Iíve seen quite a few posts on the topic of Cervical Radiculopathy here which Iíve found really helpful. Iím just looking for general input on the issue and anything that others who have been through this have found to be helpful and would be willing to share.
I first injured my neck in October, 2010 and am pretty sure it happened while doing behind-the-neck presses. I was 37 at the time, had been lifting weights since I was 16 and never had any kind of injury like that. I had the intense neck, shoulder, tricep and elbow pain which lasted several weeks. Atrophy through the left tricep was evident too. I was referred to a physical medicine MD who diagnosed a cervical radiculopathy from herniation with left scapular dyskinesis. He didnít want to do any kind of imaging. He referred me for PT sessions for a few weeks and the pain gradually improved. I then kept up with the PT exercises at home, which mostly focused on the scapular stabilizers. Like a lot of others have commented, I got to the point where I wouldnít know there was even an issue anymore if I didnít lift weights. As I got back into the weights, even though I was not in pain I could tell that the left arm weakness was persisting and was really evident with any barbell pushing movements. Pulling movements didnít seem to be affected as much.
About 3 weeks ago, now at the age of 39, I reinjured the area while doing weighted dips. It was the same thing with the intense pain and weakness from the neck down the left arm to the elbow. This is probably about the fourth significant aggravation of the injury Iíve experienced since October, 2010. Each time has been after a workout. Even recently when Iíve done bodyweight dips prior to the re-injury I noticed a sway to the right (stronger side) on the ascent.
The physical medicine guy I met with didnít comment on the issue of nerve damage and recovery at all, but based off what some others who have been through this have said, Iím thinking that the nerve has never had a chance to fully recover since the original injury, hence the persistent left-side weakness. Along the way since the original injury, each time I have started to have a sense that Iím recovering some of the strength Iíve taken it as a green light to push the weights higher and then cause a re-injury and subsequent setback to the recovery.
I see some commonality among the reports of those who lift weights who have eventually recovered from cervical disc herniation pretty fully (without surgery) in that they seem to really take it easy on the weights (lighter weights, more volume) that affect the area for the better part of a year to allow for a more complete recovery. Iíve frequently seen the comment that many have been told by their medical providers that the nerve repairs itself about 1 cm a day or approximately 1 inch per month. If that is pretty accurate then I can see now that I have not been sufficiently patient with this process.
Thatís my lame story. Like I said, any input would be appreciated.