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Posted in: Back pain, Chronic pain, and Neck pain.

A compromised Alaskan looking for advice... Thanks.

Started by KAlaska on 03/23/2019 7:26am

Hi! Thanks for any pearls you can cast my way. Pain sucks. I’m still relatively young, a formally active human, and I think there is a solution out there. I appreciate you taking time to read this and providing suggestions. BCBS covers me in Alaska and in Washington State.

I had neck surgery 2 1/2 years ago to address back and hand issues that have been getting progressively worse since I was 13 years old. I am now 46, about 150lbs. My neck never notably hurt but it was the big culprit.

I was used to pain but when my body stopped functioning for full work days and even short dog walks, I flew to Seattle for neck surgery. They put titanium in C5-7, sanded off the arthritis, and removed an unusually large quantity of bone spurs. The surgery definitely helped, but my quality of life is still highly compromised.

I’m still in pain 100% of the time and am unable to be fully self-sufficient nor return to my full-time career as a project manager/tech nerd. I’m driving myself batty watching Netflix.

Key symptoms include: extremely sore muscles in my neck and entire upper back; the two worst areas are down the left back side of my neck into the top of my shoulder, and a sharp pain inside my right chicken-wing; I get occasional numbing on the left side of my face accompanied by left-sided headaches; tingling in all fingers of both hands, but it’s improving with time; occasional excruciating soreness in my arms, especially around the shoulders and elbows; a hotspot on the very outer top of my left shoulder that fires up mostly when I sleep. My flexibility and strength is fairly normal.

I haven’t slept through a full night in a good three years now. Argh.

The one movement that sets everything off the most is when I hold anything of weight directly out in front of me.

Ice packs and massage seem to help with pain the most. Injections have had limited impact. Same go for meds, though I keep trying different ones. I vomit easily with meds, and they seem to impact my short-term memory a lot (which is great is great for re-watching shows on Netflix, I guess! Argh again right...)

I bought a Tens unit and an ultrasound that I use at home. They both help more than PT. Nothing helps more than ice or massage though. Alternating heat with ice doesn’t make a difference.

Exercise, especially walking up and down steps or hills, aggravates everything. I’m a runner and a backpacker so this slays me (I hiked the Appalachian Trail, and just months before this madness hit me too hard to ignore I did the Annapurna circuit in Nepal).

The MRI shows that there is still narrowing on the left, but the doctors say that getting it surgically addressed will probably only help the arm tingling, not the pain.

I can take the constant crackling and popping. The pain is the big thing- the pain is the thing that is getting in the way of my life. They can’t figure out the underlying cause.

Any thoughts? Any suggestions for specialists in Washington State?

I’m thrilled to share X-rays, MRI’s, and anything else if you can help me become a whole human again!

Thank you!!


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