc problems in my cervical and thoracic and/or lumbar.Really starting to look like i'm up sh*t creek without a paddle.Really thinking i need to go to doctor again and ask to be sent to have an MRI scan on my thoracic and lumbar.He'll probably say wait till we see what the spinal surgeon says when you see him.But when on earth will that be? I'm also suffering at times with excrutiating toothache which my dentist has given up trying to pinpoint what the problem is and has referred me to a dental specialist at the hospital (still waiting for a date for that- it's been over 4 weeks now) A few of my family have suggested my toothache could be a nerve related thing to do with my disc problem but i'm not sure if that's possible.Disc bulges of course impinge on many nerves but i don't know if it could affect nerves in the gum could it?

      Basically though my problems seem to be mounting by the day.Each new day seems to bring bad news.

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  • Posted

    Off to the hospitsl today so I will let you know if there is any progress.  What I was to,d is that unless it is affecting a nerve surgery is t considered on the NHS.  Mine apparently isn't but nevertheless I have lost th sentatio. In toes fingers and now pins and needles going up to my elbow.
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    • Posted

      Good luck, minnie.Hope it went well.Ah , so the wear and tear thing is that they'll only operate if the disc is affecting nerves? But if you have lost sensation in toes and fingers and have pins & needles up to elbow surely that means the disc is pressing on nerves?

      Wel, today i received the letter that allows me to choose a consultant to see.I had 6 choices but 3 of those turned out to have no appointments available.So only 3 to choose from really and one of those i'd have to wait til April.So that narrowed it down to 2.I chose my nearest one and have booked an appointment for 2 weeks from today so will see a consultant on 19th Feb. From what i can gather i should be able to have an operation if i need one within 18 weeks.18 week wait being the maximum.I have a right to be operated on within 18 weeks if i've understood it correctly.So if it means 18 weeks from the day i see the consultant it means i could have an operation by, at the latest, the end of June/early July. Of course, i may get in before that, impossible to know right now.Maybe the consultant will decide i don't need an operation and i can be fixed with physio therapy or something...... Still, my mood which had been sinking lower and lower recently has been raised a little more optimistic now i know i'll be seeing a consultant in 2 weeks time.

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  • Posted

    Hi, sorry I didn't reply yesterday but I'm afraid getting ready and going out especially in th cold and then sitting wailing  in chairs not really suitable for someone I th backache really takes its toll.  All I wanted to do when I came back was sleep.

    ok let's start with th bad news.  I have three discs herniated in my lumber which arent trapping any nerves and the injury is so old now that my body has grown new bone to support it.  The movement I have in that area is now what I am stuck with.  I have three discs herniated in my neck.  These have trapped a nerve.  In fact they are squashing it hence I have th pins and needle in my fingers and god damn awful pain up my arm into my elbows.  Will they operate.  No.  It's too dangerous and the chance of a successful outcome is not high enough. 

    So, what am I left with.  Hip pain that makes me limp after maybe 25 yards.  By 40 yards it is burning and I am at the point if screaming.  This is with or without meds.  Lower back pain that makes me want to vomit.  Neck pain that restricts my movements feels like whiplash gives me constant headaches, sinus infections, earache and the dreaded pins and needles.  From the back of one knee to the front of my ankle is painful and also makes me limp.  Sometimes it feels burnt and sometimes it feels like it's itchy.  All the time it is painful.  My left foot on th outside edg I have no sensation and if I don't wear short boots that can lace up and support my ankle I walk in th side of it. I am also diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic pain although from what I can see the symptoms are th same.

    pain, pain and more pain.

    on th upside.  After three months under th Equality Act 2010 your employers are responsible to make reasonable adjustments to your work load and job.  They are not allowed to simply replace you providing you are in work and trying.  If your employer refuses to do this you can ask for a government based workplace assessment.

    how to get to work?  Well, I can't drive, I can't walk to the bus stop so I'm stuffed.  Actually I'm not.  There is a scheme called Access to Work.  If your GP is satisfied that you would not be able to safely get yourself to work then ask him for a letter to accompany your application.  I got an instant decision by mailing the letter while th advisor was on the phone.

    on to this fibromyalgia.  I thought it was like irritable bowel syndrome in as much as they dint know what causes it so give it w fancy name and throw pills at it and from what they told me at the hospital yesterday I'm correct.  On top of all the other symptoms I have the feeling of flu symptoms 24/7.  I ache from head to foot.  I'm tired all the time I just ant to sleep but all the other issues prevent me from sleeping.  What am I doing about this.......trying to learn from other people's experience Ho have had this illness for years.  Seems there is a common denominator.  Your pain sensors go into hyperdrive, either through emotional or physical injury and hike th body is trying to sort out where th pain is coming from and the NHS leaves you waiting and waiting and waiting your body runs out of energy, all the pain sensors are still trying to protect you and your immune system takes a nose dive through all the effort it's putting in.  One extremely clever lady with years of experience has tried the zombie drugs and has now managed to get herself down to ibuprofen.


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  • Posted

    I've got myself into work, back to work and although in pain th integration of bring with other people distracts you.  I have a new fancy chair.  I have all sorts of things to make th job achievable and the bits I can't do have been taken over and I've been given something in place.

    do I feel better?  No.  I feel useful, distracted and absolutely knackered but I have achieved a new normality.

    i now take one of those probiotic yoghurts, anti inflammatory, stomach protecting pill and pain killers.  I tried paracetamol but I'm not ready for those yet so my GP has given me codiene based stuff.  I also take a one q day multivitamin high in magnesium.  The clever lady I referred to earlier discovered that when your run down the magnesium takes a nose dive.

    is it working?  No idea but at least I feel I have control rather than an illness controlling me.

    my employer thinks that I will have to drop some hours so has suggested that I use holiday to shorten my hours which I am doing.  I haven't got to th stage where I have enough energy to get home and cook something so I'm eating ready meals.

    hope some of this is useful and anyone else who read this if they have any suggestions, I'm all ears!

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    • Posted

      I can't begin to imagine how you cope, minnie. My thoughts go out to you. The Zombie drug thing seems like the only way to go. How have all these problems come about? How old are you ? Sorry to ask and you don't have to say if you don't want to, obviously. Did you do very physical jobs for many years? Are they sports related injuries? Were you involved in an accident?

      Well, I posted an update of my progress yesterday ( Friday 5th Feb) but as of 18 hours later it's still awaiting moderation . In a nutshell - I received my letter about getting an appointment with a consultant and have booked an appointment for Friday 19th Feb. I did go into more detail in my post but can't be bothered to type it all out again if my posts are not going to be allowed. I'm not sure if this post will get through. Don't know what's going on with how other people's comments show up quickly but mine take nearly a day or not at all.

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  • Posted

    Nick mine simply came about by bending down to pick something up.  I never made it up again and that was 7 months ago.  The neck was 9 months ago.  I'm 55 and am fairly to moderately active.  My pastimes included gardening and cycling and DIY.  I haven't been bungijumping or throwing myself out of planes and it is simp,y down to wear and tear.  Maybe some people ar built like ox's and never get anything but I was not one of those.

    how do I cope.  You have to.  What's the alternative?  Sure I can dwell in self pity doing the why me thing but it will still be there and I will only feel worse.

    going to the hospital yesterday I went past so many departments whose occupants would have loved to be going to my appointment instead of theirs.  What right do I have to dwell when other people are fighting hideous illnesses?

    my glass is half full and I thank my lucky stars that what I have will not take any of my life and seeing my children and grandchildren.  It won't make my hair drop out (as far as I know although I've considered pulling it out a time or two lol) I won't lose limbs and I am not 'seriously' life threateningly ill.

    you can either be enpowered or overpowered and I will try and be the former.  sure, you can tell from my typing that I'm going to have to learn to type again and I'm going to have to figur out a way of putting my shoes and socks on independently and hanging washing out and paying a massive heating bill because although I have so many layers on I'm constantly freezing but none of these ar insurmountable when you consider what other people deal with.

    you can rely on family or friends for so long but they too have lives and an energy supply that runs out so its down to you.  If you are told this is your lot then so be it.  

    So so I can't bend much.  How damn clever is this body that it's been building bone to ensure I don't paralyse myself!  Count blessings not curses.

    sure at the beginning of my journey I went from pain to panic to exhaustion to why me to it isn't fair back to pain in a never nd ing 24 hour circle.  I went from over the counter drugs to oramorph to gabapentin to pregabalin and if you look at the side effects of the last one I got pretty much all of them.  I couldn't hear, see, breathe and I had a twitch to beat all other twitches!  I couldn't stay awake and hen I was awake I was terrified - no idea what of but if anything was going to shorten my life it would be that drug and that is when I decided to come off them and gradually reverse the pills until I can hopefully get back to over the counter stuff.

    if you think of all the symptoms I have caused through my back injuries and the effects of th last drug, I would sooner cope with the symptoms including pain rather than be on the tablets.  But I am a strong willed know it all madam who is  opinionated and finally it is holding me in good stead lol

    anyone figured out a way to get your shoes and socks on?  I've got a sock putter oner and elastic laces but is there anything else???


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    • Posted

      Wow i've never even heard of most of those drugs you've mentioned.Maybe i'll get to know them in the future though.

      Well if there's one thing i should take and learn from your post it's the bit about there's people out there far worse off and facing life threatening ilnnesses.My problem is miniscule in comparison to many people.I'll try and remember that

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  • Posted

    Well , saw the neurosurgeon last week.He didn't insist i had an operation but advised me i should because the disc bulge hadn't healed itself in 3 months.An operation is the only way forward for me in my view.I've now got a date for an operation - in 4 weeks time so pretty soon which really surprsied me as i thought i'd have to wait months.It's a c6/c7 anterior discectomy and fusion i will have.

    So , 'anterior' ? That means they'll go in from the front , right? Front, or slightly to the side of the front of, my neck.Discectomy - now does that mean they just cut off the bit of the disc that is bulging out or does it mean they completely remove the disc and put a new artificial one in? Fusion- what does that mean? They put a cage over the area after they cut off the bulge? They put a cage over the area after they insert the new artififcial disc? And how would a cage holding the disc in affect  your neck movement?

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  • Posted

    Well, i had my op a couple of weeks ago, 29th March.Anterior discectomy , decompression and fusion c6/c7.Think the op took a couple of hours but obviously i was a bit dazed and when they woke me up after.Bit of a panic an hour or so after the op as i developed a blood clot where the'yd gone in.So they had to wheel me back to theatre, knock me out and then do another op to fix the blood clot.But it was fine in the end, they sorted it out but i had to stay an extra night in hospital so they could be sure i was ok.

    I was in hospital 2 nights total and then went home.Wasn't in pain after the op except for tight throat and difficulty swallowing but that faded after a few days.I was up and walking the day after the op but only to the hospital canteen with my family when they came to visit.After coming home i was walking  2 or 3 miles a day just a few days after the op.

    2 weeks since the op and i've still got slight burning pain down right arm that i had before though not as bad, some days worse than others but not as bad as before op.Is it that because the nerves were compressed for so long it takes time for them to fully recover or do they not recover at all? Any accidental sudden movement i get brief pain lower down my back.Never had that before, it's like the op in my neck has created problems further down my spine or it's just bruising still from having the pipes down my throat for the anesthetic but that's over 2 weeks ago now?

    Is it correct fusion creates added pressure elsewhere on my verterbrae/back? :-(

    Have been doing the physio excerises they told me to, 5 times a day.I saw  a physio in hospital the day after the op and he just told me what excersises to do, i've not had any further contact with a physio.

    Big problem for me is my job is very physical and a lot of lifting, i'm signed off still til after i've had the 6 week post op assessment with the surgeon in May.He will tell me if the fusion is starting to work or not and advise on if i can go back to work or not.He'll probably say i shouldn't go back to work yet as i have a physically demanding job.If i have to wait for fusion to complete and there's no gurantee it will i may have to wait months and months before i can go back to work.I mean, i can get by just about with money for a few months but not forever.Maybe i should think about a change of job to something less physical.I've talked with work about getting a place in the office but i can't really see it happening and don't really want to work in the office anyway.

    Basically, 2 weeks after op and i'm getting pain at times down right arm still almost like i was before but not quite as bad (about 3-4 out of 10 on pain scale) and slight pains in neck and just wondering if the pain is that the nerves need a bit more time to recover or maybe they won't recover? Not much pain in back unless i accidentally make a sudden movement.Not having any trouble sleeping and only taking occasional Paracetamol.

    Anyone have any advice or thoughts on my situation? 


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    • Posted

      Hi Nickname,  I realise this was 2 years ago but am wondering how you are. A friend had a similar operation and is doing well.  I am being fobbed of because it was a treatment injury so I have a battle but am in immense pain.  Hoping you get this thanks
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    • Posted

      Hi Kristina

        Well it's over 2 years now since my operation on c6/c7.I think they basically got the old damaged disc out and put an artificial disc in.The first year or more i had some pain still down my right arm and some discomfort in my neck.But usually a couple of Paracetamol eased the pain .I think the nerves coming from my c6/c7  and down my right arm took a year or so to settle down, that's why i was still getting pains in my right arm.2 years on i get a slight pain in my right arm  sometimes but rarely enough to even need to take a painkiller.I think a year or so after the operation nerves were still settling down.I went back to work a couple of months after my operation.I feel very lucky though, i feel i've recovered a lot better than other people who have had a similar problem.

      I don't think i'll ever do anything like sport again though.Well i'm middle aged now so getting a bit old to run around playing football but i'm always wary of twisting my neck quickly.I think i would disturb the work done in my operation.For example , when on holiday last year my sister was trying to get me to join her on a trampoline but i didn't want to risk anything if i fell awkwardly.Apart form that my life is normal and fine, i've almost forgottten i had an operation  but am always careful not to twist my neck quickly.

      All the best.

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  • Posted

    I had a hard impact involving a neck compression in rugby training.   Wind was knocked out of me and I let out a guttural 'oooh'.. I got up and got moving again but suffered a concussion for days after and over time (weeks) I developed horrendous pain in my right arm until I had to go to hospital over it.   Pain meds couldn't touch pain and I spent six weeks in one position essential as I couldn't walk or sit up for more than a few seconds.  Two or three steps and the pain and feeling of sickness was overwhelming. After months of unrelenting pain in the arm (like 500 people constantly punching it) and pins and needles in the hand I finally was put on a nerve pain med and it helped make life a bit more bearable.    Scans showed a c6-c7 bulge on the nerve.

    I read through numerous chats and researched everything I could and I was really saddened by the stories I heard of people who had had similar conditions long term.   The doctors could not tell me if things would change or not.   It was a dark time not knowing if the rest of my life would be in constant pain and hardly able to walk.  In my late 40s and a family to support. 

    I wanted to share this with people since it did ease for me but took a considerable time.   It took about 6-8 months before it had reduced significantly for me.     A year after and I was pain free.    So to those who have a new injury and are experiencing a lot of worrying thoughts and no assurances that anything will change, I am writing to you to keep your hope up as you may once again go from looking at people out of a window walking without a care in the world and wishing you were one of them to being one of them again.     To all those who the situation has not ease or aren't getting the help they need, my heart and prayers go out to you.   If you have exhausted all medical options then try alternatives.. meditation or hypnosis.  

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    • Posted

      Hey rugby guy

      Thankyou so much for posting;  yours is the first story I’ve heard so similar to mine in that my arm has been in excruciating pain and I haven’t been able to walk far.  Some days are better than others( it’s been 3 months now and if I roll my shoulders back and leave the painful arm limp I can walk slowly but any sudden movement or use of the arm I’m debilitated again.  I was heartened at that bit of improvement but like you have looked at a future of not improving and been terrified;  I don’t seem to have medical support and was in too much pain to do any therapy but am now able to do shoulder stabilising and some minor neck exercises.

      My physio therapist injured me trying to ‘free my fascia’ between my ribs and clavicle apparently.  I also believe he’s respinsible for a partial tendon tear but I don’t think I’m getting pain from that... just contribution to weakness!

      I am using slings, braces and tape, and have had some minor improvements in the last week in that I can now sleep unbraced.  I haven’t experienced pain like this since being in labour.  And felt nauseous.  MRI showed a partial herniation of C6-C7 .

      Can I ask what exercise regime you followed?   And huge congratulations and thanks for giving me hope!



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