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Old 02-27-2011, 03:03 PM   #1
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question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

Hey everyone, I'm not very knowledgeable about this type of stuff so this might sound like a very stupid question but I cannot find any information on the internet about it.
I play collegiate rugby and last year I landed badly on my head and ended up with two bulging discs at the bottom of my cervical spine/top of my thoracic spine. I had stopped playing for a couple months and the pain never went away but it was manageable. Now about a year later the pain still has not gone away and has remained about the same since the injury. I would really like to start playing again but I was wondering if I can cause any more damage to the discs or if I would have an increased chance of spinal cord damage because of the bulging discs? I don't mind any short term increases in pain from aggravating them, but if playing is going to put me at an even higher risk of spinal cord injury than I was before the injury than I would have to think about ending my rugby playing days.

 
Old 03-01-2011, 12:32 PM   #2
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Re: question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

Did you ever have an MRI done of your neck? That would give a better idea. Disks can herniate is various directions and if you knew if it had herniated backwards toward your spinal cord, would be a big help. Disks are at the front of the spine and the cord is at the back.

Any x-rays, CT or MRI results? We're pretty good at interpreting them in plain English. Could give you an idea if you should just say no to soccer or if with the help of a physical therapist or spine/sports doc, if you can safely play.

Jenny

 
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Old 03-01-2011, 04:58 PM   #3
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Re: question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

Hey, thanks for the response. I did have MRI's done and from what I remember from the report is they are both backwards towards the spinal cord. the biggest one is between C6 and C7 and a smaller one between C7 and T1. I've never had any numbest or tingling in my arms or legs so its not hitting my spinal cord at all. I can try and scan the image onto my computer that shows them the best if you would be willing to take a look at it for me.

I did go to physical therapy for about two or three months after it happened but it never really helped it get much better. I am working as a physical therapist aide right now and some of the therapists I work with have worked on me a bit but I never get any real long lasting relief from it. I have an appointment with a spinal specialist in three weeks so maybe he will know more of how to go about it.

Last edited by lukycharms621; 03-01-2011 at 05:01 PM.

 
Old 03-01-2011, 05:20 PM   #4
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Re: question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

Okay...some anatomy for the PT aide. If the disks hit the cord, you won't feel it in your arms...more likely your legs or feet. It's when a disk hits the spinal nerves, the ones that peel off the cord at each vertebral level ...that is when you get pain and numbness down the arms. Cord compression shows up as muscle and nerve dysfunction below the level of the compression. So you might have some numbness in your toes or difficulty moving your legs. Your reflexes will be hyper. You develop a staggering gait.

You will also get muscle dysfunction in your arms with symptoms like dropping things(actually called Clumsy Hand Syndrome) and bilateral weakness.

Cord compression doesn't hurt. Spinal nerve compression hurts. But if the spinal nerve compression starts to go away, it can be a sign that they nerve is dying and should always be looked into just to make sure.

I had 5 levels of arthritis, stenosis, 3 herniated disks hitting the nerves in the "severe" category and cord compression at 4 levels down to 6mms(norm is 11-12mms.) And I had no pain. That was because I was slowly becoming paralyzed.

And there in lies the problem. A disk hitting a nerve will scream at you with pain(until it too is getting ready to die). A disk hitting the spinal cord does so silently.....until it is too late.

Learn as much as you can about the symptoms so you know how to read your own body. That is your best defense if you want to continue to play sports but if I were you, I'd stay away from any sports that uses the head....including soccer. Just not worth the risk of paralysis.

hugs...................Jenny

 
Old 03-08-2011, 03:41 PM   #5
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Re: question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

Sorry about my late response, I was on vacation for the last week without access to a computer. so what you're saying is pretty much if the bulge is backwards towards the spinal cord regardless of how large or small it is, it will increase my chances of damaging my spinal cord if I land badly or get hit hard around my neck? If it is only a minor bulge how much greater of a risk am I in of damaging the spinal cord? I'm sorry for asking all of these questions, I just never knew that a bulging disc or even a herniated disc posed any danger to the spinal cord.

edit: I also had the place where I had the MRI done fax me a copy of the report so I will post that as well later tonight when I get home

Last edited by lukycharms621; 03-08-2011 at 04:11 PM.

 
Old 03-08-2011, 06:01 PM   #6
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Re: question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

Well, even if you had no previous disc bulges or spine problems, landing badly or getting hit badly on your neck and/or head will always increase your chances of spinal cord injury. I am sure you're aware that things like this happen to people in many sports. I think with the bulges, there might be increased risk of them actually herniating and pushing into the cord with another injury. I believe discs start bulging when they start drying out and weakening. Of course I'm not a medical professional, but just giving my own opinion from what I know.

I've personally had just minor bulges in the past at some levels that eventually became full fledged herniations and that was without any injury or overdoing whatsoever. I think, though, part of my problems might be genetic since everyone on my mother's side has same or similar spine & joint problems. This won't necessarily happen to everyone. Also, many people have bulges & full herniations that they don't' even know about b/c they don't' bother them in any way. Going back several years, I had just mild bulging at L1/L2 (which are the uppermost lumbar levels) and now I have a massive herniation there impinging my cord causing all sorts of symptoms. I haven't done anything that I know of to cause this. I think it just happens to me. Since I already have cord compression along with nerve pains in arms & fingers, arm & finger numbness, I have weakness in my right hand that I didn't even realize, I was just told by a neurosurgeon that if I'm ever in a car accident or some other accident, I could end up in a lot of trouble. I really don't want cervical surgery & am going to try to avoid it as long as possible. But I never about what if I was in an accident. Right now I'm trying to drive and be as cautious as possible and HOPE to god I don't get into an accident.

 
Old 03-11-2011, 08:49 AM   #7
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Re: question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

What do your docs say? Have you doen any pysical therapy? I have had spinal surgery twice and am going in for a 3rd because of another herniation. It is important to seek the advice from an Orthopedic surgeon or Neuro surgeon...personally I prefer the Ortho docs.

 
Old 03-11-2011, 11:25 AM   #8
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Re: question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

LuckCharms...did you get the MRI report?

I was looking at a new medical text I got and it has great drawings of the spine. One thing you need to understand is that proportionately, the disks are 3 times the size of the spinal cord so even a very small bulge or herniation of a disk can do damage to the spine as it is so much smaller.

Jenny

 
Old 03-11-2011, 12:33 PM   #9
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Re: question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

Jenny,

Thanks, you seem to be very knowledgable on all of this stuff. I know a bit as I have had two fusion surgeries myself. My latest issue is with a herniated C4 and am going in for surgery on that in April. Mine was due to a car accident in mid January. My previous surgery was on C5-C7 two times. the first time I did not fuse. I also have a fracture at my T2. It appears that my fused levels were strong and my body gave in at the levels above and below the fusion. The hospital ER visit did not uncover my fracture or herniation with the xrays and CT scans but I knew something was really wrong. I pursued other diagnostic imaging and got an MRI. Like you said, listen to your body. You know better than anyone else if something is wrong.

I will say that it concerns me when people don't take these diagnosis seriously or with great concern....this is your spine we are taking about here people! You only have one and it controls everything in your body. The consideration given to have surgery or not is huge and should be researched thoroughly. I do research daily and find new things all the time. It is of the greatest importance that you find an excellent surgeon. Ask questions...a lot of them. No question is too stupid, it's your body. People tend to just act like sheep and do whatever the doc says without asking questions...YOU ARE PAYING THEM to do a service for you so get your moneys worth!

Good luck to you all and get better!

Pamela

 
Old 03-11-2011, 03:20 PM   #10
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Re: question about the dangers of 2 cervical bulging discs

I agree with you 100%.

When I see someone in trouble who isn't taking it seriously, I remind them that the spinal cord is an extension of your brain. Would you jump into brain surgery without research? Would you dismiss symptoms of a brain problem so easily? This is the brain but further down.

In my case, my symptoms were dismissed by my doctors, not me. I had to search to find answers and even more searching to find a great doc. And when my neck broke, I went for 27 days before I got surgery because the dislocations showed up on x-rays(which 2 ER's did not bother to take)but the fractures only showed up on CT(which wasn't done until just before surgery). Because I have a high pain thresh hold, my complaints were dismissed.

Never again.

Hang in there. I too am having problems both above and below my fusion and that is normal. That is why they are developing non-fusion fixes for a lot of neck problems. But finding a doc who does these surgeries is very hard here in the US. Many more overseas. They see the post fusion problems and don't want them while docs here don't seem to care. You have to research and search.

Hope Luckycharms posts his MRI result.

Jenny

 
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