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Old 01-24-2012, 02:02 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2012
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dfsaul HB User
Question uncovertebral hypertrophy at c3-c4 . . .

has anyone been diagnosed with unconvertebral hypertrophy at c3-c4? if so can you share with me your understanding of what that means - in english layman's terms?

what treatment have you had or been suggested?

can it be fixed? or is something that is chronic?

have you had surgery for it? was it successful? or is there a non-surgical way to fix it?

Old 01-24-2012, 02:17 PM   #2
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Re: uncovertebral hypertrophy at c3-c4 . . .

The uncovertebral "joints" are bony growths on the sides of the disks. They help each disk interact with the disk above it. Hypertrophy, in this case, means that extra bone has been added on. This bone might also be referred to as "osteophytes" (literally, "bone growths").

You have hypertrophy on the C3 vertebra, the C4, or both. This hypertrophy might be growing into the foraminal openings, where the spinal nerves leave the spinal cord and head off to the neck, shoulder and arms.

The peripheral nerve affected at this level is the C4 nerve. The C4 mostly affects the neck and shoulder. You might feel like you have a cartilage problem onside your shoulder.

It is chronic, because it is bone and therefore permanent. I do not know of a non-surgical way to treat it, although I do not doubt that lots of people would like to sell you one.

I BELIEVE it can be treated with a "foraminotomy", where the surgeon comes in from the back/side of the neck and shaves off the excess bone. This is the most minor of neck surgeries, and should be outpatient, if the surgeon knows what he is doing.

Still, we are lacking context. We might be able to help more if we knew what your symptoms are, and even what the rest of the report says.

Last edited by WebDozer; 01-24-2012 at 02:25 PM.

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Old 01-24-2012, 02:26 PM   #3
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Re: uncovertebral hypertrophy at c3-c4 . . .

That refers to arthritis of the uncovertebral joints at the C3-4 level of your neck.

Our vertebrae have small joints that protrude off the sides and backs. If you've seen what the cervical vertebra looks from the top, the 2 "wings" off to the back and sides of the bone are the facet joints. The uncovertebral joints are small fibrous type joints that are on the sides more toward the front. All of them serve the purpose of helping to stabilize the neck as we twist and turn it in different ways. We have an amazing amount of rotation and up and down movements all thanks to these tiny joints that come off the sides and back of the main vertebra.

But when these joints get arthritis(hypertrophy) they develop bone spurs just like all arthritic joints get and these bone spurs can hit the nerves that leave the spinal cord and go out to the body. And they can hurt like any arthritic joint when you move.

Should you ever need any kind of surgery for your neck, the uncovertebral joints can actually be removed permanently, provided a fusion is included in the surgery.

I know of nothing that you can do about it once it has started. Osteoarthritis is basically untreatable except for the pain. Heat or ice can help OA but these joints are a bit too interior for that to help. About all you can take is what they call an NSAID like Ibuprofen or Aleve.

Most of our neck pain comes from the muscles working overtime trying to compensate for the arthritis in the bones of the neck. That causes muscles spasms and those HURT. Heat helps muscle spasms as do things like those Therma Care wraps that go on your neck for 8-12 hours. You can try the various massage gizmos out there that massage the neck daughter has one and loves it. Does shiatsu massage of the neck muscles.

Other than that, you just have to learn to live with it.

sorry............Jenny(fused C3 to T1)

Old 01-24-2012, 02:32 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2012
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dfsaul HB User
Re: uncovertebral hypertrophy at c3-c4 . . .

thank you!!!

the report . . .

4 views of the cervical spine are submitted for evaluation. cervical spine visualized to the level of c7

normal cervical vertebral body heights. normal cervical lordosis. normal intervertebral disc spaces. no prevertebral soft tissue swelling or fracture.

uncovertebral hypertrophy at c3-c4 which produces left neural foraminal encroachment at this level.

pain started in right side of neck (mid-way), moved down, moved to back of neck and now rest between my shoulder blades. i feel it when i stretch and i push my arms backwards and when i lift anything with one arm or the other it feels like i'm pulling something inside.

Old 01-24-2012, 02:55 PM   #5
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Re: uncovertebral hypertrophy at c3-c4 . . .

I dunno... obviously, LEFT neural foraminal encroachment should not affect the RIGHT side of your neck. Also, the C4 nerve would not go down between the shoulder blades.

If someone ordered the MRI, they must suspect something, but I kind of doubt their suspicions will be confirmed.

Just MAYBE there's a thoracic spinal problem but, unless Jenny can think of something, it seems that the spine is not at fault.

Last edited by WebDozer; 01-24-2012 at 02:55 PM.

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