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29-M, Looking For Any Neck and/or Sciatica Advise

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:46 pm
by oscottscotto
Hey Everyone,

I’ll post this in the neck and sciatica forums as it deals with both the neck and sciatica.

I am 29 years old (5’9/165) and have never really thought about my spine before until this situation. Always have felt fine. I used to be a school teacher, but the last 2 years I have been working a higher-paying (yet much less satisfying) professional job in which I work sitting in a cubicle all day. About 1 ½ months ago, I started to get some odd random pains in my upper left arm. After a week or so, that evolved into some bad “electric shock” pains going throughout both arms/hands. A week after that, I started to get a horrible pain going down my left leg/butt. So I finally went to the doctor and he had cervical and lumbar spine x-rays done.

The cervical showed “Severe forminal narrowing (where nerves enter) in C3-C4 secondary to severe osteoarthritis in C3-C4 joints”. Lumbar x-ray appeared normal.

I was referred to a pain specialist. Went to see him, and he gave me a Medrol pack and said to follow up in 2 weeks. The pack helped my upper body symptoms for 4-5 days. Didn’t help the lower body much. After finishing the pack, moderate neck/shoulder/upper arm pains returned, but the electric shocks were gone. However, the leg/butt pain started to get much worse.

At the two week follow-up, I was told that we should probably not MRI my neck or do anything to it, as my symptoms don’t “match the x-ray” and don’t seem to present as anything that concerning (after I said that my neck was currently much more tolerable than my leg pain). However, he is scheduling a Lumbar MRI and if there is a herniated disc – wants to do a “cortisone shot” in my back.

So this left me with more questions than answers. The doc isn’t that approachable at all, so I had trouble getting out all the questions I wanted to ask. If you could give your opinion on any, it would be much appreciated.

Neck Questions:

1) If I have osteoarthritis at age 29, what can I expect at age 45 or 50 or 60 or 70? Anything I can do to improve the situation or keep it from getting worse? I don’t want to have this neck pain the rest of my life unless I’m just doomed.

2) If I have a forminal narrowing (apparently a “hole” that lets nerves in), can this only get worse over time as the osteoarthritis continues to do what it does? If so, am I guaranteed to eventually get pinched or suffocated nerves down the road? Anything I can do to help this and not just relieve the pain?

3) What exercises are safe to do with this neck condition? Can I still jog and play basketball? Do I need to give that up (although I love basketball) and move to more biking and swimming and such?

Sciatica/Back Questions:

1) If my suspicion is correct and this bad butt/leg/lower back pain is being caused by a herniated disc (will find out in 4 days from MRI), then what exercises (after it heals) can I do in the future safely? Can I still jog and play basketball? Do I need to give that up (although I love basketball) and move to more biking and swimming?

2) Can I improve at the same rate if I decline a steroid shot/epidural? I am more about healing, unless the pain continues to get worse. I am currently 2 weeks into this pain. The risk of death (albeit tiny) from an epidural frankly scares me alot.

3) What can I currently do now to help a herniated disc/sciatica? I have read that decompression is good. Can I do that in the YMCA pool instead of buying a crazy contraption?

As for this site, this is a great find. I plan on donating the $30 and reading up on the back/neck books. Appreciate the frankness, Dean. I am not expecting a magic pill, but I’ll definitely read what you have to say and implement it if it seems right for me.

Posted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:48 pm
by oscottscotto
Whoops - typo in the title ... should say "advice" :roll: