I'm new here. I've been suffering from strange problems for the last two months now, mostly affecting my balance when walking. I have not been officially diagnosed with Spinal Cord injury, but I'm thinking it is most likely the cause of my symptoms.
Over the last two months I've had several chiropractic adjustments to my neck, back, lumbar, pelvis. Any one of these things could have started or exacerbated my issues because this is when I started experiencing my imbalance, gait disturbances, blurry vision, pressure headaches, neck pain, and muscle spasms. After going to the ER, and many neurologists and orthopedists, I was referred to Physical Therapy for stabilization exercises, as the doctors couldn't see anything wrong from a MRI angiogram of my head & neck or x-rays of my entire spine, but thought maybe there was some soft tissue damage.
It's been 3 weeks of PT and no change, in fact it may be making matters worse. Most of the visual symptoms I was having at first had cleared up in the first 3 weeks of my 'illness' but after a lot of heavy handling of the neck by my Physical Therapist, my vision got blurry again, and my neck pain/pressure & headaches got worse. Finally, a neurologist ordered a cervical spine MRI for me. I got it done on Thursday 6/24 and my neuro called me the next day Friday 6/25 and told me that there was a shadow on my spinal cord and that the next step was to do a Spinal Tap to check for inflammation or vitamin deficiencies. He doesn't think it's anything because its "borderline." When I asked him if anything was compressing the Spinal Cord, he said no. I'm guessing that means that I don't have instability of any of the joints?? However, he went out of town immediately after calling me so I won't get to talk to him again until he gets back and I likely won't get to do the Spinal Tap for 2 weeks.
At this time, my main symptoms are:
SPASTICITY & IMBALANCE--when walking, I feel like there are strong involuntary reflexes pulling me in different directions so that it's hard to keep my balance. I haven't fallen, but it makes walking very awkward. If I touch anywhere on my body I feel a reflex reaction...I like to describe it as "rubbery" and it's mostly on my right side. When I stand still, I involuntarily sway to the right. When at rest, my head tilts to the right on it's own. My reflexes are super sensitive, and I feel the need to squirm to get comfortable when laying in bed at night. I've been seeing a Physical Therapist that says when I'm exerting force with a purpose - like when doing strengthening exercises, I am actually quite strong, so I'm not lacking muscle strength per say. However, any movement for too long leaves me very fatigued. I'm not in a lot of pain. No traditional muscle tightness or tension. No sharp pains or burning. but I do get cramping in my feet and legs, and they fall asleep rather easily when I sit on my feet. Just yesterday, I got a sort of itching nagging ache in both my legs for a while, unprovoked.
NECK PAIN/TENSION HEADACHE--There is a constant dull ache on my right skull base behind my ear, and pressure in my head, around the temples and back of the head. If I push my head in one direction lightly, it will sort of spring back towards me. Other than that there really isn't pain. Today, I was riding in the car with my mom, she stopped at a light suddenly, and my head was thrown forward a bit. My neck hurts more now. After I got home, and got out of the car, I saw a thick light green horizontal light that wasn't there. Not sure if it's related, just thought I'd mention it.
Anyways, I've got a few questions for anyone with any experience:
1. Do my symptoms sound like they may be cervical spinal cord injury? Has anyone had a similar experience?
2. If the Spinal Tap finds evidence of inflammation - what does that mean? Does it mean the Spinal Cord was somehow bruised or injured?
3. If there is SCI, how will it be treated? I can still move all my limbs, there's just an awkward hyper-reflexive feeling and a lot of pressure in my neck and head. What can be done to get rid of that?
4. What if, by the time I have the procedure, the inflammation has died down, but the symptoms still remain? Does that mean I have scarring and permanent nerve damage? How long is the inflammation period supposed to last following trauma to the Spinal Cord? What's the deal with this debate over stopping inflammation or not w/ steroid injections? Should I be taking anti-inflammatory meds?
5. How do I know that my Spinal Cord isn't still being compressed and causing more nerve damage and brain damage at this moment? Is it safe to wait two weeks to check this out? Will this hinder my ability to heal in the long run? How can I tell if my neck or else where in my spine is unstable/misaligned and therefore putting pressure on the Spinal Cord?
Thanks in advance for listening!
Last edited by answersplease; 06-27-2010 at 11:21 PM.
Well, one of the things that a spinal tap can look for is increased markers of inflammmation, which can occur in conditions like "transverse myelitis" -- inflammation of the spinal cord, which can cause the symptoms you describe.
It's really hard to say what this is without a doctor looking at your MRI, but the fact your doctor suggested a spinal tap makes it very likely they are thinking of some type of inflammatory process as the cause of your symptoms -- or a "myelitis".
Thanks for the reply. It's torture waiting for my neuro to get back...
Today I tried to call and ask his receptionist some questions, but she wasn't in either...
I'm really mainly worried that my 'condition' may get worse the longer I wait, what if permanent damage is being done as we speak? I will look into myelitis. Have you ever had a similar experience?
i just had a few questions for you. exactly 'what' prompted you to even begin seeing that chiro? what was going on there then? when you mentioned that you have a 'hyper type of 'feeling'? exactly what happens when any of the docs you have seen did their neuro eval and uses that tiny little hammer and taps right under your kneecap? do you get the more normal "bounce out' or is there a much 'quicker/brisk" like 'kick out' from that being stimulated? this last question is rather crucial to know just exactly what that reaction just is like. have you actually been Dxed with any level of actual spasticity by any docs? just what types of docs have you seen so far?
just had one big helpful suggestion for you here in the very BEST way to really tell just exactly what your docs that you have seen actually are 'feeling/thinking' as far as what 'could" be going on with you? call each and every doc or even PTs office that you have been seen by and ask them to send out what is called a "release of information"(or just tell them you need copies of all your medical records) so YOU simply can get ALL of your own actual medical records in your file? just reading thru your docs clinic notes that they have to make after any visit with any patient really can tell you alot more than in many cases, you are actually even being told by any given doc can? all the stuff they are thinking, esp as far as "their overall impressions' of just what "they feel" is possibly going on with you would simply BE in those medical records/clinic notes, along with how you actually responded to the hands on neuro exams they just do/did on you too? these records really can in many cases be a little goldmine of info for any patient who is experiencing alot of uncertainty with what is actually going on with their own bodies and what any given 'specialist' is really thinking about it?
also include ANY ER visits or anyone who has seen you for what you are dealing with too? i am not too certain about the chiro tho as far as what 'they" are actually required by law to have to do as far as making clinic notes after every visit, but i most certainly would call the office and ask about getting copies of anything that is simply in your ongoing medical file too? did that chiro actually even have an MRI to go by or any x rays when he simply even started adjusting you? what did he tell you needed to be done or what HE felt your underlying problems were at the very beginning?
i DO have some theorys here that i am wondering about just given your overall symptomology but really DO need the answers to the questions i asked at the very beginning of the post to really be able to give you anything really solid here first. esp with having to do with the lower leg reflexes. also just really finding out what each and every doc simply 'feels" about your symptoms and the overall reactions and any Dxes that they may have written in your files like even possible myeolpathy would show one heck of alot about what has possibly actually happened up top there in your spinal or the very base of the skull area that really 'does' appear to have suffered 'some' type if impoact given the opthomalogic symptoms(the visual stuff IS located in the very back lower part of the brain area?) and the balance/gait issue that are mostly governed by the cerebellum also at the very back kind of 'base of the skull too? the vertebral arteries also run to that area too(they are what 'feeds" that whole posterior part of the brain vascularly actually with the carotids feeding the anterior part of our brains)? the vertebrals CAN be impacted by chiro adjustments in some cases to the point of dissection. but you had that angio there so anything abnormal with those would have shown as long as you stopped the chiro adjustments earlier on? i would most definitely stop seeing that chiro at this point if youhave not yet done so. not with what you already just have going on here and the mere fact that some of the stronger symptoms actually seemed to appearor were exascerbated after adjustments were made on your c spine level too? the one thing about chiro adjustments themselves, and esp when you are doing this to an area like that c spine that is soo much more heavily innervated and carries alot of other critical things like our blood supply to the brain all within one very narrow 'neck/ and c spine area, just makes it much more susceptable to certain types of injury that you do not actually have to deal with once you go beyond the c spine and lower would be? but DO see about those possible records he may have made after any real adjutment visits there too.
i would start making some phone calls today to all the places you have been seen at and just get the releases sent out asap so you can actually obtain all of your own copies of any and all records. and make certain to ALWAYS obtain your own copies of any and all testing including any types of actual scans done on you as well since many esp specialists, will not actually always bother to even tell a patient ALL of the real solid findings that are just even there in that report? you just NEED to be getting all this stuff like at least once a year and ALL test results as soon as possible either thru the ordering doc or thru the facility where the tests were done too? the facility approach is actually usually the faster way unless you actually have an appt scheduled with the ordering doc. all you have to do at any radiology facility is show up there, fill out that release of info and they can shoot off a copy for you right then and there. its all right there and IN there computers.
i DO have a very real spinal cord injury up in my c 8 nerve level(done with a scalpel going about one third of the way into it and removing a glob of blood vessels that was taking up a space of approx 4x6x8 mms, and LOTS of very specific damage left behind for me to have to deal with) and some of your symptoms really sound like some level of real spinal cord impact was "done" and could be playing a part here in certain ways? what actually does NOT show up on any given MRI in many cases really has nothing to do with what YOUR actual possible post sci symptoms can be(our overall signs and symptoms can actually tell alot more about possible SCI than an actual MRI can depending). i will explain this tomorrow if i can get back here with enough time. but what i learned about actual spinal cord injury and the 'timeframe' for it to actually even show itself then not show itself is absolutely insane. just start making the phone calls to get those releases sent out asap. and if you could just answer those questions for me that i asked at the begining here that would seriously help alot too. 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.
Thanks so much for taking the time to respond.
I'd been seeing the chiro sporadically for over a year now only when in the area when home from college. She'd gotten me into this mind-frame that it was healthy to be doing routine maintenance on my spine...so I wasn't there for any reason in particular. In fact, at the time I had no notable pain in my neck or back, but she did the adjustments without warning (partially, I think, because she was trying to impress an intern who was following her around). I went back a few times, not realizing that it may have been the cause of the problem, and then later hoping she could fix it. So no, no symptoms like this were present before these chiropractic adjustments.
I have not had spasticity diagnosed by any doctors, but I do feel that my reflexes are exaggerated, and that my legs are hypertonic, at times my neck and back feel stiff & hard too, but this tends to fluctuate. Mostly, when I walk, I feel that I'm being jerked in different directions, but my friends and family say it's not noticeable...do you think it's possible that my postural muscles like the erector spinae or multifidus muscles are also hyperreflexive?
These are symptoms of upper motor neuron syndrome, aren't they? And is UMN more likely in cervical injuries, because this seems to be where this unidentified 'shadow' on my spinal cord is according to my doc's reading of the MRI and I do get occipital headaches and tension headaches...pretty much constantly, but not severe pain.
I have yet to see the actual MRI or read the report or get a thorough check up. I have an appointment with the neurologist on 7/9 to get a Spinal Tap. The doc said he is looking for inflammation and vitamin deficiencies? I'm just worried that in the mean time I'm accumulating permanent brain or spinal cord damage because they symptoms aren't improving, they are pretty much stagnant. Could something still be compressing my cord that needs to be removed? The neuro didn't mention anything compressing, but what if something was missed? Time is of the essence here I assume.
Are there any medications I should be taken to reduce inflammation of the spinal cord in the week I have until I see the doctor. And if it is determined that there is some damage to my Spinal Cord, what are the typical treatments at this point in the game? Is there anything to help regrow damaged nerves?