Re: Help with reading MRI results of C-Spine PLEASE
Hi Missy....I'll add to what Pebblebeach said.
The 2 problems most of us have in our necks are nerve compression and spinal cord compression. As PB explained, the nerves peel off the cord at each vertebra and go out to the body....and this is where most of your pain comes from. The spinal nerves have pain receptors but the spinal cord, like the brain, doesn't. So you're feeling the compression of the nerves but compression of the cord shows up differently. Since your cord compression is at C5-6, it might give you clumsy hands that drop things or have trouble controlling the ability to write. And it can show up as numb toes, stiff/weak leg muscles, trouble walking such as your legs not wanting to move forward so you take baby steps or perhaps have to walk with your feet farther apart than normal to help with balance. It can even show up as a need to run to the bathroom as soon as you get the urge to urinate or have a bowel movement as you can't hold it anymore, or just the opposite, you can't go even when you know you have to. These are the symptoms the docs are watching for...but they never tell us.
I know from experience(2 cervical surgeries and 1 lumbar)that we all focus on the pain but to a spine surgeon, pain is irrelevant. Pain means the nerve is working and they don't operate for pain. But signs that a nerve is in danger of dying such as numbness, pins and needles, and tingling along with weakness in the affected muscles ...that needs attention. Even more important are the signs of a spinal cord in trouble(what I listed above).
Your canal diameter is down to 7.5mms and some docs might operate at that point but most will wait longer. The normal cord diameter is 11-12mms but we've had someone here who was down to 4mms without surgery and I didn't have surgery until I was down to 5-6mms. I had all those symptoms I listed for cord compression. In fact, my cord and my nerves were all so badly compressed that I had NO pain....I was becoming paralyzed from the neck down and didn't even know it. I thought I was getting better...not worse. No one had told me what to watch out for.
So I'd start keeping a journal of what you experience and when. You have some numbness in your fingers one day...write it down. Have trouble walking, write it down. Don't focus on the pain but on the other stuff.
The only way to fix a neck really is surgery. I don't advise anyone to use chiropractic care on the neck as there are 2 big arteries that go up into the brain from C6 to the skull. If you have a bone spur inside where the arteries are and you get an adjustment, that bone spur could trigger a potentially fatal stroke.
Work with the physiatrist for now(I have one too) and keep track of what is going on. If you stabilize and don't get worse, then you can stay surgery free but if you get worse, see the very best neurosurgeon you can get to, even if it means traveling out of the area. At your age, having the best spine doc you can get is so important as it could make the difference between a life of pain and a good life. This is one time where expertise makes all the difference in the world. There are more bad spine docs out there than good ones.
Any questions, please ask. That is why we are here.
hugs..........Jenny(fused C3 to T1)