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Old 02-14-2013, 06:45 AM   #1
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Location: Rolling Meadows, Illinois, USA
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Thoracic cord injury

Hi all.
For the past 2 1/2 years, neurologists attributed my symptoms to some kind of neuromuscular disease, even though they all started after lifting boxes and playing tug of war at a school-wide picnic. (I used to teach.) I told multiple ortho specialists and neurologists that I had herniated discs in my neck and thoracic spine, (from an old car accident) but they would look at my dated mri's and say my symptoms (numbness, weakness on right side, autonomic dysfunction, chest pain, shortness of breath, electric-like shocks all over, awful pain in neck and mid back along spine, and inability to walk at a slow pace for more than a few minutes before having my right hip, knee, and or ankle/foot "shocking" and then collapsing.) were too severe to be caused by the disc issues.

Well, my health continued to deteriorate until I saw a neurosurgeon I found through U.S. News and World Report who ordered new mri's. We found out that the discs were pressing on my spinal cord, especially the thoracic one. (on the right side) So, in the past 6 months, I had two surgeries to correct the problems. My thoracic disc surgery was just December 17th.

Many of my symptoms have decreased some, but I am still unable to walk more than a short distance at a slow speed without having "shocks". If I don't stop at that point, my legs end up giving out. Also, if I put any pressure on my thoracic spine, I have increased numbness and pain below the surgical site, as well as sky high blood pressure. So, I have to sleep sitting up with my legs up and a pillow behind my head and lower back to ease the pressure. I also start having problems if I use my arms too much and/or too fast. I feel like I am a hare stuck in a tortoise's body. My neurosurgeon sent me to physical therapy a couple of weeks ago to see if that would help, but one session wrecked me for a week.

That is when I decided to see a physiologist. She ordered a thoracic and lumbar mri, and an emg. At this point, I have not been told that I have a spinal cord injury, but it seems like I do. If I do, I would like to participate in an SCI physical therapy program. I want to make sure that I am getting the proper treatment so that I can optimize my chances for improvement and lessen my chances of getting worse. Will the thoracic mri/emg show whether or not I have a SCI? My last thoracic mri was six months before surgery, and six days before that surgery I fell. When the surgeon got in there, he said that disc material was all over my cord, and it was challenging to get it all out since they went through the back, on the right side.

Thanks for listening and thanks for any suggestions you can offer me. By the way, the discectomy, facectomy, laminectomy, and fusion was done at T8-9, and I have slight scoliosis of the low thoracic region.

Scared Teacher

 
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:48 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2013
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Re: Thoracic cord injury

Hey sorry to hear about your problem. I know when they approach from the back, they have to move the spinal cord out of the way, and this surgical approach is known have a risk for spinal cord injury due to the traction on the spinal cord. Unfortunately the other option, from the front, all the vital organs are there in the way and it is more risky and difficult. I only know this b/c I have problems in the same area but not as severe as what you were and are dealing with. The MRI might show a syrinx (syringomyelia), which can occur after this type of surgery. It can range from benign to horrendous in terms of complications, and medical opinions are all over the place on these (I have one which is why I know...but not from surgery). A syrinx will show up on MRI, and MRI will show other stuff too.

But keep up hope...even if it is a spinal cord injury, our bodies can adjust over time...mine did, after lots of PT and effort, and a period of disability, I can run again and exercize, although I do take pain medication. But also maybe you are still healing from surgery? I've heard that exercize after surgery is really important, but it all depends too, so just try to follow your doctors advice as much as you can.

Best wishes

 
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:51 PM   #3
Junior Member
(male)
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: California
Posts: 18
joggies476 HB User
Re: Thoracic cord injury

Hey sorry to hear about your problem. I know when they approach from the back, they have to move the spinal cord out of the way, and this surgical approach is known have a risk for spinal cord injury due to the traction on the spinal cord. Unfortunately the other option, from the front, all the vital organs are there in the way and it is more risky and difficult. I only know this b/c I have problems in the same area but not as severe as what you were and are dealing with. The MRI might show a syrinx (syringomyelia), which can occur after this type of surgery. It can range from benign to horrendous in terms of complications, and medical opinions are all over the place on these (I have one which is why I know...but not from surgery). A syrinx will show up on MRI, and MRI will show other stuff too.

But keep up hope...even if it is a spinal cord injury, our bodies can adjust over time...mine did, after lots of PT and effort, and a period of disability, I can run again and exercize, although I do take pain medication. But also maybe you are still healing from surgery? I've heard that exercize after surgery is really important, but it all depends too, so just try to follow your doctors advice as much as you can.

Best wishes

 
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Old 02-17-2013, 11:40 AM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Rolling Meadows, Illinois, USA
Posts: 3
Scared teacher HB User
Wink Re: Thoracic cord injury

Thank you so much for your reply. It really gives me some hope, especially hearing that you are running and exercising! I used to run 2 miles a day before all of this. I miss exercising so much. The doc said that once I have the mri's and emg, and we know what we're dealing with, we can talk about rehab. I am so anxious to get into rehab. Meanwhile, I do as much as I can around the house. Typically I overdo it and then I am out of commission for a couple of days. Pain is a big problem for me, and I hardly ever take a Norco because it makes me feel a little "stoned". I like to be fresh and sharp, but then the pain overwhelms me anyway, so I'm not sure what to do. I tried Neurotin, but by the time I got to the dose that really helped, I felt like I was living in a bubble. I don't know how else to describe it. Also, when I am on Norco, I tend to overdo it even more than usual and really end up in the "weeds" because I get a false sense of "okayness" if that makes any sense. What works for you? Again thank you so much for the info. I will look up the condition you mentioned.

 
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