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Degenerative disc disease w/stenosis

Started by ezybreeze on 05/04/2010 9:16pm

Hi I am new to the site, I have read many dicussions and thought I would like to share my story and ask for some advise. Last fall I woke up the extreme pain my my shoulder blades and shooting pain down my right arm, I also couldnt hold my hand above my head before it immediately feel alseep, needless to say I was in some pain and bp was up. So I was off to Neuro to get things checked out and the EMG was okay however the nerve study was inconclusive and showed a chronic condition of some sort. I has a cervical MRI done and showed DDD w/bone spurs and stenosis. Well I tried PT however I kept feeling worse and they said until my dr could check things out further I couldnt return. So I do the TENS and neck traction but that only works for awhile. I seem to be in constant spinal pain, mainly my mid back and experience tension headheads at the base of the back of my head.

The thing that has me really confused though is my right middle finger swells to the size of a cigar contantly to the point I can bearly use my entire hand. I went to an arthritis specialist and all my hand xrays and blood work came back normal so really wondering if my diag is correct with DDD. My pain in the arm has since subsided its just the achey, swollen finger and sore spine that has me feeling pretty bad. I also from time to time get upper chest pain, but had a CAT scan and EKG to rule out a heart condition. I feel like mainly my symptoms are targeted on the right side of my body and is where I experience pain the most.

Since the pinched nerve thing that kicked this whole thing off I havent felt quite right since. Could this be some sort of nerve damage that I am experiencing? I am seeing a pain specialist this Friday and maybe they can help me figure this all out. Any thoughts out there with any one experiencing some same issues and feeling your spiraling out of control in this crazy process ....

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Ezybreeze,

How did your appointment go with your pain specialist? I do have a friend who woke up with a similar case as yours. He had surgery just last week Tuesday. I saw him Wednesday at a funeral and he looked like the pressure and pain were almost gone. I'm used to seeing post surgery people doped up, but didn't see that in this guy, and he could move his right arm again. I did cringe when he said he was going in for spinal fusion, and I prayed and prayed that it would work. Those bone spurs play a big tricky part with the stenosis, you can't tell who's playing around and hitting what without being moved around. Hopefully you found a pain specialist who gives a damn and gives it to you straight. Don't forget to get copies of your MRI, make many copies of the CD they should be giving you....I handed mine out like candy to drs and clinicals, and also keep a copy of it in my safe. Look at your own MRI, it will help you gain the understanding of what exactly is going on in your back....."that bone spur there is the one who keeps kicking me", you can kinda see what's going on if you know what you are looking for...hopefully you had a really good scan w/ contrast or even a 3D MRI. I pray someone is able to help you find out exactly what's going on. It may take time for any meds to fully kick in, I know Lyrica took some time to get balanced, but it does work for nerve damage, but mostly in combo with other drugs to help sweep the rest of the pain up.

Keep us informed please.

Wendi

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this is my first time looking through this site, and it's somewhat comforting to read about others' condition so very close to my own. I have degenerative disks C5,C6 and mild stenosis of C7. I'm scared to death of getting the fusion-surgery! I was diagnosed less than 2 years ago, and have been going to a pain management doctor until I'm ready/ to go ahead with the sugery. My mri reads that I have prominate marrow edema surrounding both disks, with additional involving C7. I left the neurosurgeon's office in tears! Cortisone shots won't help, were'nt offered. He just said-"wow, you need surgery!" He would remove, and replace C5&6 witth plastic bolted to a plastic plate, and apparently the bone grows over it, resulting in...fusion. Pain medication makes it bearable, but at this point, I can't live like this either! Does this sound familiar to anyone? I've got to do something, I'm onlu 41 yrs old! Any advise would be welcomed!

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Kb,

It's with mixed feelings as i say this because it's really not something someone wants to do, but from all of us close-nit members of Spine Universe, I say, "Welcome to our family". Yes, that was strange and hard to put down into words. I mean "welcome" as come on in, get to know us and let us help each other out as much as we can, even if it's just to vent the frustrations of your pain, we all understand it in here.

I'm sorry for your pain and hope you can find the answers you seek in this site. I have found this site to be the best for info, community support, and for links to almost anything you have questions on. Don't be afraid to ask us for questions, I was in my first post, but it came out to be the first for big answers for me. I hope you find comfort in all of us sharing with each other, it does help being able to type it out and not get a dumb sarcastic answer like with some doctors. We are all pretty much in the same boat in here.

So with open arms and plenty of hugs and prayers....Welcome!

Wendi

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thanks for your post. I did see the pain specialist but he wanted to do another MRI this time of the brain, however I got a copy and everything looks good there...thank goodness! I go back and see him on June 16, he said he could treat me with injections but I have done reading on the subject and dont know if its the safest alternative for us with stenosis. Any thoughts??? I did see my PCP today and she put a consult into cardio for the chest pain and then off back to Neuro because the finger will not stop swelling, she thinks it could be possible nerve damage of some sort. All I know is I am contantly at a dr office and just working through the pain. The pain specialist did give me some Lyrica and I was nervous to using it reading the side effects, but since your post indicated it helped with your nerve pain I may go ahead and give that a try. I really feel if I could keep down the swelling I would feel alot better. I would hate to have surgery like your friend did, but I have read that when things swell that its a continuous process because of nerve injury and sugery may be needed to relief the pressure or permanent damage could occur. I will keep my fingers crossed and see what Neuro says.

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hi- i also have ddd of cervical and lumbar spine, along with spinal canal stenosis at c3/4, spinal stenosis at c3/4, herniated disc at c3/4 and a few other problems over my entire c spine and lumbar. i had an epidural in mid-april this year done. he couldnt go in at c3/4 because it was not enough room, so he did the epi at c5/6, getting as close to the main issue as he could. a good pain management dr (mine is a neurologist & pain mgmt dr) will know exactly where to go in to be safe, and will use fluoroscopic guidance. however, the epi did not help me at all. last friday when i went back for the second time since the epi, he thinks we need to try facet block injections, as he believes the facet joint arthropathy could be partly to blame for the neck pain & myofascial pain. i am scheduled for that on june 16, but i may delay it.. thing is, unless i try the facet injection, we will not know if it is contributing to the pain or not. if it is, the injection will help. if the inject doesnt help, we know facet joint arthropathy is not a factor.. thing is, when i had the epi, i was in worse pain afterwards for a week than i was before the epi. i dont even have to do anything and my neck/myofascial pain starts up. the first 3 days after the epi, the only way i was not in pain was to eat pills like candy and lay on my right side with a good neck support pillow (left side of neck is the pain side). i am not a gluten for punishment for having shots that result in 3 (or more) days of severe pain to find out within 2 weeks that the shots did not help at all.. i have worse pain on the left side of my body (neck, lumbar, leg and hip) than i do on the right. prior to the epi, he had tried trigger point injections on two occasions. first time i got one on each side of my neck at the edge of shoulders. second time i got only one on left side of neck. none of them helped.. and actually, it was after the first pair of trigger point injections when the myofascial pain started.
my neighbor has a tens unit and let me try it out for a few minutes the other day. it felt good on the lower back of my neck. so i want to get one. my pain/neuro dr only does invasive pain treatments, so will have to see a pt or physiatrist to get a tens unit. i am going to call one tomorrow. one physiatrist nearby also has inhouse therapy. having so many problems (including bone spurs) in spine, and a physiatrist is usually trained to read MRI's as well as have another dr's translation of it, i feel that is the best way to go about getting a tens, and to do at least one therapy just to get some at-home exercises i can do safely & not worry of further damage because of exercises.
please do not let my experience with injections not working scare you away from them, as some people have better results than others. i think my spine is just too far gone for the shots to work.
my dr is really good doing the injections, they just didnt work for me, so far... as said before, if he is a skilled dr, he will not try to do an injection directly on top of the stenosis, but will get as close as he safely can. Good luck to you and keep us posted...

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thanks sunnyd50, you know I am terrified of the injections and may talk to the neurologist about some oral steroids first and see if that helps with all the swelling I am experiencing. You know you stated that the TENS helped to some degree for you, but with my cervical stenosis I also find my traction unit somewhat helpful. My unit is a device you lay down on and it gently stretches your spine and increases blood flow. After I use my unit I get relief for a few hours. I tend to do the TENS and traction at night which relaxes the muscles from the day. I got both my units from my physical therapist. I am hoping to get back into physical therapy but seems like when I try to progress I keep hurting myself. I am finding with these disorders of the spine you have to pace yourself and not overdue it. As we age and our spines continue the deteriorating process we just cant do what we use to without making things much worse. Good luck with your treatments and wish you the best in discovering what works best for you.

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i was terrified of the epidural injections myself, and have fought them in my lumbar spine for nearly 5 years. have only had one in the c-spine, and was still terrified right up til it was over. i called my neuro/pain mgmt today and had to talk to the nurse. she said she would tell him about my wishes, and it would be tuesday before i would hear back from her, as it was late when i was finally able to speak with her today and they will be closed on monday for holiday.
i am leary of oral steroids because in early 2009 i was diagnosed with osteopenia and oral steroids cause quicker progression to osteoporosis quicker than injections do. my pcp gave me a script for fosamax, but i have not filled it. i have read so much horrid stuff about those meds. i get the news letter from "save our bones", and they are totally against the meds. the editor has field days with the sally fields commercials, about what sally DOES NOT say about them. the nurse told me today that you can buy TENS units at the nearby mall without a script, but i would rather let my insurance pay for it...
good luck with your pain relief trials too !

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Well its been awhile since I last posted however couldnt go the spinal injection route, just to nervous with the whole process for now, but my finger once again blew the the size of a cigar and went to see my arthritis specialist and he gave me a steroid shot in the hip. I have to say I am feeling pretty good after one shot and my finger pain is practically gone!!! horray!!! he still doesnt really know what is going on but my PCP seems to think I am experiencing nerve damage. The shot buys me time to find a new neurologist and have things checked out further. This is the best I have felt in months!!!

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Glad to hear that you have some relief ezybreeze! Best of luck on your search for a new Neurologist and hope you find one that can figure you out!

Keep us up to date!

Wendi

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Thanks wendiann24, I really dont want to end up taking so many drugs, I could open up my own drug store so far now maybe the steriod shots will keep the inflamation down to maybe allow things to heal if I have experienced nerve damage from the pinched nerve. I hope I dont need surgery like your friend....fingers crossed! Thanks all for the positive feedback and hope your feeling better yourself. Take care.

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my spine is causing damage to my other limbs. i am a 100% disabled combat vet and have had the spine trouble shortly after my second tour in nam. i let it go because i was going to do 21 years in the navy and i had to put my pain on the back burner. i lived with a 4 sometimes higher on the pain scale for all those years.
when i retired my body started showing all the abuse it had taken. i had a lamonecktome in 85 which i found out later was the worst thing i could have done. every doctor i have seen since and a doctor that is a pain specialist have told me that operations are the worst things you can do with a bad spine.
recently i had a right shoulder operation for a torn rotator cuff. the doc is very good and comes with a history thats hard to find and highly thought of . he also said that there was nothing wrong with my knee's but my wirst and elows had pinched nerves in them. but he said he didnt want to operate on them because he didnt know how much of that was coming from my spine. other doctors agreed with him.
now my neck that i had the operation on in 85 is a mass of scare tissue and arthritis. the whole thing is welding itself together. my lower spine is pretty much bulging discs. this causes me to dorp things with my right hand and also causes me to fall and thats not pretty. i have to use a wheel chair when i go a distance and the va has put a morphine pump inside of me. now my pain is down to about a 4 sometimes 5. two weeks ago i had to have them boost the morphine because it was going up to 7 sometimes 8.
i feel for anyone who is beginning to have spine problems and i know there are knife happy docs out there who would love to cut on you. i have learned that all you can do is learn to live with what you have. if a disk blows i am told one of two things will happen. one nothing two some part of your body will stop working. then you need a operation but be ready for the scare tissue and arthritis to set in and cause you trouble in the future.
i have gone to the va they want to give me new knees and new hips. some very very young doctor told me that. i went to a group of doctors on the outside and learned with them showing and teaching me what was wrong with me and what could be done and how there was no easy way.
so now i live with it and try to enjoy what active life i can have.
this is just my opinion based on some very good doctors who could have made a lot of money off me but instead showed me the mri's and x rays and other test and taught me what i was looking at. so i know they didnt lie to me,
i hope i can help someone with my story if not at least its some thing to think about for you before you take another step. thanks

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one other thing before i had the morphine pump put in i was given a series of shots in my spine between the disk i forgot how many they had and i also had some where they used some time of camara to make sure they got them were they were supposed to be. none of them worked.
then the pain doctor started me on meds and i also found out i was taking a pill for se ures that i had for many years. i also found out they were eating my bones up and i even lost my top teeth because they were falling out. the doc that took them out said they were perfect teeth but they were slowly falling out.
after many pills he put me on morphine which scared me a lot and i even think that before that ended i was hooked on them. i went thru hell coming off them. when i was 62 the pain doc decided to put the pain pump in me and to me it does the best job it can do. i dont know where else to go with my spine.

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Sorry to hear about your pain lakemanmike, sounds like you have been through alot. It does seem like a never ending cycle, things work for awhile and then stop. I am now experiencing this myself, the steroid shot worked for about a week and now the pain is slowly creeping back in. All my pain and swelling must be coming from my spine and agree that if the go cutting on different areas what good will it do if it all coming from the spine. I am afraid I am going to end up like so many others with spinal surgery and hoping if life takes me in that direction I will come out feeling better in the long run. It's a shame you have experienced so many problems through the years but sounds like you have some relief with the pain pump. I have read in many blogs that this seems to be the way so many pain sufferers go to relieve the pain once the degenerative process starts taking a toll on our bodies. I wish you the best in your continued care of your spine, take care and god bless...

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Hi. I have returned to the internet to do my own research because this morning I woke up with horrible, terrible pain starting from my left hip, throbbing shooting burning all the way down to my numb toes! This has happened before, but never to this degree. Talking with friends, I thought that it was my sciatic. But after browsing and not getting Very far! I'm wondering if its 1 of my lower lumbar's, which will mean another MRI, because my currant one is for my neck (C4-5,5-6,6-7). that's my everyday pain-I have reverse curvature of the neck, arthritis, bone spurs, soo many pinched nerves, all three disks are degenerative with prominent marrow edema. My arms, shoulders and hands always hurt and ache, and lots of the time numb along with constant "pins and needles".
I guess I'm wondering if this thing with my leg could be another symptom of my neck, or do I now have another seperate issue. I go to Pain Management for medication for now because I'm a smoker, and my nuerosurgeon wont touch me until I'm 30 days nicotine free. Might sound easy to some, and a no-brainer to quit, but I struggle with the thought of surgery in the 1st place. I've heard more horror stories than success-and I'm just plain scared of it! But what I endured this morning scared me even more! To top it off, I'm a server and food runner in a popular restaraunt! So, I'm constantly on my feet and doing pretty heavy lifting. I weigh 100lbs, I'm 4'11", and I'm 41. The good news is I've finally been promoted and will begin working in the office 20hrs a week/18hrs on the floor. Meaning, going thru with the surgery wont have to be going without pay during recovery.
If anyone has any advise, a similar story, or just empathy! Thanks for listening-I feel a little better already.
Also, about the edema? My MRI reads-"prominate,additional etc." with the edema, and impressions on Ventral sac's. I do take anti-inflamatory's, along with Nuerontin, and pain meds, and muscle relaxer's-but not to excess, usually 1/2 of recommended dosage. Unless the pain is like it was today.
Thank you for listening to some woman, u don't know, complain! Lol

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i have had sciatica myself that flairs up from time to time. there could be something going on in your lumbar spine, but it could also be in your sacroiliac joint or you could have something going on in your hip too ! has pretty much the same symptoms. i had a flair up a couple of months ago, and my neuro/pain mgmt doc gave me a shot in the left hip joint (not the socket).. the shot was basically painless compared to most, just a little sting at first. it helped a great deal.. they will most likely want to try xrays of lumbar first and see if anything shows up (some things will ), and most insurance will not pay for mri until xrays have been done anyways...my hip xrays showed bursitis & arthritis ( color variances- gray, white,black depending on which it is)...
one thing you should check into is your insurance prescription copays & see what your copay would be for Lidoderm patches, then ask dr for a script for them. if it is more than $30, you can print out a card onwww.lidoderm.com , and take it to your pharmacy & the most you will pay will be $30. you can cut the patches in strips or in half and use in more than one location & make your 30 day supply last a bit longer. i cut strips and put one 2" strip on the back of my neck at bedtime and it stays on for 12 hours. lidoderm is basically lidocaine (anesthetic), that goes into the skin to the nerves, muscles etc and numbs the area... this is the best relief i get for my neck pain, these patches are my miracle med ! just put patch where the worse part of the pain is and see what happens ! your dr might even give you some samples to try before getting a script filled. you may still need an mri to find out if you have a herniated disc, pinched nerve or something else going on though... i had no idea i had the damage in my neck that i do until they did a cervical mri ! due for another one after the first of the year and not looking forward to it either ! i am claustrophobic (even in open mri), so they gave me a valium script (only one pill) to take 30 minutes before my appt. it took 30 minutes or so past the appt time to kick in before they could put that mask over my head ! really dreading doing it again, but i know i have to do it...

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