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  • Cervical Spine + MRI Problems...Need Some Advice

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    Old 01-08-2010, 05:16 PM   #1
    mountainmomma50's Avatar
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    Exclamation Cervical Spine + MRI Problems...Need Some Advice

    Hi-- I know that going to my doctor is best -but would like some opinions or advice.

    I am 50 year old Caucasian woman [I][who 'outside' seem not to age [look 30-32] but 'inside' tells a different story![/I]

    I have had 2 major accidents in my 20's and have suffered stiff neck and pain when overworking for years - [B]with no need for medical intervention.
    5 years ago I did not know I re-injured myself doing heavy moving work...but 2 weeks later woke up to what felt like fire and someone knifing me in the right side neck, shoulder and arm.

    Primary Dr. prescribed pain meds and muscle relaxants.

    Long story ....[I]but fast forward to now[/I] [ after 2 Primary Drs, 3 neurosurgeons visits [ 2 who said I was NOT a surgical candidate, and one who wanted to operate immediately with spinal fusion] 3 MRI's, and visit to Pain Mgmt Clinic [ last one was for shoulder trigger point injections.]

    [B]2nd MRI [ 2-3 years ago] showed a Hemangioma in C7 .... of which a full-body bone scan was done and showed nothing else in bones but that.
    My 'new' Primary Dr. [ when he saw the latest MRI done about 6-7 months ago] told me I needed to IMMEDIATELY be operated on...but now acts like I am a drug addict for being able to ONLY get relief from pain meds.

    I am on Loritab 10/325...take 2 to 2 & 1/2 3-4 x per day now. Been on drug for 3-4 years straight - but not this dose. [I][Started out on 5/750 then went to 7.5/325 and then to 10/325 does -- part in tolerance to drug and part in deterioration of body/spine/discs. etc.][/I]. Been on current dose for 1-2 years. Prescribed 180 pills per month and always have issue of 'not enough' by last few days of month. They usually last about 25-28 days... hard to be enough for all the pain I have.

    Primary Dr. was the one to send me to last [3rd] Neurosurgeon who did not want to operate just for reasons of pain. [He felt he could cause more pain.]

    [B]Latest MRI says this: {will not note normal findings][/B]

    * Subtle loss of height in C3-4 disk but no evidence of HNP. Cord is surrounded by CSF. Neural foramina visible.

    * At C5-6, the disk is markedly degenerated and there is a prominent posterior osteophyte which completely effaces the ventral subarachnoid space. The cord is draped over the osteophyte. On axial T2, there is subtle cord remodeling, without frank compression. There is no CSF, ventral or dorsal to the cord at this level. Bilateral uncovertebral spurring but the neural foramina are still visible.

    At C6-7, the disk is degenerated and there is small posterior osteophyte which is eccentrically larger to the left. This does not result in cord compression. The neural foramina are visible.

    * On the axial T2 images, there is a speckled configuration in the hemangioma of C7 which occupies most of the traverse diameter of the cervical body. The C7-T1 disk is normal. The neural foramina are patent. The 3 upper thoracic disks are normal.



    Since last Neurosurgeon [I]did NOT want to operate[/I] [but did not rule it out later on] I have put back to Primary Dr and Physical Therapy [short term] and Pain Mgmt Clinic.

    Biggest issue is MORNINGS as I cannot sleep for more than 4 hours without intense pain [no matter HOW I lay, or what expensive cervical pillows I buy]. I believe this is now due to what is known as 'Facet Joint Syndrome'==but no Dr has addressed my lack of sleep concerns. I am sleep-deprivred for several years now and that has affected me, too.

    Some days when I wake up it is sooooooo bad, I cannot move nor do anything for many hours - and I often 'lose the whole day' to this pain, weakness, headaches and stiffness.

    I have had other sypmtonsd which I canm live with [ numbness and tingling of 4th and 5th fingers, weakness in arm and grip, etc]

    Now they want to do Medial Branch Block and Epidural Injections -- but I fear that this is just a 'band-aid' to cover the pain [and further degeneration] that is going on.

    No regular DR takes me serious after awhile [and had several tell me "You don't look sick." -- "or in distress" -- but that is because Pain Med keep me functioning and I have usually taken my morning pills before the Dr's visit.


    I HAVE LOST SO MUCH TIME, MONEY, WORK, RELATIONSHIPS, ETC DUE TO PAIN... At least I have good Insurance to cover all the visits and meds....



    No one tells a heart patient, or diabetic or stroke victim to 'just live with it'-- and yet this seems to be the prevailing mood of the medical community.

    Otherwise I am fairly healthy for my age--never had a surgery or been on any meds --but have had a very, very stressful past decade,



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    Old 01-08-2010, 06:11 PM   #2
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    Re: Cervical Spine + MRI Problems...Need Some Advice

    When was the visit with the neurosurgeon when he said you were not a surgical candidate (sorry if I missed that in the note)? I'd think it's time for a consultation with another neurosurgeon and perhaps an orthopedic spine surgeon (OSS). I've had good luck with OSS, just make sure that the spine is ALL that they do and they are board certified.

    I kind of had to push for my second neck surgery as the findings on tests were vague. But the surgeon told my husband I had a huge bone spur sitting on the nerve and severe stenosis to the point where he was amazed I wasn't in tears all day every day.

    However, in May of this year I went back to that same surgeon (OSS) who did my neck surgeries in 2006 and 2008. He looked at my back x-ray and MRI (which was hard to read due to my old stainless steel hardware inserted in 1993) and barely examined me. He said "Maybe an injection but nothing I can operate on". I just had a hunch he was wrong and I found another surgeon via a friend-of-a-friend. This new OSS did tons of studies on me including CT myelogram and found my L3 vertebrae had moved forward and taken the disc with it and it was clearly and necessarily operable. Hence I'm headed for surgery 2/3/10 (L3-S1 fusion).

    Yes, I found this new OSS via word of mouth. But the friend-of-a-friend is a big guy (at least 6 foot 6 and 300 lbs). I spoke with him 7 months after his surgery and he was amazed with how complete this doctor was and how well he had recovered. And, where I live, often people will only see doctors in Scottsdale or at the Mayo here in town. I always tend to find the best doctors over that way. The OSS who will be doing my upcoming surgery was found on the opposite side of town. It pays to keep looking and I'm so glad I did.

    It's not unusual to get differing opinions from different doctors. You know your body best and thus keep searching for the right treatment from the right doctor. I've also been blessed by a marvelous Pain Management practice that is extremely sympathetic and they've initiated an open dialogue with my surgeon as well.
    Rt thumb fusion '13. R&L thumb arthroplasty '12 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS' 11. Fusions: L5-S1('87), L4-S1('93), C5-C7('06), L3-S1('10), C4-C5('13). C5-C7 foraminotomy '08

    Old 02-11-2010, 08:54 AM   #3
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    Re: Cervical Spine + MRI Problems...Need Some Advice

    I am there with you the bs that i hear oh you dont look like you are in pain pisses me off i jumped into a pool at age 10 and dammaged my entire spine and have astio arthritus which fills my joints with wat looks like rock and cuts off nerves and srinks my spinal canel ive had cerfvical surgury 6/7 7/8 fusion in 2004 and then was in a motercycle acident after that. i live in pain and drs dont get it hydrocodone does nothing laying in a fetal position works and wastes my time i want to do stuff.
    anayway do you have any idea how to get a free mri so i can prove to the goverment that i really am in need of help. I am so fustrated prisoners get better health care than I do and i spent my life paying taxes not now !!!!! i do a little work and it feels like knifes sticking in my back. let me know how you aredoing. you are not alone

    Old 02-11-2010, 09:23 AM   #4
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    Re: Cervical Spine + MRI Problems...Need Some Advice

    Osteoarthritis is visible, for the most part, via x-rays and CT scan. An MRI is looking at soft tissues including discs and can show vertebrae and the extent to which the discs in between are damaged/compromised and can give a more complete view of the overall extent of osteosarthritis.

    For someone who has no insurance in the USA I'm not aware of any way to get a free MRI. However if someone is of limited income and resources then it's possible to be a candidate for MedicAid. if you've had any recent treatment (for example ER visit) you can call that hospital and ask to speak with the patient advocate or social worker. They often are very familiar with how to get someone qualified for state or other aid.

    I had a friend who used to work in medical bill collections for a relatively good sized hospital and part of what they'd do, if the patient could not pay, is to see if there were any programs, aid,medical testing programs that may help cover fees.

    I recently saw an add on TV in my area seeking people with bunions and if they qualify for the medical testing they's get free diagnostic service, surgery, and post op meds. I was amazed it offered free surgery - the test was for post op bunion meds. And for someone with no resources anything like this could be very helpful if there are any spine related studies being done in yoiro

    Rt thumb fusion '13. R&L thumb arthroplasty '12 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS' 11. Fusions: L5-S1('87), L4-S1('93), C5-C7('06), L3-S1('10), C4-C5('13). C5-C7 foraminotomy '08

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