Pain in the Neck Update

I’m on my fourth day of drugs for the pinched nerve in my neck. The drug in question, in case you’re wondering, is methylprednisolone. My doctor told me (to paraphrase) that the intent is to reduce any inflammation around the point where the nerve is impinged so that it will hopefully get back to its proper place.

He didn’t really give me a timeline for when I could hope to start feeling better. The 6-day drug plan starts with 6 pills on the first day, and then 1 fewer pill each day until I take 1 pill on the sixth and final day. He also told me that the pills could make me grouchy and might also interfere with my sleep. Plus, they could upset my stomach, so I shouldn’t take other drugs that could upset my stomach (such as ibuprofen) while I’m taking them.

The drugs haven’t done squat to my sleep. If anything, I’ve been sleepier than usual and have been fully sacked out at night as much as I ever am. My tummy does sometimes feel a tad queasy, but only a little bit. And as for being grouchy, well, maybe that’s because I’m in pain from this frickin’ pinched nerve in my neck!

Am I getting better? It’s hard to tell. Once I learned that tilting my head back would pinch the nerve and I could feel it down my arm, I tried not to do that so much. This means I’m not often leaning back or looking up. Is that good? Well, my arm has generally felt much better than it did on Friday, probably as a result of that. But is working around an injury really the best way to deal with the injury? I’ve had a mild pain in the back of my neck for a few days, and I suspect it’s because I’ve been restricting the motion of my head, and this stressing muscles that are now getting used a lot more than they usually are. A cascade injury, as the sports injury analysts like to call them.

(It’s amazing what I’ve learned about injuries as a result of following baseball closely. A cow-orker of mine recently tore his MCL, and I was able to explain to him in some detail what that meant.)

I also can hear a mild clicking in my neck when I turn my head from left to right. I suspect this is related to the injury – it might even be bone-on-bone grinding at the point where the ‘jelly’ between the vertebra has been displaced, and thus where the nerve is impinged. But I’m not really sure. It sounds higher on my spine than where the nerve is supposedly impinged, but my hearing isn’t precise enough to tell. I’ll certainly mention it to the doctor when next I see him.

Two things I try to keep in mind are the unreliability of my observations, and the fact that I’m not a trained doctor. I’m a moderately-educated layman. And even if I’m more objective about my observations of my self than some people, I don’t really trust that I’m being truly objective. So I’m mostly hoping things are better than they seem, and trying not to fear that they’re worse than they seem.

(The fear is the worst part. Last week I worried that I had a blood clot and might lose the user of my arm. That’s what motivated me to go see the doctor, even though I knew it was more likely to be a pinched nerve. Now I worry that I may only be able to fix the nerve through surgery, and who knows what that might involve. But mostly I’m trying not to worry about it too much. Trying.)

Yesterday was hard. My first day at work after a weekend of trying to relax my body. And I had a full slate of stuff to work on. By the end of the day my arm was sore and I was feeling exhausted. I went to play Magic in the evening anyway, and I was completely wiped out by the time I came home. This morning was also hard, and I was getting depressed that things don’t seem to be getting better.

This afternoon I’m feeling a little better, though. My arm doesn’t feel as sore as it did at the same time yesterday, and my neck isn’t as sore as it was during my post-lunch walk. It might all be in my head, but mostly I’m just glad it’s starting to feel better.

I hope it keeps feeling better, because as you saw if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I’m pretty freaking tired of this.

(And yes, I know this is small potatoes next to spinal problems many people have. That doesn’t make me any less tired of it.)

Two more days of drugs, and then a week and a half before my return to the doctor (which will be for a full physical, not just a follow-up. Ah, the joy of turning 40; I bet I have prostate exams in my future). I’d love it if this is completely cleared up by then.

4 thoughts on “Pain in the Neck Update”

  1. I give my dog prednisone occasionally for allergies. Dogs on steroids always sucks. I can’t socialize her because she snaps for no reason and she eats like a horse and her muscles bulk up.

    I can’t stress enough how important it is to follow the prescribed directions for the stuff you have. Death is a terrible side effect.

  2. I’ve been joking that I’m disappointed I haven’t bulked up while on these steroids. Of course, that’s because this is the wrong kind of steroid for that.

    It’s been pretty easy to follow the directions. I’ll take my last pill in the regimen in a few minutes. I’m a little disappointed that it hasn’t worked better & faster. But if I get better over the next week, then that’ll be good enough, I guess. If not, then my doctor will have to tell me what the next step is, and I bet it won’t be any fun.

  3. Hi
    I found your blog while searching about neck pain. It sounds like you’re having a similar problem as mine. Do you have pain in your arm and shoulder? A bit numb too? I really am not a fan of doctors and have just been hoping it will get better. I hope you’ve had some progress. I noted down the medicine in case things get worse. I’ll recommend it to my GP.

    Thanks for the post

  4. Hi Lauri: Yeah, it sounds like we have similar symptoms. Hard to tell if they’re caused by the same thing, but who knows?

    My arm soreness is almost gone now, but not quite entirely. I don’t know whether it would have gone away without the anti-inflammatory drugs – maybe it would have, but it got pretty bad last week so I’m glad I didn’t risk it, since another week of that discomfort would have left me really miserable.

    I’m a big fan of good doctors. I realize that medicine is an inexact science, but good doctors know a lot and can be really helpful. And of course I try to steer clear of bad doctors. 🙂

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