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Numbness, CT scan ok, affected by posture. Pinched nerve problem?

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Practicing since : 2002
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Hi, I am a 31 year old female. 5'1, 180lbs. 2 weeks ago, I felt numbness in the left side of my face, head, neck, shoulder, and upper back. Went to the er, ct scan was fine. Since then, I still experience the numbness daily but have noticed other things. It always starts in the back of my neck. Some days I feel it only later at night, usually around 11, 12 o'clock. It only last for brief episodes. I always feel better in the morning. The last couple of days I have noticed some pain and tightness in my lower neck/upper back and the pain and numbness seem to be affected by posture or activity level. Could the numbness be the result of a pinched nerve problem? and what can I try until my appointment with the neurologist on the 17th?
Posted Tue, 24 Apr 2012 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 17 minutes later
Hello and thanks for the query.

Your question is a good one and I will try to provide you with good information and recommendations regarding what is going on.

You have provided with good information but I would like to know few more things as this would help me in suggesting you better. As I believe the more information a person gives the better is the doctor's reply and thus improved satisfaction levels.

Hence please answer the following…

Which antibiotic are you taking and how long ago it was started?

Does your symptoms correspond at all with the time of day that you take the antibiotic?

Also, do you take any supplements or vitamins?

This may be a musculoskeletal syndrome of pure musculoskeletal origin. That is to say - inflammation and spasm creating the symptoms you are experiencing. Your symptoms don't quite fit this hypothesis however.

Another thing we have to consider is perhaps a viral cause - something related to what we know as Bells Palsy. Bells Palsy is caused by a viral infection which generates inflammation of facial nerves leading to pain and drooping of the eye along with weakness of facial muscles. This is usually a temporary syndrome which resolves with medications.

I am not sure I agree with you taking antibiotics in the absence of an infection. This is why I want to know what antibiotic you are taking.

Another thing which you mentioned is a possible pinched nerve. This is certainly possible. A nerve pinched in the neck can contribute to pain and symptoms in the shoulder, arms and hands but less likely would there be symptoms in the face.

The best way to assess for this may be an MRI which can look at the soft tissues of the spine including muscles and nerve roots.

I realize you are dealing with frustrating symptoms. I hope you are able to continue a good exchange of information with your PCP who can coordinate a continued workup in order to provide you the help you need.

I thank you again for submitting your query and hope my answer has served to be both helpful and informative. Should you have additional concerns I would be happy to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Numbness, CT scan ok, affected by posture. Pinched nerve problem? 2 hours later
The er doctor started me on augmentin 875 mg, after 3 days I could no longer tolerate the side affects and was switched to bactrim ds 800/160. Both the ent and my pcp basically said why not when I asked if I should continue use. I usually take the 2nd dose of the day around 3am right before I go to bed and the first dose around 3pm. Symptoms usually start several hours before that. I have been taking ibuprofen for the last several days for tension in and around my neck.

So far, there is no muscle lost. Just the feeling of numbness and the new pain around the back that is so far tolerable.

My sleeping habits for the last 4 years have been really poor. I have always tended to be more of a night person, so it is difficult for me to fall asleep during the night, and just as difficult for me to wake up. For the last few years I have been sleeping on a couch, and I awake quite often in a sitting position with my chin down towards my chest, having slept that way for sometimes hours. So I am almost hoping that maybe resulted in an injury leading to a pinched nerve.

I have seen 6 doctors so far with no questions answered, but by far the most troubling thing to me is the facial numbness. It just causes me to start panicking. Should I go back to my pcp with these new developments? I thank you for your time,
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 11 hours later
Hello and thanks for your followup.

I recommend you go back to your PCP for a followup and a full exam.

I dont mean to dismiss any of your symptoms but part of this could be related to a manifestation of anxiety/panic. I recommend you discuss this with your PCP.

Thanks again for your query. I hope my responses have been helpful and please know that I am always here for you if you have additional concerns.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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