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Old 12-26-2003, 05:19 PM   #1
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SalukiDawg HB User
Just Diagnosed with Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Hi Folks,

I have just been diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis, with my spinal cord being compressed around my C5-C6 vertebrae.

On Nov 30, I was driving home from visiting my sister, and I developed acute pain in my neck which radiated to my shoulder. The pain got worse and worse and then I developed numbness in my right thumb and index finger. I went to the ER and they filled me up with Dilaudid, which still didn't stop the pain. They X-rayed my back and told me I had radiculopathy caused by osteoarthritis with foraminal narrowing. The ER doctor prescribed Percocet and Prednisone told me to consult a neurologist/neurosurgeon ASAP, and sent me on my way. I got an appointment with a neurologist, who did a EMG and NCS and sent me for a MRI, and told me that I had a fairly severe cervical spinal stenosis.

As of right now, I am taking Percocet (10 mg oxycodone/325 mg acetomeniphen) 4/day and Vioxx 50 mg 1/day, I went off of the Prednisone because I am type II diabetic and it was rasing hell with my blood glucose. Meanwhile, I am still under a great deal of pain in my right arm and my numbness in my thumb and index finger still continue.

The neurologist referred me to a orthopedic spine surgeon, and I have my first appointment on Monday Dec 29. I suppose I am a little scared about the prospect of surgery. I could learn to live with the numbness and weakness in my right arm/hand, but the pain is just too much to deal with.

I was wondering if there is anybody out there who had similar experiences and what effect surgery has had on their symptoms?

 
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Old 12-26-2003, 06:21 PM   #2
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hugo eve HB User
Re: Just Diagnosed with Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Hi Saluki

Last june I woke up with excruitiating pain down my right arm. A couple of weeks later I was working on a light firtting above my head and after getting off the ladder I had difficulty walking. By this time I still had the arm pain.I saw a neurosurgeon who organised a MRI and some electrical testing on muscle strengh in arms and legs. The Electrical tests showed nothing wromg with my legs (yeah sure!) and a 50% decrease in strength in my arm. I could barely lift my right foot off the ground and had a huge difficulty moving over anything other than flat ground. The MRI showed that my spinal cord was flattened at C5/6 and that C4/5 wasn't far behind. I started then to look at all my options and tried traction etc. After 6 weeks the pain had gone in my left arm and the strength had come back. I was (and am) still clumsy in two fingers on right hand. My legs got better except that everytime I looked up the legs would go wobbly for the rest of the day. Eventually I found the disc protusions seem to be pushing on the cord more often and whereas I generally felt better in walking (I had been working out with a physio which may explain it) I was doing less and less in fear of aggravating the discs. I spoke to four surgeons and they all recomended different treatments. No 1 wished to fuse C5/6. No 2 wished to install artificial disc in C5/6. No 3 wanted to remove vertibrae C5 and put a bit of bone from C4 to C6. No 4 wanted to remove discs C4/5 and C5/6 and fuse with hip bone. I went with no 4 and had the surgery on Dec 17th. It was a breeze. They went in throught front of the neck and fused the two vertibrae using bone from my hip. My neck was a bit swollen and I had to eat slushy food for a while and my voice was a bit growly and faded out after to much use. They screwed in a titanium plate/cage to keep it all together. My X rays make me look like the terminator <grin>! I was given a morphine pump to self administer to combat pain but didn't need to use it (to the surprise of the nurses). The hip was a bit sore. I would liken it to falling off a bicycle and landing on you hip. 24 hrs after operation I could sit in a chair. 36 hrs later I was having a shower on my own. 3 and a half days later I was home. Yep, legs appaer to be fine. Still have a bit of limp due to hip but getting much better every day. Will look into finger problem later but may find that will take time for damaged cord to repair itself (hopefully). Extremely happy I had the op. Now no longer see life ahead as a cripple and looking forward to changing tyres etc which were an impossibility before. O yes, the surgeon told me that C4/5 was worse than C5/6 which shows that MRI's arn't absolute, also means if I had gone with first two surgeons I could well still have a problem. Cheers Hugo

 
Old 12-27-2003, 11:19 AM   #3
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Ramsfan HB User
Wink Re: Just Diagnosed with Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Hi Saluki,

I had 2 different surgeries in 1994 and 1995 for similar symptoms. I thought that I could tolerate the pain and tingling but it gradually got worse. My surgeon prefered to do 2 separate surgeries as oposed to one to avoid using a plate if he did both at once. I had c3,c4 and c5 fused. That plus the prospect of paralysis with even a minor accident made my decision for surgery easier to make. The initial recovery period was a little uncomfortable but in the long run I am glad that I made the decision for surgery. Other than occasional stiffness in the neck and slight "presence" in my throat I can do most anything within reason. Unfortunately I got too carried away over the years and did some things the doctor adviced me against which caused the dreaded domino affect. (anything that could jolt or impact the spine) and I just had my 3rd surgery on Dec. 19th. I was given percocet for pain (2 every 4 hours) After my 2nd day post op I only take 1 before bed and sometimes one if I wake up in the middle of the night. I have been going throughout the entire day with no pain meds. Other than that I feel pretty good.

Frank

 
Old 12-27-2003, 03:03 PM   #4
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Re: Just Diagnosed with Cervical Spinal Stenosis

I've had two surgeries ... the second better than the first. Not saying the first was bad ... I was a walking advertisement for my doctor. :-) I am now a walking GLOWING advertisement for my doctor. The only thing I recommend to you is that you find a surgeon that you truly like, respect, etc. It will make the recovery period so much easier because of confidence. My second set of symptoms came on like your symptoms did. My first twinge of pain was October 16, surgery on November 6 (thank God!). The pain was just too much. When I awoke in recovery from the surgery - that pain was GONE, replaced by managable pain. As soon as I got to my room after surgery I got up out of bed to potty, then changed into my pajamas that I brought with me, and went for a walk. I felt sooooo good. Okay, now I'm rambling ... GOOD LUCK!

Donna

P.S. Did anyone explain to you that if you don't have surgery to fix that arm, that your muscles could atrophy? Nerves feed muscles, and your muscles are not being fed. Something to think about! In the little time that I had between onset and surgery, I couldn't put the car into Drive ... something so simple. My arm has made progress, but nowhere near what it was. That is why my surgeon decided to do surgery so quickly ... he said I may not have use of my arm if he waited another week. I believe him!

Last edited by DonnaKay; 12-27-2003 at 03:09 PM.

 
Old 12-27-2003, 06:25 PM   #5
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SalukiDawg HB User
Re: Just Diagnosed with Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonnaKay
P.S. Did anyone explain to you that if you don't have surgery to fix that arm, that your muscles could atrophy? Nerves feed muscles, and your muscles are not being fed. Something to think about! In the little time that I had between onset and surgery, I couldn't put the car into Drive ... something so simple. My arm has made progress, but nowhere near what it was. That is why my surgeon decided to do surgery so quickly ... he said I may not have use of my arm if he waited another week. I believe him!
My neurologist did explain the consequences on how the muscles in my arm could atrophy while he was conducting the electromyelograph tests.

You know, I cannot drive my Mustang because I have difficulty shifting the transmission into drive with the shifter on the floorboard. So I have been driving my pickup truck because I have less difficulty shifting with the shifter on the steering column.

I am not doing much driving now anyway since the Percocet really makes me drowsy.

 
Old 12-27-2003, 11:53 PM   #6
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jkhsns HB User
Re: Just Diagnosed with Cervical Spinal Stenosis

Salukidawg,

I'm faced with the same problem, and have gotten to the point that I need to take action. Mine involves my left arm, and more painfully, my left shoulder. The arm pain, tingling, and "shocked" feeling are reasonably controlled during the day with Bextra, Zanaflex and Tylenol #3. The nearly uncontrolled pain occurs in my shoulder, which feels as if it is a perpetual cramp. I can actually feel the muscles in my shoulder crawling beneath the skin while I try and massage the area. At its worst, the pain requires that I switch to Vicodin or Oxycontin for relief. Relief can be had, but the Zanaflex in combination with the Vicodin and Oxycontin leaves me a drooling idiot and/or dead asleep. My wife tells me that I am nearly unresponsive when so drugged, and my only memories of the time so spent is that I was very tired, and then the world pretty much went away. I am forced to attempt sleep in a contorted position unless I have taken the comatose combination, which requires that I lie on my right side, with my neck cocked to the right and tilted back. I then have to place my left arm behind my back, touching the mattress. I suffer from sleep apnea, and have a CPAP machine to assist my sleeping breathing, but I cannot keep the mask on my face when I finally fall asleep and promptly roll off my right side. This is driving me crazy! I just had my right knee replaced at the end of June, and for the first time in twenty-five years, I can walk as much as I like, so this torment prevents me from enjoying my new found health as much as I would like. So, it's back to the neurosurgeon for me, and hopefully we'll both have great outcomes. I am grateful for all the positive information from all those who have posted replies. Please keep us informed of your progress, and I'll do the same.

 
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