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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Neurologist (MD)
Category: Neurology
Satisfied Customers: 11946
Experience:  Neurosurgeon - Brain, spine, and peripheral nerve surgery
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Severe pain in neck and left side of my head

Resolved Question:

I have severe pain in my neck and on the left side of my head constantly. I have been to many doctors and have had Botox injections and nothing has helped. I do not sleep well at all and it affects my daily life on a regular basis. I am a 47 year old woman who is extremely active, but I live on pain pills to get through the day and muscle relaxers to sleep at night. I hate taking these medications and just want my life back. This has been going on for at least a year and I refuse to let this control my life. Do you have any suggestions?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Neurology
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 6 years ago.
Have you had imaging of your neck? Like a MRI of the cervical spine?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
but the only thing they found is some rheumatoid arthritis, but that cannot be causing this much pain, especially in my head.
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 6 years ago.
Is this the back of the head primarily?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The pain is in the back and on the whole left side of my head. It affects my left ear as well.
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 6 years ago.
Do you know if they saw the rheumatoid arthritis at the upper cervical spine?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I don't know, but I guess I can find out tomorrow. What would that matter if it was there versus somewhere else?
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 6 years ago.
people with rheumatoid arthritis can often have issues with the upper cervical spine.

The nerves from this area go to the upper neck and back of the head.

So, theoretically, if there are issues there -- you can have pains that feel like headaches, from the ears on back of the head (meaning that headaches in front of the ears, such as those that would affect the eyes and forehead are NOT related to issues in the neck).

But it sounds as if your headaches are mostly in the back of the head.

So that is a possibility.

Of course -- even if that is the issue -- the question is, what can be done about the pain? It may turn out that there is no real good treatment (besides pain medications). Sometimes steroid injections can help. Seeing a neurosurgeon for evalaution could be useful if there is instability in the neck causing the pain.

But to address the problem, the problem must first be diagnosed. So, further evaluation with a neurologist and neurosurgeon may be helpful here.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
From my understanding and research, rheumatoid is an auto immune disease that affects your joints. I am not understanding how it can be causing this much pain in my neck and head. Where are the joints there? Also, the pain is on the entire left side of my head and ear, NOT just in the back of my head. I am supposed to get another Botox injection in March. Can a person get Botox injections and steroid injections?
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 6 years ago.
rheumatoid arthritis can affect the joints. But you have many joints in the neck -- there are 7 cervical spine bones, which sit "on top" of each other, with uncovertebral and facet joints -- which can become inflammed and cause pain. In addition, the nerves which run immediately next to the joints can become compressed as well -- and those nerves can cause pain in the neck and back of the head as well.

If you are having pain on the entire left side of the head -- another source of the pain should be sought, since neck issues would not cause pain on the front area of the head (cheek, forehead, temple area in front of the ear).

You can get Botox and steroid injections.
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