Pain Concern
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EMG tests came back normal

Hi. Long story as short as I can make it. So for the past several years I've had problems with my left shoulder and neck. I went to have an MRI and was told I have bulging disc in c6 and c5 was on way out. I was told the stuff inside disc had leaked out on both sides.

Forward 2 years and had another MRI and was told I had a bulging disc but no impingement on any nerves. Although this does not fit in with my symptoms of numbness in my fingers and pain.

Today I had EMG done and a nerve conduction test, it came back normal. I was shocked but what really got to me is the dr who done tests said that I obviously have pyschological problems and need help.

I now feel like a complete fraud but still have a lot of pain in my neck and shoulder and still have numb fingers. Can anyone help me, is this all on my head accept for NORMAL wear and tear??? He even wrote a letter saying my past needs exploring as there's nothing wrong with me??

9 Replies

First of all, if it were me, I'd FIRE the doctor who told me what your quack told you. (Patients often FORGET the DOCTOR works for THEM, NOT the other way around.) Then I would see a reputable hand surgeon who WILL want the EMG results - PLUS - did they do a nerve conduction study along with the EMG?? They should have. If not, that's another error. Let the hand surgeon determine if you are dealing with carpel tunnel or ulnar nerve entrapment... OR if he/she suspects the numbness and pain are originating from your neck after all. Don't give up on obtaining an accurate diagnosis. And DON'T go to bed tonight thinking less of yourself in any way because of a crude, disrespectful and ignorant comment from this "MD".


Hiya, thank you so much for your time in replying. I did have nerve conduction tests.

I guess I was wondering if this needs reporting as I have been told it may of not been his job to tell me I need psychological help.

I am under the pain clinic, the reason being is the pain got to a point I couldn't handle. After the initial MRI I was so scared at the prospect of been told surgery was the only way forward I went down other avenues. This is where the 2nd MRI came in and gave almost a wear and tear result. So confused by the difference I now suspect one result is wrong as Disc Degenerate Disease does not get better.

I do need to investigate this further until I get a definitive answer to my problem.

Many thanks


Something to remember about MRIs is that they often show 'incidentalomas' as they call them. Before MRIs we had no idea what 'normal' looked like. They started doing MRIs on people with back pain and found bulging disks and assumed that was the cause. They fixed them surgically and the pain didn't go away. Then they scanned people that were the same age but didn't have back pain and they realised that it was a sign of ageing, not that there was something wrong and many people have bulging discs and no pain.

So an MRI isn't diagnostic in itself, it just shows you what the inside of you looks like. the better these scanners get, the more it shows, but that doesn't mean that what they see is causing pain just because the brain thinks that is where the pain is coming from.

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Firstly, I would ask for a second opinion, if that doesn't provide answers, ask for a referral to a pain specialist.

There are a number of problems the previous disc damage may have resulted in. There's Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). This is when the site of an original injury or trauma clears up, but the brain is still receiving pain messages, or neuralgia.

Please know I'm not medically trained, I'm just a fellow sufferer.

So please do see a specialist. Don't let one doctor put you off having your pain investigated. And don't give up hope.

Kind regards, catmag.

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Thank you CatMag, I was thinking of going to PALS which is especially for patients.

I understand that to a degree it may be psycho-soamatic but I don't understand it if that makes sense. In the first MRI I was told I have bulging at C6 and C5 with C5 being the worst. The stuff within the disc had leaked out on both sides and causing pressure on both sides on the nerves with central canal narrowing.

In the 2nd MRI I was told of a slight bulge in C5 but I also had a straight neck and apparently need 3 injections in my left shoulder early next month.

Then yesterday the dr of the nerve conducting and EMG tells me I need a psychological evaluation which completely leaves me distraught and wondering whether it's me or some how somewhere someone has got it wrong.

Thank you so much for your time


You are not a complete fraud so you need to stop thinking that way. You are feeling pain, but the pain isn't coming from a physical problem, it is coming from your brain. All pain is in the brain, not in our bodies, although one may argue that our brains are in our bodies. You have what is called chronic pain, and that sometimes happens when part of the brain just keeps on thinking it feels pain when there isn't a physical cause for it, or it misinterprets perception signals as pain when they are just touch.

My son had this when he was younger, a light touch to the skin registered in his brain as pain. We have to retrain his brain to understand that it was just light touch, not something killing him!

Physical pain is actually processed in the same way in the brain as emotional pain, so often the two get intertwined, that is why they look at both sides of people now, the physical and the emotional, because one type of pain can be felt like another.

And we can get into a downward spiral where we start to worry and get anxious about the pain which will make the pain feel worse. My foot pain is always worse when my ex husband is around!

The best thing to do will be to go with this. Accept the appointments, explore what is going on, and retrain your brain to realise that there is no physical pain so it can stop telling you there is. If there is nothing emotional feeding the pain then fine, you will know that for sure and you can start to rebuild a life that doesn't include pain.

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Thank you very much for your input, I really appreciate it


Thank you so much for your input.

I am going down every avenue including psychological and currently awaiting some response from a psychiatrist


Thank you x


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