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DDD pain and pain in neck and between shoulder blades

Started by nstephenson on 05/28/2012 10:00pm

Hi I have been diagnosed with Degenerative Disk Disease. I have been experiencing pain in my lower back. They say that the arthritis is getting worse. I asked the surgeon what I could do about the pain. He told me to ask my MD to send me to a pain management specialist. Other than that I am to lay on my back for days until I am able to stand up straight again.
I am struggling with the pain in my neck and in between the shoulder blades and the lower back pain. I am 44 yrs old and cant work due to the constant pain. I am afraid to even bend over to pick up something light off the floor. I wake up not able to move and in severe pain. My muscles are rock hard and cramp like crazy.
I have went to physical therapy and aqua therapy. Nothing seems to help. Any ideas on what I can do to make life more bearable?

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nstephenson,
I also have DDD, had an ALIF L4-S1 in 2007. In Feb 2011 I injured my upper back and also suffer the pain in the neck, and between the shoulder blades, at least, that all that hurt THEN. Now, it's running down my left arm. I've been down the medication road before, God I don't want this again. I go to see the Nero soon. But back to your question. Ice seems to help more than heat. Does the pain between your shoulder blades get worse when u hold your head a awkward angles? Have u had an mri of your c/spine?
Try to keep your mind occupied, it helps a lot to not be alone with your pain. Try and focus on something or someone else, even for a little bit. Sorry i'm not much help. I hope the pain management clinic can help cope.

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I'm new to this forum but I posted tonight on my issues. Funny thing is, both of you described what I have been going through for years. Every single doctor I've ever seen has sent me for Cervical and Lumbar MRI's, not one has ever considered Thoracic MRI. I've had so much pain between my shoulder blades of which the doctors have contributed to everything from indigestion to gall bladder.

Finally, thank God, I changed pain mgmt centers and found a center with surgeons whom also do laser surgery. Within 24 hours, I had an MRI of the Thoracic region which shows I have 3 levels of herniations. Herniations in the Thoracic region are fairlly rare, something the doctors just don't consider.

Just thought I would throw that out there for you. In this day of HMO's, rushed doctors appt's, etc. We have to advocate for ourselves. If you just aren't getting better with the current doc....do the research and change.

best of luck
Debra

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Debra,
I know I have at least one bulging disc (T11-T12), but to be honest, the pain in my neck, shoulder, and arm is so bad I don't even notice that. I will ask for a thoracic MRI when I see the Dr., along with an MRI of the c/spine. Most of all I need for this pain to stop. I mean, I'm wearing a bald spot on the back of head because I can only sleep in one position...Well, I wouldn't call it sleep, more like pass out from meds for 2-3hrs, then get up for more meds and another ice pack. I'm sure you're well acquainted with trying to sleep with pain.
How did you injure your back? What are the Dr's. planning on doing for you? What meds work the best for you?
Thank you for posting, I'll look forward to hearing from you,
Take care.

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Oh yes, many years ago it all started with initial diagnosis of DDD, seems to be the catch all until you can find a doctor who is willing to go the extra mile. I think you are very funny, even when in pain!!! I can certainly relate to the lack of sleep, although laying in one position would mean I was DEAD!. I probably get maximum 3 hrs sleep a night due to continue changing of positions, arms, fingers and just plain pain forcing me to change.

I find in the mornings rolling out of bed is the easiest then of course I can only stand for about 20 minutes...then when I sit down, the muscle spasms in my lower back are ridiculous. I'm not complaining, actually I have a pretty good sense of humor, if I didn't, I would have thrown myself off a building by now.

I'm 55, have put off the surgery for 6 years, I will consider the laser surgery if in fact I am a candidate in the cervical region, definite for the lumbar. We will see what they want to do in Thoracic region.

Too funny, putting my panties on, I lean on the wall, hold my panties in one hand and lift my leg to help stick my foot in, then reverse sides...ridiculous. There are just things we learn to do. I've learned how to sneeze differently after throwing my lower back out 3 times just sneezing. I do not carry anything over 10 lbs, not even babies.

I have loss of bladder control of which I'm not sure is related to all of the spinal issues or age, I think it is both. I've never had a car accident, there is only one incident I can remember which may have caused cervical issues. However I was in a physically abusive relationship for many years. The doctor believes the long term effect of this may have contributed to some of the trauma.

There is NO medication which takes the pain away, you learn how to live with it. If I took enough drugs each day to eliminate the pain, I would live half the year in re-hab. I am an accountant, work from home (thank God), I try not to spend hours on end sitting in front of the computer. The luxury of being at home gives me the ability to move around and work when I please. I'm grateful for this and for finally finding doctors whom are being proactive. It has taken years.

Keep on, change doctors if you have to, keep a positive attitude, don't expect narcotics to relieve your pain. I do take medications when I just can't take it any longer, but it only relieves the worst pain and then I feel like I need to take more because I don't want to feel the pain again when the medicine wears off. It's a vicious cycle with narcotics and too easy to become an addict. The biggest thing is learning acceptance.

Hope this helps, feel free to contact me anytime.

Debra

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Hi,
I have this too. For years. Our discs become weakened with age and only gets worse. I do get steroid injections under x-ray and at times they do help. They are a hit and miss, but I'm trying everything to prevent surgery for some time. Start with your pain management specialist. There are many things that will help during this time. A muscle relaxer helps me at night for the muscle spasms. They are rock hard and cramp because they are spasming. I take Vicodin which takes the edge off, that's about it. Good luck!

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This is gonna sound strange, but I have all the symptoms u all have but with one difference, the thoracic pain is always there, neck pain worsens with certain movements, but unlike my lumbar, ( which I had fused ), the pain can switch sides, from right to left shoulder/scapular, the pain and tingling is only in my left arm though. What the hell can cause this? I mean when I ruptured the discs in the lumbar the pain was at the same place all the time, but this boggles my mind, how the hell can pain "move"?
The latest MRI of the c-spine ( July of this year), showed a bulge in one disc and a tear in another, but no nerve involvement, so, what's causing the upper back, neck, mid-scapular, shoulder, triceps, forearm, thumb and 1st finger pain and tingling? MRI in 2005 showed a bulge at T11-12, and another above the fusion at L3-4, ( L45-S1 is fused), I haven't had an MRI of any area of the spine other than cervical since. I am so confused. I sometimes feel like a newborn, head to heavy for my neck, one wrong or too fast movement can bring me to my knees, ( and good luck getting up)! What a mess.
I go in for injection of some-sort on Tuesday, ( for diagnostic purposes only). It sounds like this is just something I'm gonna have to live with. Does anyone know how this is rated for impairment purposes? It's a w/c injury and I haven't been able to work in 11/2 years, although I'm not receiving any w/c disability, they are paying medical. ( I quit my job mid shift due to the injury because I couldn't bring the pain under control). Anyway, if anyone out there can answer any of my questions, ( if you can make heads or tales of my ramblings), or has or have a similar pain pattern, please post and let me know.
I'm still trying to figure out how to make a living loaded on narcotics, from a recliner or bed, ( ok ladies, I'm nearly 50, the bed ain't gonna happen)!
Looking forward to reading yer posts,
Janet.

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i havde ddd in the neck im having shortness of breathe my limbs go numb i try to work ten minutes and my arms get tight and i cant breath will they give me disability or will i have to work in this condition until im 50 years old somebody please help with an answer

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Best of luck to you. I know exactly what you're saying, i'm suffering too - cervical DDD. The worse part for me is that no one seems to get it. Not the doctors, certainly not my friends and co-workers. Anyway, enough about me. My only advice is - Don't forget to breathe. Sounds ridiculous but some meditative deep breathing listening to the birds or some music or whatever is calming and at least for that short bit of time , pain might not be the focus. I hope you find some relief.

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Hikeagain,
very good suggestion, it really helps. Any thing that takes the mind off pain helps...even breathing.

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Hi - if you can get a supportive, cohesive, pain management "team" as opposed to "individual" - all the better. It sounds like you already know that being immobile for any length of time, can result in increased pain, so keep encouraging MD to find that team. If you haven't tried relaxing meditation techniques, that is something which is always beneficial to me. All the best!

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Hi - if you can get a supportive, cohesive, pain management "team" as opposed to "individual" - all the better. It sounds like you already know that being immobile for any length of time, can result in increased pain, so keep encouraging MD to find that team. If you haven't tried relaxing meditation techniques, that is something which is always beneficial to me. All the best!

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I went to neurosurgeon on Tues. and he said I need a fusion on at least one level of the c-spine.
I have to add that for 11/2yrs I have had every test/treatment known to man and nothing has worked. On the one hand I feel validated, ( I knew there was something wrong ), and on the other hand I'm so angry, just because this was a w/comp case, the tests were to prove there was nothing wrong, not anything to to help. So I have suffered all this time. When Dr's don't help, they do harm. I already have the 2 level lumbar fusion, I'm glad I had that done, I'm so much better off, not better, but better off. Now here's what gets me. 2 weeks ago, the neurosurgeon says a fusion will make things far worse. Then, after a s.n.r.b. he sits there and says, " I'm sending you to a surgeon." Then goes on to tell me he's done hundreds of c-spine fusions and his patients were back to sky-diving, sports, etc etc. Soooo why the change in attitude? Either a fusion is going to make things so much worse, or i'm gonna be able to get back to my life, ( which don't involve jumping outta planes)! My husband tried to pin him down on answering, " what's changed?" but the Dr (who I'm tempted to just call douche-bag) side stepped that and said his job was done, it's now up to the surgeon. Oh, he added "But if I have any questions, call me." I said, "I have questions now." He again said his job was done. WTF.
His job then, was to find nothing wrong with me. When he did... Damn w/comp Dr's.
Anyway, at least a single fusion at C6-7, don't know about the C5-6. (Tear @ C5-6 and bulge @ C6-7) The surgeon I'm being referred to is the same one that did my lumbar fusion, so I do trust him.
I have to say that if I keep this up, they might as well poke a mop handle up my a** and use that as a spine! Anyway, at least I'm on a learning curve, with my lumbar injury I kept working and ended up taking oxy and morphine for almost 2 years before the w/comp Dr's did a discogram and then the fusion. This time I walked off the job 11/2 months after the injury to my upper back/shoulders/neck, I would be right back on those meds if I hadn't quit and I couldn't, do that again. ( Taking the meds is not the problem...it's coming off them).
Still, I can't change the system. It's broken for sure. In the big scheme of things it's still cheaper for companies to screw the worker and hope we go away and die, than to believe and treat.
I'm gonna "TRY" and clean my house now, I just got mad all over again. I'll post more later,
Janet

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Hi all, it's been a couple of weeks since I have posted, but I'm back with a little news. I underwent the 3 level cervical fusion on 8/2 and still trying to recover. It really is not as bad as most people post about. The worst for me is trying to sleep with the brace on and mornings. Everything is so stiff. I also have pain in the upper middle back, between shoulder blades than I had before I went in. Have no idea what this is from but believe me, I will be asking him at follow up on Wednesday.

One other thing I'm seriously concerned about is the incision and lump that is quite visible in the front of my neck from the plate. The incision is quite lumpy and I have a huge lump, it looks like I have an adams apple. This is just not acceptable, maybe could live with it if I was totally out of pain, but...

Wish I had a more positive experience to share with you. I also do not know if it's my age or what, but it seems as though it is taking much longer than normal to recover. I am so tired and just plain exhausted since the surgery.

Has anyone else had this surgery? Do you have the lump?

Thanks
Deb

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staying in bed is the worst thing you can do all that does is make everything weaker and you start to lose muscle and gain weight and I know this from personal experience, I have been striggling with thid disease for 15 yrs now and I have to wear a brace to safely sit up or move around for any period fo time. You should ask your pain managwment specialist about a neurostilumator, it blocks the pain signels from reaching your brain so it feels like its not there.

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I have DDD issues along with a few other things and will be having surgery within the next few weeks. Mine are in my lumbar region. My pain has only recently gotten bad and that's the reason for the surgery.

But, I wanted to comment on Debra's post on 6/9/12 regarding the loss of bladder control. That is one of the problems I'm told are serious in connection with spinal issues and really need a doctor's attention.

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Debra, did you ever get an answer to what was causing the pain between the shoulder blades?
I had a fusion of C6-7, on Set 14th but the pain between my shoulder-blades and upper back is back with a vengeance.
I'm at my wits end here,
Janet

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Janet,
I too have that discomfort between shoulder blades. I believe it is muscle tightening from my neck issues. Tonight I was in horrible pain from my neck to my toes! I took 1 1/2 Vicodin ( 5-500) it did take away enough so that I felt like I could cope. But it is beginning to wear off and that was only taken 2 hours ago!
The sooner I recover from lumbar fusion, I can get cervical fusion done..

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Hi everyone,
I have a post op app. w/the surgeon on Monday. If this pain in the upper back and shoulder blades is something I will have to live with, then by God make it livable! (I've had a bad few days).
So sick and tired of this,
Janet.

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I'm shocked at how many people like myself with the same issues that I am having exist on this site. I have DDD and have 5 surgeries since 2008. My first was a Laminectomy and Discectomy then I had a 3 tier fusion s1, L3 L4 L5..Then they had to go back in because I didn't fuse and my hardware was getting loose. Then they went in and full fused all of my lumbar which I still got worse with.. And then my last surgery was a interior posterior with BMP ...And tragically I got WORSE now I am having the worst pain in between my shoulder blades and its worse on the right side..I also have a herniated disc at C3 that they found last year but I have to have another MRI on Monday to determine if there is a problem in the thoracic which is causing all of my pain in between my shoulders it kills me when I raise my right arm I am also having issues in both my hands which they did say that I have carpel tunnel in both hands but I think there is more to it and it has to do with my spine and neck. What were some of your diagnosis about the pain in between your shoulder blades..Because I have researched and it is a lot less common for the thoracic lumber's discs to herniate. I go to the pain clinic and I have a ton of confidence in my Dr. for the first time but as for my surgeons I believe they did me more harm then good. I at least have found a sympathetic doctor that has believed me and treated my pain accordingly but even with being on heavy pain meds I still hurt a lot and it has really been killing me between my shoulder blades actually under my right shoulder blade... Did any of you get a finding on your pain there and what did they say I would appreciate any info you can give me and I also wonder if any of you ended up with arthritis in your upper backs? Thanks a lot in advance for any info you can pass on and its nice to know there are others out there like me that are having these same weird post fusion issues of having the muscles in the upper back hurt so much at least I know I'm not crazy...It really hurts a lot... But I feel better knowing I'm not alone.. The hardest thing is staying positive after all of these back issues I have had I was only 35 when this all started and I lost my career and everything..I have faith that my pain clinic doctor will get to the bottom of this issue he actually seems to care..But until it gets figured out it sucks for lack of a better word...I just want to know what is causing it and I just hope the MRI doesn't leave me with more questions then answers I guess I will just have to wait and see but my Doctor said don't be shocked if the MRI doesn't show anything in the thoracic it is a lot rarer for them to go. I'm %100 sure that something is causing it I just want to know what and if there is a way to make it stop.. Physical therapy sure doesn't help it makes it way worse... Anyway I'm glad I found this site and I look forward to hearing what you all have to say....

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John, to answer your question if anyone found out what was causing the symptoms, especially the pain between the shoulder blades, I have. My surgeon finally ordered an mri of my thoracic spine and found 5 ruptured discs. I also have right side rib pain along with the upper back pain.
I'll write more about this later (I only have a couple of minutes right now).

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