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neck pain, numb arm, can't sleep

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I think I may have a pinched nerve because I have constant pain that goes down the left side of my neck all the way to the tips of my ring and pinky fingers. I went to my school's health center and they had absolutely no idea, they didn't even suggest it may be a pinched nerve until I brought that up. I don't have health insurance and don't even have money to buy groceries right now so I really can't go to a doctor at the moment, so I am just desperately seeking advice on how to relieve my symptoms. I haven't slept more than 2 hours a night for a whole week and I think I might lose my mind if I can't do something about this. Any help would be appreciated!
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replied June 23rd, 2009
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It's so difficult to be without insurance. Have you recently hurt your neck? It may be a pinched nerve or a herniated disc which may also cause radiating pain down your arm. I have chronic neck pain from a herniated disk that has been throbbing for over a year now. I get relief from some heat on my neck. Since you can't get any pain med. you can try some over the counter pain relief like Tylenol or Aleve. What have you done for relief? There are also some great pain creams out there that work really fast like Flex-all. My yoga instructor showed me a neck exercise to do that also has helped a great deal. You take the palm of your hand to the side of your head and apply force both from the head and hand at the same time. Don't do it too hard and hurt yourself more though. Do this to both sides of your head and the front. I hope some of what I told you will bring you some relief. Feel better!
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replied June 23rd, 2009
I haven't hurt my neck recently, but for the past 2 years I have had issues with my neck getting really stiff. Today my right arm is doing this. I was really hoping it wouldn't affect the other arm but it is now. I wonder if it is carpal tunnel, but I don't know if I would feel a tightness in my neck from that.
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replied June 24th, 2009
Extremely eHealthy
It's difficult to be able to advise you without a diagnosis. There are only a limited number of things that you can do that may or may not help relieve any pain that you are having.

What you describe doesn't sound like carpal tunnel syndrome. With carpal tunnel syndrome the symptoms begin in the fingers and hand and progress upwards to the wrist and into the arm above the wrist.

You are describing what sounds more like a bulging disc in your cervical spine, i.e. your neck that is compressing nerves and spreading down to your arms.

Do you have a burning, stinging and or numbness pain in your arms? That is another good indication of nerve compression as well.

Without seeing a spine specialist and having an MRI done it will be difficult to diagnose you and without any insurance, it will be even more difficult to obtain any relief or get a diagnosis.

You said you went to your school's health center. What kind of school is this that has a health center? Is there anyone that they could refer you to see that would be part of the health center?

Are you in HS or college? Could you still be under your parent's health insurance coverage if you are in school?

Several small thing that you can try that might give you some relief are over the counter anti-inflammatory meds. Ibuprofen is the one that most spine specialists will tell you to take.
If you don't have any health issues that would prevent you from taking it, you could take 400mg every 6 hours or so and see if it provides you with any relief. Tylenol may help with pain for a bit and it may not, but it will do nothing for the inflammation that is going on.

For some reason I have not met any spine specialists that advise taking Aleve, I don't know why, but it is always Ibuprofen.

You can try ice on your neck for about 15-20 minutes then move it down to 1 arm and then the other and see if that helps to relieve some of the pain and shrink any inflammation.

If that doesn't help you could try most heat on your neck for about 10 minutes and then move it to one arm and then the other.

One simple way to get moist heat is to make and use what is called a "rice sock".

Just take a long white cotton tube sock. Fill it about half way or a little more with the cheapest white rice that you can get. DO NOT USE INSTANT OR MINUTE RICE.

Once you have the rice in the sock, tie the open end with a knot very close to the open end.

Then put it in the microwave and heat on high for about 90 seconds. Take it out and spread the rice out smooth to fill the sock and lie flat. wrap in a hand towel and put on your neck, then one arm and then the other.

Be careful not to leave the sock on too long as you don't want to burn yourself.

If thing get really bad with the pain, there is always the option of going to the ER. They can not refuse to treat you even if you have no insurance and most hospitals will have some kind of arrangements that can be made for bill paying and forgiving part of the bill that you owe.

I know how hard it is to be without health insurance and hopefully things will change for you and those that have no insurance.

Good luck and keep us posted on how you are doing.

Fran
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replied June 25th, 2009
I have the same problems and have been through physical therapy which did not help at all. My doctor suggests that it is a pinched nerve. Some days my left arm and neck hurt so bad I can hardly stand it. Aleve for me is the best for pain and what my doctor recommends. A heating pad helps also. Some gentle neck exercises tilting your neck side to side and holding for a count of five helps stretch the muscles out. I know how bad it hurts. I have had days where I was bedridden for a couple of days because I could not move my neck. I wake up like that. Sometimes just a sneeze sets it off. I know eventually I will have to have surgery. You will have better days. You will be amazed at how all at once the pain will be gone. It very well could be an isolated incidence and you know go through it again. By try the Aleve (naproxen sodium), the store brand is much cheaper, and the heating pad. You should start feeling better.
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replied June 25th, 2009
I have the same problems and have been through physical therapy which did not help at all. My doctor suggests that it is a pinched nerve. Some days my left arm and neck hurt so bad I can hardly stand it. Aleve for me is the best for pain and what my doctor recommends. A heating pad helps also. Some gentle neck exercises tilting your neck side to side and holding for a count of five helps stretch the muscles out. I know how bad it hurts. I have had days where I was bedridden for a couple of days because I could not move my neck. I wake up like that. Sometimes just a sneeze sets it off. I know eventually I will have to have surgery. You will have better days. You will be amazed at how all at once the pain will be gone. It very well could be an isolated incidence and you know go through it again. By try the Aleve (naproxen sodium), the store brand is much cheaper, and the heating pad. You should start feeling better.
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replied June 30th, 2009
Thanks for the replies. I think I'm going to try the ice/ ibuprofen combo. For a few days I had relief and was not waking up with a numb arm and it was amazing but now it is back. It's not really as bad as it was at first, and I think it is only back now because of recent long car trips, so hopefully whatever it is will heal itself. I have tried heat to relieve it with no luck so I'm really hoping the ice will be the answer!
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replied July 1st, 2009
I have similar symptoms due to a ruptured disc at c6-7 compressing a nerve.

You can also try some relaxation - my neck always hurts worse when my muscles are tense, often causing huge muscle knots, or muscle spasms, in my neck, shoulders and arms. If you take a hot bath and lean your head against a blow-up pillow that is not blown up all the way, then just turn out the lights and block out all the noise and just relax. When you get out, try rubbing your neck gently to help it stay relaxed. Dring a BIG glass of water (the more hydrated your muscles are, the easier it is to keep them relaxed and keep them from knotting up), take some ibuprofen and go to bed.

I have also found that I don't hurt as much since I bought a memory foam pillow. It is very comfortable on my neck.

It doesn't relieve the pain completely, but maybe this will help you get some sleep.
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replied July 21st, 2009
I had a similar problem after I hurt my back while exercising. I haven't slept well for the past week due to the intense pain in my neck, upper back, and arms. Anyway, I visited a local Concentra health clinic and paid $135 to see a doctor and obtain an xray of my back. (I don't have insurance either). After she determined that I was experiencing a muscle spasm,the doctor prescribed a muscle relaxer and naproxen for inflammation. She also suggested biofreeze. I hope this helps and I truly hope you feel better soon.
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replied October 27th, 2009
neck hurts after clicking it
Okay i also have something like that just that i clicked my back and now i don't know whats up with my neck it really hurts when i want to bend it to the left.. and if i for example hold something im my left arm... my right side is fine its just the left... anybody got an idea of what i might have done to my neck.. its really painful...
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replied October 27th, 2009
Extremely eHealthy
hi...without a physical exam and tests its a guessing game. best you take it easy for a while and see if it improves. if it doest get better in a week or so i would see your pc physician who if necessary can refer you to a specialist..it could be pulled muscle or it could be the start of something more serious....pete
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replied October 29th, 2009
New to this but I am tired of being sent between diff doctors and am getting impatient trying to find out answers.

3 months ago, hit a fairway 3 iron and immediately felt stiffness on left neck shoulder area, like and immediate "pop" without the sound.

Took a day or 2 for the stiffness to wear off, couldn't turn head to right etc..

about a month later, while doing nothing, whole area stiffened up while getting a coffee. Thought it could be viral in nature?

Acouple of weeks after that, feeling sparky type pain near left side of spine and toward shoulder. I have been to doctor (Xrays etc)and speciailist (strength test etc)and all looked good.

Now going to set up a physio appt.

In recent weeks, have felt occasional numbness in left hands and frequent dullness / numbness in left neck / throat.

My doctor will proceed to MRI after physio if necessary

Any thoughts?
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replied January 6th, 2010
I deal with this often too. I know it's because my neck is not aligned properly, and the arch is completely off. For the New Year my resolution is to get myself to the chiropractor regularly to try to solve these problems! I'm only 25, I don't think I should already be having this much pain.

Anyway here's what I've found helpful at times. Go on to YouTube and research "neck pain stretches" or something like that. There will be massage therapists, physical therapists ect. with short videos teaching you how to safely and properly get relief through stretching. I feel like this is an especially good preventative measure. Sometimes the neck is too hurt/inflammated for stretching to provide much relief.

My chiropractor recommends ice, not heat, for 10 minutes on, 30 minutes off. I also use icy/hot type rubs.

I don't have insurance right now either, so when my pain gets really bad I go to an ART (active release therapist) - kind of like a sports doctor. The guy I have knows EVERY muscle. He is amazing. He charges $35 a session, stretches you out and tells you what to do at home. It's not super comfortable its like a DEEP stretch/massage in the affected area but it REALLY helps. Within two visits I always feel 100% better.

Good luck, I know how awful this can be!
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replied January 7th, 2010
Update to recent neck and back pain
Physio did relieve the pain and for the most part, the pain is gone after 3 45 minute physio sessions over a few weeks. It appears that one of my long neck muscles had a knot that needed to be stretched out. While you can find infomation on the web that will help you massage yourself through triggers points, I am not sure that I would have been able to properly get to this deep muscle on my own.

The neck numbness and sharp pains were caused by the knot I assume. Thanks for the advice and good luck all/
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