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Tickling or zapping feeling on cervical vertebrae

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I have a tickling/ zapping feeling on what seems to be my c2 c3 vertebra.. It has a feeling of always needing to be cracked.. When I use a towel and pull up on my head it goes away until I release towel.. What could this be?

Category: Family Physician-GP

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Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian is online now

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 4 Days.


Thank you for asking your query at DoctorSpring.

It seems there is some degenerative changes in the neck, possibly from the previous accidents. The tingling sensation is the arms suggest that there could be a nerve compression (pinched nerve) in the neck . To be able to give a more learned opinion I would require some additional information from you. You can reply as a followup.

1. Where exactly do the have the tingling in the finger ? in the palm or in the back side ?
2. Do you have tingling / numbness / loss of sensation at any other part of the arm ?
3. When you cough or sneeze do you get a shooting pain down the arms ?
4. Is there any back pain ?
5. Do you have any weakness or the fingers or arms ? (like when holding a cup )
6. Do you feel your neck is stiff ?

From the first impression a pinched nerve is likely. Let me know your replies for the above queries, I would be able to give a more solid opinon and treatment recommendations.

Thank you

Patient replied :

The numbness has been felt in tip of left pinky finger and left big toe. When I do pull up with towel I get a tingly feeling that goes down my legs into my feet.. I do have lots of back pain. It's more of a bothersome annoying pain than it is a severe pain.. Some things do make it severe such as being bent over or when I work the areas a lot... Other places I have pain is in my sciatic nerve I usually get 3 to 4 flare ups a year where it leaves me in bed.. The upper back pain is located from mid neck to just between my shoulder blades.. I have felt a dull wierd pain in my tricep area and elbow. It's hard to say if I feel pain in my right hand because I broke that hand few years back and never had surgery and have really bad pain in my Guyans canal.. That's another problem in its self which is fixable if and when I have surgery.. As for pain in right leg or feet I have zero.. Most times it's in the outer part of my left hand to the tip of my pinky and In left big toe.... MRI is not in my budget... I have seen several docotors with diagnosis everything from ADHD to anxiety hypertension disorder.. Have tried amitriptyline, prednisone, Paxil, celexa, and Xanax.. Most docotors see this is a hypertension disorder although i can take 2mg Xanax and be as relaxed as jello and still feel the pain on spine.. Also I should add it feels as if it's on the otherside of spine like towards my chest if that makes sense.. No matter what pressure I apply to the pain areas I cannot get to them or hit a spot where I go yes that's the spot where it hurts.. Sorry about grAmmar I am on my phone..

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 3 Days.


Thank you for the additional details.

It seems you have a nerve compression at the lumbar area (lower back) + possible nerve compression in the neck. You have some typical symptoms of compression. I would strongly recommend a MRI. I understand it is outside your budget but if it is possible by any means you should push for it. MRI will give a conclusive diagnosis. Even though MRI most likely will not have a direct effect on treatment it will help in rule out certain conditions. In doing so we can initiate certain physical therapies and exercises which can give you excellent pain relief. (like back strengthening exercises).

You can take an anti inflammatory like Ibuprofen 400mg twice daily with a Vitamin B12 complex. Physiotherapy and exercise pending the MRI report.

Hope this helps
Please feel free to ask followups.
Thank you

Patient replied :

Ok I will look into a MRI I have been taking 2 200mg ibuprofen every 4 hours for around 2 years... Have been on and off differnt prescription pain medication.. Hydrocodone 5/500 oxycodone 5/325 I don't like taking prescription ones to much as they work great on the pain while they last. But then within 4 hours symptoms return and are worse off... I don't like bandaid fixes or being up and down on differnt medication all day.. Looks like every effort is exhausted so a MRI might be the option I will have to choose.. I fear of then finding nothing in a MRI report. Then I am stuck at square one with more bills.. Thanks for your time...

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 2 Days.

Exactly. You better not go for any Bandaid fixes. Go for the MRI, get a conclusive diagnosis. This will be much more cost effective in the long term. Not to mention the relief from pain. If the MRI is normal you should be really happy ! and rejoice. Ruling out an serious issue is as important as diagnosis.

Hope this helps
Thank you

Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian
Category: Select Speciality
MD, Internal Medicine - Stanley Medical School
Medical School - MBBS - Govt. Medical College, Kottyaam

Diagnostic Prediction - Stanford School of Medicine
Received Specialty training in Critical Care, Cardiology, Neurology, Gastroenterology, Nephrology from Stanley Medical College and in Endocrinology, Rheumatology.

Hematology and Geriatrics from Madras Medical College.
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