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    Old 05-30-2009, 04:34 AM   #1
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    explain balance problem

    Due to neck bone and muscle pain that started in November, I saw doc in February and x-ray showed 'significant OA C1-2.' I already have a fusion of C3-6 (2 different surgeries.) Starting 2 months ago maybe once a week I would sort of lose my balance, just slightly, when turning and easily corrected. This progressed to 2-3x week, then more recently 1-2 times a day. Even walking down the hallway at work sometimes I find myself tilting to the side, put my hand on the wall to right myself and then I'm fine. I don't feel like I am dizzy or that the balance is going to make me fall.

    Saw my doc (at work) yesterday and told him that I was not having a good neck day. I'd just had another accupuncture with stimulator the day before and was told I would be very sore for at least 48 hours. I also told him that I was stumbling more. He flicked my middle finger right hand and asked how was my handwriting (fine.) Since my last MRI was over a year ago and long before the onset of the November pain, he wants me to get another MRI with and without contrast. I think this is appropriate and will call his office Monday as they have to get insurance okay. When I saw him in February, I was a little surprised that he did not do a full neuro exam of reflexes - you know hammer to arms and legs....

    I also have an appt. June 16th with a Rheumy for opinion as to the C1-2 being OA versus RA...have had some knuckle, wrist, feet mild issues although all newer RA type blood tests returned normal (via my PCP.)

    So I guess my question here today is that I really don't understand why the balance issue. I've researched a lot of technical articles about cervical myelopathy and while they refer to 'gait disturbance' I can't find anything that truly defines how this presents other than severe enough to cause falling.

    Can anyone give me more detailed information as to presentation like mine? I don't want to be over-reacting or looking for problems that don't exist.

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    Old 05-30-2009, 05:24 AM   #2
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    Re: explain balance problem

    I can't explain the balance problem, I'm sure there are several who can, but I also have it. I had gait disturbances as well as balance issues. At times I just fell over, either sideways or once backward. I had surgery ACDF C7-T1 last June with bone graft and titanium plate, but I still am working to improve my balance with water therapy, etc. When I am out on the street or in crowded places, I use a cane, since I don't want more falls. I believe my spinal cord was compressed enough to cause this, and since my issues weren't treated properly for a year, I am hoping that it will eventually heal. Hope you get the right answers.

    Old 05-30-2009, 09:58 AM   #3
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    Re: explain balance problem

    this usually comes down to what is called your proprioperception. this is governed between the cerebellum in the brain and the spinocerebellar tract within the cord as well. i lost alot of my own proprio due to having that particular tract damaged during a surgery done on my cord. it just very much affected my gait, or the way and ability to walk.

    but certain meds can also severely affect the balance and the very same things as that cerebellum(only in some cases) just because that area is where they affect,or "do their work" when you take the particular med. one of the BIGGEST is any of the anti convulsant meds which are pretty much routinely Rxed for levels of nerve pain from spinal issues and other neuropathic types of pain syndromes too. are you currently taking any meds at all? if so, just what are you on right now?

    the worst anti C med that affected my gait, vision and also my kidneys was lyrica. that drug very severely affected my gait to the point where no matter how slowly i walked down the middle of my hallway at home, i would ALWAYS veer off to the left right into the freaking wall. it also gave me up and down double vision too.

    if you are on any meds at all,taking a good look at what areas they can simply affect can also be a part of what we sometimes would just attathch to our spinal issues, you know what i mean? the timing of any new symptoms along with the starting of any new med really also needs to be taken into consideration with new symptoms that can pop up too.

    but DO look up "spinal tracts" just to give you a bit of an idea of how they are and how they can contribute to any symptoms we actually feel when we have either a spinal cord injury like i do, or any true level of spinal cord compression like you do. anything that compromises our spinal cords in certain ways,can also affect the info running thru those tracts that carry all signals back and forth from the periphery to the proper areas in the brain. i do think it would help anyone who actually has true compression to just understand what can occur with it in some cases. it all depends of course on just how severly that cord is being compressed or compromised and the location(s). hope this helped some. there are of course many other things that can affect our balance from time to time, including ear infections or problems(things that just can affect our equilibreum) there too among others. the info i mentioned is usually just more cord related and possible med reactions too. i do hope you can find out all you need to know with this soon. please keep us 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 05-30-2009, 12:47 PM   #4
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    Re: explain balance problem

    Thanks for the explanation and I will look into 'spinal tracts.' I am not on any antiC meds, just Advil, sometimes add tylenol, sometimes a benadryl with half tab of vicodin and valium 2.5 mg at bedtime if I am having a rough time that day.
    While the C1-2 concerns me, it just occured to me that maybe I have started to herniate C2-3 since that would be the next level up from my fusion. I never present in the 'normal' fashion.....just had a line of nerve upper arm pain that sent me back to original spine surgeon. MRI not impressive, but EMG very positive and flexion/extension x-rays showed significant spondylothesis and retrolothesis, so vertebrae were going in opposite directions and hitting the cord. Doc said my ligaments were so weak they couldn't hold my bones straight, add to that the herniated discs which were evident only at the time of surgery. At least it relieved the arm pain but it was one h-- of a recovery. I don't want to go there again!

    Old 05-30-2009, 05:16 PM   #5
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    Re: explain balance problem

    Oh my dear friend...don't tell me you and I are going to have the same problems???? Let me get my neck fixed first then I can come and help look after you!

    Yes, balance is a big problem with cord compression at C2-3. I'm tripping over drafts of air these days. Rght side goes....left side doesn't follow. But your fusions play into this too. The more you can't move your neck, the more you don't make those fine "course corrections" that are required to maintain balance. Add to that your atlantoaxial junction problems and you are way off balance. You head is like a dreidel wobbling around on the top of your spine right now.

    When I go to Boston on Wednesday I'll ask who they recommend for spine surgery here in Hartford. I'll also ask about your insurance and what they do in that situation. I've bugged them so much this spring that I'm bringing chocolate dipped strawberries so I can ask anything!

    Enjoy the MRI....mine finally got scheduled right before my appointment. He'll be watching it from the office. Fully computerized hospitals are cool!

    give me a call some day....big hugs.............Jenny

    Old 05-30-2009, 07:58 PM   #6
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    Re: explain balance problem

    Thanks Jenny-----I won't go to HH and I have never seen on the OR schedule any doc at my place doing surgery at that high a level. I am hopeful that the MRI will be blah and maybe some PT might relieve this new symptom. I do have appt with Rheumy June 16th.

    I'll let you know the results of the MRI - at least I can get the written report myself as soon as its done. But these radiologists have failed in their readings 3 times already....but doc feels the quality of the films is still the best in the area.

    Life goes on and spent 4 hours in yard today pulling weeds - I love getting my hands in the dirt it's in my genes....have been wearing my collar all evening, now its pill and bedtime.

    Good luck with your MRI and appt north. I'll be in touch.
    I have started to google about the spinal tracts but still can't find a good layman's description. Maybe I just need actual people's personal story to better understand.

    Old 05-30-2009, 08:34 PM   #7
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    Re: explain balance problem

    I see what you mean by the spinal tracts searches. When you take a look at the info. you really feel like you are on to something, but you don't know what? I think just to remember the term to ask neuro or whoever, is a good start to some helpful answers.

    Looks like neckpatient really knows her stuff and I'm glad she posted this.


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