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Old 04-14-2010, 01:44 PM   #1
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MRI Cord Contact -What means?

Hi Everyone! Why are these MRI so confusing? LOL Anyone give a shot at what this means?

C-5 C-6 level demonstrates posterior left paracentral disc herniation effacing the ventral CSF space with cord contact, flattening and encroaching on the exiting left C-6 nerve root. There is mild right foraminal narrowing secondary to uncinate process hypertrophy.

Thank you!!

 
Old 04-14-2010, 02:25 PM   #2
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Re: MRI Cord Contact -What means?

Well, it means that the disc herniation is causing contact with the spinal cord esp whatever the left l-6 nerve is. This is usual the cause of pain such as leg sciatica but I am not sure what nerve it is. The word mild is good because there are words above this much worse such as mildly severe or severe itself.

This is not automatic terrible news as if you can get the disc buldge to push back in, there will no longer have contact. But, it does tell you that that leg pain is not your imagination (assuming that is the issue). Words like severe is when I have always had surgery discussed next.
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Old 04-14-2010, 02:54 PM   #3
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Re: MRI Cord Contact -What means?

[QUOTE=tomsocal2000;4225725]Well, it means that the disc herniation is causing contact with the spinal cord esp whatever the left l-6 nerve is. This is usual the cause of pain such as leg sciatica but I am not sure what nerve it is. The word mild is good because there are words above this much worse such as mildly severe or severe itself.

This is not automatic terrible news as if you can get the disc buldge to push back in, there will no longer have contact. But, it does tell you that that leg pain is not your imagination (assuming that is the issue). Words like severe is when I have always had surgery discussed next.[/QUOTE]

Hi Tom Thanks for replying.

These are my symptoms. I have severe neck and back pain on the left side and along the left side of my spine especially when I sit for awhile or are on my feet alot. I get a lump in my neck under my ear when it starts. I have been trying to rub the lump out but it comes right back with the pain. Also I have some numbness in my left hands middle finger usually and numbness in the left side of my face usually after sitting.

I have been to a pain specialist and got some shots. Recent one was a shot into the facet joint.

I just got a copy of the MRI and was reading it and didn't realize before that it said the cord had contact. One doctor actually said my back was in good shape but was inflamed so I needed some rest. Why wouldn't the cord contact really stand out to them as being the problem? It would seem with my symptoms that the contact would be causing the problem. Am I not seeing something?

 
Old 04-14-2010, 03:00 PM   #4
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Re: MRI Cord Contact -What means?

I have no experience with neck pain and your ear lump. That kind of confuses me. No, it does not surprise me that it was not a big deal since they did not use the word severe. Good luck. Maybe someone else has some words of wisdom.
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Old 04-14-2010, 03:12 PM   #5
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Re: MRI Cord Contact -What means?

Thanks Tom. What are the different ratings of the cord contact. You have a good point about severe? Is that one point over contact? Thanks.

 
Old 04-14-2010, 04:32 PM   #6
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Re: MRI Cord Contact -What means?

Dwayne, you need to repost this on the Spinal Cord Disorders board. That's where people with cervical spine issues are. I had a compressed spinal cord caused by the vertebrae at C7-T1 which caused lots of problems with both my arms, hands, legs and feet. I had a surgery called an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion and fixation to stabilize my spine. You need to have a neurosurgeon evaluate your MRI. Cord compression is not something to let go, since the nerve damage only gets worse. Hope you find the right answers for your recovery.

 
Old 04-23-2010, 01:21 PM   #7
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Re: MRI Cord Contact -What means?

Thank you Minstrel and I did start another post in the Spinal section. Good idea and appreciate you telling me that and your experience.

 
Old 04-23-2010, 02:29 PM   #8
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Re: MRI Cord Contact -What means?

Hi Dwayne...I used to be in NJ too!

I've read your posts in Spine and here and thought I'd add some just to kind of educate you and others on "MRI speak". Radiologists tend to use the following when describing nerve compression....minimal as the slightest touching, mild as more compression on a nerve, moderate and you're really feeling pain and the severe is when they operate as you are in danger of killing the nerve completely. With spinal cord compression, they can actually tell you just how much compression you have. The spinal canal is quite snug so touching the cord is not uncommon and will do no harm but should be watched. But compressing the cord is another matter.

In the cervical region, the cord is about 11-12mm thick. It is inside a sac that contains spinal fluid to cushion it. So when something is compressing the cord, you need to know if it's indenting the sac, or in actual contact with the cord. And once it contacts the cord, has it compressed the cord as well. They can measure it and tell you how thick it is. In the lower spine the cord appears round but in the neck, it is more oval. Think if it as looking like a bundle of wires all strung together and 2 wires peel off at each vertebra....so it gets smaller as it goes down. That also explains why you can get problems with your toes that start in your neck. If it hasn't peeled off then it's at risk.

So this oval cord descends down through your neck and peels off nerves. The highest nerves goes to the back of your head and scalp(C2) At C3, you have nerves going to your neck and around your ears so if that nerve is being irritated, then it could cause spasms in your neck that feel like a lump. Your MRI says that you have some compressing of the nerve at C6 so you should have arm and neck pain. Those nerves that peel off hurt....a lot. You have direct pressure on it...makes sense doesn't it. But unfortunately, docs usually won't operate until the compression is severe because any surgery has risk and spine surgery has some bad risks. Makes a lot of us hurt way too much but having had a bad outcome to a spine surgery, I now understand the risks all too well.

So a compressed peeling off nerve hurts but here's the big problem...a compressed spinal cord doesn't. Like the brain, it doesn't feel pain. So if that herniated disk of yours doesn't shrink back from the cord, it could, with time, start to push harder on your cord and it won't hurt. So how do you know if it's happening? You start to lose nerve function below that level so if it's at C6, you could start to lose the nerves anywhere below your shoulders. My problems started with numbness in my toes...not complete numbness...just bothersome numbness....I could feel it wasn't right. Or you could find yourself dropping things because you think your hand is holding on tightly and it isn't.....your perception of your strength is off. I started to have trouble walking....looked like I was drunk at times....couldn't keep my balance properly. Some days my legs just felt like lead and wouldn't move forward. The nerves just didn't work right.

When I finally sought out help, my spinal cord had multiple areas of cord compression and was down to 6mm. at the smallest at C6. Half thickness and no pain. The docs told me that the disk doing all the damage had compressed my cord so slowly that my cord had adapted. Had that happened rapidly(like in an accident) I would be paralyzed. So the cord can take a lot if it's slow. We had one person here whose cervical cord was down to 4mm.

So why am I writing all of this...to make you aware of what you need to watch for. Pain is one indicator but only if one of those "side peeling" nerves is involved. And even those nerves the docs will watch for the same signs of lack of function before operating. They aren't impressed by pain. A nerve screaming in pain is still a very alive nerve. A nerve that is not working right and going numb is a nerve that is in danger of dying. Watch your arm pain.

And watch your legs and arms for numbness, muscles not working right, weakness, clumsiness, even the feeling that you are doing something and you really aren't...like not holding something tight enough to not drop it. That could signal that the disk is starting to compress your spinal cord.

It can take years and years for things to happen. I herniated C6 in 1984 and was down to 6mm. by 2006. Took 22 years but it crept up on me so slowly, I was shocked. Then just shoveling heavy wet snow one day blew another one so badly I had to do the surgery. So it can go quickly too. Know what to look for and you are ready.

I know someone gave you a stern warning about chiropractors on the spine board but a lot of people use them safely. The thing with the neck is that from C6 up, there are arteries to your brain that are actually in the bones of the vertebrae(kind of protects them). If you have a bad disk or bone spurs or other problems, a misplaced manipulation can compress one of those arteries and you can have a stroke. It's rare but does happen and if you're the unlucky one, well...what more can I say. But now your chiropractor knows and so do you so it can be monitored. Again, educating yourself is the key to making good decisions.

So if you have any other questions, I'll be glad to answer. Me? I had a new surgery called a laminaplasty from C3 to C6. it was great. And then disaster struck only 3 months after surgery and the bone grafts they put in broke in 3 of the vertebrae and it caused me to dislocate 5 vertebrae(C3 to C7). I had mixed paralysis but mostly on my left side and barely survived the second surgery. I am now fused from C3 to T1 and have worked very hard to get most of the muscles working again. But it looks like I have developed another problem below the fusion. I'll find out in June. I've had to learn all of this just to know what is going on. But knowing is good....it also told me I could recover from the paralysis.

Hope this helps.

good luck................Jenny

 
Old 04-24-2010, 04:31 AM   #9
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Re: MRI Cord Contact -What means?

Hi Jenny Great info! Thanks so much!! Helps a lot knowing about that! It sure is interesting reading and getting a picture of the cord! You really have good knowledge of that.

So do you miss the nice NJ drivers and traffic? :-)

As I was reading about what you said about dropping things and leg pain it may connect to other things. I have dropped things on occasion and my left hand does feel differently then my right besides from the tingling and numbness. Another thing I noticed is that I often have leg pain that goes down into both legs. Also feels like a guide wire at the bottom of my spine putting pressure to keep my legs straight out. (Hard to describe exactly.) I also have burning on the outer part of my thighs and top part of my feet. When I go to sleep it is very uncomfortable in my legs and feet sometimes. The other day when I was walking it felt weird like I was walking straight up and higher on my heels or something. (Again hard to describe exactly.) I actually was thinking this had something to do with my lower back and figured I had to address that later after I get through my neck stuff. Could this be connected to my neck pain?

Also my back stuff started in 1988 after a car accident. I see what you mean by taking years to happen. 1995 I had another accident and got an MRI of the C-5 C-6 which showed herniation. About 3 years ago I got this neck pain and that is when I think herniated more. Besides the C-5 C-6 this is what it says about the C-6 C-7

C6-C-7 level deomonstrates a posterior left paracentral disc protrusion/subligamentous disc herniation partially effacing the ventral CSF space without cord contact. The neural foramina are patent.

Sounds like you have been through a lot. I wish you the best in June with the other problem below the fusion. What did you have to do to get the muscles to work again?
Thanks again Jenny!

Dwayne

 
Old 04-24-2010, 05:55 PM   #10
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Re: MRI Cord Contact -What means?

Do I miss the NJ traffic? Well......I moved from there to Montreal...if you think NJ traffic is bad, try the French Canadians!

What you describe could be from your neck. I needed to get the neck fixed in order to know what my lower back was causing. But if there is pressure on your cord, anything could show up anywhere. The big thing to watch out for is trouble with bladder or bowel control. That's spells trouble.

How did I overcome the muscle problems? WORK. Nerves can take months and months to heal or get working well enough that you can re-train them so I did physical therapy for over a year and even went back at 2 1/2 years post-op to get balance training. I just kept moving what I could and passively moving what I couldn't(such as using my right arm to lift and move my left). Started PT as soon as the staples were out to get my shoulder going and not let it freeze.

Good luck and I'm glad I could help...at least with a few explanations.

Jenny

 
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