Pinched nerve in neck, done with BJJ for a while
  • driven
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 628
    So my left arm is tingling, my index finger is numb, and my neck & shoulder are in knots. This has been going on, off and on, pretty much since I started BJJ two years ago.

    It's usually been manageable -- Crossfit made it worse, but if it got too bad, I backed off. But now it's so bad I can't sleep. I can't even jog for 10 minutes now without wanting to amputate my arm from the pain. I can actually roll BJJ just fine, because my mind goes blank and the pain disappears... until afterwards, when it's worse. I'm done with BJJ until I get this resolved, and I'm pretty bummed about it. No idea how I'm gonna stay in shape, or if I even can.

    So I'm going to see a specialist tomorrow, but I'm gonna call it right now: I'm pretty sure it's a C6 nerve pinch. I'm thinking it's caused by a bulging disc, which was caused by repeated whiplash injuries back in the day trying to learn to wakeboard. Pretty sure it'll take $5-10k worth of x-rays, MRIs, etc. for them to make this diagnosis... 3 months from now. At least I have insurance. I'm half-thinking I should just buy one of these and get started rehabbing now.

    Sorry, just had to vent. Damn I'm gonna miss BJJ. I'm pretty pissed at myself for messing up my neck trying to learn a stupid sport that I wasn't that crazy about anyhow.

    :surrender:
  • bma_mat
    173.00 KarmaPMPosts: 10,857
    Aren't there injections you can use to basically numb the nerve and get rid of the pain?

  • driven
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 628
    Man, I hope so!!!

  • muttonwar
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 432
    Sounds like what my dad has. He gets these.

    http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/paindru ... tisone.htm

    I hear they have side effects but it might help you along.





  • Amave
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 1,158
    wow op that sucks so bad!

    i can relate to being out due to injuries, its difficult to keep from training but you have to do it to improve your quality of life

  • Relentless
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 536
    My instructor had a neck injury, I forget what it is but he had to have a big needle stuck in his neck and it's just getting better.

    He got the injury in the 80's I think.

  • kuangren
    18.00 KarmaPMPosts: 1,404
    Sounds like what my dad has. He gets these.

    http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/paindru ... tisone.htm

    I hear they have side effects but it might help you along.


    Cortisone shots are only for short term extreme pain and inflammation relief and not a viable long-term treatment because they have BAD BAD side effects.

  • driven
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 628
    Went to the doc, got a neck traction device (OMG this thing feels amazing!!!), some pain meds & muscle relaxers. Due for an MRI, but it's looking like a C6-C7 nerve impingement, some early disc degenerative disease, small bone spurs. I should stay active, keep up my range of motion, but hard or competitive BJJ is out for now due to too much stress on the neck.

    But the big news is I had an epiphany, a way to make this set-back actually benefit my BJJ: I am going to learn to flow-roll, taking privates if necessary. :punch:

  • subrama6
    44.00 KarmaPMPosts: 353
    i had a c4-5 (i think) issue about a year and a half ago, where i had the finger tingles and everything. sat out for 6 weeks, and felt better, but i still have neck problems (on the other side, crazily enough). if i sit in certain positions too long, i have a sharp pain between my shoulder and neck.

    i'm kind of playing it careful right now, but i really hope it doesn't turn into anything awful. i think that maintaining a connection with BJJ through slowrolls sounds like a fantastic idea.

  • familyguy
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 1
    Hi Driven,

    I definitely can relate to how you feel. I have had back problems for awhile now. I have nerve damage to the nerve between my T5 and T6 and a bulge in my neck. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to surgically repair the nerve and disc damage in my neck bc of where the nerve is. The only thing that can be done is to keep it from getting worse. I have done it all. Injections, chiropractics, physical therapy, massages, pain management, etc. I wanted to throw a little friendly advice your way. But this is only my 2 cents. My experience with the injections was not positive. I had a few thoracic steroid injections done and they did nothing for me. At that point I was willing to try anything so I gave them a fair chance. The problem with the injections is that once you get them, in a lot of cases, you have to keep on getting them. There are also cortisone injections but they are very similar. I am not sure what kind of a doctor you went to but don't listen to the first one you speak with. I have found that getting 3 or 4 opinions is the best way to get helped the fastest and weed out the doctors that want to treat the symptoms and not the problem. Once you get your MRI results you can make some appointments w/ different doctors and see what's up. I wouldn't tell them what the others said right away until you find out what they think. Any good doctor will do some research on your injury and situation...others will follow their typical protocol of giving you anti-inflammatories and pain meds and then tell you to come back in a month or so. It sounds like you have a pinched nerve or something along those lines. If that is the case you should be able to actually get it fixed...maybe not right away though. Most BJJ schools know of a good chiropractor that they use. I am not sure if you have tried that but it may something worth looking into if you are open to it. Some people do not believe in chiropractors but they are great for our sport. Often they can find things and fix them right away, surprisingly. If your school does not have anyone they can recommend as a chiropractor or if you want to keep your injury to yourself for now (and are open to it) try and find a chiropractor that uses their hands. Some will only use them rarely and will hook you up to these machines that look like space ships. They are relaxing but they won't do much but make you take a 15 minute nap. Chiro's deal with a lot of people w/ injury due to an impact trauma. I have found mine to be very helpful and use him not only to relieve pain but also as maintenance. BJJ gets your blood and oxygen pumping to your muscles and mobilizes your joints...that is why your back might actually feel ok during and a little while after you leave the mats. There could be a lot of factors to it actually getting better. Like do you have to sit at a computer all day for work? I do and it is not good for my back! Do you have bad posture habits? You can buy a foam roller for $20 and do that every morning when you wake up, before every training session and after, and before bed. And any other chance you get! :) When you go to the doctors they might ask you questions that you find unrelated to your back. Things about depression, if you have had any traumatic experiences, stress, etc. These things can affect your back. If any of this stuff does apply then they will suggest you see a counselor or psychologist as well. I have bad anxiety and stress so my back gets to get super tight and hurt worse when I feel that way. If you have a pinched nerve or nerve damage they might give you a prescription for a drug called Neurontin. It works ok but the problem I had with it is that it will make you drowsy. So if you have to work then you can't really take it. As far as the BJJ goes just listen to your body. Try not to roll too many, if any, bigger guys until it gets better. As long as you are careful and don't overdo it you should be fine. For me I try and go to 3-5 classes a week depending on my schedule (I have a family) but I do not roll hard every class. Like you said having an injury can help you get better. My technique has gotten much, much tighter just bc I was forced to change the way I train. But now I would train this way no matter what! Other than these things yoga, diet, sleep, rest, and smart training will help! Sorry this is so long but I wanted to try and help. Back pain is def something to take seriously. It can stay with you for the rest of your life. By the way, everyone has degenerative discs. Everyone. It's just that some people can feel it and others don't know at all. If a doctor tells you that is why your back hurts I would get another opinion.

  • driven
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 628
    Okay, so apparently my pinched "nerve" is my spinal cord.

    I got the results of my MRI today, and they're saying I have arthritis all through my neck, severe cervical stenosis, and my spinal cord is pinched. Neat. I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon in 2 weeks.

    So, yeah, done with BJJ for a while. I was gonna schedule a private with my instructor this weekend, but... no, gotta deal with this first. I love BJJ, and if there's a way back, I'll find it. And I'll get my black belt.

    :punch: :punch: :punch:

  • jackjitsujackjitsu
    824.00 KarmaPMPosts: 17,318
    Platinum VIP Member
    Daaaaaaaaaannnnnnng..... how old are you? Arthritis suuuuuuuuucks.....
    image
    Support JJF with a premium account, and get access to signatures and avatars. Click on the JJF STORE http://www.jiujitsuforums.com/store

  • driven
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 628
    40 going on 30, but I guess my neck is 60...

  • Amave
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 1,158
    ^ wow!

    did BJJ aggravate it further?

  • driven
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 628
    I'd have to think it did. The arm-numbness/finger-tingling started about the same time I started BJJ. And I prefer to roll with the biggest/strongest/best in class because even if I get smashed, I learn a lot that way and best prepare for tournaments, where everybody is my size or bigger. So yeah my neck has taken a beating!

  • little boy
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 30
    Hi Driven,

    I definitely can relate to how you feel. I have had back problems for awhile now. I have nerve damage to the nerve between my T5 and T6 and a bulge in my neck. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to surgically repair the nerve and disc damage in my neck bc of where the nerve is. The only thing that can be done is to keep it from getting worse. I have done it all. Injections, chiropractics, physical therapy, massages, pain management, etc. I wanted to throw a little friendly advice your way. But this is only my 2 cents. My experience with the injections was not positive. I had a few thoracic steroid injections done and they did nothing for me. At that point I was willing to try anything so I gave them a fair chance. The problem with the injections is that once you get them, in a lot of cases, you have to keep on getting them. There are also cortisone injections but they are very similar. I am not sure what kind of a doctor you went to but don't listen to the first one you speak with. I have found that getting 3 or 4 opinions is the best way to get helped the fastest and weed out the doctors that want to treat the symptoms and not the problem. Once you get your MRI results you can make some appointments w/ different doctors and see what's up. I wouldn't tell them what the others said right away until you find out what they think. Any good doctor will do some research on your injury and situation...others will follow their typical protocol of giving you anti-inflammatories and pain meds and then tell you to come back in a month or so. It sounds like you have a pinched nerve or something along those lines. If that is the case you should be able to actually get it fixed...maybe not right away though. Most BJJ schools know of a good chiropractor that they use. I am not sure if you have tried that but it may something worth looking into if you are open to it. Some people do not believe in chiropractors but they are great for our sport. Often they can find things and fix them right away, surprisingly. If your school does not have anyone they can recommend as a chiropractor or if you want to keep your injury to yourself for now (and are open to it) try and find a chiropractor that uses their hands. Some will only use them rarely and will hook you up to these machines that look like space ships. They are relaxing but they won't do much but make you take a 15 minute nap. Chiro's deal with a lot of people w/ injury due to an impact trauma. I have found mine to be very helpful and use him not only to relieve pain but also as maintenance. BJJ gets your blood and oxygen pumping to your muscles and mobilizes your joints...that is why your back might actually feel ok during and a little while after you leave the mats. There could be a lot of factors to it actually getting better. Like do you have to sit at a computer all day for work? I do and it is not good for my back! Do you have bad posture habits? You can buy a foam roller for $20 and do that every morning when you wake up, before every training session and after, and before bed. And any other chance you get! :) When you go to the doctors they might ask you questions that you find unrelated to your back. Things about depression, if you have had any traumatic experiences, stress, etc. These things can affect your back. If any of this stuff does apply then they will suggest you see a counselor or psychologist as well. I have bad anxiety and stress so my back gets to get super tight and hurt worse when I feel that way. If you have a pinched nerve or nerve damage they might give you a prescription for a drug called Neurontin. It works ok but the problem I had with it is that it will make you drowsy. So if you have to work then you can't really take it. As far as the BJJ goes just listen to your body. Try not to roll too many, if any, bigger guys until it gets better. As long as you are careful and don't overdo it you should be fine. For me I try and go to 3-5 classes a week depending on my schedule (I have a family) but I do not roll hard every class. Like you said having an injury can help you get better. My technique has gotten much, much tighter just bc I was forced to change the way I train. But now I would train this way no matter what! Other than these things yoga, diet, sleep, rest, and smart training will help! Sorry this is so long but I wanted to try and help. Back pain is def something to take seriously. It can stay with you for the rest of your life. By the way, everyone has degenerative discs. Everyone. It's just that some people can feel it and others don't know at all. If a doctor tells you that is why your back hurts I would get another opinion.


    that was a long post

  • driven
    0.00 KarmaPMPosts: 628
    I'll find out more info in a couple weeks when I meet with the orthopedic surgeon, but I think this is pretty much what's going on with my neck:


    Kinda cool learning what's going on inside my own body. I swear, now that I know this, I can almost feel the disc pressing on the spinal cord, but that's probably in my head. (Er, neck :wink: )

    I've been using this cervical traction device to stretch out my neck for 15-30 minutes every day:

    image
    ...and sleeping on a cervical memory foam pillow, which also stretches things out, but looking at the above video, I can't imagine how it's going to fix the problem.

    I've got good insurance, and I have a lot of friends in the medical profession, so I'm asking around on this particular surgeon. Bad reviews so far; I'll definitely check out other surgeons before I make a decision.

    Assuming I elect for the surgery, I expect it will be a little mountain to climb before I can train full-speed again. I'm putting the recovery program together in my head, something like stretching/flexibility training, light weights and yoga for 2-3 months, stepping up to moderate weights and hopefully crossfit within 4. Flow-rolling when I'm feeling strong for a few months, then full speed hopefully within 6. I'm going to want my neck muscles strong as an ox before I start rolling again, and even then I'll have to say "no guillotines" before rolling for a while. Tournaments/competition might be out forever, but that's not the end of the world.

    And I got my worst-case scenario backup plans in place: If it turns out I can't do BJJ, I'll focus on cross fit and start doing adventure races. If I can't do that, I'll go back to auto racing. If I can't do that, I'll focus more on music. No worries.



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