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Old 10-29-2010, 09:36 AM   #1
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Questions About Massive Disc Herniation

Hello everyone,

I was just diagnosed with a massive disc herniation at C5-C6 causing severe central canal stenosis. I have some other cervical disc issues, but this is the major one. It is herniating centrally and to the left impinging my spinal cord. In the same area, I also have facet hypertrophy (bone overgrowth) a lot on the right side, a little on the left, and a thickened ligamentum flavum. Figures because I also have all this in my lumbar spine. All this is causing central canal stenosis and right foraminal stenosis...UGHHHH!!

My doc kept asking me if I'm having any loss of bladder or bowel control, which I'm not, but...I always feel like I need to go to the bathroom and usually go like every hour. I am aware that loss of bowel/bladder control CAN happen if the cord is severely compressed and that's probably why my doc kept asking. However, can it cause problems like feeling like you have to go all the time or having to go so much?

I've had this happen in the past where I was going literally every 15 minutes, and after a while only dribbling came out. I never urinated fully. As soon as I had either a nerve block done and even after my lumbar surgery, my bathroom problems suddenly stopped.

Also, I'm going to have a bunch of ESI's done, which I know don't "cure" a herniation, but it usually DOES relieve a lot of my pain for a couple weeks. I really do not want surgery again, but would do it only when absolutely necessary. Does anyone know if large cervical herniations tend to resolve on their own after time? I know my stenosis from osteophytes & ligament thickening won't resolve w/o surgery, but what a herniation? If not, is the chance good my symptoms could get worse?

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Old 10-30-2010, 07:31 AM   #2
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Re: Questions About Massive Disc Herniation

I have the same problem with having to go all the time & I also can't hold it, if I don't make it in time to the bathroom I have problems. Although one doctor told me long ago it could be the medication. So not sure about that one but I do know as my hernaition progressed so did my problem.

Ive never heard of a herniation resolving itself. Perhaps a bulged disc but not herniated. Maybe I'm wrong. I know there are those who have hernations & don't suffer from severe pain. I'd say those are the lucky ones.

Through my own experiance I can say things can get worse. Mine did right before surgery & I was ever so thankful surgery was around the corner.

I feel the same I'd do anything to avoid surgery but when pain is not responsive to any treatment I get worried.
I imagine hearing the word "massive" you have some concerns.
What are your symptoms?
I'm sorry you have to go through this after the problems with your lumbar. I have the lumbar herniations also & pray those stay idol so to speak.
I wish you the best of luck with the ESIs.

Old 10-30-2010, 07:58 AM   #3
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Re: Questions About Massive Disc Herniation

Thank you, Sammy! So sorry you're having some of the same issues like with the bladder. It can't just be coincidence, right?....when the bladder issues suddenly are gone when you get injections or whatever....or that the symptoms get worse as your spine issue gets worse. So what type of surgery did you end up having? And did it help you at all???

My symptoms in my cervical area are headaches, bilateral arm pain, pain & pins and needles in all 3 fingers on both hands, shocks down the back of my neck/spine. I get nerve pains literally all over the place, however, I'm not sure if some of them are related to my neck as I also have lumbar herniations and stenosis.

I tend to keep my head bent a bit forward now. If my head is too straight or bent back at all, that's when the arm/finger pain really gets bad. It used to be that when I slept, I would constantly wake up with both arms & hands completely numb. Then after a while I realized it was dependent on my neck position while sleeping. All those times my head was back a little while sleeping. Now I sleep with the top of my mattress raised a bit, a bunch of stacked pillows, and a cervical pillow on top of that so that my chin almost touches my neck. This helps a lot with these symptoms while sleeping. Many times I also get pins& needles and/or numb fingers while sitting at work, etc. I do have problems walking, but I am pretty sure it's due to my lumbar issues and pain. Also, when I cough, sneeze, or laugh, I get widespread sharp pins & needles all over my entire upper back & chest. The pain in my upper arms feels like someone is squeezing the life out of them and I get bad, painful nerve pain in my middle fingers..well, I should my pointer, middle, and ring finger on both hands. If I cough or something and my arms are up from my side, they go instantly weak and fall down. So anyway, these are just some of my symptoms from my cervical area. And I knew it, I just had an awful feeling that all seemed eerily similar to symptoms I had in my lower body before my lumbar surgery. I had severe lumbar stenosis with claudication in my legs & rear. Well, I now have more stenosis in my lumbar area, though not as severe as before my surgery. But I just knew in my gut the same thing was going on my neck..and my recent MRI's confirmed it..UGHHH!!

Old 10-31-2010, 07:52 AM   #4
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Re: Questions About Massive Disc Herniation

I had fusion in C5-6. Although during surgery he found C7 & C4 were in rough shape with C7 in the lead. He thought about repairing C7 level but ran into other problems so did not have the time. As there were disc fragments splintered into my Dura & a bone spur he did not anticipate. I still do not get why none of this appeared on the MRIs.

Back then it was primarly left sided & just started to move into the right some right before sugery. I developed the worst headaches you could imagine 2-3 weeks before. I swear I did not think pain like that existed & to top it all off I was the one who insisted on scheduling my surgery 1 month from the time he found my herniation. If I would have had it sooner I would have not been in near as much pain with the headaches. I had some but not to that degree.

Now the headaches seem to be returning & I have an appointment with my PCP tommorrow to order a much needed MRI. My PM ordered one but the insurance would not cover much of the costs with him being out of network.

I have pain & problems in both shoulders, elbow,neck, headaches & feet, with the right one being the worse of the 2 & the entire upper back. As I type my back is tingling away here on the left side.
We now have to figure out it the lumbar or cervical causing my feet to swell & hurt.

Had an ESI 3 weeks ago so in some areas I have relief but its already fading in the feet & I'm on a 7 day straight stretch with the headaches. Headaches are the worst for me to deal with. I don't have the same fingers bothering me in both hands. My right in primarly the index & middle & the left is along the pinky area. The right can swell & discolor much like the foot. The index finger swells really bad & will not bend or unbend. The ESIs provide the most relief in my hands & eblow, thank goodness.
I have nerve pain in the hands & I believe the elbow. I hope its not starting in my right foot. Its so scattered its hard to say whats causing what. Really I'd rather have the cervical causing it all then have the lumbar & cervical both causing all of this pain.

I can feel more & more pressure in my neck so I have to assume something has changed in there.

My surgeon did warn me with some people when one area such as the cervical has problems the lumbar will follow or vice versa.

As far as going to the bathroom. Thats a really good question, I have not paid a lot of attention after my ESIs but you know it may be a bit better as there are times its much worse then others. Meaning there is no control at times, not a fun thing to happen when your out & about. Now Ive noticed in the morning I feel pressure to go as anyone would upon waking but I have to apply a little pressure to get things moving & it can be painful. Its strange as I use to be up several times in the night & now I have to kind of make myself go. Not in the day time though as I'm crossing my legs praying to make it. I could only imagine what I look like, lol.

I'm sorry to say I don't think either of us will get better on our own here.
My PM already told me months ago no more lifting. In fact until we figure it out he said no lifting anything more then a gallon of milk. Much like post op. I was suppose to see a surgeon for evaluation in may-june but I put it off due to work for the summer. Not smart & I know that.

I'm thinking you have DDD with problems in both? I'm sure it must have been tough to handle knowing the cervical was starting. I truly hope the ESIs work but please be careful & don't go attempting to take on to much. Does not sound like you can at this point but at times when ESIs provide that much needed relief we do more then we should.

As for pillows I cannot figure out what to do. Since I wake up with headaches I'm assuming its the way I sleep but Ive tried every pillow out there & tried stacking them & going without. The postion you describe I believe would get me into trouble.
Usually if I wake up with my chin down towards my chest I can barely move my head.
So odd how each of us responds different to things. Then again I have the fusion also & things have never been the same since my surgery.
Let me know how your doing, very curious to see if the ESIs help you out, I really hope so. I'll keep you in my prayers. God bless, Sammy

Last edited by sammyo1; 10-31-2010 at 07:54 AM.

Old 10-31-2010, 04:52 PM   #5
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Re: Questions About Massive Disc Herniation

OMG, wow Sammy, I'm so sorry you have so many issues going on as well! There are many things that don't necessarily show up on MRI or the radiologist that interprets the MRI doesn't find it, etc. I know when I had my lumbar surgery, there was a lot more stenosis than what my MRI showed.

I do have DDD, spondylosis, and stenosis from multiple factors in both my cervical and lumbar spine. I just constantly get disc herniations and no idea why it happens to me so often. I've been having problems/pain in my neck on and off now since 2005 or 2006. At one point before my lumbar surgery, my neck was so bad and in such spasm, my throat and face would spasm. My left shoulder was literally pushed forward in constant spasm 24/7 and I was always asking people to try to pull my arm back! Ahhh, but I was never sent to have my neck x-ray'd or MRI'd back then. My rheum seemed like he thought I had fibro, yeahhhh OOOOOKay, even though he knew my lumbar issues & stenosis. Whatever. I'm finding a new rheum anyway.

I know it sucks when your doc it ouf of network! Mine was since we switched plans, and I finally had to find a new PM since it was just costing me too much with my other PM. All they could do was give me meds.

I do think you should definitely try to pay attention to your treatments and how your bladder is affected both before & after. I am convinced that compression in at least some areas do affect the bladder & not necessarily just loss of control. Feeling like you always have to go, just dribbling, needing to push your bladder to get it out, etc...I wish I had some ideas for you for sleeping with your neck. If I think of anything, I'll definitely let you know! I'll also keep you posted as to how my ESI's work.

Thanks again for your replies and I wish you a painless evening!

Old 11-04-2010, 07:14 AM   #6
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Re: Questions About Massive Disc Herniation

Wow, I can't believe your Rhem thought it was fibro with those symptoms.
Especially when you have lumbar problems. No wonder you have a massive hernation. This must have been going on for some time now.
Ive found other doctors do not always understand Spinal problems.
I'm going to be picking up an order for an MRI this sometime this week or the beginning of next week. God willing my problems will show. With 2 MRIs not showing the extent of my injuries it makes me nervous & my pain is climbing here.
Honestly I don't know how your managing but I wish you the very best with the ESIs. Thank you for the advice & with the ESIs wearing off I'll pay close attention to how the bladder holds up. I can tell you I get more then a few laughs at times while making my way to the bathroom. Trying to walked with my legs somewhat crossed is not an easy task, lol.
God bless & yes let me know how it goes. Sammy

Old 11-04-2010, 04:28 PM   #7
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Re: Questions About Massive Disc Herniation

Hey Baybreeze...long time no see!

Still getting worse, huh. Weren't you the one who told at one time that your cord was down to 4mms? Was that you?

Large herniations like that don't resolve. Only small ones that might shrink back into their sacks do anything. Once the are totally out, they stay out. And they can begin to clacify and do even more damage to your cord.

If you remember me, I was compressed to 6mms and had surgery only to have the entire thing slip, dislocating 5 vertebrae and breaking the grafts in 3 of them. I was slowly becoming paralyzed from the neck down as I walked around with this problem for almost 4 weeks before anyone did an x-ray.

Well, I'm almost 4 years out from that accident and I can tell you that the nerve damage can return. I worked my butt off getting back all the muscle use and strength and now, it's all slowly going away again. My neurologist says it's all part of the nerve might be able to bring it back for a while but eventually it takes its' toll.

If you are postponing surgery waiting until it is so bad you can't stand it...that won't happen. The nerves will slowly start to fade away as they die and you'll have less pain. That's where I started from.....felt neck pain for a couple of years after 30 years of it. Then you start to see things like trouble walking...walking like a drunk at times, your arms don't want to go over your head and tire very easily, you drop things a the time you get those symptoms, you may never lose them or they may return a few years after surgery...that is what I battle now. And yes, I had to go all the time as I couldn't hold it properly.You lose sphincter control and it's "catheter city" for life.

No one wants spine surgery but waiting too long is a big mistake. Don't wait until the muscle issues show up because chances are they will come back after surgery and are permanent. If they already have shown up, get the surgery now. Don't be stupid like I was.


Old 11-07-2010, 02:24 PM   #8
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Re: Questions About Massive Disc Herniation

Hi Jenny,

No, that wasn't me that had the cord down to 4MMs. I have no idea what mine is, only that I have a very large herniation impinging my cord. I am so sorry to hear what you've been going through, OMG! I really hope you don't get as bad as you were. I've been doing my PT exercises since 2006 and obviously it doesn't help me or keep me from getting all my spine problems. I went to PT as long as I could through insurance, then I kept going for year, paying them a small monthly fee to use like a gym. Then I lost my last job so I had to stop going there, however, they hooked me up with a stretching strap, excersise ball and some other things..and I've always done my exercise at home.

I noticed you mentioned dropping things.... I sure have been dropping things constantly, though I don't think I have nerve damage in my hands. I can't walk correctly either, but I think a lot of that is due to both my one ankle and my lower spine issues. I've had the neck problems and symptoms on & off since 2006, but my rheum was always like one thing at a time. I never had my neck checked until recently w/ a new pain mgmnt doc. Thankfully he didnt tell me one thing at a time! I had to get x-rays of cervical & lumbar spine, MRI's of both cervical & lumber also. UGHHHHHHH!! I know things like this in the cervical spine can be dangerous, but I just cannot think of surgery right now. Plus, since I've never had anything done w/ my cervical spine, insurance would require me to try a bunch of things before surgery. Actually my ESI's got postponed until this coming Tuesday b/c my insurance didn't accept the original surgical center. Now I have to go to one quite a distance away, but what can I do.

Thanks so much for you advice and input about your experience! And I do hope you feel better somehow.

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