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Avatar universal

Herniated C8 disc with pinched nerve

I am a 35 year old male with about 2 years history with stiff neck and shoulders.  Recently, I injured my neck.  I  had an MRI that shows a C8 herniation to the right side that is pinching the nerve root.  This injury occured over a weekend of moving furntiure about 7 weeks ago.  My surgeon has suggested not moving ahead with surgery because I have seen slight improvement over those 7 weeks.  I have heard that nerves take a long time to heal, but it has been extremely depressing.  I have so many questions about if the slight improvement I am seeing is actually the nerve and disc healing, or my ability to live with the pain.  I will also note that I had a C8nerve block about 8 days ago that may ave contributed to my improvement, but I did see some improvement prior to the shot.

For example, I used to have extreme pain in my elbow and forearm on the pinky side.  This pain has become a bit better, but I am still having extreme pain behind my right shoulder blade.  I do notice that the pain in "centralizing" to the spine area, but since the pain is still sometimes severe, I wonder if it is really healing.  My range of motion is better than it was weeks ago, but the pinching pain when I lean my head to the right is still horrible.

I guess my questions are all related to how does a disc and nerve heal?  Is it normal to have extreme pain after 7 weeks?  Does the disc heal quicker, and how does one tell if the disc is getting back into shape?  How does one know that the disc is indeed heealed or healing and the nerve is no longer compressed and just needs the time to heal?  

Any insight from someone that has gone through this?  I'm trying to decide how long I can live with this pain before I have to get the surgery to remove the disc .
5 Responses
Avatar universal
Did you go to physical therapy?
Did you see a neurologist?
You don't want to get surgery, that is a last resort. You need to strengthen the muscles around your neck and continue to do the exercises for the rest of your life.
I can give you a list of people that had very bad results from surgery. The pain your in now could be mild compared to the result of surgery. The surgeon wants a new Porsche, he doesn't care about your pain.
I know a guy that has that same disk slipped. He had an injury from football. He can't go a week without working out.
I have problems at C3,C4 and C5 with cord compression. I get bad headaches and neck pain. I always had problems with my neck but never knew why.
I have been going to physical therapy and my symptoms are getting better. I hope I can wait another 20 or so years before surgery, maybe the doctors will get better.
Avatar universal
The first step is to get the pressure off the nerve root this can be achieved by medication in the form of an anti-inflammatory such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. And as the poster above said Physical therapy can be very helpful, to strengthen the neck muscles. There are a lot of useful treatments such as traction, mild stretching, exercise, heat, massage and ultrasound. Injections such as the nerve blocks that you’ve had can also help.

Don’t worry about the discs healing. Once the nerve is no longer compressed, some herniated discs will heal on their own; this can take from one to six months. More important to know is that, many people have disc bulges and herniation's with no pain what so ever.

Nerves on the other hand heal from the top down, and depending on how much damage is done at the time the nerve becomes impinged, it may take weeks to months for the nerve to fully to heal. One thing that’s important to remember about this is that nerve pain doesn’t always equate  nerve damage, so it might not be as bad as you think. When the pain you get from leaning your head to the right lessens and eventually goes away you will know that your nerves are healing. If your range of motion has improved, that’s definitely a good sign. PT can help with the scapular pain, I have that and I’ve had the surgery.

7 weeks doesn’t really seem to be that long, it really depends on what you doing in terms of Physical Therapy, injections and meds. You are taking pain meds I hope? A lot of us deal with this kind of pain for years. Is this the only problem you have in your cervical spine? I guess it makes for an easy diagnosis. Some of these doctors aren't too bright. Most of us have multi-level problems. If it gets to the point where you simply can stand the pain anymore, you might have to consider surgery. But I advise you to research it thoroughly and get at least 2 or 3 opinions.

Take Care
1608000 tn?1300519534
i also have problems with every disc in my neck debilitating migraine headaches and non stop pain....was injured in 1999 and spent many years not getting physical therapy or attention to my neck until i was finally referred to a doctor that gives a crap about his patients! you need to do more than one nerve block to see results. My doc said it takes anywhere from 3 to 5 of them before you will see decent results and this was true. I have been getting them for 7 years not religiously every 4 to 6 weeks and without them i would be in bed 24/7!!! There are sooooo many options and things to try before you let a surgeon cut on you or remove a disc! I recommend a lot of heat/ice, physical therapy and finding a GOOD pain management doc. I had a nerve stimulator implanted in my neck in 2007 and i get at least 50% relief from it....it blocks the pain signal before it gets to your brain so definitely something to look into as you are young like me im 34 now was hurt when i was 23. It is a very long road and you will not be seeing instant results and the person that said excercise and building the muscles around was definitely correct. You will have to do a stretching/excercise routine daily to keep things loose and functionable. Best of luck to you :)
Avatar universal
i have c8 disc issue with pinched nerve.  currently going to physical therapy and my pain is 0-1 level and have regained 95% neck movements.  the issue is with my extensors in wrist through middle, ring and lttle finger in right hand.  the ring and little finger numbness has decreased but continue to have some numbness.  my grib strength is 80% from before.  this injury occured 1 1/2 months ago and had severe fire burning, sharp and tingling pain through elbow, wrist and ring/lttle finger.  i now feel i have come to a stand still on hand movement improvement.  it remains weak but seems like the numbness is decreasing daily.  does anyone had or have knowledge of experience with this type of issue?  i have been told nerve damage can take a long time but how long is the question??
I have the same symptoms.  Could you give me info on the rehab exercises?  My MRIs show no issues (upper and mid back) The nerve study gave no help or clues.  5 weeks of rehab hand is stronger.   I do hand and elbow stretches + chin tuck for the C8.   I have seen an elbow/hand specialist.  My internist thinks it is cubital tunnel in the elbow.  Pinky finger is starting to curl inward.      Thanks      Bruce
It turned out to be C8, not cubital elbow.   Often missed by hand/elbow specialists.  Doing rehab, accupunture, and eventually a C8 steroidal type injection.   7/13/19

Avatar universal
I hope this advice helps someone..... I also have a herniated C8 disc with numbness and tingling down my Right arm to my pinky and ring finger with loss of strength. The injury happened three months ago and I just thought it was muscle-related so I didn't do anything about it, but now it has gotten considerably  more painful and the tingling is very annoying. So, someone recommended me to a female chiropractor who not only adjusts,  but does deep tissue, trigger point massage. I cannot tell you how important this is to Healing a herniated disc. I went into her office at a level 9 pain and walked out an hour later, that's right this chiropractor worked on me for 1 hour, and my pain level had decreased to a 5. What else that's extremely,  extremely important to disc herniation,  is neck traction. I have one of the inexpensive at home neck traction devices that hangs over the door and has a bag that you fill with water for weight. My chiropractor recommended that I do the neck traction for 10 to 20 minutes three times a day. Followed by ice for 20 minutes. This is pretty much the only way that the disc is going to be able to move back in where it's located which will remove it's  pressure off the nerve. A good test to see if this will help you, is to have someone stand behind you while you're sitting down, place their hands over your ears, and pull upwards on your head. If you are in less pain and/or the tingling subsides, the neck traction is for you.  When I do the traction, the numbness and tingling down my arm pretty much stops. However, within a couple hours it will start again. This is because our head is so heavy it presses the  vertebrae together and with that C8 being damaged the disc moves back into the nerve impingement state. My chiropractor has high hopes that her treatment plan together with my at home traction will at some point allow that disc to return to it's appropriate position and the nerve will be released permanently. So just to recap, try to find a deep tissue massage therapist. Not just a person that does massage because they don't know how to find the trigger points and release them. That is the most important part to the deep tissue massage. And let me tell you, it hurts like hell. But, you walk out of there feeling  better. And if you do the neck compression test, and find that you get relief when someone pulls on your head, invest in an over-the-door traction unit. Sorry this was so long-winded. I hope it helps at least one person. Good luck and God bless
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