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Old 01-05-2012, 01:55 AM   #1
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disc herniation at c5-6 and c6-7

ok so this is my first post ever so here it goes...

I'm 25 y/o and have been told in the past that I have scoliosis...(this was just by an ortho looking at my shoulders; it was actually an appt for my son & he pointed this out just by looking at me) Anyway...no tests/xrays/nothing...I just kinda forgot about it...

and now (5 years later) due to both of my hands going numb, (and I was diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel) my dr ordered a cervical mri and I just got the results today...they are also going to do a study on me for possible thoracic outlet syndrome....I don't know...am I going to need surgery? Is this as bad as it sounds? someone please help me interpret this mri!

here's what it says:
c5-6: focal left paracentral disc herniation. Disc material extends for 3 or 4mm from the vertebral body border and is flattening the left side of the thecal sac and the left side of the spinal cord, but there is still CSF around the spinal cord and in the nerve root sleeves

c6-7: focal right paracentral disc herniation. disc material extends 3 or 4mm from the vertebral body border and is flattening the thecal sac and the right side of the spinal cord. There is still CSF around the cord dorsally and in the nerve root sleeves

 
Old 01-05-2012, 10:09 AM   #2
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Re: disc herniation at c5-6 and c6-7

Hi Rachel....I'm Jenny and one of the neck people here. We normally are found on the Spinal Cord Disorders board and not here on the Back Problems board. Believe it or not, there are significant differences between the neck and the low back.

Your MRI results, while not good, should not need surgery just yet. What it says is that basically you have disks at both levels that are herniated and are hitting the membrane(thecal sac) over the spinal cord and even the cord itself shows a flattening out from the pressure but yet, they can still see spinal fluid around the cord(and nerves) which means the herniation has slightly shrunk back so the cord is getting bathed in fluid like it should. No rating of the amount of spinal nerve compression is mentioned. Are there any words like Minimal, Mild, Moderate or Severe in the report?

This is probably not causing the problems in your hands. That would come from something pressing on the spinal nerves, not the cord. The pressure on the spinal cord shows itself as possible numbness in your toes, stiff legs, trouble walking....it causes problems below the level of the damage. That is why they need to test you....is it something in the shoulders causing it or is it from the cord compression. Cord compression at C5-6 and C6-7 usually shows up in the legs.

Come on down to the Spinal Cord Disorders board and meet others with similar problems. I'd be very interested to know how the thoracic outlet syndrome tests come out.

hugs...........Jenny(fused C3 to t1)

Last edited by jennybyc; 01-05-2012 at 10:14 AM. Reason: spelling

 
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Old 01-05-2012, 03:27 PM   #3
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Re: disc herniation at c5-6 and c6-7

[QUOTE=jennybyc;4905024]Hi Rachel....I'm Jenny and one of the neck people here. We normally are found on the Spinal Cord Disorders board and not here on the Back Problems board. Believe it or not, there are significant differences between the neck and the low back.

Your MRI results, while not good, should not need surgery just yet. What it says is that basically you have disks at both levels that are herniated and are hitting the membrane(thecal sac) over the spinal cord and even the cord itself shows a flattening out from the pressure but yet, they can still see spinal fluid around the cord(and nerves) which means the herniation has slightly shrunk back so the cord is getting bathed in fluid like it should. No rating of the amount of spinal nerve compression is mentioned. Are there any words like Minimal, Mild, Moderate or Severe in the report?

This is probably not causing the problems in your hands. That would come from something pressing on the spinal nerves, not the cord. The pressure on the spinal cord shows itself as possible numbness in your toes, stiff legs, trouble walking....it causes problems below the level of the damage. That is why they need to test you....is it something in the shoulders causing it or is it from the cord compression. Cord compression at C5-6 and C6-7 usually shows up in the legs.

Come on down to the Spinal Cord Disorders board and meet others with similar problems. I'd be very interested to know how the thoracic outlet syndrome tests come out.

hugs...........Jenny(fused C3 to t1)[/QUOTE]


wow, I really didn't expect to get feedback so soon (i'm new to this) so I really appreciate it!
well, let's see, I don't see any words like "mild/mod/severe" on here, but at the top of my report it says:

FINDINGS: The vertebral bodies are within normal limits in their size, shape, alignment, and signal characteristics. The upper cervical spinal cord and foramen magnum are normal in appearance.

also, this was done without contrast (if that makes a difference)

 
Old 01-10-2012, 09:36 PM   #4
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Re: disc herniation at c5-6 and c6-7

[QUOTE=jennybyc;4905024]Hi Rachel....I'm Jenny and one of the neck people here. We normally are found on the Spinal Cord Disorders board and not here on the Back Problems board. Believe it or not, there are significant differences between the neck and the low back.

Your MRI results, while not good, should not need surgery just yet. What it says is that basically you have disks at both levels that are herniated and are hitting the membrane(thecal sac) over the spinal cord and even the cord itself shows a flattening out from the pressure but yet, they can still see spinal fluid around the cord(and nerves) which means the herniation has slightly shrunk back so the cord is getting bathed in fluid like it should. No rating of the amount of spinal nerve compression is mentioned. Are there any words like Minimal, Mild, Moderate or Severe in the report?

This is probably not causing the problems in your hands. That would come from something pressing on the spinal nerves, not the cord. The pressure on the spinal cord shows itself as possible numbness in your toes, stiff legs, trouble walking....it causes problems below the level of the damage. That is why they need to test you....is it something in the shoulders causing it or is it from the cord compression. Cord compression at C5-6 and C6-7 usually shows up in the legs.

Come on down to the Spinal Cord Disorders board and meet others with similar problems. I'd be very interested to know how the thoracic outlet syndrome tests come out.

hugs...........Jenny(fused C3 to t1)[/QUOTE]


RACHEL: I needed to respond because Jenny is not a physician (nor am I) and is giving you dangerously incorrect information. Cord compression at the cervical level does NOT show up in the legs (unless your spine is cut and then you may be a paraplegic/quadriplegic). I have herniated cervical and lumbar discs. I have pain/sciatica in my legs from my lumbar (lower back) herniated discs. It is terrifying that you are being told that you "should not" need surgery by this person who is not a physician, over the internet, no less.

Do a search on "cervical radiculopathy." That's what I had (numbness, tingling, etc. all the way down to my hands) before the fusion surgery of my C5-C7 vertebrae; when you are discussing the discs pressing into the spinal cord, the NERVES ARE INVOLVED! That's Anatomy 101. The reason I said "dangerous" is that once you feel numbness down to your hands, it is usually a sign that your herniated discs have "passed the point of no return" and are pressing into your spine. If you start dropping things and your hand(s) become weak, it is an emergency and you need to have surgery within a few days to prevent further damage to your spinal cord. I don't trust doctors much anymore either (which is hard for me to say, since my late Father was one of the old-school compassionate doctors), so my time has been devoted to researching my illness. I also have arterial and venous thoracic outlet syndrome, for which I'll have to have two separate surgeries this spring. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions. I have lost faith in doctors, as perhaps "Jenny" has, but she is spewing incorrect advice. You need to go through the correct medical channels.

Last edited by elserw; 01-10-2012 at 10:44 PM.

 
Old 01-11-2012, 08:40 AM   #5
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Re: disc herniation at c5-6 and c6-7

Dear Elsewr....I respect you disagreeing with me but trust me, I know where of I speak and you are wrong on 2 accounts.

There are 2 separate issues inside the spinal canal. One is the spinal nerves....those nerves that peel off the spinal cord and go out to the body. Pressure on those is what causes radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is when the pain shoots down the nerve. It can also cause myelopathy where the pressure is so great it causes numbness, tingling, pins and needles and other signs of nerve damage. This is a sign you are getting close to needing surgery but if not severe, the nerve can still recover fully once the pressure is removed.

The second problem is spinal cord compression. The cord is covered by a membrane called the thecal sac which holds the spinal fluid in around the cord. A bulging/herniated disk or osteophytes(bone spurs) or swelling and hardening of the ligaments or even growth of the bone inside the canal can end up putting pressure on the cord. But if this happens slowly over a period of years, the cord can actually take quite a bit of compression. What it cannot handle, it the rapid compression of an accident.

In Rachel's case, her cord is barely impacted and at no place in her MRI report are the foramina(the holes where the nerves exit to the body) even mentioned as being stenotic. So she has NO pressure on the nerves to her arms causing the numbness in her hands. And, if they were, the numbness would be connected to the nerve that is compressed and not the entire hand. As she said, she has been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome....a far more common cause of of hand numbness.

And YES, cord compression DOES show up in the lower body. Once the cord is compressed, it transfers the pressure to the inner most nerve fibers causing numbness and muscle dysfunction to the feet and legs. The cord in most people is about 12mms wide and in an oval shape in the neck. We have several people on the Spinal Cord Disorders board whose cords have been compressed down to 7-8mms. I was down to 5-6mms and another here was down to 4mms. I've seen my MRI's and my cord looked like a pancake....flattened on both side due to disks and the growth of bone in the back of the canal. I had numb toes, stiff leg muscles, trouble walking, some mild loss of sensation in my legs and was starting to develop bladder and bowel incontinence. Surgery to rebuild the back of my cervical spine and double the amount of room in my spinal canal, took away all of the above symptoms.

However, like you, I didn't fully understand what was going on in my neck even after that massive surgery. But 3 months after that massive surgery I tore a ligament in my neck causing me to dislocate 5 vertebrae and break several of my bone grafts and lamina bones. One of these broken bones impaled my spinal cord, causing left sided paralysis with a mixture of muscle paralysis in other areas of my body. This resulted in having my entire neck fused and put back together with bone putty and lots of titanium. I was lucky however to have only type C and D paralysis.

This is when I began to educate myself and learn all about the nerves versus the cord, the difference between facet, uncovertebral and other joints, the ligaments and their function and how to override the damage and teach new nerve fibers to do the function of ones that are permanently damaged. Did you know you have arteries going up to the brain inside the top 6 vertebrae in your neck? Or that there is another whole set of nerves going down the outside of the vertebrae(the autonomic system)? Or that brain cell plasticity works better with brain nerve cells than spinal cord nerve cells but it does work? Or that there are 5 grades pf paralysis and some can be reversed? Or that spinal nerve compression does hurt but spinal cord compression is usually painless(the cord, like the brain has no nerve endings and can't feel pain)?

I spent the next 3 years of my life teaching my nerves to work again and have gotten back at least 95% of the muscle function I lost when my neck broke......so I did a good job educating myself. What I share is what I've learned from actual medical text books(my DIL is a nurse practitioner so I have my resources)and what I have personally experienced. And no I'm not a doc but my primary care doc has asked me for advice on spine issues for his patients and is amazed how much I have learned and understand.

And I am now faced with more problems once again as the repair to my neck has now caused additional problems and I once again am having problem with incontinence from a problem in my neck. And my lumbar spine is going to need surgery as well since I have myelopathy in my legs(numb feet and calves). But no one is rushing me into surgery due to numbness even though I wish they would...I can't feel the gas pedal with my foot so I'm rather impatient to get it fixed. But my neurosurgeon knows I have time. BTW, my neurosurgeon used to be the chief of spine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hosp. in Boston and head of spine surgery for Harvard Med School. I trust him and he teaches me, too.

The Rachel who posted here is now posting on the Spinal Cord Disorders board and has gotten the opinions of others as well....similar to mine but someone did pick up on one problem I did not spot. That is why there are a few of us who try to help. No, I'm not a doc and neither are you or anyone here. But I've worked very hard to educate myself and learn all about spine and brain anatomy and physiology(the spine is an extension of the brain after all). I ask my docs a ton of questions and wait for answers. And if I don't know an answer, I say so. And then I go researching to find that answer if I can.

Your answer to Rachel shows just how much you don't know about your own spine or the terms used by the docs. Why don't you come down to the Spinal Cord Disorders board and learn from me and others so you too know what is going on with your neck just in case you end up with more problems. We'd be glad to have you.

Jenny

 
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Old 01-11-2012, 03:45 PM   #6
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Re: disc herniation at c5-6 and c6-7

Jenny is 110% correct.

We are all here to help others understand what they are going through. This site is for peer-to-peer discussions and Jenny is the most knowledgeable person I've ever met. Not only that but her explanations are spot on, clear, and easy to understand.
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Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

Last edited by SpineAZ; 01-11-2012 at 03:48 PM.

 
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