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  • Question regarding C5/6 breathing trouble....

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    Old 05-19-2009, 06:03 AM   #1
    Jema X
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    Question regarding C5/6 breathing trouble....

    I didn't want to hijack anyone else's thread by asking too many questions but the C5/6 question thread really got me thinking and I have a couple of question for anyone who has an answer.

    A couple of years ago I had a major car accident - herniated C5/6 and T8/9. Also some damage to other thoracic discs but not directly debilitating. I had a fusion of T8/9 where they found the T8 nerve (right side) was totally crushed (flat). I am having a C5/6 ACDF on 21 May.

    Ok, my questions come from some of my symptoms and whether or not they may actually be caused by C5/6 rather than T8. I have severe T8 nerve pain constantly - gets worse as day goes on, feels like snapping rubber band or stabbing kind of pain. The other symptom that is very distressing is intercostal and diagphragmatic spasms. For minutes at a time if I twist the wrong way, lift something heavy or throw up, I can't breathe. My chest literally spasms and will not move. I can only get tiny bits of air in and out. I start gasping, well wheezing, and often start to pass out, after about 2 minutes the spasms will ease. I rarely pass out anymore but I think that that has more to do with learning not to panic than anything. The neurosurgeons always thought that it was to do with damaging my vagus nerve during the accident but that never really explained my intercostal spasms etc. I have lost my appetite and I threw up daily for a long time from vagus damage. However, I just don't know if this accounts for my breathing symptoms and if it doesn't, I'd like to know what could be done to fix it. Could this be a symptom of C5/6 damage? I have a significant left sided herniation with minimal compression of the spinal cord. I know it's unlikely to be C5/6 but after reading about it, I just had to ask.

    Thank you for any and all answers.

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    Old 05-19-2009, 07:51 AM   #2
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    Re: Question regarding C5/6 breathing trouble....

    i too have vagus nerve affectation to some degree and it keeps giving ME the dang hiccups. i do know that there is a very direct connection between the diaphram and that vagus to some degree. i do remember reading something years back on it since i have had this insane crap for quite a while now. i will have to look this up again to check. i would just seriously doubt just given where and what the c 5/6 actually innervates with dermatomes that it could be the culprit in something this dramatic. not too certain about the myotomes tho. that is what is like the derms but with muscles and not skin surface invlovement, you know what i mean? how severe IS the actual cord compression? i would think if it was that, the compression would have to be pretty severe or in just the 'perfect" spot too,ya know?

    i also have what feels like a very constricted banded feeling around my upper chest. but my dang polycystic kidney is so freaking huge that it popped out of my back and into the front of my body back in 05? i have breathing or constrricted breathing issues that i have always attributed to the kidney now pushing into and just constantly irritating the living heck out of the diaphram(which is also a muscle). as soon as i get my weekly myofascial release done by my therepist, everything there just goes away and it feels like i just added a whole new lung there for at least 4 to 5 days? then it all retightens all over again. its the fascia that tightens up around our muscles when it gets angry nerve firings or the muscle itself is simply being irritated by something. the myo release is about the only thing that helps with alot of my more muscle related crap.

    i think this is probably more than likely either related to your vagus damage orthe thorasic problems. it would be the "more likely" ya know? BUT, on the other hand, when it comes to the human body, in just what i have experienced with mine, sometimes anything is just indeed possible by some way or reason too. but we are just goin with the most likelys her for now.

    hopefully your surgery will somehow make this part better for you in some way. you could also just try the myofascial release too hon. it has done truely amazing things for my very damaged muscles and other medical issues too. just a really good suggestion for you later after you have healed. this therepy is the ONLY one out of MANY i have tried that actually works in helping my pain intensities and the muscle crap too. i do hope things go simply and easily for you honh. DO keep us all posted,Marcia
    3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
    11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
    9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

    Old 05-19-2009, 05:03 PM   #3
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    Re: Question regarding C5/6 breathing trouble....

    This is strange. I had a C5-6 fusion (failed) in January 08 and about 4-5 months after the surgery, I started having trouble breathing when I lay on my side. Its like I just stop breathing, and then I have to consciously take several deep breaths in to get my breath going again and "catch up." I have never had anything like this before in my life until after the surgery. I would have never thought this had anything to do with my cervical issues, but I am going to ask my new surgeon next week if this could be related. I'll post what he says about it.

    Old 05-19-2009, 06:15 PM   #4
    Jema X
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    Re: Question regarding C5/6 breathing trouble....

    Thanks for the responses, it's interesting how many of us have breathing troubles and C5/6 damage. I really wonder if they are related in some way. The impingement on my spinal cord is relatively minimal but there is also stenosis that has moderately narrowed the canal at this level. Nothing except the actual herniation is considered 'severe' though. They have commented that they may have to go back in posteriorly and widen the canal a bit later on. I'm not keen on this though as I have another possible thoracic surgery and the transverse or XLIF (I think that's what you call it in the US) is pretty major. Yuck.

    Feelbad, I've seen you post about myofacial release before and coincidently found a practitioner yesterday. I've made an appointment for 6 weeks after my surgery to work on my thoracic - can't do cervical as I'll still have the collar on. Thanks for the advice, I think it's important to be open to other modalities that might help.

    Toonces, I'd love to hear what your neuro says, I'm going to ask mine and post back too. Good luck with your appointment.

    Feelbad, I just had a thought,I get hick ups all the time too! It's my bodies signal to eat something now that hunger doesn't register properly. If I eat, they go away straight away. Damage to the vagus nerve usually means that you don't get proper hunger signals anymore so that's a good indicator and gets rid of them...hic ups are so annoying and they hurt my thoracic.

    Thank you to all, I've learnt so much here.

    Old 05-21-2009, 03:39 AM   #5
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    Re: Question regarding C5/6 breathing trouble....

    I had the same thing & reacted to it the same way as you Jena when it first appeared. All of a sudden I would only be able to get a tiny bit of air in, I could not take in a full inhalation. When it first appeared I to thought I would pass out. Its strange as it would hit me all of a sudden.

    It felt like something was blocking it. Then I would only be able to take these small breaths, I would start to shake & sweat. I would get so bad it would scare the day lights out of me.
    I stopped asking the doctors when I kept getting dumb answers, such as anxiety. Trust me it had nothing to do with anxiety. I have the rib & chest pain & spasms, its awful. Then I had a Pt who said he just thought it was to painful for me to take a deep breath but that was not it either. He did say he could feel my left lung would not fully expand & that my chest area would be in such spasm he was simply amazed.
    It has not been as bad since surgery but my rib & chest pain have returned & this scares me wonder if the breathing will start up again. I am hoping it all just passes. After all I have learned I know its all cervical now.
    I am going to ask my new PT as she does the craniosacral & myofascial. She said they often end up with patients how have unique problems or with patients that traditional Pt does not work with. Perhaps they have run into this problem. Its amazing all the pain & problems that come from that one area. I have some issues with C7 & 4 & wonder if C7 is contributing at times.
    I am really curious to see what your doctors have to say. Please let us know & I will ask my PT also. God bless, Sam

    Old 05-21-2009, 07:58 AM   #6
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    Re: Question regarding C5/6 breathing trouble....

    c3-4 goes to the Phrenic Nerve--which innervates the diaphragm; the physical level of the diaphragm is about the T7-8 level--so you have a couple of overlapping reasons, incuding vagus nerve damage that can be a factor. There can be some overlap in levels as well--the nervous system is more "plastic" than we know.

    I think myofascial release, cranial--works to relax the nervous system--may give some help, especially if not getting a clear answer from the Dr.

    Too easy to dismiss it as "anxiety"--when your nervous system is working overtime to maintain its stability, it does overexcite it--lots of compensation. The vagus nerve is about the parasympathetic nervous system which affects relaxation, sleep, digestion.

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