Friday, August 20, 2010

Névralgie cervico-brachiale

That's what I've got. In English it's not much different: cervical-brachial neuralgia. It's a disk in my neck that's either herniated (sometimes called "slipped") or inflamed. It's pretty much the same thing as sciatica, only it affects the arm instead of the leg. The disk is putting pressure on the main nerve group that goes into my left arm. The doctor said it was not from lifting, but from tilting my head back to paint the ceiling. Great.

A summer sight in St.-Aignan: the Cher River excursion boat.

I asked the doctor to write the name of the condition down so I could look it up on the internet when I got home. And, by the way, my doctor is no exception to the medical penmanship rule. His writing is nearly illegible. But Ken and I figured it out. The site I found about NCB described my symptoms perfectly. Right down to the tingling in the tips of my fingers and the constant waking up during the night.

So the doctor prescribed a neck brace that I'm supposed to wear day and night. It's oh, so fashionable. He also gave me a two week supply of an anti-inflammatory drug that I have to take once a day, during a meal. Not before a meal. Not after a meal. During a meal. I will call it the Pill Course. And he gave me some drugs to help me sleep. I also need to have an x-ray done of my neck so he can determine the extent of the injury.

After the x-ray I need to go back and see him again. He told me that the inflammation would either clear up by itself (which it did last time) or I will need cortisone injections. I asked him about osteopaths or chiropractors, but he said he didn't like to go that route. What he didn't say, which the web site did, was that this could lead to surgery. I am not a happy camper.

So Ken's going to have to take over with the ceiling painting. And I'll do the lower wall stuff so I don't have to reach or tilt my head. But I won't get started for a while, just to give my disks a chance to rest. And I won't be able to start on cutting the winter firewood. I'll have to see about trimming the hedge, but that can wait a couple of months or even until spring if necessary.

And thanks to all of you for your encouraging comments and suggestions. I appreciate them all!


  1. Hope everything will go back to normal very soon, but be very careful. Hope, also, the medication keeps the pain away.

  2. I do hope that you recover very soon, I know it can be painful.. For years I have had a very painful right shoulder, (when I over use it) with stuff like painting . I do hope Ken doesn't get the same thing. Why don't you just pay some one to paint the ceiling.

    What are you using to paint the ceiling ? Do you not have a pole with a roller on the end. Or was it when you were cutting in?

  3. If it's from tilting your head back to paint, then shouldn't it go away once you stop doing that? I hope you'll feel better soon. BTW, are you not on Facebook anymore? I put in your name but you did not appear.

  4. Oh, man.... for someone who keeps so active, it's going to be annoying to sit, I guess. I'm glad you went to the doctor, though, and got an actual diagnosis and hopeful repair! Sometimes, it seems like neck and back things just end up with a diagnosis of "uuuhh.... ummm.... hmmmm... well.... not quite sure."

    Make the most of your relaxation time :) (somehow;)


  5. Make sure Ken gives his neck a warmup before he starts painting the ceiling. Unless of course you both want to walk around in matching neck braces.

  6. Walt, I feel so bad for you. I don't like to think of you in pain. Please figure out a way that you two don't have to do these physically difficult, repetitive jobs like painting and hedge-cutting. I know you like to do them yourselves. Would breaking them into short segments, so short that you can't re-injure yourself, work?

    Take it easy and get well.

  7. Ouch! I wish you a speedy recovery. Just take it easy until you are well again.

    Lewis says he can now offer you membership in his sore neck club. Our neighbor who is a pathologist had your injury and had to have the operation. The surgery is from the front of neck btw. I hope you don't have to have that- so rest up and take your meds. The painting and other work will have to wait.

  8. So sorry to hear about this. Fingers crossed that the drugs will do it!

  9. Well, the line about doctors' penmanship cracked me up. So true!

    Can you find a yard guy to do the hedge and firewood? Take it easy and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  10. Get well soon, Walt.
    My personal experience with such messes is that they takes much longer to go away than Dr. Internet and Dr. Illegible tell you. But it does go away. The painting can wait until spring.

  11. Walt, a speedy recovery! Take it easy so as not to compound the problem and get well soon.

  12. Poor Walt! I hope your healing time will be short.

  13. Mon cher Walt,

    Sois bien sage, le repos est indispensable en plus des anti-inflammatoires (comme tu le sais, on les prend au milieu du repas pour ne pas se "bousiller" l'estomac) Tu as bien mérité ce repos imposé, mais je crois deviner que ça ne correspond pas à ton caractère ;-) Grosses bises :-) Mary

  14. OK. No jokes from me this time: sending hopefuly, healing hugs and thoughts your way. please please please be careful, do not do things you shouldn't and TAKE CARE OF YOU! I am expecting another visit before too long!

  15. With all these people wishing you better, you should be back to normal in no time at all.

    Get well soon !!

  16. You've seen this page, right?

    The full article is in French, but the summary, etc. is in English. Bottom line is that the corticosteroid injection works well in a lot of cases. The best, however, is to get yourself better before you need the shot.

    No kidding about finding yourself a physical therapist. My C5 vertebra badly misaligned and when it flares up I get the most relief from stretches I learned from a PT at Kaiser years ago.

    On the anti-inflammatory, those things can tear up your digestive system, hence the instruction to take it during a meal. You want food in your stomach when you take it and food after you take it. That sort of food buffer works the best for me -- but I had to figure it out for myself. Three cheers for your doc telling you about it!

  17. Oh dear, that's a bad prescription, (resting that is), for someone who likes to be active and is very busy most of his day!

    So glad though you had it checked out by a physician. Speedy recovery, and leave those projects alone for a little while anyway!


  18. Again, thanks to you all! I appreciate all your comments and good wishes.

    I was painting with rollers and extension poles, as well as cutting in, but it's a big attic room and most of the painting is done on the sloping ceiling so I'm always looking up. Not good.

    We're going to go slow and Ken will be careful once we start up the painting again. I can paint the lower parts of the wall and the closet doors, which I can do on sawhorses. The wood cutting and hedge trimming will certainly wait until I'm more mobile.

    And don't worry about me going stir-crazy. I'm essentially a lazy person and forced rest doesn't bother me in the least. Especially when there is good tennis on tv.


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