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Old 10-28-2012, 10:38 AM   #1
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newly diagnosed cervical spinal stenosis

Hi Everyone I am new to the boards and so glad I stumbled across them.
I just had an MRI, I am 51 years
I was immediatly refered to a nerosurgeon, I have not seen him yet but the only thing I was told is it that my condition was advanced.
I have pain thru out my body, it is so much worse in the mornings.
My hands are in so much pain, are are swollen in the palms and fingers, same with my feet and is advancing to locations on my wrist and ankles.
I am prescribed 3 percoset a day and it is not helping much anymore.
I have 12 Merccury amalgams I believe contibutes to my problems.
I was told I have degenerating discs in my neck.
I have a few questions concerning the cervical stenosis, if anyone could help I would appreciate it so much.
Would sleeping with a neck brace help?
The pain is worse in cold humid weather, would a heat pad help?
Are there any anti inflamitory meds that would help for this condition ?
Is it possible to live a normal life after surgery ?
Will the swelling go away after surgery?
Does anyone know of a good chart that explains what cervical discs effect what parts of the body, including brain thoughts ?
Any Ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thank-you for reading

 
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:34 AM   #2
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Re: newly diagnosed cervical spinal stenosis

Welcome to the board. Not sure if I can answer your questions or not. But, first here is my history as it relates to spine issues:

- age spine issues started 1988, I was 35 at the time, now I am 59
- originally my issues started with bulging discs and required traction in a hospital followed by physical therapy
- relatively ok for a number of years until 1993 when the bulges became herniations
- 1994 surgery done on the lumbar are for herniations; laminectomy;
- 1995 surgery done on the cervical for stenosis;
- 1997 surgery done on lumbar for "flatback syndrome" and harringtonr rods
- 2000 surgery done on cervical for "kyphosis" harrington rods in cervical/thoracic region
- 2006 Spinal cord stimulator implanted for pain
- 2011 spinal cord stimulator removed since it wasnt helping pain

I have had other non-related surgeries.

Current issues:

- stenosis in lumbar area;
- atrophy of the cervical spine
- severe nerve damage in lumbar and neck; arthritis and peripheral neuropathy

they are afraid to do more surgery for the neck issues because of all the surgeries to date; risky surgery and other health risks

Can you post the MRI that was done so we can see what was found in the films as per the radiologist. That would help us understand your issues also.

Have you tried physical therapy? there may be medications that can help you but it is a matter of finding what works for you specifically.

As to the neck brace and sleeping with it on. I did it after I had surgery for kyphosis. I had to wear the collar for 4 months. I had to wear it in order to allow the fusion that was done heal and keep my neck in proper position so that I could heal. Wearing a neck brace at nights to sleep is not easy. At one point I thought I would scream since I was wearing it 24/7 for 4 months. I was allowed to take the collar off during the day at one point for an hour or so. But had to wear it the rest of the day.

I would suggest speaking to the doctor to tell him/her what meds you are on. and if they are working for you or not. If they arenet working then trying something else may be beneficial.

Again see if the surgeon would think phyiscal therapy would help you or not.

Surgery to the spine should not be taken lightly. It is risky. I was fine after each of surgeries. But in my case a new issue always arose and there was a progresssion of problems i.e. nerve damage. Again remember I have had issues for 24 years now so it is getting worse.

In my case I am seeing a pain doctor this week to see what can be done to relieve the pain. I have been on disability almost 10 years and not functioning at all because of the pain and the progression of the problems.

As to surgery I would suggest the following: first of all make sure that the doctor is trained specifically in spine related issues and that he has done surgery on the spine before. See how long they have been in practice where they were trained etc what schools they went to etc.

If surgery is recommened I would suggest seeing another doctor for another opinion. Get a 3rd opinion of think it is necessary.

Again if you can post specifically what the MRI stated it would help us.

There are tons of people here with lots of knowledge. WE are all here because we have on going problem I think you can find the support you need as well.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.

 
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:17 PM   #3
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Re: newly diagnosed cervical spinal stenosis

<< I have pain thru out my body, it is so much worse in the mornings.
My hands are in so much pain, are are swollen in the palms and fingers, same with my feet and is advancing to locations on my wrist and ankles. >>

Frankly, those symptoms do NOT sound like they are spinal in origin. I'm just an amateur at this, of course, but it would be a great surprise to me if your spinal stenosis is causing more than a fraction of all that.

<< I was told I have degenerating discs in my neck.>>

Pretty much everyone your age has degenerating disks. In and of itself, that does not mean much.

<< Would sleeping with a neck brace help? >>

I don't see how it would help stenosis, which is really a skeletal issue.

<< The pain is worse in cold humid weather, would a heat pad help? >>

Once again, I don't see what this has to do with stenosis.

<< Are there any anti inflamitory meds that would help for this condition ? >>

Maybe, but you should NOT use them as a reason to put off more comprehensive action.

<< Is it possible to live a normal life after surgery ? >>

Of course

<< Will the swelling go away after surgery? >>

I doubt that the swelling is caused by a cervical spinal problem, so the answer is probably no.

<< Does anyone know of a good chart that explains what cervical discs effect what parts of the body, including brain thoughts ? >>

Do a search on "dermatome". By the way, your thoughts are not affected by the cervical spine.

If I were you. I would be very careful about being funneled into a cervical surgery that does not address the problems you seem to have. See THREE surgeons for opinions, and post the radiologist's report of your MRI here for feedback.

 
Old 11-14-2012, 06:38 PM   #4
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Re: newly diagnosed cervical spinal stenosis

Hi and thanks so much for your support, I just got my MRI reading today.
I can't read it, I am just starting to learn about this. I see a neosurgeon mid December. If anyone could help it is appreciated.

TECHNIQUE: Sagittal T1 acquisition, T2 acquisition and STIR sequence;
Sagittal and axial medic sequence
Findings: The stature and alignment of the cervical vertebral bodies
normal. There is advanced disc space narrowing posteriorly at C5-6 and
C6-7. A large disc osteophytic protrusions present at these two levels.
The cord is effaced at C5-6 but without signal alteration of the cord
Itself. The spinal canal is of normal caliber moderately narrowed however
at C5-6. Oblique images demonstrate a left sided foraminal stenosis at
C5-6. Moderate foraminal stenosis on the left is also seen at C6-7 and to
A lessor degree. The pre spinal soft tissues are normal thickness. The
Odontoid process is well opposed to the anterior arch of C1.

Impression: Advanced degenerative disc disease C5-6 and C6-7 with spinal
Stenosis at C5-6 with mild degree and disc as well as osteophytic
protrusions centrally with a left parasagittal extension. Foraminal
stenosis particularly on left is noted at these two levels.
Thank-You

 
Old 11-15-2012, 12:39 AM   #5
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Re: newly diagnosed cervical spinal stenosis

Stenosis basically means that there is a "narrowing."

The narrowing can occur in basically two areas. It can be of the central canal. Meaning the nerves that run down the center of the spine from the base of the neck down to the lower back region.

Or the stenosis can occur to the area referred to as the "foramen" which is what is stated in your MRI report. This refers to the exit points from the spine. At each level of the spine the nerves exit and deal with a certain portion of the body. For instance depending at which level they exit from the cervical area, it will take the nerves that deal with the shoulder area; the arm hands and fingers. Then like in the lumbar area it deals with nerves that go to the legs; feet toes. You get the idea.

Degenerative disc disease may or may not be an issue. Most adults, probably 80% or more if you take them off the street and give them an MRI they will show degeneration to some degree in the spine. And a great many of those people probably wont ever really ever experience any major spine issues. It is just part of the aging process.

The discs are located between the vertebrae, the bony substance and is compared to that of lets say a grape. It is watery and acts as a cushion at each level in the spine. There are 7 discs in the cervical area; 12 in the thoracic and 5 in the lumbar. It is not uncommon to have issues in the cervical or lumbar regions of the spine.

But when symptoms appear thats when further evaluation is needed.

You describe pain in your hands such as swelling. I cant say that I have ever heard that swelling was related to the spine issues. So that may be due to some other issue. You also said something about ankles/feet area. Did they do a lumbar MRI?

Do you have other symptoms? Such as radiating pain from the neck down into the shouler or arms? Is there a weakness or numbness or tingling sensation?

In 1995 I have foraminal stenosis. I dont recall which levels, probably the same area as yours. Also I have pain but again dont recall specific symptoms since its been so many years. But in my case I did require surgery.

At that time the surgery was done by a neurosurgeon and was in the hospital for 3 or 4 days. Then therapy afterwards.

In my case I have had severe ongoing spine issues. I would say it was all degenerative in nature in that they were NOT caused by any form of trauma such as a fall or auto accident.

I have been thru 5 major spine surgeries and 2 surgeries for implanting then removing a spinal cord stimulator for pain control.

While I have had success with each of the surgeries in that afterwards I felt better and was able to return to work, for some reason a NEW issue would pop up thus causing issues for me.

I have been on permanent disability now for 10 years and preparing to go thru yet another surgery this one being implanting a Morphine pump to help deal with the pain. I do have severe neck issues in that there is weakness in my arms; pain; radiating pain to the shoulder area, softening of the spine. The issue in my case is first of all the surgeries that I have been thru. But the surgeon that I am seeing now is afraid to touch me surgically because of the manner in which another surgery would have to be done. Extremelly risky in the surgery itself but I have other health issues that have added to the risk factors.

You stated that you are 51 in your initial post. Not much younger then I am. I am upper 50s and my spine issues started when I was 35 in 1988.

One thing that I usually recommend to most people that are here. First it makes no difference whether you treat with an orthopedic surgeon or an orthopedic surgeon. Both can be highly trained when treating spines.

But keep this in mind as with everything else there are subspecialities. As with orthopedics some are trained in hips; others hands; shoulders etc.
It is important that you treat with someone that is trained and treats on a regular basis people with spine related issues.

I after years of experience try to treat with someone at a major teaching hospital. As years went on and my case got more complex I found that they tended to be more experienced and able to deal with complex cases.

I usually will see where a doctor went to school for his medical degree; where they were trained how long they are in practice etc. And the important thing is putting all that aside is how do you relate to them when you see them? Do they answer your questions? Do they rush you out of the office? How is to deal witht heir staff if you need questions answered? It is a package deal.

And if surgery is recommended for you while you may think your surgeon is great and he/she may well be, when it comes to surgery, I always believe that if you have the option for a 2nd or 3rd opinion if necessary is to get one. Always goos to have another set of eyes looking at you, the MRI films etc to see if they agree or disagree on treatment options.

One final note when getting another opinion you may well be faced with differences of opinions on whether surgery is the right choice or not. I had that once with the 1st surgeon saying do surgeon, the 2nd opinion saying no so I got a 3rd opinon and the result was that he agreed surgery should be done.
What influenced me to agree with the surgery was that I loved the first surgeon and thought a great deal of him, I had done my own research as well and in my heart I felt it was the right choice. And to this day I still feel it was right choice.

Good luck in your appointment and keep us posted.

 
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