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Old 01-19-2010, 09:03 AM   #1
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Red face HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

On Thanksgiving Day 2009 my husband, myself, and my son went to the Waterpark of America. About an hour or so after going down the largest waterslide I started to feel shoulder and left arm pain. It started dull and over the rest of the day gradually got worse. I just went around the lazy river the rest of the day. After returning to our hotel the pain got worse. I took ibuprofen but it didn't seem to do anything. That night I was in excruciating pain and from the elbow down I felt tingles and numbness. My middle finger and thumb felt completely strange. The hotel was nice enough to take me to the hospital. At that point they gave me IV Morphine and Dilaudid. The doctor explained he thought I had a herniated disk and wanted to admit me to the hospital, he mentioned surgery. (At that point he had done no actual testing but said he was sure because of my symptoms). I panicked and asked to be released so I could return home to Iowa (I feared being trapped in MN when my husband and child had to return home the next day. He gave me Dilaudid in pill form (never even knew it exists). I took that and did OK till I returned to our home.


After some struggles in finding medical care here (I recently moved to Iowa and didn't even have a regular doc) I had an MRI on January 4th, 2010. I thought because I was feeling dramatically better nothing serious could be wrong. I was extremely suprised when the doctor walked into the room and said in his words "The MRI is bad, no horrible!". He asked if I had had major trauma as I am only 37 and this is not normal at this age. I had a major auto accident in 1996 (broken femur & head trauma) Nothing with my neck that I knew of. I had a couple of small accidents in 2008, one with some lower back pain and they said the xrays at that time showed sciatica which was probably from the major accident in 96. And on Thanksgiving it was not as if I had an accident or anything defined, it was a slow progression over the day.

He said I needed to go to the University of Iowa to see a neurosurgeon and that it was critical. I panicked and he made me an appointment with a Orthopedic Surgeon to discuss the results with me and coordinate everything with the University. He said in the meantime I need to be extremely careful that anything could cause paralysis. Is he overexagerating???

Here are the MRI results -

Moderate to large disk defects are present at both C5-6 and C6-7. Considered a severe central canal stenosis at both levels, more severely at C6-7 than C5-6. This does compromise the AP diameter canal and is considered to impress upon the cord more severely at C6-7 than C5-6. There is no remaining CSF interspace noted between the disk and cord at C6-7 and a sliver remaining at C5-6 on sagittal sequencing. This defect appears to be slightly greater and extending somewhat inferiorly to the left at the C6-7 level. There is mild to moderate bilateral foraminal stenosis at C5-6 and C6-7. There is not considered defined abnormal cord signal within the cord at these two levels.

Symptoms (Not Sure if Related Problem or pain killers?)

*Left shoulder pain radiating down arm. From elbow to hand numb sensations & tingling especially in middle finger and thumb. This is DRAMATICALLY better than in November.

*Inability to move neck in all directions without upper back pain and chest pain and more pain in shoulder and arm.

*Chest pain on the left side (because much worse when caughing).

*Frequent reflux & vomiting (several times a day & night).

*Loss of control of my bowel movements. I had severe diahhrea the first few weeks after Thanksgiving (thought maybe the stomach flu). Then I had constipation and very bloody bowel movements. Now it's hard to explain but it's as if I can't control the muscles to make the bowel movement happen. I have never exprienced anything like this. I will just sit there trying but can't make anything happen and then boom it just happens by itself.

*Frequent urination. I have always had frequent urination but it seems much worse. Several times a night, but little happens, or I empty it and then have to go again in minutes.

*Ringing in my ears. I have had this before but not as frequent or to the same level. Twice since Thanksgiving I have had something strange happen. I felt a ringing than I couldn't hear anything for about 30 seconds than the ringing happened again real loud.

*Insomnia

*Severe dehydration (very chapped lips, dry skin, and dry, cracked, and very painful feet.

*High blood pressure 151/103 at last appointment and high at all visits since Thanksgiving. (No history except during pregnancy).

*Memory Loss (I don't remember the first few weeks of December at all. I mean litterally. My husband said I was communicating and acting okay. We actually had repair people have to rip up our floors because a pipe froze and they were in my house for two days and I don't remember it at all. I remember parts of the following 30 days, but its all scrambled. At first I thought it was the pain killers so I weaned off almost everything and only take them when I am in severe pain. And everything is still fuzzy.

So can anyone help and give me opinions???? Anyone else as young as me? What causes cervical canal stenosis other than age? HELP!

Last edited by sattergren; 01-19-2010 at 09:16 AM. Reason: Left off information

 
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Old 01-19-2010, 09:38 AM   #2
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

So sorry to hear about what your going through. My wife is 39 years old and she didn't have an accident or anything to bring upon her problems. Severe canal stenosis at C5-6. She was a gymnast as a teenager. Neurosurgeon feels that she could ahve injured herself back then and it has just progressed with age. She is now 4 weeks post surgery. The surgery itself isn't that bad. One night in the hospital and you will have to wear a collar for 4-8 weeks.

He may be overexagerating, but I would still be careful until you see the neurosurgeon. Check his references and if you don't feel confident with him...Go to another one for a second opinion.

 
Old 01-19-2010, 09:56 AM   #3
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerdan View Post
So sorry to hear about what your going through. My wife is 39 years old and she didn't have an accident or anything to bring upon her problems. Severe canal stenosis at C5-6. She was a gymnast as a teenager. Neurosurgeon feels that she could ahve injured herself back then and it has just progressed with age. She is now 4 weeks post surgery. The surgery itself isn't that bad. One night in the hospital and you will have to wear a collar for 4-8 weeks.

He may be overexagerating, but I would still be careful until you see the neurosurgeon. Check his references and if you don't feel confident with him...Go to another one for a second opinion.
Thanks for your reply! I see your from Tacoma Washington? Previously I lived in Vancouver WA and Gresham OR! For this I so wish I was back there as the medical care there is significantly better. Here, it is horrible and because most towns/cities in Iowa don't have specialists the University of Iowa is the only place one can go. Out of curiousity, how soon after discovering the problem did your wife have surgery?

I will try to hold it together. I have had some major surgeries in my life (femur rod & gallblader), it just scares me because it's the spine and neck area!

 
Old 01-19-2010, 10:54 AM   #4
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sattergren View Post
Thanks for your reply! I see your from Tacoma Washington? Previously I lived in Vancouver WA and Gresham OR! For this I so wish I was back there as the medical care there is significantly better. Here, it is horrible and because most towns/cities in Iowa don't have specialists the University of Iowa is the only place one can go. Out of curiousity, how soon after discovering the problem did your wife have surgery?

I will try to hold it together. I have had some major surgeries in my life (femur rod & gallblader), it just scares me because it's the spine and neck area!
It took us appx. nine months to get a diagnosis, simply because her symptoms mimicked so many other diseases. She had no neck pain whatsoever. When we finally got to see the neurosurgeon...She could of had the surgery that same night, but because of our insurance, we needed to go through the refferal process. She got the surgery four days later. As you probably already know...Anything can happen during surgery, but it's a pretty straight forward procedure with a very high success percentage. It was funny...My wife was more freaked out about going through the front of the neck then the worry of the spine itself.

 
Old 01-19-2010, 11:24 AM   #5
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

Hi

As far as I am aware your loss of bowel control and urination difficulties are 'red flag' signals and you would need urgent treatment.

Have you mentioned these symptoms to the Orthopaedic Surgeon? I would push for a very urgent appointment.

Has anyone with more experience any input on this?

Bobbyboo x
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:52 AM   #6
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

Jerden -

Yeah, part of the problem here is initially we didn't have insurance, and now we have IowaCare which is equivelent to Basic Health in Washington. The doctor that treated me in Minneapolis wanted to admit me that night he thought it was urgent. The doctors here in Iowa gave me tons of pain meds and scheduled the MRI but there was no appointments available till January 4th. The doctor that followed it at the hospital here actually said he was suprised they got me in that quick. Now the doctor that saw me after the MRI seemed in a complete panic and said everything was urgent, I think he wanted to ship me off to the University of Iowa in Iowa City immediately but I panicked, so he calmed down and said he would send me to see the hospital Orthopedic Surgeon and have him explain everything and coordinate with the University. The soonest they could get me in with the Ortho Surgeon was next week.

So I guess it just puzzles me when they say it is so urgent and bad and yet they don't seem to be in too big of a hurry to do anything!

Another question of you, in my original post I listed the symptoms I have been having. Do you know of those if most are related to the neck issue or to pain meds? What symptoms did your wife have? And I have little actual neck pain either, but the originating pain on Thanksgiving day was sooooooo severe in the shoulder and arm and elbow it scared me to death! It was honestly worse then giving birth or having my femur broken.

Thanks for your advice!

 
Old 01-19-2010, 12:00 PM   #7
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobbyboo View Post
Hi

As far as I am aware your loss of bowel control and urination difficulties are 'red flag' signals and you would need urgent treatment.

Have you mentioned these symptoms to the Orthopaedic Surgeon? I would push for a very urgent appointment.

Has anyone with more experience any input on this?

Bobbyboo x
No I didn't mention it to the doctor. I didn't have those at the time of my original hospital visit in Minneapolis. And at the time I saw the doctors in December I was so out of it and thought I had a bout of stomach flu or something making the situation worse. I only realized that wasn't the situation the later half of December and this month. Literally now I have very little ability to control my bowel movements, it's as if I can try to push with all my might and nothing happens it just feels kind of numb down there and then it just kinda falls out eventually. I should have mentioned it to the doctor who gave me the MRI results but honestly I thought it was from the pain meds and it was embarresing.

With regards to the urine issues, in the last few years I have had quite a few kidney/bladder infections and we had been trying to get pregnant previous to this so I thought maybe that was causing that issue.

So how is it the nerves in the cervical canal cause these issues? I thought they only effected the upper torso/arms/etc?

Also if anyone can please explain to me exactly what my MRI means I would really appreciate it! The doctor just said surgery was urgent and I needed to see a neurosurgeon. He didn't explain to me exactly what the MRI meant.

 
Old 01-19-2010, 02:59 PM   #8
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

Sattergren,

Pain meds can cause constipation, however, loss of bowel and bladder function sounds like a possible spinal cord issue. Pain meds can also cause dizziness and flu like symptoms.
My wifes symptoms were:
Chronic arm and leg pain, from the shoulders down to the tips of her fingers and from her upper thighs to the tips of her toes.
Cold feet.
Tremors and shakiness in her thighs when rising from a sitted or squated position.
Weakness in her legs and arms.
Abnormal gait. She walked very stiff legged.
Ocassional numbness in her legs.
Constipation (Most likely from the vicodin).
Headaches.
Anxiety.

Believe me, I can totally relate with you on the pain. There was about a 6 month period where there wasn't a day that went by she wasn't crying from the exruciating pain.

When you see the neurosurgeon...Ask as many questions as you can think of. Write them down on a piece of paper if you have to. No question is a dumb question.

 
Old 02-01-2010, 10:00 PM   #9
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sattergren View Post
Jerden -

Yeah, part of the problem here is initially we didn't have insurance, and now we have IowaCare which is equivelent to Basic Health in Washington. The doctor that treated me in Minneapolis wanted to admit me that night he thought it was urgent. The doctors here in Iowa gave me tons of pain meds and scheduled the MRI but there was no appointments available till January 4th. The doctor that followed it at the hospital here actually said he was suprised they got me in that quick. Now the doctor that saw me after the MRI seemed in a complete panic and said everything was urgent, I think he wanted to ship me off to the University of Iowa in Iowa City immediately but I panicked, so he calmed down and said he would send me to see the hospital Orthopedic Surgeon and have him explain everything and coordinate with the University. The soonest they could get me in with the Ortho Surgeon was next week.

So I guess it just puzzles me when they say it is so urgent and bad and yet they don't seem to be in too big of a hurry to do anything!

Another question of you, in my original post I listed the symptoms I have been having. Do you know of those if most are related to the neck issue or to pain meds? What symptoms did your wife have? And I have little actual neck pain either, but the originating pain on Thanksgiving day was sooooooo severe in the shoulder and arm and elbow it scared me to death! It was honestly worse then giving birth or having my femur broken.

Thanks for your advice!


some of your symptoms or most are from the injury the meds will do that too.. so it is really hard to tell. but bowl movement is one of the serious symptoms from the neck or regular back injurys..

i have a c4-5 fusion in my neck from an automobile accident in april 2003.
at the time of the accident they only noticed the c-7 fracture i had. but i also had the c4-5 fracture too and a torn ligament.. it took them 6 months to find the c4-5 fracture and torn ligament.
i had the left arm pain, numbness. i couldnt feel my left arm at all and couldnt move it the day of the accident..
it was some horrible pain.

at the time i didnt have any problems with my bowls.
i did though throw up alot but that might have been my nerves from all that had happen to me that day, my body was going thru alot with the accident an all

because of them not finding the other fracture and torn ligament i was out of work for a year.. i lived for almost 9 months with a neck brace on..

the surgery wasnt bad. like the other guy said there are those possible side effects and you need to be aware of them. once it was done i had the brace on for about two months i think.. then i got it off and was told i could go back to work..

they went thru the front of my neck. i have a small scar but nothing much you really cant see it..
only problems i have had since is some pain which i was told i would have about 70% of the pain, yet.. but you may be different.. you may not have any pain.. depends on what kinda surgery they will have to do.
i have now athritis within my c3 thru my c6 they just told me in december my c3 thru my c6 is all fused together now cause of the athritis. which sucks but i have learned to live with it..
i have pain down my arms etc.. i believe its all the athritis..

but be careful watch what you do till you see the doc and know more..
from the results it sounds really serious.. they told me i was very lucky cause i could have been paralized from my -neck down you c4-5 controls your arms, etc. if you severe your spinal cord at this level you can be paralized from neck down. so be very careful till you know more
i wish you luck and pray things arent as serious as is seems..
take care of you
tanya

 
Old 02-02-2010, 05:06 PM   #10
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

U of I is fantastic (it's where my back problems were originally diagnosed in 1986 when I was in school there).

Given all of your symptoms and the findings in the MRI make sure to move swiftly. I do think surgery may be required and if not treated soon some of your symptoms can become permanent. If they recommend an Anterior Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) at the affected levels please know that although the thought of cervical spine surgery is scary the ACDF is actually a relatively easy surgery and recovery. You may end up in a neck brace for 6-12 weeks after and minimal time in the hospital if all goes well (I was in 2 nights).

In my case, I woke up one day in 2005 with horrendous neck pain and spasms shooting numbness, pain and tingling down my left arm. I too had no recent serious accident. But I did have a big fall in 1993 where I fell hard on my elbow. The theory is that the fall jarred my discs and vertebrae in my neck. I had severe neck pain at the time and some arm pain but it resolved. So as I aged that area kept taking the brunt of everyday movements until one movement (which was probably insignificant in terms of every day activities) caused nerve impingement.

I wish I had moved faster toward surgery. I still have some residual numbness in one finger because the nerve was impinged for too long. Nerves are very delicate and if they are impinged by disc or other material (i.e. vertebrae, bone spurs, etc) for too long you can be in a position where you can not regain the nerve's full functioning. Also know that nerves take quite a while to heal so it can take a while for symptoms to resolve and they usually resolve slowly.

The findings and symptoms are significant. The Minnesota hospital was wise in suggesting immediate admission and possible surgical consultation. Was it so bad that you were in imminent danger of paralysis? Probably not as they agreed to release you. But I think when they mentioned severity they were referring to the need for treatment as soon as viably possible.
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:47 AM   #11
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Re: HELP - Just got MRI results, scared!!!

HI, I am going through something very similar to what you are describing. I hope you are feeling better. If you would like you may contact me. I am 45 years old female and my doctor believes this is work related. I have 7 hernaited disks. 4 in neck and 3 in low back.

 
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