Neck Pain from bulging discs with Shoulder/Arm Radiculopathy

by PJ

A recent MRI showed that I have an annular tear at C-6 with bulging discs at C-4, C-5 and C-7 with no recent injuries.

However have had 3 Auto Accidents with whiplash. 30, 20 and 5 years ago. I am a young 53 year old female and have always been active and managed to keep my pain at a minimum by exercising and walking.

However this past year I stopped my active routine and have spent 10 hour days on the computer at work. I am a medical coder.

I have lived with the tightness and headaches for 10 years, but the neck and surrounding muscles got increasingly tense and sore.

Better while lying flat at night and then after I'm at my desk for one hour I could scream from the tingling, burning pain. I did have a few massages which helped some. Then 3 weeks ago I woke up and couldn't lift my right arm or move my shoulder-thus the MRI.

Recently I have started to notice numbness with pain in both thumb joints and wrist pain-job related most likely.

My concern is that my MD has now referred me to a Pain Mgmt/Anesthesiologist for the Epidural Steroid Injection. I'm very skeptical and just not sure how steroids will affect the rest of my body, even if it helps the nerves.

Are there alternative ways to heal a disc?

I have 2 weeks before my appt. Just hoping to get all the info that I can.


Joshua Answers:


Can you move your arm now?

So my first and immediate response to anybody talking to me about bulging/ruptured is to give the names of two books:

'7 Steps To A Pain Free Life' by Dr. Mckenzie

'Healing Back Pain' by Dr. John Sarno.

Those two books got me up off the floor and onto my feet after being on the floor for two months.

I'd take bad Tendonitis over mild disc problem any day.

In three days I went from only being able to be on my feet for about ten minutes, to being able to be on my feet all day long, albeit still in pain but on my feet all day none the less.

I don't know what exercises you've been doing the past 10 years, but until I know more, I'm pointing to those books.

Here's one thing to add in for you. You should have access to some skilled massage therapists in Florida, depending on where you are.

You need to find someone that is -very- skilled and experienced and have them work on your scalene muscles.

These are the muscles on the front of your neck, that connect your lower cervical vertebrae to your top ribs and clavicle.

It is 100% certain that your scalene muscles and surrounding connective tissue are too tight. Significantly so.

What do too tight scalene muscles and constrictive connective tissue do? They compress your lower cervical vertebrae....which compress your discs....which cause bulges.

At the computer all day? Forward neck position, shortening those already too short/tight structures, making the ones on the back overwork trying to pull the vertebrae back where they should be...tension tension tension.

Hello headache, pain, numbness down the arms due to the nerve getting stepped on by the scalene muscles, etc.

Get the front of your neck opened up. (I should have a video up sometime soon showing how to do the shotgun approach to it, but I'm having an impossible time figuring out how to do that for some reason....)

Corticosteroid Injections -may- decrease the pain for a while, but don't reverse the dynamic that is causing the problem.

A shot or two likely isn't going to do bad things to your body, though they do have other potential downsides.

And ultimately, it is incredibly unlikely that they are going to actually help you, because they won't make those tight structures loose.

The nerve is not the problem. All the compression of the discs is.

Disc stuff sucks. It's painful and problematic and slow to 'fix'. Still once you look at the dynamic and the cause, it's not a mystery.

Tell me more, and, more questions, more answers.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Sep 22, 2009
PART 2 - Neck Pain from bulging discs with Shoulder/Arm Radiculopathy
by: PJ

Joshua, Thank you so much for your reply to all of my questions.

I will definitely get the book.

Wow, it makes total sense about the front neck muscles getting weaker and the back trying to compensate.

My trapezius muscles-especially on the left are unbelievably tight 24/7 and have been for such a long time.

So, I may have one injection, just to get some relief to start the proper exercises. There is a great Chiropractor here who has massage and accupuncture as well. Do you think some traction may help?

I have read about the Vitamin D and Magnesium --not sure what my levels are, but I will find out, and start working on my carpal tunnel as well.

Once again, your comments were much appreciated.

What a fantastic website you have here!



Joshua Comments:

Thanks for the compliment:)

1. Tight muscles, and chronically tight muscles, and spastic muscles like you have, use up lots of magnesium.

2. I should have said earlier, it starts with the scalenes, and then spreads from there to surrounding muscles. They're all connected, they're all involved to some degree or other.

3. -Very- gentle traction may help.

4. I'd definitely run out and get the books and do the exercises as described in the Mckenzie book for a full two weeks before getting the corticosteroid shot.

It is common to either have the shot not help at all, and/or to actually increase your pain. Pain relief is not a sure thing with injections, and there are real downsides if you're (un)lucky enough to get them.

If it was a sure thing, I'd say go for it. But I've seen lots of unhappy stories after getting shots.

5. Accupuncture can't hurt. But make sure the massage therapist really knows what they're doing.

Definitely get the whole area, traps included, but it's likely the scalenes and front of the neck are the main source.

6. I just want to stress for your understanding, it's not the scalene 'weakness' that's the issue, it's that they are clamped down, tight and shortened. All the connective tissue shrinks down around it. And the nerves get stepped on, like stepping on a hose, while the vertebrae get pulled forward (and compressed).

Keep me updated, good luck, and as always, more questions, more answers.

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