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    Old 06-21-2009, 04:58 AM   #16
    sammyo1
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    gav, just wanted you to know I had the same problem, not able to get enough air in, or a full inhalation & I did have some cord involvement.
    This does not seem to be something your hear alot of people complain of, but lately I have heard a few people with cervical problems making the same statement. All have complained of the same, problems with inhalation. I had fusion & dont get it as severe but still do every now & then. In the past it would get so bad I thought I would pass out & it scared me more then I can say. So it does occur just does not seem to be as common as some of the other cervical symptoms. Hope this helps. Good luck, Sammy

     
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    Old 06-21-2009, 06:11 AM   #17
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Thanks Sammy! My symptoms definitely aren't as bad as that. It's more of a "sensation' that I'm not getting enough air. It's hard to describe. Like, I am breathing deeply, I can feel my lungs expand, but it seems like I'm not getting enough oxygen, like the breath isn't "satisfying," so I have to keep taking deep breaths although I shouldn't have to because I should be getting enough air already. It's hard to explain, I guess. I thought I might have a touch of asthma, and the doctor said that's really the only thing he could think of because my lungs looked great, diaphragm, etc., it all looked good. And it wasn't so awful that I thought I would pass out or anything, just enough to notice. I went to the doc primarily because I noticed it and, since I used to smoke and lung cancer runs in my family like crazy, I just wanted to make sure everything was okay. And it was as far as the lung doc saw. This was a week or so before I saw the doc about my neck. I hope that makes sense. It's hard to describe and doesn't quite make much sense.

     
    Old 06-21-2009, 07:05 AM   #18
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    That's is weird about the feeling like you can't get enough air...this has happened to me just a couple of times over the past year or so, and I always wondered what the heck it was. Of course I still don't know what it was, but your conversations about it now make me wonder if mine was due to something in my spine.

    I would also say it's very hard to describe...I know I did not have a cold or flu at all. I have no idea if I have asthma, but I don't think so, I never had an asthma problem before, though maybe one can get it at any time, I don't know. But I've had it where suddenly I feel like this: I seem to be able to take a deep breath, but it doesn't feel like it's deep enough or something. I also kinda feel like something is laying on top of my lungs, but it did seem like I had pain IN my lungs. I did have a dull pain slightly to the side of my upper spine, though. I also found I had to take constant small breaths. One thing I read about is to make sure you force as much air out of your lungs as possible before trying to take a deep breath. You slowly blow out and use your ab muscles to squeeze in towards your diaphragm while you are blowing out. Then, you can usually take a much deeper breath right after, but while taking in a breath, you also want to push your abdomen outwards. This expands everything inside and seems to let you get a deeper breath. At least it did help me somewhat.

    The whole thing to me sort of feels like I'm being partially smothered, then have to keep taking small breaths to gasp for air. It's as if something will not let me take nice big, deep breaths. It's very strange and a bit scary, actually.

    I've also had some times, for example, when laying in bed on my side. I would wake up in the morning on my side, take a breath, and OMG, get some horrible sharp pains deep in my lower spine. The pain seemed to only occur when I took in a breath, not breathing out. Once I got up out of bed and was breathing like usual, I did not get that particular pain in that spot. It only happened laying on my side.

     
    Old 06-21-2009, 01:55 PM   #19
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Just an update. Had my MRI this morning, piece of cake - "regular" and contrast. The technician said that the radiologist is going to read it today and send the report to my orthopedist in the morning. I got a DVD/CD of the MRI and tried to look at it on my PC, but I didn't have the correct software - figures! DANG! But I should know something real soon! Thanks for all the support!!! I'll keep you up to date.

     
    Old 06-21-2009, 02:05 PM   #20
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Just FYI - I was a little confused as to why only a cervical MRI was ordered and not one of the whole spine, especially since I'm also having lower back pain. Is that typical?

     
    Old 06-22-2009, 04:41 AM   #21
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    I believe asthma is when you have problems with exhaling or exhalation more so. My GP dxed me with asthma but when I was sent to a specialist is was not thought to be asthma due to my problems being with inhalation. I did fail a breathing test while I was having one of these epidsodes. I was working around the corner from my GPs & drove myself there as I was alittle freaked out as to what was happening. No matter how hard I tried I could not seem to get enough air in, like there was just not enough room in there. During one of my first rounds with PT he stated that the left side did not fully expand like the right when inhaling. I learned to do deep breathing, slowly in through the nose & as slowly out through the mouth. When it first occured I would panic which would make it worse.

    I'm not sure why your doctor did not order a full MRI, mine did the same, although I had pain & problems in the lower back he just ordered the Cervical & thoracic done. The first couple discs in my lumbar were picked up on the on the C & T MRI which showed herniation & problems with the flow of spinal fluid. The surgeon & my PM said even if there are problems in both the lumbar & cervical they will focus on which area is causing the most trouble & pain first, as they can only do surgery on one area. I thought the same thing, it would have been better to do the entire spine so at least you know if or what is going on in that area also.
    Sometimes it depends on the insurance company to. Some need preapproval from insurance. For example because I had to schedule surgery for the cervical my PM did not think my insurance would approve the MRI for the lumbar until the cervical was done. Stupid but thats how many insurances work. I had to wait until a certain recovery period passed to order an MRI on the lumbar. Also it may be due to the fact some experiance problems in lower extremities due to cervical problems. Perhaps you should ask your doctor why only the cervical was ordered. good luck, Sammy

     
    Old 06-22-2009, 05:38 PM   #22
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Thanks so much, Sammy! All you guys' support and quick replies sure has helped me a lot! That makes sense as to why they would've only ordered one. The only concern is, if my back is hurting me WORSE than my neck, although the difference is my neck hurts constantly and my back only hurts periodically, plus the fact that I had a broken neck before, I guess that's why he chose that. Oh well...

    I got the DVD of my MRI yesterday and ended up downloading some medical viewer software onto my PC and was able to review everything in the MRI, all slides and player. After you all told me that a herniation can also cause spinal cord compression, I started looking through online MRI images of what a herniation looked like. Jenny's recent post on another message thread talked about how the MRI images worked, how the "white" and "gray" areas are distinguished from each other and what should be seen in the slides, what you would look for. Along with the images and her description I was EASILY able to see 3 herniated discs in my neck: C3 & C4, C5 & C6, and C6 & C7. The first pair appears to be compressing the spinal cord white matter, but not deep into the gray matter; the second pair (C6 & C7) compresses the spinal cord more than the previous pair, but the disc itself is out of control, just AWFUL! The disc is bulging like a fat pancake on both sides, looks abnormally large and thick. CRAZY looking. The third pair is not pressing against the spinal cord, but the disc itself appears to have "spillage," like the "gel" is leaking out over the C7 vertebrae. I looked at these results and couldn't BELIEVE that I was just DYING from pain! My MRI herniations were much clearer and worse than any MRI online images I used to compare. Of course, that was all I could really see; I didn't have any point of reference for identifying cysts or tumors or anything, but I at least know I have this. I don't know how in the world nonsurgical procedures could fix that one crazy disc. And if you have some that are starting to actually compress the spinal cord, wouldn't they want to fix them surgically before they really start getting out of control, especially with all of these other symptoms that I have going on: headaches, hyper-reflexivity, periodic loss of muscle control, constipation, respiratory problems... Could all these other systems occur when only the spinal cord "white matter" has been compressed and the "gray" matter has not? I feel if all of these symptoms seem like a lot from just two indentions in the white matter. I would think what I would really be feeling is in complete pain, maybe lots of pinching, but not all those other symptoms. That's why I wanted them to look at my back too before deciding which area is worse, because my back hurts much worse than the neck does when it "flares" up. I just don't want to go in for surgery for my neck and then later find out that my back was much worse, or I have a tumor back there.

    Anyway, all this worrying should stop on Weds, doctor's appt to go over the MRI reports with me. I'll keep you posted!

     
    Old 06-23-2009, 10:49 AM   #23
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Hi Gav....glad you found my post a help.

    The thing with cord compression is that it doesn't hurt. It's like the brain...has no nerve endings of it's own. It's when the individual nerves peel off the cord and exit...that's when you get the bad pain...when those are compressed. And even when those are compressed too badly they stop hurting as they are dying. I had severe compression of the nerves at C6 with "very severe" on the left but very little pain. The nerves were dying and I came out of surgery with no use of my left arm. It was thought to be permanent paralysis. Well...on Wednesday I was carrying my 25 pound granddaughter in that left arm. Even a bad injury can heal.

    So yes, you probably need surgery for your neck. There is a new surgery for cord compression called a laminoplasty where they build you a new and larger spinal canal with no fusion. I had that first and it was great. Unfortunately, I tore up my whole neck 3 months after surgery and had to go back for a fusion(not a normal complication...in fact...it's never been seen before). Something to look into. Try doing a search on it.

    If your doc doesn't do it(most don't)then a fusion is in order. The problem with cord compression is that if it should cut the blood flow to the cord, you're permanently paralyzed within minutes from that level down. So at C6, you are paralyzed from the waist down including hands and wrists. At C5, shoulders down. At C4, you stop breathing. So it's more important to fix a bad neck than a bad lower back. A bad neck can kill you, a bad back will just hurt and might eventually cause some major problems but it will only affect the legs and possibly bowel and bladder function.

    So see your doc and be prepared for a suggestion of surgery and do some searching for options. My cord was half size and yet still the white and gray matter was all intact so that was good news for me and for you. You don't want to see that white matter penetrated. Means you can recover fully. I was predicted to be partially paralyzed on my left side....It's 95% back. And the paralysis on the right is gone completely. As our president says...yes we can!

    And as a side note, my lower back pain was better too....some of it was from my neck!

    gentle hugs...........Jenny

     
    Old 06-23-2009, 03:53 PM   #24
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Wow, Jenny! So glad to hear that you've healed up so nicely. I bet you're able to offer a lot of hope on here! And you're so full of great info. You're like me in that I don't stay in the dark about anything! I like to know as much about any problems I have as my doc! I can see you're the same way. :-) I was totally unaware that the neck problems were so much worse in the prognosis. It makes a whole lot more sense now. I guess my concern about the back was that it seemed so unrelated, the pain I mean. They are completely different, and when one hurts the other doesn't seem affected at all. And it makes sense that this wouldn't necessarily hurt. I knew the brain did not have nerves because some people have brain surgery while awake! I didn't know the cord was the same way because so many people experience so much pain it seems with this sort of injury. I mean, I've always thought a herniated disc = SEVERE pain! That's why I was so concerned about a tumor! You really help to clear up a lot of stuff for me. After all, I couldn't have understood what I was looking at in my MRI if it weren't for one of your posts on another thread, explaining how to look at it and what you should expect to see.

    One more thing. I'm seeing an orthopedic surgeon for my neck, who is the one who ordered the MRI. Do orthopedic surgeons perform these types of surgeries, or only neuro-surgeons? If he wants to schedule surgery with him, should I tell him I'd rather a neuro-surgeon perform the surgery, or are they both equally capable? I see him tomorrow morning.

    Thanks so much!!!

     
    Old 06-23-2009, 04:24 PM   #25
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Oh, and one more question: From C3 all the way down to the end of the scan, ending on the 9th vertebrae, the white matter appears almost connected to the actual vertebrae, like there is no "black outline" separating the vertebrae from the "white line" like it is everywhere else. And it's only on the middle of each vertebrae. Does that make sense? Also, there are some little white dots on 3 of the vertebrae, and the discs from C2 to C6 are almost black. You can't see the "gray" middle and the black outline like you can C7 on. And finally, this is the scariest thing that I hadn't noticed until today, where the brain stem connects to the spinal cord at C2, there is a white, very vague "circle" behind the spinal cord that appears separate, like it's behind the outline, pressing up against my C2 vertebrae. I can't find anything like it in any of the MRI images I'm seeing online. And when I look at the "brain stem down" slides from up above, there is one point, right after you see the brain stem, like the third slide, where the bottom part below the spinal cord on the slide, like where all the "masses" are above your brain and underneath the spinal cord (there are two masses of whatever that is on each side with a split down the middle), where one of the masses appear much larger than the other and the line is crooked. I wish I knew more about what each thing represents in those types of slides than the side to side ones. I know I'm not describing it well. Anyway, does this sound normal? Should everything be equal size on each side looking down? In one image in particular, you can see the vertebrae, the spinal cord, and below that the black Y shaped black part. On each side of the Y are two round things, who knows what, but I'm sure they're supposed to be there. However, on this image, one round thing is much larger than the other and the Y "leans" to the side where the round thing is smaller. I know this imagery is not very helpful, but I don't know how else to describe it. I didn't pay much attention to these images because I was only looking for spinal cord compression, not at anything else, that is, until I noticed that faint white mass behind the spinal cord at C2. I'm now freaking myself out! HELP!!!

     
    Old 06-23-2009, 05:08 PM   #26
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Relax, Gav. Those black circles you saw were probably your carotid artery and jugular vein and the artery is always bigger. And you have the vertebral arteries going through the bone of the vertebrae from C6 up. White masses tend to be fat and it can be in globs. I have spinal canal compression in my thoracic spine from extra fat on my back from years and years of cortisone. So don't sweat the strange stuff. My thoracic MRI reported I had a possible problem with pleural fibrosis of the lungs and I had to have a CT of the chest. No pleural fibrosis was found but that indicated an aneurysm in the artery to the spleen. So then that had to have it's own CT.....it's actually there!

    So even the radiologists sometimes make mistakes. So if they have trouble reading these films, can you imagine how hard it is for us! And on some of the newer machines, the black and white is reversed. See your doc and see what he recommends.

    As to whether you use an ortho or neuro, I had a neuro. Both do the surgeries and frequently an ortho will have a neuro in with him/her. But the residency for a neurosurgeon is much longer than an ortho and then both go through a special fellowship to do spines so I figure I want the person with the most education. You could see your ortho and then wait on setting up surgery and go for a second opinion with a neurosurgeon who does backs and only backs(important they do only backs...some neuros do both brain and back and for all you know, may do 1 back surgery a month.You want the person who does backs every week). Just tell the ortho you need a little time to think about it. Second opinions are always helpful.....I had 3 plus my neurologist. 3 out of 4 said surgery so I had the surgery.

    It's not something to rush into. If you have the Private Message function, I'll send you the address for a great site to educate yourself on spines and the latest surgeries.

    Good luck tomorrow.............Jenny

     
    Old 06-23-2009, 05:19 PM   #27
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Thanks! Whew. I knew that MRIs are difficult to read, but this really had me concerned. And the fact that I was so prepared to just hear that I had herniated discs was a relief. I like to know what to expect, no surprises. So I am not trying to freak myself out because I had already felt I knew what the news was going to be. Now I'm more uncertain. I DEFINITELY am unprepared for any additional news other than the herniated discs. But I am starting to calm down. I guess whatever happens, happens, and that whatever the diagnosis, I'll have to deal with it regardless. So...

    Unfortunately, I don't think I have the private message function. But we'll definitely talk tomorrow about what happened. My friend is actually coming over after work tomorrow because I'm by myself (husband's out of town), no matter what the diagnosis. Either it will be great news (nothing more than the herniated discs) or bad news, in which I'll really need someone with me for a bit to digest the information. THREE people in my department at work, ranging from 27 to 42, were diagnosed with cancer in the last 6 months, one terminal and the other breast cancer with a double mastectomy last week and radiation coming up. We only have 19 people in our department!!! So, this sort of stuff is on all of our brains. That's why I was so relieved to just see herniated discs!! I've never met anyone who thought that was great news before! LOLOL I'll keep you guys posted on the doc appt tomorrow. Wish me luck! EEEEK!

     
    Old 06-24-2009, 10:21 AM   #28
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Hey Gav....if you've read any of my posts from earlier this month you'd know I was hoping for a herniated disk. I waited for 3 months to see my neurosurgeon and get a new MRI of my neck as 4 docs had told me they thought I had herniated the disk at C2-3. I was really nervous as to how much motion I'd lose and not thrilled with the idea of a third neck surgery but prepared for it. Then I got hit with the news that my neck was fine...I had a stroke 4 months earlier and it had been missed by all as it's a rare type of stroke. I was blown away. I was not at all prepared for that. And I had a 2 1/2 hour drive home alone to process it and then hubby didn't come home for another day. So it was tough.

    But we all do what we have to do and I'm finally recovering the use of the muscles affected by the stroke. The biggest problem seems to be balance and some of that may be permanent. But we all just deal.....don't we.

    good luck with the doc................Jenny

     
    Old 06-25-2009, 07:00 AM   #29
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    gav, my goodness, with what has occurred at work I can understand it would cause some added worry. I'm so sorry about your coworkers.

    I will tell you I have been asking for opinions on whether to go with a Neuro or ortho for spinal surgeries. The response has been 100% in favor of Neuros. This came from others who have had surgery & health care proffessionals to. I went with an Ortho & have to admitt with the my surgeon not being more informative & his responses to my postop problems I would definantly go with a Neuro. Of course thats just my opinion & what I feel is best for me. My PT put it best. With all the nerve involvement you want a surgeon who specializes in that area. I ask another PT in another facility also. Her husband is a doctor & she basically gave me the exact same answer.
    Thats not to say there are not good orthos out there but it does make sense.
    Good luck & I'll check back, god bless, Sammy

     
    Old 09-06-2011, 11:23 AM   #30
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    Re: Symptoms of spinal cord obstruction

    Hi gang!

    It's been a long time since I've written on this thread and wanted to check in with all of you with an update and to see how you're doing.

    I've been experiencing some of the same - and additional - concerns I had when I first posted on this site. I had a positive Hoffman's sign and hyperreflexia documented by an orthopedist when I went in for neck pain in 2009 (which is what this thread was about). A spinal tumor was suspected but the MRI only showed minor bone spurs that were not affecting the spinal cord. He sent me to a neurologist who did a brain MRI. A host of symptoms made him suspect MS, but the MRI was normal. In 2010 I went to the general practitioner for a physical and had an abnormal EKG (negative T waves). A stress test came back normal.

    Recently I have been experiencing strange dizzy spells for the last month, usually once or twice a week. It just comes out of nowhere and lasts for about 45 seconds - long enough to make me aware of it and scared for a minute, like I'm going to pass out or have a seizure or stroke or something crazy. It comes on suddenly starting with increasing pressure in my head (but without pain) and my vision starts to become blurred. I get momentarily confused and overwhelmed with the feeling that something is about to happen (vertigo). Then it goes away after about a minute. I also started to experience extreme fatigue and exhaustion, such that it affected my ability to drive and stay awake. Finally, I am still experiencing slight tremors in my hands, as reported before in my previous message, and extreme weakness in my limbs occasionally, mostly in my legs.

    Since everything (neck and brain MRIs) in 2010 turned out "normal," I am so confused and searching for any advice/comments with similar symptoms.

    Thanks!!

     
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