Hi everyone. I am new to this particular board. For the last four years I have experienced a slew of "issues" and it all started with some spells of lightheadedness that became more constant. I do not have the typical spinning vertigo. I usually feel very off balance. For instance, just sitting here typing this I feel like either my head is going to just fall off of my shoulders, or that I'm going to fall out of my chair. I also have sensations like you would feel when you are in an elevator and it starts to go down. I will feel those either sitting or standing. I'm usually OK if I am moving around, but sitting in a chair without being able to rest my head on something is absolute torture for me. Grocery stores, malls, or any large buildings with flourescent lighting make it worse. I have been to so many different types of doctors trying to get this resolved and no one can help me. Most just treat me like I'm totally crazy. I have since developed horrible anxiety - mostly revolving around my health. Lately I've become obsessed with my heart and I won't even go into my saga on that. I am convinced, however, that my CNS and SNS are messed up due to whatever is going on with my neck.
I had been going to a neurologist for the lightheadedness problem back in 2004. He did neck and brain MRIs and could not explain my diagnosis. He said I had bulging discs in my neck but that was "normal for someone my age". I'm 31 - was 28 or 29 at the time of that MRI. I finally gave up on it and just decided to live with the lightheadedness. For a while it hasn't been that bad, but it has intensified so much in the last week I don't know how to just live with it anymore.
I have been having problems with my left arm going numb, so my PCP just recently sent me back to the neurologist that couldn't help me. He sent me for an MRI and today I went for EMG testing. The EMG showed that I have cubital (sp???) tunnel syndrome and he said there is nothing that can be done, but that is what is causing the tingling in my arm. He said my MRI showed bulging discs, but nothing real bad and nothing we can do about it. He also assured me that this was not causing my lightheadedness/off balance feeling. I'm no doctor, but I just find that very hard to believe. I know that this is already very long, but I would like to post my MRI results and get opinions from those of you on this board. I have read several posts by "Feelbad" in the past and she seems very knowledgeable with all of this.
I thank anyone in advance that can offer me any comments or suggestions. I am so sick of feeling this bad. I had a doctor tell me once "it's just a little lightheadedness...deal with it!" Well, I am sick of "dealing" with it. Most people have no clue what this feels like. I cry at least once a day because I feel so "off" all of the time.
Here are my MRI results: (this was done with and without contrast)
FINDINGS: The ultra-high resolution MRI scan demonstrated the following: There is loss of the normal cervical lordosis. The vertebral bodies of the cervical spine are otherwise grossly normal in size, configuration, and signal intensity. Note is made of posterior osteophytes extending off the inferior aspects of the C3, C4, C5 and C6 vertebral bodies. The prevertebral soft tissues are normal. The cerebellar tonsils and 4th ventricle are in normal anatomic location. There are posterior extensions of the C3-4, C4-5, C5-6, C6-7 and C7-T1 intervertebral discs. On the T2-weighted sagittal and axial pulse sequences, there are disc/osteophyte complexes extending from C3-4 through C6-7 encroaching on the anterior subarachnoid space. At C7-T1, there is a small central protrusion as well as signal intensity changes consistent with a small tear in the posterior annular fibers. The cervical cord and nerve roots are normal in size and signal intensity. After intravenous injection of Gadolinium-DTPA, the only pathologic enhancement is that associated with the small annular tear at C7-T1.
1. Mild cervial spondylosis extending from C3-4 through C6-7, with disc/osteophyte complexes encroaching on the anterior subarachnoid space.
2. At C7-T1, there is a small central protrusion as well as signal intensity changes consistent with a small tear in the posterior annular fibers.
3. The cervical cord and nerve roots are normal in size and signal intensity.
4. There is loss of the normal cervical lordosis.
5. After intravenous injection of Gadolinium-DTPA, the only pathologic enhancement is that associated with the small annular tear at C7-T1.
6. When compared to the patient's previous MRI scan performed on 05/18/2004, there has been a slight increase in the posterior extension of the C7-T1 intervertebral disc. There is also a small tear in the posterior annular fibers at C7-T1 which was not present on the previous study.
Thanks to any of you who are still reading this! Please let me know what you think.
There are a number of things indicated on your MRI that could be responsible for not only the arm problem, but the light headedness.
I had these exact same symptoms prior to having my 2 level ACDF. I would almost fall down after being on an elevator.
Rather than go into a bunch of detail on what may or may not be wrong, let me give you some advice.
First, understand that insurance companies work to make it difficult for you to get the correct diagnosis. I was told by a neurosurgeon early on, that "I didn't want to go through the surgery." How did he know that? Anyway, it's a technique used to move you through the system at the lowest cost.
What you need to do is meet with your GP and demand a second opinion. Take the time to search the approved doctors, and try and locate one in your area with credentials in or specialty in the spine. Check for spine clinics etc. Then go into the meeting with a couple of names of people you want to see for a second opinion.
It's really hard sometimes to be fourceful in these situations, particularly if it's not in your nature, but this is your body, your health and well being, so you have to be a squeeky wheel in order to get results.
BTW, there isn't anything life threatening on your MRI. There are some things that need to be looked at by an experienced spine doc though.
I have a host of neuro issues...I had a large protrusion at c6-7 (to date no surgery). No one has been able to tell me why I'm having all of these neuro issues (started apprx. 4 months after herniation - and ongoing for the past 10 months). Anyway...being light headed is almost a constant for me - I totally understand what you're talking about. I was hit a few times with horrible vertigo too, off balance stuff as well. Some days are better than others, but it's ALWAYS something. I can't seem to find a doc that wants to attribute it to my neck, just like you. But, like you, I am convinced I have CNS/SNS damage as well and my neck is the culprit. I am still trying to get figured out...my neuro symptoms are extensive. I am seeing a physiatrist next week, though don't really think I'll get very far there. I am getting desperate so I just called the Mayo Clinic yesterday and made an appt. for next month - it's hard to orchestrate as it's a plane ride away and I have three kids, but I have got to get figured out. Please keep us posted on how things go for you. Sorry you're dealing with this. Also, anyone on the board gone through the Mayo? Is there a better place I should be going with all these undiagnosed neuro issues and a bad neck? Good luck Leela. Mona
I agree with Dennis 100%. There are treatments for cubital tunnel syndrome (elbow related as opposed to carpal tunnel which involves the hand/wrist) and there are also treatments for the MRI findings you have especially if the findings correspond to the symptoms you are having.
For example, my MRI showed disc herniations at C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7. At C5-6 and C6-7 I also had bone spurring. ALL of my symptoms correlated directly to C5-6 and C6-7. So my surgery was an anterior fusion of C5-7. Since I had no symptoms related to C4-5 the surgeon advised against treating it at this time as medical advances in the future may provide alternate treatments to fusion.
There are all kinds of alternate treatments for some of the findings you have - from physical therapy to epidural injections, etc. Get a second, or even third, opinion from a well respected neurosurgeon.
Thanks for the posts! I just find it that hard to believe that those findings are in no way causing my symptoms. I will take the results to my PCP and try to get her to refer me to another neurologist or neurosurgeon. The thing is, she really likes the neurologist she sent me to and agrees with him that there is no way my neck problems are causing my off balance feeling. I'm on an HMO, so I have to get referrals to go to specialists.
I have agreed to let the neurologist do an LP on me. He thinks that my spinal pressure could be what is causing my symptoms. I, personally, do not agree with him because of the fact that they come and go, but I will let him do it because until I do he won't look any further. I had an LP once a couple years ago in an ER (I went for a headache that was a 100 on the pain scale) and it hurt like hell. I also got the wonderful spinal tap headache a couple of days later even though I followed their instructions and laid flat for 24 hours. This guy is telling me that I only have to lay flat in their office for a little bit and then I can go back to my normal day. I don't know how confident I am in that. I am also getting yet another brain MRI tomorrow evening. I'm sure that will come out clean like the other 2 I have had.
Anyway - thanks again for the posts. I really want to get this sorted out. I am in complete agony just sitting here at my computer. The doctors keep telling me that I should be thankful that I don't have anything seriously wrong with me. But they don't understand how horrible this is. I mean, just sitting here right now, I feel like I'm going to fall over. I wish they could just live in my body for one day and then maybe they would listen to me and try to help me!
If anyone else has any comments...please share them!
How funny...I just had to comment. I feel like you do sitting at the computer; I'm not kidding, I've had a few bouts where I seriously thought I was going to pass out, seizure or something, though thankfully haven't done so, yet. But I have the same thoughts exactly, if some of the docs I've seen could sit in my body for even 10 minutes, they might at least get some idea of how screwed up I am. I'm 45 years old and have seen many early 30's young buck docs; they totally don't get it and are often not very compassionate. Good luck with the testing. Mona
Mona - please keep me posted on your testing and I will do the same. I have been dealing with this for 4 years. I'm getting married in April and I just want this to go away! When my lightheadedness is real bad I feel like I'm swaying when I'm standing still. Luckily our ceremony will be short!
i wish i had seen this sooner,real sorry there.the big thing here after all the great advice you have gotten is to go to an actual neurosurgeon not another neurologist.honestly between the both types of specailists that i have had to see over the years,the neurosurgeons just have a much better real understanding of how all things in the brain and the c spine work,really.i would go to a neurologist strictly for my headches and nothing more.getting the brain MRI was a good idea too,you really DO need to check out both c spine and brain with your types of symptoms,hopefully they used contrast?.the CSF theory,well that IS possible and the LP would possibly reveal something with the fluid itself or the CSF pressure alone.its a good "rule out' type of test anyways.you DO sound from what you have explained to have some sort of possible SNS affectation going on somehow.the fact that your c spine problems all appear to be more prominent on the posterior portion could possibly be somehow actually affecting the sympathetic chain but you really wont know that for sure really unless they actually visualised it themselves during a surgery,just because of the location.since it isn't compressiong the acual cord at all well thats good.but it makes it harder to explain the SNS type symptoms too.the SNS chainactually runs downalong both sides of the outsideof the spinal column so theorhetically,it 'could' become affected in some way with certain types of herniations and or bone spurs.just some possible reasons here.
but your mission here right now is to get yourself into a good neurosurgeon and not try another neurologist who really is pretty much useless in this type of situation.they just do not really 'get it" you know what i mean?there are some rare ones out there but honestly,actually having a doc who has been inside a spinal cord or column or brain is just going to be much much more knowledgeable than one who just looks at films and peoples heads.good luck and please keep us all posted here,sorry i didn't get way down to this particular board for a while,been busy upstairs.Marcia
11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.
Prior to involving the Neuro, getting his opinion etc. I was having serious problems with blacking out.
Before the bilevel ACDF. If I was sitting in a chair, and say I suddenly looked up at the clock on the wall! Sometimes I would go bye,bye!
If I sat for an extended time, then slowly rose while looking sideways. I would take a nap.
My landlady and I were talking one day. I was standing making coffee, she was sitting at the table. She said something to me. I snapped my head around to look at her.I awoke with her craddling my head, calling my name. She is a CNA. She looked at me and said,"You have electrical problems". I guess the whole time I was out. 20-30 seconds my feet were kicking.
Talk about spooky. I would walk my 6-8 miles a day here in Tampa, and I would always worry. Driving in Tampa is like being a gunslinger in the "Old West". "Rules do not apply" and "You gotta get them, before they get you!"
I was always worried about passing out and getting run over AGAIN!
Post bilevel ACDF. I just have to worry about the "Gunslingers"!