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Anxx9 03-29-2017 12:23 PM

Questions about severe narrowing of spinal cord
Hello everyone.
I am new here and I had a few questions. Originally went to doctor in Jan for really bad shoulder pain. Which led to MRI of cervical spine. My symptoms originally were shoulder/bicep/ pectoral pain with considerable drop of shoulder. It looks kinda like it's lost its shape. Once the pain went down to my fingers, the doc ordered the cervical MRI. Saw orthopedic surgeon yesterday and he said I have severe narrowing of spinal cord from bulging discs and bone spurs. C4-c6. He is going to do the shots as soon as insurance is approved. He then said if that didn't work, I would have no choice but surgery because it's so severe. He said normally we do not recommend this for someone your age(46) but that it would have to be done.

The part of the spinal cord that is affected looks like a crescent moon so quite a lot of narrowing. i wasn't expecting this so asked no questions. (Definitely will if shots don't work). I was curious as to what kind of surgery is done for this? Second question is has anyone else has had serious shoulder problems with this. I know it can cause shoulder weakness. Just not sure about the rest of the stuff going on with my shoulder, like the dropping of the shoulder. The doctor wasn't sure. Obviously his priority is the neck. I've only had an X-ray on shoulder. I have done physical therapy for these things but had to stop the shoulder/ neck thing because it was causing intense pain. Physical therapist thought I had possibly torn my pec muscle. Rotator cuff is good though. Passed all those physical tests just failed every test having to do with pec muscle. Thanks!

MaS71 03-29-2017 10:25 PM

Re: Questions about severe narrowing of spinal cord
I would get second opinion from a neurologist. Of course a surgeon is going to stick and probe you. I'm 46. I have 2 tears and hyper mobile shoulder now they say it's dropped and osteoarthritis. I've had this problem since at least 2008. I also have Low back problem sciatica nerve damage there done in 1990. Now cervical I think almost all of them protruding/bulging/herniated whatever they call it some interchange the names and I narrowing of the spinal cord that is called stenosis. The neck is called Cervical Spinal Stenosis Spondylosis . Radiculopathy is another word used on me with neurologist and I also have had a upper and lower nerve conduction test done and I have peripheral neuropathy. And Upper Motor Neuron Syndrome. So I have drop foot and wear a "Noodle AFO" brace.

I just get muscle relaxers and I only take them if I absolutely have to but I'm so used to being in pain I just do what I can and when I can't I don't. I have told all my doctors I do not want surgeries. Now if as I get older and it becomes where it may be paralyzed or life threatening then maybe. But these dang surgeries are slim on the amount they help. A lot of people have to go back and have more surgeries and some end up with nerve damage they didn't have before and some it make worse and some the surgeries do nothing or cause arthritis.

I didn't take shots because I'm not going near any surgeons because they will try to talk me into it and I don't want shots you have to go every few months for the shots. Lots people like the shots. Heck lots people like the surgeries but be sure you do lots of researching and reading before any decisions for sure!!! I've also seen a lot if good people get messed up on pain meds and end up junkies from this stuff too. My doctor just gave me a medicine called Mobic (generic name) but if you look it up it will give the original. It is a Nsaid I was nervous but so far so good for me everyone different for side effects. Actually my Neuro told me no on shots and PT. He says he will treat me with medicine until I have to go to surgeon. Lol guess that be long time cause he knows I ain't going. And I hate meds too they are such a catch 20. So I just try to be careful and don't do what I shouldn't do. Have to go back 20th for another nerve conduction test on my legs I was having problems walking legs were buckling and shaking horribly. But I also have a thing called Essential Tremor but I guess they think my lower back. But it's not doing it now...well a slight one here and there but pretty much gone.

So all the gabbing is to show you lots things going on and no surgeries. But I do not work I have a very loving husband who loves me home. So you may have the work factor to take in to consideration one way or the other but don't jump the gun for sure read,research,read,research,ask around,read,ask, research ;)
Good luck and I hope and pray all works out for you with no problems :)

teteri66 03-30-2017 08:42 AM

Re: Questions about severe narrowing of spinal cord
Welcome to the board. I would suggest you get another opinion from a neurosurgeon. I assume the orthopedic surgeon was an orthopedic spine surgeon. You only want to see specialists that treat neck and back issues only.

Obviously I cannot tell what is going on with your shoulder, but I can offer you the following possibility. We can assume that with bulging discs and bone spurs, you have some degenerative disc disease going on at the cervical spine level.

The discs are the soft gelatinous cushion between the bones (vertebrae) of the spine. Also located at each vertebral level is a small synovial joint called the facet joint. The discs, along with the facet joints, are what allow us to bend and twist the spine.

The discs are composed of something like 90+% moisture. As we age, the discs lose moisture and begin to dry out. This causes the discs to flatten and causes the bones to get closer together. Sometimes you will see on a MRI report that there is "disc space narrowing." As this happens, the body tries to compensate by laying down bone in an attempt to stabilize the section of spine that is affected. This often results in bone spurs forming on the facet joints, which causes them to enlarge. When the disc bulges, disc material moves out of the disc space, which also takes up space that is meant for the spinal nerves. When these changes occur, all this extra material that takes up space can push into the thecal sac, which contains the spinal fluid and the spinal cord. If it pushes hard enough, it keeps the spinal cord from functioning normally. This can result in damage to the cord itself or a disease of the spinal cord that softens it and can lead to paralysis.

It is the spinal canal that narrows. This process puts pressure on the spinal cord, keeping it from functioning normally. When this occurs, it is necessary to perform surgery to take the pressure off the cord.

Regarding your shoulder: spinal nerves innervates nerves that control movement and nerves that control what we feel. Apparently your issues are most severe at C4, C5 and C6. The nerves at C4 innervates the area just above the collarbone; C5 innervates the collarbones down to the top of the shoulder blades, outside front of the arms; and C6 innervates the outside portion of the arms and the thumb side of the hands. If these nerves are "pinched" they cannot function normally...which results in pain, tingling, numbness...and it can cause muscle wasting. I suspect this is why your shoulder looks like it is collapsing. The nerve compression is just on the nerves affecting the one side, so the other shoulder is still functioning normally.

When there is spinal nerve compression, it can be felt at the site of compression or anywhere along the path of the nerve. You can look online for a "dermatome map" to see which body part is innervated by a specific your case, C4, C5 and C6. You may also have some other nerve compression going on -- these are just the ones you mentioned.

The epidural steroid injections are almost always the first treatment tried. You are limited to three per year due to the damaging side effects of the cortisone. If your spine cord compression is severe, chances are good that you will end up having surgery. But let's wait on that until after you see the doctor again.

You should get a copy of the MRI and the report and begin a file for your own use. I also recommend you make an appointment with a spine surgeon from a different clinic, for a second opinion. This is especially important if you end up needing surgery.

A word on the topic of surgery: none of us want to have spine surgery. First, you of must remember that every person's "issues" are different. A herniated disc in one person could be something that one could live with, but in another person, it could cause severe and permanent nerve damage. It all depends on its location within the spine. One cannot underestimate the importance of the spinal cord to human life. It is the highway that connects the brain to the body, and the body to the brain, controlling all sensory and motion of the various nerves of the peripheral nervous system. When there is an interruption in signal, it can result in paralysis of a limb or worse.

When the spinal cord is impacted by stenosis, sometimes it is necessary to have surgery to remove whatever is impacting it...or run the risk of permanent paralysis or even death. In severe cases like this, to me, it is an easy decision to choose to have surgery.

Anxx9 03-31-2017 05:18 AM

Re: Questions about severe narrowing of spinal cord
Thank you so much for your post.
Very informative. I have had lower back problems as well. The bulging disc etc. that's been going on for 20 years so I just live with. I have had the shots there. My GP sent me to this spine orthopedic surgeon because as He said, I don't like to jump on the surgery band wagon and He doesn't do surgery unless there is no other option, but this is pretty severe. Both of these doctors said my MRI was very impressive-not in a good way though. The spine doctor even said jokingly " Did you kill like 10 people and this is karma coming back at you because it's that bad" I can go back to my neurosurgeon I saw for my lower back. He was always honest with me about surgery. I felt like he always gave me correct odds on success of surgery. I just chose to live with chronic back pain. It's not that bad unless I do some heavy duty cleaning or yard work. It usually eases back down to the dull ache in a couple of days. I haven't seen him in about 10 years. I didn't go this time because he is kinda far from me now and my insurance requires a referral. I will go for a second opinion. I would like for him to look at my MRI. Thank you again for responding. Your post was very helpful and informative.

Anxx9 03-31-2017 05:45 AM

Re: Questions about severe narrowing of spinal cord
Thanks for responding. You have a lot going on. I do have to work. I'm divorced have kids. I do have my own business with my sister and she is carrying most of the work load right now, which I hate. We make jewelry and no one else in our area is doing anything like what we do, therefore we are busy. We've had to scale it down because of me. My sister doesn't have to work so at least it's not affecting her financially. We have an online store and our stuff is in a couple of brick and mortar stores but we do a lot of events where they take vendors and also farmers markets. That requires setting up a tent, folding tables, etc. Obviously I can not help with any of that now. I have a hard time even making the bracelets because they are not the easiest thing in the world to make. I don't really have the luxury to not work. I love my job though. I will definitely get a second opinion. I saw a neurosurgeon years ago for my lower back problems. He was never big on surgery unless absolutely necessary.

It's so aggravating. I'm also looking at total knee replacement. Will put that off for as long as possible but that's more bone spurs and very little cartilage left. My body has turned on me. I hate to see what it's going to be like when I'm 60...Thanks for your response I appreciate it. I wish you the best with all the things going on with you.

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