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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

I started having that popping about 2 months ago in my neck. The popping is sort of like that same noise when cracking the joints in fingers. I also have what I can only describe as a 'clunk' which happens after the popping and feels like bone on bone. This clunking results in a severe sharp sudden pain. This happens, seriously, hundreds of times a day and more frequently on turning my head to the left. The left side is where most of my neck pain is and becomes extremely tender to movement and even to touch just below the occipital 'bumps' (which are a normal part of the skull). I have significant muscle tension from my neck, down to the upper mid back and to both shoulders. I usually end up with a headache as the day goes on. It feels like a tension headache that radiates, from my neck up over my skull to my forehead and occasionally behind both eyes. It's an ache like a squeezing feeling.

I was diagnosed with severe lumbar spinal stenosis 3 years ago (Also facet stenosis with nerve root compression, bony hypertrophy, bone spurs and cysts directly on my spinal cord). I did everything recommended including 3 rounds of PT and OT, oral steroids, steroid injections, rhizotomy, and finally had a coflex fusion due to pain and neuropathy. I was no longer able to move my left leg normally and my gait was unsteady. The coflex surgery resolved my leg pain and neuropathy completely. I continued to have moderate to severe back pain. As I mentioned above, I began having neck pain about 2 months ago. I woke up that morning with a severe stiff neck. I described it as the worst stiff neck I had ever had by far. Within a few days I had gained a small amount of movement and that popping started and has continued. After about 4 or 5 weeks I went to see my neurosurgeon knowing that I'm at risk for further levels of spinal stenosis. I had an MRI of my neck done last week. The good news is I don't have cervical stenosis yet however I have pretty severe cervical degenerative disease at C2, C4 and 5. I have rather severe facet stenosis on the left side at C2. I also have swelling or a fluid collection around the facet at C2. This is also the area of the worst pain and where I feel the constant popping. From what I understand from my neurosurgeon and internist there is no definitive answer to the popping but there are several postulations including disruption of fluid in the joint areas. In light of the swelling or fluid collection that was seen my neurosurgeon elected to have me start on oral steroids and schedule a steroid injection into that site. I finished a course of oral steroids which actually did help significantly decreasing the popping noise and help decrease the pain. Within 24 hours of my last dose the pain recurred and within 48 hours the popping was back at its normal frequency. With the symptoms I've already described and the headache that was occurring it's thought that I have occipital nerve impingement.

I'm getting my steroid injection in 2 weeks and keeping my fingers crossed that this helps relieve my symptoms. Sorry this was so lengthy but I thought it was important to describe but I've been diagnosed with and what I've experienced so far. I would suggest if you have not yet that you go and see your physician and discuss possible Diagnostic Imaging maybe a referral to a neurologist or neurosurgeon. It doesn't seem as though the popping symptom itself is of concern, but instead, there may be an underlying issue like I had with the inflammation and possible nerve impingement from facet stenosis. I've also been doing a home Physical Therapy Program for my neck and it has helped along with massage and stretching exercises. I'm still looking for a pillow to use to sleep so if anyone knows of any I'd appreciate the input. Thanks again and hope you feel better soon.

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